Cancer Sucks. I can prove it.

Cancer Sucks.

Well, I guess it’s a given.  No one would disagree with me.  The good news is that I’m cancer free again.  Modern medicine is a wonderful thing.  Yes, skin cancer is curable (if you catch it in time).  But I don’t think people realize what they have to do to cure it.

My malignant basal cell was on my arm.  It was only about a quarter of an inch round.  Like the size of a squashed pea.  No biggie, right?

When I lay on that table, and they started drawing on my arm with a sharpie, I actually said:  “You don’t have to cut that much, do you?”

My surgeon explained that they have to cut bigger and wider so they can close it evenly.  He assured me that the scar wouldn’t be that big.  Okay… not really worried about the scar at that moment!

Holy freaking cow.  Get a ruler and draw a box that is a little over two inches long, and about three quarters of an inch wide.  Now put that baby on your arm.

Say what?  How stinking deep do you have to go?

Well, about ten minutes later, they were picking me up off the floor, and calling my husband in.

Okay, maybe I’m a wimp, but I think there should be a law that says you have to knock someone out before cutting two inches of flesh from their arm.  Sounds logical, right?

My husband is such a trooper.  He stood beside me and held my hand and talked me through it.  When they prepared to close me up an hour later, he glanced at my arm and his eyes told me everything that his fake smile did not.  Today, he told me he couldn’t believe how long and deep the cut was.

I don’t know what it looked like.  I kept my eyes on him.  I didn’t want to pass out again.

Not to gross you out, but this is what the stitches look like a day and a half later, from a pea-sized cancer cell.

Okay.  I lied.  I do want to gross you out.  Now will you go and buy some stinking sunscreen?  Yes, that scar is going almost completely across my arm.

Don’t be an idiot.  I did this to myself 25 years ago, when we didn’t know any better.  Now, we do know better.  Do your best to protect yourself.  Stay out of the sun, and if you can’t find shade, get some descent sunscreen.

Like I said before, if going through this helps a few of you to avoid it, it is all worthwhile.

You can go puke now.  (It’s okay, I don’t mind) and then get back to writing your novel.

(After you order some sunscreen— SPF 50 or higher.)


29 responses to “Cancer Sucks. I can prove it.

  1. Pingback: Cancer leaves Scars that you Cannot See | Jennifer M Eaton

  2. Sorry you had to go through this, but yeah, they need wide margins – better too much than too little. Looks like it’s healing well, at least. Scars are not so bad, and they fade with time.

  3. Though I’m glad to read that you’re okay, that sounds like a terrible ordeal. I sincerely hope that you won’t have to go through that again.
    Good for you, taking this as an opportunity to remind everyone to please pass the sunscreen!

  4. Thank you everyone for contributing. The best thing you can do for me is promise you will protect yourself in the future, and pray I don’t have to go through this again.


    • I took my very-fair skinned mom to the surgeon to have this done. Sunscreen wasn’t available when the damage was done and she grew up on a farm where outside work needed to be done. Sun screen is part of my life everyday since it became available. However, it wasn’t around when I was young and I remember several sunburns. I’m very fair also and get checked regularly.

      Great post and even better message.

  5. If your posts make even one person start using sunscreen regularly and thus stay cancer-free, you’ve done a wonderful thing! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  6. Jennifer, you survived what many do not. Wear that scar with pride! Cancer is ugly, your scar is beautiful, and you are beautiful, too.

  7. Thanks for sharing Jen, suncream all the way!

  8. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think a lot of people don’t realize how dangerous skin cancer is. And I would have fainted too!

  9. Glad you’re ok! Your gnarly scar is kinda cool though!

  10. It’s so easy for people to think, “Oh, it will never happen to me.” But sadly, it can, and it’s happening at younger and younger ages. As someone who’s worked in health care, I applaud you for posting on this–picture and all!

  11. Thanks for sharing Jennifer. You’re bloody right when you say that cancer sucks. I’ve lost a lot of family members to that miserable disease and have even had a brush with skin cancer myself (had what I thought was a beauty mark on my left cheek removed because tests said that it was pre-cancerous). I’m sorry you had to go through that but glad that they were able to get it all. Here’s to living the rest of your life cancer free!! 🙂

  12. Adriana Ryan

    Congrats on being cancer-free now! ((Hugs)) It’s so scary. I read most skin damage happens in the first 17 years of life.

  13. The Brooklyn gal is transplanted in South Florida. The sun is an ever-present danger. Sorry you had to go through such an experience, but grateful to you for sharing with us, Jennifer.

  14. Okay. Gross. I was convinced before the picture. I’ll be taking checking the expiry dates on my sunscreen….just to be safe.

  15. Ugh! I hear you! I had a basal cell on my face (an old ruptured mole). Like an idiot I would go tanning at the gym and it would bleed. Finally I had it removed and I have a kind of yucky scar on my right cheek just below my eyeball.
    Still, my tanning days are over!! Good job taking care of yourself, Jennifer.. you are the only you, so make yourself a priority.

  16. Yuck! I am going to do better using the sunscreen and being more of a Sunscreen nazi with my teens.

  17. Yes! I will replenish our sunscreen the moment my feet hit the store!

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Jennifer! Cancer, like most things that can and will kill you, does suck. It just wasn’t in my vocabulary growing up. Not until Lung Cancer took my grandfather, but that was avoidable, right? He smoked. 65+ years he smoked. No brainer. But, skin cancer? From just walking out my front door? C’mon. And, a spot so small, you could very likely miss it altogether?!

    I get it now.

    We’ve raised our kids to wear sunscreen EVERY TIME they’re going to be in or near the water. But even that is not enough. It really does take habit-forming attitudes to make the changes necessary… to take better care of ourselves and those we love.

    So glad to hear you’re cancer free! Thank You for spreading the word and reminding us all!

  18. Marie Gilbert

    Hell!! That is a big cut and I would’ve been lying on the floor too, if that was my arm. I’m glad they got it and that you’re okay now. The other day, I went to a salon in Philly where my niece works to get my hair done and the conversation with all the young people was how they were all going to the tanning salon to buff up their tans. They looked at me like I had six heads when I warned them of the dangers. Go figure???

  19. Cyberhugs, Jennifer.

    I remember when you first posted about “it’s baaaack.” Your words moved me then. Add a picture, and you may save lives (or, shared agony).

    “Cancer Survivor”, the club you never planned to join, but are dang glad to be in when you add the second word.

    Not unlike how I feel about AA. Who aspires to join them one day? Um. No one. Who’s grateful when they’re on the recovering side? Me, for one. But, like you, I have to remain diligent. I never get to say I’m recovered. Not after four years, fourteen, or forty.

    Closing with another cyberhug, my friend.

  20. A friend of mine recently underwent the same thing (including the surprise at how much “flesh” the doctor took). Sorry you had to endure that, but glad you’re better. Thanks for sharing.

  21. You are very lucky they caught it when they did. I’m glad you’re ok. I’m tweeting this so your message can reach at least 358 more people. (((hugs))) And big kudos to hubby. He’s a trooper, too.

  22. GOOD GRIEF! So glad you are okay. X

  23. Holy crap, Jennifer!!! I’m glad they caught it, but like you, I had no idea they have to go so crazy taking care of it.

    I’m glad you wrote this though because I have a couple spots I need to check out, and should have done so like eight or ten years ago. Yeah, men are stupid like that…