And So It Begins…

Surgical Lights. ©Tracy J Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.

Surgical Lights. ©Tracy J Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.

So yesterday was surgery #1 for the cancer on my back. After a long discussion with my doctor I chose one of three removal options. The options were by excision, through Immunotherapy drugs, or by Curettage and Electrodessication.

Since it is a larger basal cell, with an excision he would have had to cut about ten inches in length and go pretty deep for clear margins plus I would have quite a few stitches to contend with and the pain that accompanies it. The second option was Immunotherapy via Imiquimod used to treat advanced basal cell carcinomas. The drug uses your own body’s immune system to kill off the tumor but the regimen would require daily topical application for six straight weeks with pain and discomfort accompanied by flu-like symptoms. The third (which I chose) was the Curettage and Electrodessication method. It would not require a large incision or stitches nor the yucky chemo side effects. He used a sharp curette (a spoon-shaped instrument) to scrape and scoop the tumor out then used a machine with an electric current to burn away any excess cancer cells surrounding the tumor spot. So now I have a semi-deep, open spot on my back that simply requires cleaning, application of ointment and bandaging for the next several weeks. It stung quite a bit after the local wore off but I slept well last night after taking an Extra Strength Tylenol and today I only feel it a tiny bit along with a headache.

The surgery room. ©Tracy J Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.

The surgery room. ©Tracy J Thomas, 2014. All rights reserved.

Although it does not have as high of a success rate as the Imiquimod, I decided the C&E method would be the best choice since I will have to also deal with the healing process, discomfort, etc. of the upcoming surgeries on my face which will be more involved and require stitches.

My lollipop following surgery.

My lollipop following surgery.

I also had another pre-cancer (Actinic Keratosis #20) frozen off my forehead right before the surgery. We discussed moving my topical chemo regimen forward to the end of October following my Mohs instead of waiting any longer since I have so many “spots” of concern on my face. So I have five weeks of possible Hell to look forward to after all this surgery. The level of that particular Hell will depend on how many sub-dermal spots turn up when I use the Fluorouracil. Common side effects of this topical chemotherapy may include: skin irritation, burning, redness, dryness, pain, swelling, tenderness, or changes in skin color at the site of application. Eye irritation (e.g., stinging, watering), trouble sleeping, irritability, temporary hair loss, or abnormal taste in the mouth may also occur. Oh goody!

Paraphernalia to make the owie all better.

Paraphernalia to make the owie all better.

So the lesson in this is WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN and those big, sexy hats. It’s not “just skin cancer” that can be cut away and forgotten about. It is real, it costs time and money, and it wreaks havoc on one’s psyche.

That is all for now…

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About tracyth76

I am a professional photographer, obsessed iPhoneographer, freelance writer and website designer located in Northern, California. View all posts by tracyth76

3 responses to “And So It Begins…

  • Madgew

    I am assuming this wound will now heal from inside out. Take care and watch closely to make sure it is closing. I had to spend 27 treatments in a hyperbaric chamber for a wound that would not heal after a surgery. Holding you in the light for easy recovery for this one and the upcoming surgery.

  • Alice Keys

    I’m certain that things will proceed well from here. It sounds like you are being cared for by capable folks. You may be surprised by how quickly and completely you heal. I’ve had a couple of friends with similar lesions who are all healed up now. Other than wearing the big sexy hats, it’s a thing of the past.

    Thanks for the update.

    All the best, always.
    Alice

  • brosen2014

    Best of luck with your recovery! So glad everything went well. I had the same kind of surgery about 22 years ago with a spot on my back, though I never knew what it was called. I was surprised at how quickly it healed, especially without having stitches or staples.

    I have used both Fluorouracil and Imiquimod. My dermatologist prescribes both a little different, to make the treatments more tolerable. For Fluorouracil – one week one, two weeks off, for a minimum of four treatments. For Imiquimod – two weeks on, two weeks off, for a minimum of 2 treatments. Imiquimod seems to work better for me, but everyone is different. My husband uses Fluorouracil annually on his face. Both of us have tolerated it well, so that might be a good sign for you.

    Take care and I’ll definitely keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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