The First Excision

After my first basal cell carcinoma diagnosis, I visited the dermatologist annually for a full skin exam. I generally had at least one cancerous "spot" removed each year. This was accomplished with E+C and several rounds of freezing with liquid nitrogen. 

My first excision happened in 2012.

I was pregnant with my son and had noticed that a previously "normal" mole on my right shoulder began to grow rapidly and had gotten some crusty/scabbing areas on it. It would bleed, then appear to be healing, and then scab up again... bleed, begin to heal, scab and continued this process for months. It was not time for my annual exam but I felt very uneasy about this mole, so I made an appointment. I had relocated since my last exam, as I did several times during these ten years of ongoing skin cancer diagnoses, so I would be seeing a new dermatologist. The mole was biopsied and found to be basal cell carcinoma. Again. This time neither E+C or liquid nitrogen would be enough. It needed to be excised. I had gotten pretty used to the routine by this point, so I wasn't too worried about the excision. I went in, they numbed the area with lidocaine injections (which is always the worst part) and then they began excising. I could feel my baby boy moving around as I also felt and heard them cutting my skin. I was numb of course, but the tugging sensation was disgusting. It made me want to vomit. I tried to remain calm and just focused on my baby. When they finished, I halfway listened to my post-surgical instructions and headed quickly to my car to inspect the damage. It was a much larger incision than I anticipated. It also did not appear to be closed properly. I was in shock and angry but I did not want to go back in and complain about the appearance of the excision. Maybe that was the best they could do? I didn't want to get myself too worked up about it, I was over 7 months pregnant and had done this to myself anyway. I left.

The healing of this excision was exceptionally annoying. The location made it difficult to use my arm without it "pulling". I couldn't sleep comfortably for weeks not only because of my growing belly, but now also because of a hideous incision that I was only making worse every time I moved. It felt and looked as if it was pulling apart throughout the healing process. It remains one of my most noticeable scars.

This excision left a more lasting effect on me than previous treatments. This was the first time I truly  felt like nothing more than a piece of meat. Having part of my flesh cut away made me feel violated and vulnerable. I began thinking more about my future and that of my first child. I want to spend as much time as I can with my boy and the realization that I have possibly taken months, years or decades away from out relationship haunts me. My chances of having a melanoma diagnosis in my lifetime are much higher having a history of non-melanoma skin cancers. The reality of the useless exchange I have made hit me hard. It still does. A tan could never be worth losing precious time with my son.


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