Even cancer, apparently . . . .
About six months ago I noticed a mole on Carey’s back that was flaky and red. It would heal, then get flaky again – and it changed colors occasionally. As I was in the beginning of my cancer treatment, I was immediately concerned. (when you have cancer you see it everywhere)
Carey was not overly-concerned and she was so busy caring for me that she neglected to get it looked at. I pushed, three or four times, but there was no real sense of urgency about it. We agreed she needed to get it looked at it, but my needs were just . . . more immediate . . . and she let it go.
Finally, two weeks ago, she decided I was healing well enough for her to look after herself again. She went to a dermatologist to have the mole looked at. They, too, were concerned about it and took a biopsy.
Four days later, the verdict was in. Carey has a patch of skin cancer on her back. Basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma (BSC) is the most common non-melanoma skin cancer. It begins in the lowest layer of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. It usually develops on sun-exposed areas, especially the head and neck. Basal cell cancer is slow-growing and is not likely to spread to distant parts of the body.
Yes – you guessed it – Carey, being fair skinned, had a lot of sunburns on her back when she was younger. That’s all it takes, people. Public Service note: use sunscreen, especially in Florida!
The good news is that BSC is the best kind of cancer you can get if you do get cancer. It is very slow-growing, easily treatable by simply cutting it off the skin, and very rarely spreads. The biggest risk of BSC is that once you have one, you have a higher chance of getting more in the future. So – sunscreen at all times and quarterly checks of the skin to make sure no new tumors pop up. That’s it.
This morning, Carey had an appointment to get the BSC cut out of her back completely. She was nervous – after all, they were going to take a scalpel to her back. They let me stay and watch the entire procedure – it was quite a sight.
First, the nurse numbed her back with a bunch of micro-shots of anesthesia. Then, the doctor came in and very surgically removed a large area around the tumor and under it – making sure to go wide enough and deep enough to get the entire thing. Then, they used a laser to cauterize the wound, then applied 4 stitches.
That’s it. Quick and easy. Carey was a trooper – although the smell of her flesh cauterizing did make her nauseous. She is asleep right now – the anxiety and stress leading up to this wiped her out. Her back itches like mad, but the pain hasn’t set in yet. She will be sore and uncomfortable, but not too much so. By tomorrow she should be able to pretty much resume normal activity.
I know loving couples share everything – but I never intended that we share THIS! I hope this is the last time Carey has to deal with this. I wish I could shoulder (pun intended) this burden for her – but once again she showed me how strong she is.
Not a day goes by where she doesn’t amaze me.