Monday, January 25, 2016

The one where you find out you have skin cancer

I'm very proud of my cultural heritage and it always amuses me a bit when people are surprised I don't consider myself just 'White'.  The bulk of my heritage is Irish, Italian, and Native American and while I think the only thing I inherited from my Native ancestry are my cheekbones, it's still very much part of me.  Because I got the Irish skin I've always been very careful with it - it rarely tans and often burns.  As a child I broke into awful rashes in the summer that the local doctors could never figure out and finally just said I had an allergy to the sun.  Because of this I've always slathered myself (and the kids now, as well) with sunscreen and taken very good care of my skin. can't really put sunscreen on your eyelid cuz it burns when it gets into your eye.  So it figures the one place I couldn't put sunscreen on would be the place I end up getting skin cancer.  

I had a sty like mass removed from my eye last month because the thing just would not go away on its own.  Got the phone call yesterday from the very nice ophthalmologist who removed it that it was in face, caner.  Nodular basal cell carcinoma to get technical.  I've been looking around online to see what I can find out about it and the good news is most bcc is rather easy to remove.  The crappier thing in my case is I had this thing for probably a good 3 years because I kept getting told it was a sty.  So I get to go see a dermatologist (which isn't a bad idea because I have a ton of moles) as well as a specialist who will perform MOHS micrographically controlled surgery on the remainder of the nbcc because unfortunately when the bulk was taken off they didn't get it all.  As long as the bcc hasn't gone back too far I should be fine and this should be a relatively non-invasive experience.  

I've been reminding myself since last Thursday that the world doesn't stop just because you've been told you have cancer.  Nature is always able to recover after natural disasters and I'm looking at this in much the same way.  Just because I got some shitty news doesn't mean I get to go hide in a hole and if my seasonal depression hasn't put me in that hole yet, this sure as hell isn't going to.  But it is a bit frightening because I've been telling the doctors for at least as long as I've had that thing that I'm just so energy level has plummeted from what it used to be.  And I have no idea if it's from this cancer, or a combination of both it and the L5 radiculopathy that's been continuously eating away at my leg muscles.  Advocating for health used to be something I only had to do for my kids, but for the last few years it seems more and more like I'm doing nothing but this for my own health.  And military health care is not an easy beast to deal with.  It's almost impossible to find an actual doctor (not a PA) who doesn't changes duty stations within 3 years.  I'm beginning to think I just need to get my care switched to the civilian sector so that I have the continuity of the same health care provider instead of having to constantly explain this to every new doctor I get assigned to.

Anyhow, life will continue.  The kids will keep growing, I will finish my degree, the world will keep on turning, and eventually this will be something I can look back on with appreciation for the experience it gave me.  But for now I just want to get through it.  And I'm not going to hide from the sun because that's no way to live.  Just keep on applying that sunscreen and enjoy the time that I have because no one lives forever and no one should.  We all get one life and we just have to make the best of it.  So that's the game plan.  I'll update my blog about this occasionally, but it's not going to overtake my life.  If anything, it will make me even more determined to enjoy what I have.  So I'll be over here doing the self-care thing while the world keeps turning.  And eagerly awaiting the end of Winter.