I thought it was a little pimple that popped up on the upper left side of my forehead. But instead of disappearing after a few days, as pimples are wont to do, it persisted. And it grew larger. Still, I ignored it, figuring that it would eventually go away.
But it didn’t. After a few weeks, the “pimple” seemed to be something more that just a zit. It grew bigger and was not perfectly round, like most pimples are. So I decided to go to a dermatologist to get a professional opinion on what this “more than a pimple” on my forehead was all about.
The dermatologist examined it and confirmed that the growth on my forehead was not, in fact, a simple pimple. He decided to take a scalpel and removed a layer of tissue from the zit and had his nurse take it to the on-site lab for analysis. Around ten minutes later, he walked back into the treatment room and told me that he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that my growth was cancerous. The good news was that it wasn’t a melanoma, the most dangerous and potentially deadly type of skin cancer.
It was squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer. SCC is usually found on areas of the body damaged by UV rays from the sun. It’s fairly slow growing, and when caught early, it’s relatively easy to treat.
My dermatologist said, “Let’s cut that sucker out” and he scheduled me to come back in a few days for something called Mohs surgery, an outpatient procedure done in stages, all in one visit, After removing a layer of tissue, the surgeon examines it under a microscope. If any cancer cells remain, the surgeon knows the exact area where they are and removes another layer of tissue from that precise location, while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. The doctor repeats this process until no cancer cells remain.
For me, it took three stages to get to the point where no cancer cells remained. The doc then stitched me up and affixed a bandage over the site and told me to return in a week to have the stitches removed.
Here’s a selfie I took after the surgery and right before I left the doctor’s office.
Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, where the word is “growth.”