My dad recently urged me to have a suspicious spot on my nose checked out for skin cancer. I had the spot for several years and had it checked out long ago by a dermatologist in Canada who assured me it was a blood vessel directly underneath the skin – not cancer. In retrospect, I should have probably questioned the doctor more because he offered to treat it for me with a laser, paid for privately with an approximate cost of $6000. No, thank you, the poor me said as this would have equaled years worth of savings.
After promising my parents would pay for any expenses relating to the doctor visit(s), I made an appointment with a dermatologist in Germany for two days later. This was at the end of January.
The dermatologist assessed my spot and said that I indeed have basal cell carcinoma on my nose. The cancer is in a prominent spot that would require surgery which would take several weeks if performed in that practice and would leave a large scar on my face. Due to my age, 28, the doctor therefore made an appointment at the university hospital in the city to take a biopsy and discuss further steps.
I was in and out of that office within 20 minutes and don’t remember much from there. I was planning on going running afterwards but felt this horrible weight on my chest, I had to pull into a mall parking lot and compose myself. Then, I called some friends in Canada (in the middle of the night) and completely broke down bawling. In the middle of a shopping mall. A lot of feelings and thoughts were crossing my mind: What if my nose has to be amputated? What if I have a huge scar and will look like a monster? What about the pain? I don’t want to stay in a hospital for 3 days, again. What if I can’t start my work contract for the dream job that I always wanted?
So let’s review some of these fears:
- I’m in good and professional hands here in Germany and already have a second opinion appointment booked for tomorrow. That’s the beauty of this medical system, you can book an appointment with a different medical professional and get a second opinion. My brother found this medical clinic that specialized in basal cell carcinoma and plastic surgery, I could be in and out within a day.
- Any scarring that will occur will help me look more distinctive and for anything else there is always plastic surgery. If I do end up with scars, it is what it is. I am a fighter and can tell an interesting story. Maybe I can remind people to take better care of their skin.
- Pain is temporary. Pain killers don’t work well on me, so I will have to suffer through the pain for a few days. So be it. I have had my appendix removed when I was a teenager, it cannot be worse than that experience.
- There are different therapy options including light therapy but it may depend on the type, location and size of cancer. Again, this is the beauty of second opinions.
- I have given up on finding a place for myself and decided to find a roommate in Glasgow instead. It will be easier to find, cheaper and less hassle. Or at least so I hope. As soon as I am done with the medical procedures here I will fly to Glasgow and stay in an Airbnb until I can find a flatmate to live with.
What this experience is also teaching me is:
- What is really important to me:
Travelling: If I look back at my life, I’d rather have experienced the world than possess expensive items.
Friends: I do have some amazing friends in Canada still who have been so supportive throughout the last couple of weeks. I’m hoping to meet such amazing people in Glasgow because I feel like Glaswegians (I had to google what you call people from Glasgow, oops) are some of the kindest Scots out there.
Goals: I do want to run more marathons and reach 100 marathons by the time I am 35. After this year I will only have 95 to go. It may be an ambitious goal but running is a true passion of mine and I want to set an ambitious goal to work towards.
Lifestyle: I am wearing sunscreen every day now. I have never done this before unless I knew I would be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time e.g. on the boat, hiking, running. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and I am going to treat it with the respect and care it deserves.
On that note I have also decided that I am going to make a conscious effort to follow a vegan diet because it has been shown to reduce cancer and increase overall health. In no way, shape or form am I intending on labelling myself a full fleshed vegan, however, I do want to be more aware of how I fuel my body.
The biopsy was taken a couple of days after the initial appointment and I am seeing the doctor later today to discuss the results from the biopsy. While I was being stitched up the doctor was about 90% sure that it was skin cancer based on my skin’s elasticity, however, the biopsy will be able to tell whether or not it’s cancer with 100% certainty.
That is all I have to share with you for now. I am getting the biopsy results back this afternoon and will decide what steps to take next.
Questions of the day:
- Have you ever had a health scare?
- Do you use sunscreen every day?