About 10 years ago, I had a suspicious spot about a half in inch wide, “frozen off” of my arm. i was told it was nothing to worry about, that removing it was just a precaution. And for a long time it WAS nothing I worried about —
Then, sometime last year, I first noticed that the remaining scar tissue had changed appearance in places, and the whole spot got bright red after I worked out or took a shower (body heat was making the whole thing change color, where this had not happened before). It was getting wider, too.
Last month I had it looked at by my doc and was referred to a specialist, who THAT DAY took a piece to be sent out for biopsy.
Yesterday, that suspicious spot, now 3/4″ wide, was scooped, scraped, burned, then cut from my arm — the biopsy last month had come back as positive for basal cell carcinoma.
Sounds pretty bad, but I am very lucky:
1 – Basal cell carcinoma is non-invasive and will not metastasize as other skin cancers do. and there is no one among us who has not been affected by that. So I need not go on.
2 – These sorts of lesions usually occur where the skin is thinnest — on the face or nose. In fact, that it landed on my arm on such a thick skin area and over such a wide surface, had the surgeon kind of perplexed, but he was as glad as I was that the scar I will have (a concave space the size of a nickel, with 16 stitches spanning another inch across) can be readily hidden with a short sleeve. Truth is, this could have been a whole other cosmetic surgery issue, and had it landed on my nose, a host of other yucky possibilities.
3 – I will be fine, and my life can and will go on business as usual. But for all the mostly unprotected sun I got thru all my years, I dodged a big bullet.
Did I mention how lucky I am?
Now, I realize most people use sunscreen. We apply the screen to our faces and noses and cheeks with care, our shoulders and backs, too. But sometimes we forget that our arms and legs are still a part of the largest human organ, the skin. Maybe we think we have clothes on, or we are in the water, or we already have a base tan – so why bother?
Well, aside from the many dangers ranging from warning signs to deadly…I’ll give you a good reason:
Where they scraped, scooped, burned and cut off that hunk of basal cells? that shit HURTS today! the local pain meds for the procedure wore off yesterday and with Advil I was surprisingly in very little pain last night. But as this day is moving along, it feels like a swarm of bees dipped their stingers in jellyfish tentacle poison and stung my arm. oh and where they stuck me in 4 different places to numb my arm? OUCH! So, if for nothing else — protect your skin at all costs b/c post scrape/burn/cut skin pain is TORTURE! Plus you have to clean and dress the wound and be ultra careful and paranoid of infection for two weeks.
And, there is also the chance that you will not be as lucky as I was — in fact, for all the sunny day Russian roulette I have played, I’d say a hunk of non-invasive cancer on my arm is nothing short of miraculous.
I’m gonna stop gambling now and slather up – AND down – from now on.
If you don’t already, I hope you will, too.