It’s been a week since I posted about my fear as I faced the removal of a basal cell carcinoma (a common form of skin cancer) over my left eye. The response from friends and congregation members – and even people I don’t know! – has been heart-warming and intensely comforting.
Because so many took time to read through my public confession, I wanted to share a bit about how it all went. Here’s a bit of foreshadowing: I don’t ever need to be awake for a surgery that close to my eye. I can check that off my list.
I’d been told ahead of time that the worst thing I would face in terms of pain would be the shot to administer the local anesthetic that would numb the area to be cut. And for the most part, that’s the case. Once the area was numb, there were only vague sensations of pushing or tugging. Even with very limited sensation, there were times I sensed the cutting motion, and I had to very intentionally choose not to think about the reality that the doctor was cutting parts of my skin away.
And I don’t think I’ll talk about the cauterizing part. Again, no need to be awake for that kind of thing.
The procedure with most basal cell carcinomas – at least as I understand it – is called a MOHS procedure. Basically, the doctors cuts out what they think is all of the cancer and then send it immediately to a pathologist to test it to be sure they’ve cut it all out. If it’s found that they didn’t get it all, they continue cutting.
I understood that, but didn’t really think through the details. For my procedure, they ended up cutting a total of four times. And in between, I was sitting in a chair with my eyebrow cut open. Weird. It would have been better if I was knocked out.
And something unexpected happened. Once everything was cut out, the doctor asked me if I wanted a mirror to see for myself. Now, if you know me you know I’m a petite flower. I can’t handle seeing any kind of horrible-awfulness. I don’t like needles, I don’t like blood. So of course I wanted to see my eyebrow cut open!
It’s a good thing I was in a chair… The doctor wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t awake.
Just before sewing everything up, the doctor said that one more section of tissue would be cut out to be tested. And then came the stitches, the ice packs, the ointments, and eventually the follow-up to have stitches removed. And mostly everything’s ok.
There’s still a bit up in the air. While it is extremely rare for this form of skin cancer to spread, there’s still a possibility. And yet I feel far less fear than I did a week ago. The support and care and love are unbelievable. And so I look to the future with hope.
I have felt the good thoughts & juju, the prayers, the grace, and the love of dear ones near and far. And in terms of my eyebrow and my spirit, I am well along the journey of healing. Thank you.