I always thought only old people got skin cancer…
It all started with what I thought was 4 or 5 large warts that had been on my head for years, we’re talking well over 4 years, I’m a rough tough tomboy who never paid it any mind because I could easily cover it with my long brown hair. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
The problems began in August of 2017. My head started to slightly itch and get very flaky and crusty at the area of the “warts”. They weren’t odd colored except for they were very shiny almost looking like pearls. My wonderful husband became concerned when he noticed my head bleeding one night, the “warts” were bleeding on their own, no scratching or trama, I paid it no mind. A couple of weeks went by and I noticed my head felt wet at work. I touched my head and it was a mix of blood and clear fluid coming from the “warts”. I became very worried and set up an appointment with a dermatologist ASAP.
September 5, 2017 was the day or the appointment, and probably one of the most shocking days of my life. My mom and sister drove 3 hours to come with me to this appointment. We make it to the dermatologist and I go back to the exam room. Dr. Raj comes in takes one look at my head and says, “yep. That’s skin cancer. Let’s do a biopsy to see what kind, and let’s go ahead and set you up with a surgeon to have it removed.” I was floored. I just kept thinking to myself I’m only 28, this is impossible. I asked him a few questions and he said most likely cause was excessive sun exposure. Fast forward 1 week and we found out I had an extreme case of Badal cell carcinoma, or as my husband jokingly called it. The paper cut of skin cancer. I was relieved to find out it wasn’t a deadlier form, but now we have to prepare for a battle.
october 19, 2017 was the day the plastic surgeons cut my scalp open. The surgery wound up being longer and more aggressive than we all thought. I had a full excision of the area along with 5mm margins all the way around. I had a skin graft pulled from my thigh and put on the wound because the had to scrape all the fat and meat away, all the way to the bone, to remove all the cancer. The cancer had burrowed almost to the skull cap (stage 2, borderline 3) When all was said and done I woke up with a Bolister bandage stapled to my head, skin graft stapled underneath my bandage, (24 staples in total) and 9 stitches in my skin graft donor sight. This was the most painful experience I have ever had in my life. I missed 11 days from work for recovery, not including check ups and ER trips for infection in the donor sight on my thigh.
On November 19, 2017 I received the greatest news I could ever ask for. All margins from the surgery came back clear, blood work clear, I was cancer free. I cried the happiest tears and thanked God.
My story of cancer survival was a fast one, within 3 months we found it, got rid of it, and began healing. But I will for the rest of my life have to keep a constant check for any new or existing changes on my skin because I now have a very high chance of having cancer again. I will admit, skin cancer is painful, and it leaves behind an ugly scar, but detection is key, if you feel something’s not right go to your doctor ASAP!
The pics above are of my big yellow bandage stapled to my head 1 day post op, and my scar 3 months post op. You can see my dent 😁