Habits Can Be Hard To Change

Summer is here! Blue skies, warm temperatures and great sunshine to be enjoyed. But this year, I am assessing my life style and doing my best to change life long habits of sun worshiping and tanning.

Honestly, staying out of the sun is not easy for me. I love the feel of the warm, hot sun on my skin. I do not like white/pale skin and have always thought a tan body, regardless of the size or shape, always looks better tan then being pale white.

I do not like wearing hats! Unfortunately, I have a large head and it has always been hard finding a hat that fits well. When I take the hat off my head I do not like what the hat has done to my hair. So I have to plan on wearing the hat for the whole day and never taking the hat off regardless of the situation or deal with creased, odd-looking hair. I have purchased a few large brimmed hats and am learning to put a hat on my head whenever I go outside. I even found a Jack Daniels cowboy hat that fits perfectly and looks so good!

Sunscreen is a product that has always been a love, hate issue for me. I either don’t like the scent or the feel of the lotion/spray on my skin. Through trial and error I have found a sunscreen that I love. Australian Gold spray gel, 30 spf. This sunscreen comes clear or bronzed. I have now used both and will continue to use them. It can be sprayed but it isn’t a fine spray. You will need to use your hand to spread across your skin. No oily feeling and smells like coconut. I keep a bottle in my bathroom along with my makeup and another bottle downstairs to help remind me to reapply during the day.

Also, I have started using Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Mist. Every few days I spray my body to give it a light tan glow. I follow the instructions on the can and havent had any problems with orange or streaking skin. Seeing some tan color on my skin is a big plus for me!

I will change! Luckily I have a strong, stubborn, determined personality and when I decide to do something I can usually make it happen.

Cancer Cells are GONE!

The day that I had dreaded for so long was finally here! MOHS surgery scheduled at 9am. I expected to be in the doctor’s office for most of the day and packed a bag. I packed my diet coke, ice, snack, iPad and charger…Ready to hydrate, read a book and listen to music.

My husband drove me to the doctor’s office. I kept trying to relax but felt so nervous! I kept trying to think happy thoughts but my mind kept going back to the unknown of the day ahead of me. I text my parents and asked that they say a prayer for me and the doctor. My Mom’s return text told me they loved me, would pray and let them know how I did at the end of the day. Knowing my parents were saying a prayer in my behalf helped to relax me somewhat.

The doctor came into the room and introduced himself to my husband and me. As he was looking at my face and my leg he explained what the steps would be, that a final outcome isn’t known until all areas were clear of cancer cells. He told me he was really concerned about the location on my eyelid but again, its step by step.

Lidocaine is something I have never like being injected into my skin! Some doctors seem to have a knack for keeping the burning and painful sensation to a minimum. This doctor was good but I have had much better injections in the past. The thigh area is not too bad when the lidocaine starts to go into the tissue. Very tolerable. But my eye is another story! The lower and upper eyelid is such a sensitive area! All the tricks were done but It hurts so bad until the numbness starts. Once the area is numb the next injection isn’t as bad.

My thigh had 1 large slice taken off. The eye lid had 1 slice taken off. The skin tissue was taken to the lab for pathology review. Each area had a pressure dressing applied to control bleeding and I think to keep me from looking at each area. 

The nurse came back into the room and announced the thigh was clear and would be sutured when everything was done. My eye still had cancer cells and the doctor would take another slice.

Another slice cut from my eyelid. I could hear the cutting through the tissue which I though was very odd. I held my body tense afraid I was going to feel pain. No pain.. all skin numb. Another pressure dressing and time to wait.

While waiting I feel calm. I listen to conversations from the other rooms. One man is having a lesion removed from his ear. A woman announces she is a ICU nurse. I think…so much for patient privacy laws.

The doctor and nurse come back into room and happily announce the eyelid is clear. I am so relieved and tell the doctor about my fears and concerns of the “what could have beens”. He tells me part of my eyelid is gone and he will do a graft from my upper eye lid.

I was starting to have sensation in my lower eyelid. He tells me he is going to try to suture without anymore lidocaine since it will increase my eye swelling. The first suture, he told me, I would some pressure. That was very understated! As soon as he started putting the needle into my skin my body came off the table. I held my head in one position but my body was moving. I was told he had 4 more to do that would feel that intense. I told him to use lidocaine, I didn’t care about the burn from the lidocaine or swelling but I didn’t want to feel that kind of pain!

Pressure dressings are applied to both areas, I am given my discharge instructions and walked to waiting room.  I still had my bag of goodies not using any of the items.  Randy asked if I had been given something because I was talking non stop.  Most have been the adrenaline!

I am thankful and grateful to everyone who expressed their concern thru prayers and well wishes!  All cancer cells in my eye lid are gone!  All cancer cells in my thigh are gone!

Nervous, anxious and afraid!

Tomorrow is the day I have MOHS surgery. The basal cell carcinoma that is below my right eye and on my upper thigh will be removed.

MOHS surgery is a slice by slice procedure. Each slice is reviewed under the microscope to see if all cancer cells are gone. If not, another slice is cut and cut until every edge is clear. When the process starts the doctor and I will not know how much skin or tissue will need to be removed. Not knowing the final outcome is not how I like to do things. I like clear-cut answers whenever possible. 

Most MOHS surgery incisions are closed the same day. The incision is sutured closed, bandaged and you are sent home to recover. If my eye/face requires a large incision or the cancer cells goes into my eyelid then the incision will be left open for a plastic surgeon to reconstruct.  A bulky bandage will be placed over my eye and wound and I will see the next doctor in a few days.  Not fun, going home with an open hole on ones face!

I mentally try to prepare myself for tomorrow! I feel like I am informed on what to expect. I have read many articles and viewed pictures with good and bad outcomes. I am as ready as I am going to be!  But yet, I am nervous, anxious and afraid! I will try to stay positive and hopeful!  

All positive energy, thoughts and prayers sent my way are very much appreciated!

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow, I return to work in the ER. I will work 3 days in a row, 12 hr shifts each day. The hard part will be when my alarm goes off at the early hour of 5am! And yes, I am looking forward to returning to work.

This past week has been very long and exhausting! A week full of pain and healing, emotionally and physically.  I am finally seeing progress to my healing skin. What was 2nd degree burned skin is now almost healed. Many of the red lesions are gone. Only a few scabbed areas remain.

To my fellow coworkers it is alright to ask me; how I am, what has been done and why! I decided to be open and not remain private about this skin cancer journey I am traveling. I hope my situation will help someone else make better decisions in their life regarding tanning and possible skin cancer!

To those who expressed positive thoughts, concerns and prayers …THANK YOU!

Jamaican Smile Time!

My favorite drink in the Caribbean is the “Jamaican Smile“.  Not all bartenders know how to make this delicious drink.  Some will try to make up some tropical/fruity concoction thinking a tourist will not know any difference.  So easy to make with the correct ingredients.

Jamaican Smile

1 banana

Ice

Strawberry puree or strawberry daiquiri mix

Milk

Cream of Coconut

Rum, optional

Whip Cream

Fruit

Blend in blender until smooth.  Pour into cups.  Add rum, pouring down straw.  Whip cream and fruit garnish, optional.