Wednesday, July 6, 2016

So I Totally Have Skin Cancer

As expected (because my new and much improved dermatologist told me to expect it), my biopsy came back positive. It's a basal cell carcinoma. On the upside it's a superficial basal cell carcinoma. Because if you're going to have an "abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion," you don't want it to be a deep and introspective one. Superficial and flighty is best. Superficial BCCs can also be treated by a topical chemotherapy cream, so I get to try that first instead of going straight to radiation and/or surgery, so that's good.

On the downside I'll have 4 weeks of a cream eating my cancerous flesh and turning my chest into an "ugly open wound." High necked clothing has been recommended, which is perfect for Fort Worth in late July. And EVEN BETTER, when I googled the cream that was prescribed to me I learned that its most frequently used to treat anal and genital warts. And also sometimes superficial BCCs. So when the pharmacist asked me if I had any questions about how to use it and I said no, he didn't know which one I was using it for. I also googled the cream's side effects on my work computer, so you can totally FOIA my internet history of anal warts. Delightful.

But honestly, this is okay. If I must have cancer, BCC is the best of the cancers. It doesn't spread. We're going to get it out. It may take more than one round of flesh eating cream and I am ABSOLUTELY going to complain about this cream and my high necked clothing in 115 degree weather, but we'll get it out.

I am displeased to have a scar on such a visible part of my body, particularly since I've always been rather fond of my chest/clavicle area for reasons as superficial as my basal cell carcinoma. I have feelings about the fact I have cancer at 33. But I've channeled those feelings into shopping and now everyone in my house will have swimming burkas by the end of next week and sunlight will never touch our skin again. Yay!

Is this too much?

I really have done a good/frightening amount of UPF shopping in the last 48 hours. We're halfway through summer, so I have sunscreen fatigue anyway, but also, we really need to think beyond just "oh we're headed to the pool/lake/water park," let's sunscreen it up. Sun protection is a daily year-round always and forever kind of thing. Coolibar is having a 25% off all sale sale with free shipping, so I have this lovely sun wrap coming my way (it's a thin, light fabric with UPF 50 woven in and I think it'll be nice to throw on anytime I'm not otherwise suited up and the sun is not conveniently on the other side of the earth),

some beach pants (similar to the sun wrap, but on my legs!),

and the girls have some long sleeve rash guards, swim shorts, and even swim tights.

Honestly Claire's items (above) are a little more involved than I would have required, but she picked them out and since she is WAY too tan for her fair skin right now, I'm all for anything she'll wear with zinc in it. And the little surfer suit is for Cora. It's going to be her new backyard swimming suit- just zip her in and send her out. With responsible adult supervision of course. And a hat. We all need hats.

Landon has a long sleeve rash guard coming his way. James already wears one and a giant hat every time he's out at his pool. And I bought this RIT Sun Guard product you can wash with your clothes to infuse them with magic and sun protection.

I found some adorable rash guards from Athleta and the Cabana Life website that are due to arrive any day and then some simple and cheap bikinis at Old Navy to wear underneath.

I'm only keeping one of those. Probably.

From what I can tell so far, having skin cancer means doing a lot of online shopping. It's because the cancer is superficial.


  1. I'm so sorry about the basal cell carcinoma! So uncomfortable, especially the location on the chest (although thank goodness not the face right?!?!). We have serious melanoma genes in my family so I can relate on the sun protection shopping. My favorite purchase has been a large floppy straw hat from jcrew that I bought a couple of years ago. It's probably overpriced but it miraculously fit my head and has held up well and literally provides shade down to my bikini top in front. Also I always sit under an umbrella. Always. It is easier than remembering to reapply sunscreen.... hang in there and please let me know which rash guard you like best! I could use a recommendation.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about this blip. And that's what I'm choosing to believe it will be-- mere blip. But gah, just the word CANCER is enough to send you in a tailspin. I'm well aware of that :( so I hope mentally you're doing ok. I say keep up the retail therapy too. What I wouldn't give to go back and tell my idiot 20 year old self about the dangers of the sun and tanning beds!!!

