The Heal is Real: Part 1

Hello everyone! The time has come for my surgery updates!  Yes, that’s right, my two November surgeries are now behind me (thank goodness!).  For those of you who are new to this blog, let me welcome you first and foremost.  Welcome!

As my loyal followers know, I had MOHs surgery by my left lower eyelid (super close to my tear duct) to remove basal skin cancer.  Next, I had breast explant surgery to remove 14 year old saline implants after battling breast implant illness.

I am so excited to share my experiences with you because they have changed my life in many ways.  Both surgeries came garnished with their fair share of emotions.  I can’t be anything but real in sharing my true experience for what it was.

Do You Have Skin Cancer?

Basal Cell MOHs Surgery

In the middle of the month, I showed up for my MOHs surgery with a surgeon that has performed this same surgery on me a few years ago in a spot on my face very close to this one.

This area, however, was even more close to my eye and tear duct resulting in possible complications and risks.  As a precaution, I was instructed to consult with an ocular plastic surgeon who would perform skin grafting and reconstruction the day after the MOHs surgery, if necessary.

I prayed and prayed that I would not need the additional reconstructive surgery because it required me to go under general anesthesia.

Knowing that I’d be put under just two weeks later for my explant surgery made me feel more nervous about the prospect.  “Please, God, let the MOHs surgery go well and not require a second surgery,” I prayed.

The time had come, my doctor called me back to start the MOHs surgery.  The thing about this surgery is, it could be very short or very long depending on what they find.

With MOHs, the doctor cuts out the affected area’s skin and then sends it to the pathology lab.  So, you wait with a bandage over the newly opened area as you wait for results.

If the doctor was able to get all the margins of the cancer in the skin, then there is no need to continue the procedure.  The doctor dresses the wound and off you go!  However, if there are signs that the margins are not clear, you go back under the scalpel for more skin to be taken for testing.

Praise the Lord, after an hour in the waiting room, I was given the great news that all the cancer was extracted on the first attempt!  I was patched up and told that I still needed to go for surgery the next day, at least to have the ocular plastic surgeon assess the wound to determine if more work was needed for optimal results.  WHAT?!

A sense of fear and dread overtook my body in that moment.  I thought I was out of the woods.  I thought that the doctor would be able to tell on the spot during the MOHs whether we needed to involve the other surgeon.  Not the case.

That night, my body reacted to the stress and pain. Silly, but I totally overlooked the fact that I would feel pain after this procedure.  I lost my appetite, my bowels were a mess, and emotions got the better of me.  I reallllly did not want to go under for the next surgery!  Per usual, I turned to prayer that night asking for God’s will to be placed in my life.

The Next Day

Bright and early the next morning, my mother drove me to the ocular surgeon’s office.  They called me back for surgery prep.  Still uncertain whether I really needed this additional surgery, I continued to advocate for myself to the nurses.

“Could I please see the surgeon before you place an IV in me and get me all ready,” I asked adamantly.  The nurse took off my bandage and looked at the wound by my eye.  This was the first time I saw the gaping hole.  It was big, but not that big, I thought.

The nurse voiced that she thought the surgeon would want to close up the wound with stitches at the very least (still requiring going under apparently).  No, no, no.

Everything in my body was resisting.  The nurse, luckily, heard my resistance and offered to take a few photos of my wound to show the surgeon who was busy in the operating room.

Before too long, the ocular surgeon came to my bedside to observe my face.  What a relief.  He actually came to assess the damage himself!  He then gave me the option of either letting my cut heal naturally on its own and seeing how the scar tissue formed OR going ahead with the surgery to lessen the possible effects of the scar.

“Heal naturally, heal naturally,” my insides screamed!  (If he knew anything about me, he would know that I always lean towards holistic, natural healing first!)  He seemed to agree that healing naturally would be a fine approach.

The worst case scenario would be that my scar tissue did not heal well and that I’d be back to square one needing the surgery to revise everything.  His biggest concern was that as my scar tissue develops, it could pull down on my lower eyelid or affect the structure of my tear duct.

Can I Get an Amen?

A sigh of relief and a sensation of excitement rushed over me.  My prayers had been answered.  The cancer was gone and I was given the chance to heal naturally!  Of course I don’t want an unsightly scar on my face, but I’m not vain enough to let that get me down.  It is what it is!

MOHs surgery

Here I am two and half weeks later and my scar is healing nicely.  The follow up with the ocular surgeon went as well as expected.

While I’m not out of the woods yet as far as scar development and how it might affect my eyelid, he felt pretty optimistic with the direction things were headed.  He said once I get past the 6 week mark, I could be pretty sure there wouldn’t be a change in outcome.

I continue to care for my wound every day by keeping it moist (yes, I hate that word but it’s necessary here) and through eating a clean, healing foods diet.  I just thank God for blessing me with a great medical team and a body that naturally knows how to heal.

Know Thy Own Body

If there is one thing about this story that I want you to take away, it’s to know your own body.  INTIMATELY.

If I hadn’t spoken up about this raised little red spot by my eye to my dermatologist, she would have completely scanned over it.  It wasn’t something glaring.  But, I knew its progression on my face.  It started as a skin colored bump that slowly raised and refused to go away.  I’d pick at it making it bleed thinking it might go away.  Nope. It persisted and I knew it needed to be addressed.

Tips for knowing your skin:

  • Observe every part of your skin (front, back, ins, outs, etc.).  Don’t forget the areas where the sun don’t shine! Have a friend or partner check the areas that you can’t see.
  • Become familiar with your markings (freckles, moles, scars, bumps, lumps, etc). If anything changes or causes you to wonder “I wonder if that’s okay?” GET IT CHECKED!
  • Schedule a yearly FULL BODY SKIN SCAN with a dermatologist whether or not you’ve had a history of skin cancer.  Even if you’ve never had a sun burn in your life, get your skin checked!
  • Watch for changes in your skin’s texture.  Pre-cancerous spots might present as rough or dry patches, so don’t just lather moisturizer on these areas and call it a day.  Keep a watchful eye on these spots.
  • Not all skin cancer is dark in color (common misconception).  Mine wasn’t!  The three times I’ve had basal cells removed, they have been light pink and spontaneously bled.  They have been slightly raised.  Nothing dark and ominous.  So don’t be fooled.

The Heal is Real

The heal is real, folks.  Trust your intuition.  Advocate for your own health.  And, bless those that help you along the journey.

In Part 2 of The Heal is Real, you’ll be hearing all about my breast explant surgery experience.  Be sure to subscribe so that you’re first to know when the post goes live!  I also ask that if this blog has spoken to you in some way, please share it with others.  xoxo

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