Thursday, February 28, 2013

This Would Suck So Much Less if it Wasn't On My Face: An Interview with Myself.

Q: So what's been happening this week?
A: Yesterday afternoon I had a plastic surgeon cut a two and half inch gash on the side of my face.
Q: That sounds awful. Why?
A: It WAS kind of awful.  I found out last week that I have skin cancer- a basal cell carcinoma- on my right cheek.  Yesterday I had it removed.
Q: How did you find out about the skin cancer?
A: I was at my yearly checkup with my dermatologist and she has been keeping an eye on a mole-type thing on my face.  It wasn't dark, it wasn't a pimple or a rash, just this thing that hung around for over a year on my face, never really bothering me.  It was tiny.  She took a biopsy and it turns out it is cancer.
Q: Why do you go to a dermatologist?
A: My mom had skin cancer when I was a middle schooler but has never had a recurrence, thank God.  She had the terrible kind that can kill you.  Since she had it, I am at a high risk for skin cancer, so I get to be examined from the top of my head to the tips of my toes every year.
Q: But yours can't kill you, right?
A: Right.  Just causes "tissue damage and deformity if left untreated."
Q: So it's not a big deal, right?
A: Well, right.  I have a 99% chance of being cured by yesterday's procedure, which is a very comforting statistic.  But it's still cancer, right?  But clearly it's nothing like the cancer my dad is battling.  I mean, come on.  This is trivial. But in a way it's not... now on every health history form I fill out I have to put that I have had skin cancer.  I've never had a serious health issue of any kind.  No medicines to take, no specialists (except for the dermatologist) to see.  I proudly wear the Invincible Armor of Youth.  I'm a healthy, hearty young woman.  Right?  RIGHT?  But I guess I went from having cancer to being cancer free in the space of a week. And I should be all set.
Q: It's too bad it had to be on your face.
A: Yes.  This would suck so much less if it wasn't on my face.
Q: True dat.
A: The incision is much bigger than I thought it would be. The cancer itself was about the size of a pencil eraser. But he had to cut a wound into an elliptical shape so that he could sew the two sides together into a straight line that wouldn't pucker when it's all healed.  The doctor told me, "When you are older you will have wrinkles here and no one will see your scar."
Q: Did that make you feel better?
A: No, because I am now only 38 years old and do not really have any wrinkles on my face.
Q: Did he say anything else that was funny?
A: Yes.  When he was about to start cutting, he asked, "Do you have any last words?" and I said, "Goodbye, perfect cheek.  I have loved you for 38 years..." and then the doctor said, "Okay, that's enough."
Q:  So it sounds like you've been kind of sad about this.  How have you helped yourself feel better?
A:  The 24 hours has been a Gorge Fest of Chewy Chips Ahoy, Hershey's Chocolate Eggs, "Hoarders: Buried Alive" viewing, and hours trolling Pinterest for Home Decor and Organization ideas.
Q: Has that helped?
A: A little.
Q: So what's your next steps?
A: Well, I can't bend over for a week, leaving me to squat doing laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher, I can shower starting tomorrow, and my stitches come out next Tuesday.  I have to make another appointment with the dermatologist because I have another spot on my shoulder that I am a little concerned about.  I am feeling very hyper vigilant about my skin right now.
Q:  Anything ironic to report about this whole situation?
A: Yes. As I was being diagnosed with skin cancer, I literally was 3/4 of a month through unlimited tanning at my local salon.  I COULDN'T have planned a worse thing to be doing to my skin.  COULDN'T HAVE PLANNED IT WORSE.
Q: Were you enjoying the tanning?
A: Yes, I was. I was just starting to get a little color and not feel like a vampire. I love being warm and quiet in the booth.  It was very relaxing, but it was clearly horrifying to everyone who knew I was doing it.
Q: Do you regularly tan in a booth?
A: Absolutely not.  The last three years I have gone probably 12 times, just in February/ March to help perk me up a bit.
Q:  What does this all mean for your sun exposure from here on out?
A: Well, my sun exposure has to be kept to a minimum now and that makes me feel just plain sad.  I love sitting out in the sun, swimming and enjoying nice weather.  This is a serious change in how I spend my summer months and I am just really sad about it.  I know that I can use sunscreen and wear a hat but I will always be wondering if I am doing more damage to my skin.
Q: Well, thanks for talking to me today.
A: No problem.
Q: It sucks to get older.
A: Indeed.
Q: And clearly you are not even that old.
A: This is most certainly true.


Winterhoff Family said...

Hang in there, buddy! Cookies and ice cream are the perfect comfort medicine right now... and we will just have to start looking for some adorable sun hats for you to don at the pool/beach this summer. Thinking of you this week as you recover. XOXO

Anonymous said...

You are VERY far away from being old, my angel! I am proud of you for weathering this surgery-you are a trooper! Love from your adoring mom

Anonymous said...

Get well soon, cousin! Thanks god it was discovered early so that treatment came in time. And the doctor will certainly have sewed well so that no scar will be visible in a few months' time.

Love, Claudia