So for the last several years, I’ve had a regular check-up with my dermatologist where every six months I give him my co-pay and he takes out the liquid nitrogen wand and zaps half a dozen or so things on my head and arms, reminds me to keep wearing hats, and use sunscreen.
Such was the case this month. We were doing the standard search-and-zap when he was scanning my head and began saying things like, “Hrrrmmm” and “Mmmmm” and “I don’t like that” then saying to his assistant, “Prep this area for a biopsy.”
There had been an area on my head that had been kind of itchy and hadn’t seamlessly healed from the last LN2 treatment like all the other ones had and so I figured that area would get a little extra scrutiny. My dermatologist said that he was going to take some samples and have them analyzed to determine “what it was” and then “what we’d need to do about it”. His normal cheerful demeanor while pew-pew-pewing me with liquid nitrogen had evaporated.
And sure enough, a couple days later he calls and says, “Yeah, it’s a basal cell carcinoma.”
I’m sorry, carci-wha? I mean that makes it sound like cancer. And I couldn’t have cancer, right? I’m still young. I just get little blemishes. Certainly not skin cancer.
But as it turns out, biology isn’t going to be held up by my denials or euphemisms. On the upside, it turns out that as skin cancers go, basal cell carcinomas are the one to get (yay me, I guess). They tend to be slow-growing and non-metastatic and readily treated by surgery. Tend to be.
So on Election Day, I’ll be going to a clinic for a little out-patient surgery to make a hole in my head. Hopefully, a small one. The procedure is called Mohs surgery — a procedure by which the surgeon will go in, take tissues in a grid and test them in real-time to see if they’re cancerous or not. The excise-test-repeat is done until everything comes back clean. One of the benefits of Mohs surgery is that it minimizes tissue loss — which is nice considering it’s on my head and visible and all that.
So, that news wasn’t very welcome, though I know it’s certainly not the worst news you can get from your doctor. I have been trying to throw around “I’ve got cancer” in the hopes of getting treats and stuff, but so far basal cells aren’t generating the sort of sympathy desserts I had in mind. I can always hope for recovery desserts, I suppose.