  3. I'm sorry LL. You are so resilient that this post is funny and endearing somehow.

  4. Ugh. I'm so sorry. I get checked every year, because I have a similar history. Nothing yet, but I figure it's only a matter of time.

    If you're looking for more sun protection gear, try Swim Zip. I buy their stuff all the time for Lis.

  5. UGH I hate that for you. My grandfather has tons of pre-cancer spots removed regularly, and plus my fair skin, I'm expecting issues in the future. I love the idea of the rash guards for kids. I got fried so much when I was a kid.... good luck!!!

  6. You really have such a great attitude about this, taking it all in stride, and with a good sense of humor too. Also Claire's new suit is hilarious :)

  7. I had to use that chemo cream on my very very superficial squamous cell carcinoma on my nose, just in time for a family wedding, yay! It turned my nose into a fiery red & peeling clown nose (my derm said he'd never seen such an extreme reaction) which was near impossible to cover with makeup. So watch out for that!

    That said, it really can be worse. See, I went to the derm to show this spot on my nose (which looked like a teeny pimple which wouldn't go away) out of "an abundance of caution" after I'd just finished chemo/surgery/radiation for breast cancer (of the invasive and not so superficial kind), diagnosed at 42. So, trust me, the cream is annoying, but really, this superficial skin stuff is a walk in the park.

  8. I'm sorry to hear this. It definitely is a wakeup call. I wear sunscreen on my face every single day, winter and summer (to prevent wrinkles) but I am very lax about sunscreen anywhere else unless I'm going to the pool. The kids spend a lot more time than I do and all three of them are very tan and it's only early July. We are not fair and skin cancer does not run in my family. Al the same, it is a wakeup call to take suncare seriously.

  9. Oh wow, so scary, but yes, if it has to be cancer, at least it's the best of the cancers to get. I live in Florida and have just recently (and I'm 38- scary) started putting sunscreen on my neck/chest daily. I have been really good about my face, mainly because I don't want to look like a handbag when I'm older, but we forget the sun touches other places daily! Good luck and I'm hoping that one round of the flesh-eating cream works!!!

  10. I was introduced to Coolibar by my dermatologist last fall. I don't have skin cancer yet, but my dermatologist assured me I will get it because of my skin type and because of the medicine I have to take for autoimmune disease. She sufficiently scared me enough that I've been buying sun protective clothing ever since. I live where there is dry heat, but I've been pleasantly surprised by how tolerable the long sleeve Coolibar shirts are. LL Bean also makes good sun clothing, but it's not as stylish as Coolibar.

    For hats, I love Sunday Afternoons! I bought adult sizes for my kids, and they stay on just fine with the chin straps and they stay cool because the hats aren't tight. Sunday Afternoons has lots of different styles and none of them make me overheat. (And I get hot very easily. And crabby when I'm hot.) I think their hats would work well in humidity. They also wash easily, if you do end up sweating a lot in the hat.

    Also, my dermatologist told me about a pill I could take on days when I know I'll be outside a lot. It doesn't replace sunscreen or sun protective clothing, but it does augment those protections. I'm away from home (and my notes) and can't remember the name, so maybe ask your dermatologist if she recommends that too?

  11. I'm sorry for this scary bump in the road. I had a very early melanoma removed at age 32, a couple months after my second was born. It sent me into quite a tail spin. My very young body knows how to make cancer! That was 8 years ago. In that time, I have become super tight with my dermatologist and I have learned to put down the google. And I have learned that the Rodan and Fields self tanner foam is hands down the best tanner on the market. I've always been careful about the sun (making the melanoma especially annoying) and look forward to being beautiful at 70.

  12. I'm so sorry, Lagliv.
    Thank you for introducing me to Coolibar. I Just placed a big order. :)

  13. I'm sorry this happened, but so happy you caught it sooner rather than later!

  14. I had a BCC as well (diagnosed at age 32) that was removed via a minor surgical procedure. My doctor recommended taking daily Niacinamide - it's a B3 vitamin you can get easily (I ordered a bulk pack on Amazon) that early studies are showing can prevent skin cancer. Which is promising, since I'm fairly certain I will get another spot one day! Every little bit helps..