Tom's Cancer

around the pool

One weekend in 2008 the family and friends were sitting around the pool when I happened to mention that I had a "growth" that had popped up on my eyelid. Well, that started the fracas about skin cancer; when had I had my last skin cancer check (as if; real men don't do sissy things like that) and on and on. After being lectured by wife, daughter and concerned friends on the perils of skin cancer, they harangued me into going to the skin cancer quack (I think they call them dermatologists). The next day I make an appointment.

The dermatologist was quite nice and explained that the "growth" on my eyelid was merely a small wart. I was relieved. "But," he continued, "that is a skin cancer on your temple."

He then asked how long it had been there. It had been there for years! It was just a small tag and when it bothered me I'd take my clippers and cut it off. I thought that was all it took. He looked at me with that condescending look reserved for the village idiot and told me that it had to be removed. Gasp! My mind envisioned me sheet draped in an operating room, but he explained they would do it in the office with a little novocaine and a knife. Seemed simple enough. He sent the biopsy off to verify his diagnosis. Naturally, it was positive.

A week or so latter I arrived at his office for the procedure. After the explanation of the procedure, he socked the novocaine to me and when properly deadened, he made his cut.

"Well, that was easy enough," I thought.

They took the divot that had been carved from my temple to their lab to determine if he'd gotten it all. I patiently sat in the chair while this was done. He returned and stated he was going to have to take a second divot out of me since he hadn't gotten it all on the first try. I asked, "Wider or deeper?" I was relieved to hear wider since on the first cut it seemed that he'd hit bone. He took another divot and away it went to the lab again.

skin cancer removed

While the nurse stayed with me so I wouldn't bolt from the chair, I had her take a couple of photos with my cell phone. This is the best of them. The purple lines are used to orient the divot in the lab to the crater in my head for successive divots if needed.

The second divot got it all so then he took some kind of skin stretcher and pulled the craters together for sutures.

sutured up

See, you can hardly see the scar.

close up of sutures

Hmmm.... Maybe I can make up a story about being cut in a bar fight over a woman.

As luck would have it, in three months the scar wasn't noticeable so my bar fight story was abandoned.

Now I make my annual trek to the skin cancer quack to get checked out and have all the bumps, flaps, tags, etc. looked at. So far, so good.



The years passed and then in January of 2014 I felt a little bump on my back that was sore.

cancer 1

Having learned my lesson, I dutifully made an appointment to have it checked out. Besides how bad could it be? I'd just had my annual body scan six months ago.

A little snip, off to the lab with the sample for a biopsy and ten days later a call to comfirm that it was a squamous cell carcinoma.

I made my appointment, and like a goof arrived at the office without my cell phone. So I don't have any open wound photos of this proceedure. It was just cut, cut, sew, sew and send me home. Another job well done!

Well, on the second day the dressing had to be changed. Hmmm.... That dressing looks kind of large for that little bump I'd had.

cancer 2

Let's take a look.....

cancer 3

I guess the good news is that they got it all.

However, I can't go shirtless at the beach anymore now that my perfect body is flawed by that grotesque scar.