I Have a Story to Tell.

(WARNING: scroll delicately.) 

Last year I noticed a new "souvenir" developing on my left cheek beneath my eye. Most people have been oblivious cause I'm good with makeup. But... if you know my DNA, either from my mom this was a new blotchy freckle or from my dad this was a new mole. Since occasional souvenirs are part of my biology, this is part and parcel of just being me. So I decided to keep an eye on it, but carry-on with my life as is. In the winter the souvenir's activity arrested. Yet in the spring I noticed it again had increased in size, and had become itchy. Itchy skin is not foreign as well thanks to allergies and psoriasis. (And we all know to avoid making problems worse, you don't scratch the itch.) However the itching gave way to burning and that's when I knew I needed to call my dermatologist. At first it was assumed there was an infection due to inflammation as there were so many wild colors present (and possibly I'd been in a bar fight? Though I assured him that was definitely NOT the case). After a week of treating the inflammation it was decided to move forward with a biopsy. I've had biopsies in the past, again remember "Girl-of-Many-Souvenirs". However they always come back benign, so I just figured I was being overly cautious. But considering Murphy's Law plus my luck, I figured it was best to be overly cautious. 

I was told I would receive my results in 10 to 14 days. However I heard the words "Squamous Cell Carcinoma" over the phone within 3 days. It's oddly strange, the routine and run of the mill tone that enters the conversation as statistics, diagnosis details, risks & specifics about Moh surgery are rattled off like memorized historical facts. There's not much to adequately describe what it feels like in that exact moment. Sounds go deafeningly silent. Sensations in the body & brain go numb. The moment a person is intimately introduced to cancer in their own personal health is nothing less than traumatic. Are there worse types of cancer then skin cancer? Yes. Are there more devastating treatments then Moh surgery? Yes. However, to become abruptly face-to-face with one's own mortal frailty is unlike anything else. On this side of it now, I think what I wish had been present in that conversation was maybe a moment, a sliver carved out with room for a little compassion. Maybe just a question. Simply asking "Are you OK?" That would've been good.

...So, initially the surgery was set a month out, and then unset + reset again (thanks to the blessing of a cancellation list) just one day out. Which was probably the perfect situation, as it provided less time for anxiety. I arrived, I was injected, I was cut open, the margins were checked, they were clear, I was stitched back up. In the conversation prior to the surgery on the phone I was assured how nice and tidy everything would be. My doctor didn't amazing job, really and truly. What they didn't prepare me for was when I saw myself, and how traumatic that would be. As I had been expecting a much smaller site, and not all of the swelling. I certainly didn't expect to see a blonde haired, blue eyed, female version of Frankenstein with black eyes! Suddenly I was thrown into an unexpected mourning and grief at the loss of my cute cheek that had been my partner in crime since the day I was born. My symmetrical cheeks. My signature cheeks. Home of my dimples. All else could be out of sorts in my life or my body, but my cheeks... my cheeks, my smile, my dimples I've always been able to count on. And now the left cheek looked like a war torn country. That day was a hard day. Aside from all the pain, emotionally I was destroyed inside. I know that we are so much more on the inside then we are on the outside, but this was a change to my identity. And on that day I can already tell that this was going to be a hard adjustment.

There of been postop check ups, and appointments for suture removal. And in each visit to the office they told me how amazing things look even though I know my cheeks aren't the same. (Even though I see my scar every day and I'm reminded of what I was and what I am not anymore.) The doctor repeatedly has said that in a couple months I will be as impressed as he is, and in six months I won't even notice. These kinds of results are promised over & over. But it's been hard to jump on their bandwagon of belief, because they only see me for short little visits every so many weeks. Where in the moment to moment day today, I've not seen a difference. Until now. 

Today marks a little more than a month and a half since my surgery. It's been two months since the biopsy, and since reality shifted with the word cancer. And I'm now seeing that the doctor is right! Sometimes it's so hard for us to trust those who don't walk immediately in our shoes, even if they do have a little more expertise than we do. Kind of reminds me of my relationship with Heavenly Father. I'm so quick to focus on my tunnel vision perspective, I forget that He sees the whole picture. He knows that what we're going through, that consumes us now, is but a small little blip in our Eternity. So my little story has taught me to trust Him more because he's the ultimate physician, the ultimate expert, and the ultimate comforter in EVERYTHING. 

And I've also learned in the world we live, as active as we are (and as fair skinned as I am) that SPF is a must. SPF always!

#iknowmyheavenlyfatherlovesme #lifeisbeautiful #livedeliberately #cancersucks #spfalways #squamouscellcarcinoma #thereislightattheendofthetunnel


jess said...

Love you babe! You are healing on multiple levels and the wonder woman skills continue to accummulate <3

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

So thankful for a great result. So scary. Words no one wants to hear.
Love you little sis.

Panharith said...

Love you babe!


Elizabeth said...

glad you are OK!

akira said...

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Susan said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I had the same experience back in 2006 except mine was not cancer. But they said that I had something that could lead to it. They did slice the top off and was red. I am glad you are okay and you look great! God bless you!

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