Ever since I can remember, I've had moles all over my body. When I was younger, I thought that everyone probably had as many as me, although I've realized since then that this is not the case. When I was little, I used to try to figure out connecting patterns that would make shapes between my moles. I thought it was cool that I had "matching" moles on my feet.
I had my first mole removed when I was in junior high. It was a huge one on my head, under my hair, and having it off was hugely painful. Mole removal surgeries have come a long way since then, but I remember the dermatologist being freaked out because he'd never removed one from someone's scalp before. I had to have a shot in my head to numb it, and it hurt immensely. After removing the mole, the doctor realized that it was actually two separate moles that had grown together, thus its freakish appearance.
Also in junior high, I had to go in for a mole removal surgery. On that day, I had seven different moles removed. At that time, the doctor basically numbed the area and then went in and sliced them off, revealing the layers of fat under the skin, then stitched them up. By the time the day's proceedings were done, I had over a hundred stitches in my body and felt like I could barely move without painkillers. It left ugly scars that people still ask about whenever I wear a tank top or a bathing suit.
Since then, I've had more moles removed, bringing my grand total up to 15 or 16--even I have lost count. I've experienced every method of removal that has been developed over recent years, including both freezing and burning them off. All in all, I've become used to visiting the dermatologist, and mole removal has become no big thing to me. While I've had plenty that have looked scary over the years, we've caught them all in time and none have come back as cancerous.
Until last month. That was when I went to a new local dermatologist and he removed another mole from my head. Less than a week afterwards, I got a call from the office telling me that it had come back from the lab as a basal cell carcinoma. Translation: cancer. I'm 31 years old and have cancer.
Now, to be fair, if you have to have cancer, basal cell is by far the best kind to get. It doesn't spread to other parts of the body, and it's the least invasive kind. But once you find it once, it's likely to recur in other spots, so it becomes increasily important to get checked more and more frequently.
In my case, the labs revealed that the mole removal in the dermatologist's office had not gotten the entire cancerous spot. This means that I have to go in for Mohs surgery, where, in a nutshell, the doctor will remove my skin layer by layer, performing labs on each layer, until we get it all. Scheduling the surgery was a bit tricky, considering the whole childbirth thing in the middle. I'm particularly anxious about this surgery since the spot is on the front of my head, just under my hairline. I fear that I will be sporting a bald spot after the surgery, and my hair is definitely not long enough to hide that.
So my surgery is tomorrow morning. Ben's sister Jill and her husband Jim are here to watch the kids while Ben takes me to the surgery. I'm hoping that everything goes smoothly and it doesn't take too many rounds to get rid of it. After the surgery, I'll have to go back in for another examination of my other moles, as most were so stretched and swollen from 8 months of pregnancy that the doctor couldn't get a good feel for them before.
So, please wish me luck tomorrow. I know it's relatively silly to be scared about an outpatient procedure when I did 12 hours of labor and childbirth without an epidural a mere 3 weeks ago, but I'm still a little freaked out. I'll post again tomorrow to let everyone know how it goes.