Y'all. Do NOT get Mohs surgery! Whatever you have to do to avoid needing it, do it and do it now. Get your sunscreen on, start wearing hats and long sleeves, avoid chemo if at all possible. Because you do NOT want Mohs surgery, darlings. As lovely as all the people are in the office, as talented and fantastic as the doctor is, it's called "Mohs Surgery" because it is indeed SURGERY. Promise me you will do everything you can to avoid this most unpleasant of experiences. I always hated having a pale white face in the middle of summer. Now I have this, all from a basal cell the size of three pieces of couscous:
Basal cells are, fortunately, not malignant. But they are also not lazy. They grow slowly but surely, and are essentially the icebergs of the skin cancer family. The couscous-sized pink spot on my forehead was a WEE bit larger underneath. And by "underneath" I do mean, like, through all the layers of epidermis (the part we know of as "skin", all the way to the dermis. Which is why my stitched forehead is throbbing like a motherflubber to the point of making me nauseous.
Friday is my Squamous Cell Cancer removal day, which may turn into a bit longer of a day since I think I've found another one near my ear, which means I'm going to need another Mohs intervention on that. Awesome.
I'm telling you this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because I am a complainer. Why suffer in silence when you can have others suffer with you?! If I can gross you out and freak you out too, then maybe my gross-out, freak-out day hasn't been a total wash. :) Second, because although I make the point that my lengthy immunosuppression bears a decent amount of responsibility for these skin cancers blowing up, the key point for people not so immunocompromised is this: The fact remains that 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. End of story. So if you think a tanned kid is cute (who are these people in 2007?!), you need to know that you will bear some responsibility for any skin cancers your child develops. If you consistently lay out in the sun "just to get a little color" you will--almost guaranteed--end up someday with "a little" something else. Skin cancer is the #1 diagnosed cancer in the United States today. I'd call that a freakin' epidemic, wouldn't you?
All I'm saying is that there are things far scarier and uglier than white legs in July:
From the good people at skincancer.org~
2007 Skin Cancer Facts
*Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 1 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.
* Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths each year.
* One in 5 Americans and one in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
* More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
* A person's risk for skin cancer doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns.
Approximately 59,940 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,110 resulting in death.
* More than 20 people die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma.
* 1 in 59 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
* One blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
* While melanoma is uncommon in African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is most deadly for these populations because it is more likely to develop undetected.
* Survival rate for patients with early detection is about 99%. The survival rate falls to between 15 and 65% or higher, depending on how far the disease has spread.
* The cost of melanoma in the U.S. is more than $740 million annually.
* Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in men over age 50, ahead of prostate, lung and colon cancer.
* Melanoma is the third most common cancer in women aged 20-39.
* The percentage of women under age 40 with basal cell carcinoma has tripled in the last thirty years, while their rate of squamous cell cancer has increased four-fold.
* Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
* Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
* On an average day in the U.S., more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons; 70% are Caucasian women aged 16-49.
* People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UVR that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.
* The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion.
* Up to 90 percent of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. These changes can be seen as early as in one's 20's.
So, armed with this scary new knowledge, my friends, HAVE A MOHS SPECTACULAR DAY! ;)