Thursday Shiner

IMG_9080About a month ago my dermatologist discovered a basal cell carcinoma near my left temple. Yesterday she performed Mohs surgery on it. The way the Mohs procedure works, they cut around and under the cancer lesion to remove it, then park you in the waiting room while they examine the tissue. If there’s still cancer on the edges or bottom, that means there’s still some on you, and they call you back in to take another whack at it, repeating as necessary. Once they’ve gotten it all, they stitch you up and send you home. What’s good about Mohs surgery is that it leaves less of a scar than traditional methods. What’s not so good is that you might be at the dermatologist’s office all day.

I’ve had more than a dozen skin cancers over the years, probably more like eighteen, and bear lots of scars on my head and face to show for it. The last four were removed via Mohs surgery, and it’s true: there’s hardly any scarring from those. I’ve also been lucky with the new procedure in that my dermatologist has gotten all the bad stuff on the first try.

That was the case yesterday, and I was feeling pretty good when Dr. N_____ called me back in to stitch me up. Which wasn’t easy, apparently! She closed the wound with a “Mercedes flap” (which you can Google Image if you don’t mind a bit of gore), and the stitching session lasted three times as long as the surgery session. Finally, though, the job was done and Dr. N_____ turned me over to her tech to get bandaged up. “Be sure to hold an ice pack over the area for fifteen minutes every hour for the next day,” she told me. “You’ll probably get a black eye anyway, but the ice’ll help.”

And here I am, a day later. The thick dressing stays on until this time tomorrow, when I can remove it, clean the stitches, apply some Polysorbin, and slap on a regular bandaid … one of the larger-sized kind, to be sure, but at least it’ll be thin and won’t make my glasses sit cattywampus on my face. The stitches come out next week.

A Facebook friend, remarking on a post-Mohs photo I posted yesterday, commented that her pilot husband has also had several facial skin cancers, and that she believes pilots get more of them than most folks. I wonder. At high altitude we’re exposed to stronger UV rays than folks on the ground, but surely canopies and helmet visors protect us, right? Right? Personally, I chalk it up to being out on the flightline a lot (there’s more outdoor time associated with flying than you might realize), and no doubt crew chiefs and maintenance troops get way more sun than aircrews. As does anyone who works outdoors, including literally millions who don’t have medical insurance and never get diagnosed with or treated for skin cancer.

So wear your suncreen, kids. I make light of this stuff, but it ain’t fun.


Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge