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Carol Anne’s Fight Like a Girl Story (Skin Cancer)

Carol Anne's Story (Skin Cancer) Write, he said. And so I did. I’m Carol Anne and I am pleased to be your new skin cancer writer.

Beginning at the beginning, in October 2010 I walked into the emergency room with something that I believed was minor. A sore on my head had started to bleed. I woke up days later in ICU. I’d had two surgeries and had a breathing tube down my throat. The verdict was basal cell carcinoma that had invaded my skull and brain. I had a titanium plate in my head.

I was still in the hospital recovering when my husband suggested that I write about my experience. I think at the time he wanted me to exercise my brain and my motor skills. I’ve been blogging for years and so it was a natural extension to write about my story. I started slow not knowing exactly what I wanted to share and what I wanted to hold back. I told the story of going to the ER, I told about waking up days later and not remembering the days in between, I shared my fears.

As I collected myself and got my feet beneath me it became clear to me that what I feared most in all of this was the uncertainty. I’d never had an MRI before getting sick and the very thought of having one sent me into fits of anxiety. The doctor prescribed Xanax that I could take before the MRI but being my neurotic self I read that one of the possible side effects is hallucinations. This set me into an even bigger fit of anxiety fearing that I’d hallucinate while in the imagined tube. I walked into the room for my first MRI and was astonished to see the machine. Just looking at it I knew that I could totally do it with no problem. I’d built it up into something between a submarine and a hyperbaric chamber. I thought about how foolish I’d been building a simple medical test up into something so frightening.

As the year went on and I began my radiation treatments there were bumps in the road. The machine broke down and my scheduled end date moved a few times. These are things they don’t tell you at the hospital. I read another cancer patient’s blog and she mentioned the machine breaking down otherwise I would have never known this sort of thing happens. My husband comforted me during setbacks saying, “It’s a machine with hundreds of working parts. It’s in use 5 days a week for 8 or more hours a day, of course it’s going to breakdown sometimes.” A note about the machine breaking down and scheduled end dates changing should be given to every radiation patient.

Then came my first appointment with the dermatologist. I needed a full body exam to check for any more skin cancer. I was beside myself with worry. How full is a full body exam? Would the doctor check everywhere? Were we talking gynecologist type full body exam? I just didn’t know. I searched the web for a description but all I found were men describing their experiences. As the day approached I worried and worried and worried. When the day arrived and the exam occurred it wasn’t as invasive as I’d feared and it wasn’t embarrassing.

As the months have gone on I’ve thought more and more about how it’s not the illness itself that’s so frightening, well it is but it’s the uncertainty that’s overwhelming. Will my MRI be clear? What will show up on CAT scan? Will my blood work come back okay? Did the radiation treatments work? Add in strange new medical tests and full body exams and you’ve got a recipe for major anxiety. Well at any rate it was my recipe for anxiety.

In coming months I’ll try to explain different medical tests so that you will have a better idea what to expect as you fight like a girl.

~ Carol Anne

The informational content of this article is intended to convey general educational
information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

9 comments

  1. Carol Anne Lee Mathis

    I was 22 years old with a 1 year old daughter and found out that I had Melanoma. I had a mole on the back of my left leg. It took 12 stickes to move the mole and then 10 days in the hospital for the more removal. This was in 1981 and I called the Cancer Soc. to ask for infomation about this cancer and no one could help me. I have a place the size of a soft ball on the back of my leg. I have had skin cancer more times than I can count. I had Melanoma again behind my left ear in 2002.

    • I myself have many, many moles from the tanning beds and time at the beach.

      So how in the heck do they keep up with them all? My dermatologist doesn’t seem nearly as concerned as I am…… I have had thee atypicals but no melanoma yet.

      I also, have a few keratosis that I suspect will evetually become scc.

      My throat bothers me sometimes so I am afraid that there is something that they have overlooked and that I have something more serious……..

      So scared! Any advice?

  2. Carol Anne I am so thankful your sharing your story. I to had basel cell carcinoma on the skull. I was lucky in that I had radiation for Lymphom on the skull. They had told me what to watch for so the area of basel cell was caught though large. It had not invaded the skull or brain. I had a large area removed and 15 stitiches…they talked about skin graphs…and all of that but so far so good its healed well. I don’t know what the future holds with two cancers. But I took what I thought skin cancer seriously…However one derm did not…With in days I saw my surgeon for a general surger and he looked at it…said your having a biopsy NOW. I have to say I am so very glad I did. I have a skin check in the near future. So Its never going to be taken lightly due to it being a secondary cancer for me. Stay strong..

  3. Carol Anne – I love you and that you are sharing with even more people. ((((hugs)))

  4. Bless you for sharing your experiences.

  5. Thank you for writing on the subject of basel cell carcinoma. I have had a sore on my nose for the last 10 months that has never healed and always bleeds. Last week it was finally diagnosed as basel cell and will be cut out next month…hoping they get it all and no other treatments will have to be done as I have already gone through breast cancer.

  6. My wife was told she had stage 4 skin cancer. So scary. Just wish I could know if she is going to be okay.
    I hate the thoughts. She is strong and wants to fight and beat this. Wow it takes so much out of her. It is only in her lump nods on her bronc. lining. Any help you can give me?

    • I hope all is well with your wife. How was she diagnosed?

      I myself have many, many moles from the tanning beds and the beach.

      So how in the heck do they keep up with them all? My dermatologist doesn’t seem nearly as concerned as I am…… I have had thee atypicals but no melanoma yet.

      I also, have a few keratosis that I suspect will evetually become scc.

      My throat bothers me sometimes so I am afraid that there is something that they have overlooked and that I have something more serious……..

      How was your wife diagnosed

  7. Thanks for sharing. A year and half ago I had mole on arm that began turning white. My docor checked and cut it out the same day. 9 stiches, he said he would send off to have checked. Two days later the results are here scemous cell carcinoma. I was at dermatologist within 2 days. Another surgery and 43 stitches more.. Then comes the body scans. Well, just last month one inch from where my scar is – its back. This time 47 stitches for the same! Im going thru another surgery in December, but doing good, So, my advice is check your body and dont just look at the darker color – look for change in color and if edges are jagged. Im a warrior and with God by my side, Im fighting like a girl,,,,,

    Paula Smith

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