It’s official. Again. My second cancer is skin cancer. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell.
Now granted the damage was done decades before breast cancer, but technically still my second cancer.
My skin cancer was discovered because after I had radiation treatment I was advised by my care team to start regular skin checks with a dermatologist going forward if I wasn’t seeing one already. And I hadn’t been because every time I had checked out a dermatologist in the past they seemed more focused on selling me on skin care products and cosmetic treatments for lack of a better description.
So at the time I asked one of my doctors and some of the nurses whom they would go to which is how I got my wonderful dermatologist. He removed some questionable and basal cell loaded moles but about three years ago other things popped up and I was referred to one of his colleagues, a Mohs specialist.
Mohs procedures are day surgeries under local anesthesia. They remove cancerous skin in layers until it’s gone. It can be a long process because each layer is examined in a lab process right there. When the skin cells test clean, you are finished and they stitch you up.
Two years ago I had a Mohs surgery for squamous cell. As of yesterday I have completed two more Mohs surgeries. One for Basal Cell and one for Squamous Cell. And one surgery involved a skin graft.
Not going to lie, the procedures hurt afterwards. Both were on my face. But if I hadn’t followed my care team’s recommendations after breast cancer surgery and treatment it could be much worse.
So the moral of this story is if you are a breast cancer patient who was told to get regular dermatologist skin checks, please do it.
A powerful message.