Now y'all should know....it wasn't flaky, it wasn't bleeding, it wasn't hurting, it wasn't discolored in anyway, and in fact, it blended in with my skin so well that people didn't notice it unless I pointed it out to them. So about a year after I first noticed it, I decided to just go to the dermatologist and have him take the silly thing off so I could move on with my life. So I got an appointment in December 2015 and went to the dermatologist.
38 years old....skin cancer was the last thing I ever expected to hear. I've never been a tanning bed girl, not one to just "lay out and bake" in the sun, but I haven't always been the best at wearing sunscreen when I'm outdoors either. The bump literally had none of the typical signs of skin cancer at all. The dermatologist said it needed to come off now because he thought we might have caught it in a very early stage. So he removed it and did a biopsy to determine what stage of skin cancer it was even though he felt like it was just early stage basal cell carcinoma. I was left with a small area on my nose that was open and he opted to let it heal naturally with no stitches.
The biopsy came back exactly what the dermatologist thought it was...early stage basal cell carcinoma skin cancer and on my follow-up visit he felt like he had been able to get it all and it should be fine. My nose healed over a couple of months and while I did have a small divet in my nose from the scaring, I was just thankful the skin cancer was gone.
Then in January, I started noticing that the area on the outside of my scar was beginning to make the same clear, blister-like bumps that I had previously. So I called and got another dermatologist appointment for him to check it. Turns out, the skin cancer was back and it was being "aggressive" as the dermatologist put it. He recommended that the best course of treatment would be to have MOHS surgery done because it has a 99% success rate of removing all the skin cancer. The closest MOHS surgeon to where we live at the Texas-Mexico border that he trusted and would recommend was in San Antonio, TX about 4 hours from us.
So I got an appointment for February 10 and we took off to San Antonio. We went up a day early and took the kids to the Alamo, took the boatride along the RiverWalk, and walked all over downtown San Antonio. We were blessed to get to meet up with some friends from Alabama who had moved to San Antonio also and we enjoyed being with them for the day too. My surgery was scheduled for bright and early the next morning at 8:00AM. David dropped me off for surgery that morning and then he and the kids went back to the hotel until check-out time. Then, when they had to check-out, they did a little geocaching until the surgery center called to tell them I was ready to be picked up.
The surgery lasted just over 3 1/2 hours long and I was awake through the entire thing. They just numbed my nose/face for the actual surgery and then when it was done, the area he had to remove was too deep and wide for stitches so I needed a skin graft. They took it from my collarbone and I was actually awake through that whole procedure too. Now I have to admit, I did great during the MOHS surgery on my nose but when it came time to do the skin graft I had to really focus and recite scripture and do lots of praying because it was a little unnerving to me to be awake while they were removing and grafting skin. I had an incredibly wonderful MOHS surgeon (Dr. Hobbs at the MOHS Skin Cancer Surgery Center of South Texas). He and his PA, Chris, both had amazing bedside manner, we actually talked about our mission work during a lot of the surgery, and they were both so supportive and kind too.
Once David picked me up, I was free to go home so we actually drove back home that afternoon and got home about 6:30PM. I came home with a large bandage on both my nose and my collarbone. I had strict instructions not to get it wet at all and not to be moving my right arm (the side the graft was taken from) above my waist. I also wasn't supposed to lay flat so I had to sleep elevated and they recommended bed rest or being on the couch for 8 days to allow my collarbone and nose to start healing perfectly. Talk about limitations, plus I am right-handed and I couldn't wash my hair for 8 days either! My husband and kids were amazing with helping me, taking care of me, encouraging me when I would get frustrated, and making sure I recuperated well. Our church family was incredible...they provided dinner every evening for our family so David didn't have to cook and some even brought breakfast and lunches too! Y'all, I don't know how people go through life without a church family! Ours is truly family to us and such a blessing.
8 days later, the stitches and pressure bandages were all removed and I finally got to see the damage to my nose. It was a little overwhelming but then I realized how blessed and fortunate I was to have caught it when I did. The MOHS surgeon had also told me that they got all the skin cancer and I was cancer free in this area now. He didn't see any other areas on my face that were of concern either, praise God! While I was super excited to have the stitches out and begin to start using my arm again (and washing my hair), I was put on another restriction to stay home for 14 more days. My graft was still very "fresh" and still needed time to heal and the surgeon said it was very susceptible to germs/bacteria. If I were to get it infected, I would lose the graft so he wanted it to have another 2 weeks to heal better and not be exposed to lots of germs/bacteria. So I was confined to the house for basically 3 weeks after surgery.
My nose and collarbone continued to heal well over those weeks of house confinement and the Lord used that time to grow me spiritually too. It is a beautiful thing what the Lord can use to draw you closer to Him and what He can reveal to you when you truly seek Him more. I praise the Lord that He allowed me to catch my skin cancer in a very early stage (even if it did require MOHS surgery). I am thankful that it is healed well. The only thing I have to do now is for the next year, I must keep sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher on the spot when I am going to be outdoors.
Today, you can still see a circular scar on my nose but when I wear makeup it's not really even visible. I share all this with you today because I want you to know how important it is to get your skin checked. I would have NEVER thought that little bitty clear, blister-like "zit" would turn out to be skin cancer. Mine had none of the classic symptoms or signs of skin cancer. So, please, please, please get your skin checked...especially if you have suspicious or strange things on your skin.