a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Mar, 2008

trying not to think

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I had my appointment with the dermatologist one afternoon over March Break. Remember I said the wait list was six months long? Well, I guess there was a cancellation because I was in there precisely one week after I saw my regular doctor.

The dermaguy was very nice. I was happy about this. I need to have a nice doctor. I need chit chat, and he was accommodating in this department. He then took a look at my forehead and told me the wound that was left by my doctor’s coating of nitro needed to be scraped.

I had two questions: (a) what do you mean by scraped and (b) will it hurt. He froze it, so it didn’t hurt, but it sure didn’t sound great. I don’t mean the word SCRAPED, (although the sound of the word itself is giving me the willies) but the Sound of Actual Scraping. He scraped a small hole in my forehead. SCRAPED. Ugh. Also: he told me I must wear a hat and wear sunscreen. This is bad news for two reasons: I have yet to find a good, light, facial sunscreen. And the latest stuff I bought is making my face extremely ruddy. Second: I do love hats, but there is a distinct lack of cool summer hats around here. I have a deep down fear that I’m going to turn into one of those hat-wearing grandmas. I can’t be a hat-wearing grandma, I’m only 35!

Perhaps I need to look a little harder for a stylin’ chapeau.

So yes, face scraping. It felt gross, it sounded gross (‘SCRAAAAPE, SCRAAAAAPE’), and I was glad it was over. I saw the scrapings (*shudder*) floating in a little jar. This jar is being sent away to a lab and if there’s something up I’ll get a call. BUT he does kinda think it is basal cell carcinoma. I am afraid of googling this. Really, all this time I have not researched skin cancer(s), which is unusual for me because Google is as valuable to me as my right arm. I am too afraid. I am living in denial, although the hole in my head is doing a great job serving me as a reminder whenever I glance in a mirror.

He asked me if I spent a lot of time in the sun. The answer was, um, yes, because we are outdoor people. Outdoor people with outdoor kids, no less. He told me about some crazy people that put sunscreen on and then SUNBATHE. “It’s like putting gas in your car when there’s a hole in the tank,” he said, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe it.

OH, I’ve never heard of people doing THAT (she writes, thinking back to all those lazy hours she spent in the sun during her recent trip to Jamaica.) Seriously, as a rule I don’t sunbathe. Who has time for that? And when I am in the sun (even while I was in Jamaica) I try to have my face shaded, whether it’s with a palm tree or a novel.

Anyway, I don’t want to get all preachy on ya’ll, but I’ve spoken to a number of women about this issue. I told them my head wound started as a flaky, raised, brownish spot right near my hairline. And get this, practically everyone I’ve spoken to either has one, or knows someone who has something similar. Is this you? It doesn’t necessarily mean the c-word, but you should go get it checked, okay?

18 Responses to "trying not to think"

1 | Morrigan

March 25th, 2008 at 8:54 am


Fingers crossed that it turns out to be nothing more than an excuse for a new wardrobe of cute hats. I always have great luck here http://www.beauchapeau.com/.

2 | Bob LeDrew

March 25th, 2008 at 8:55 am


Andrea, you need to try TO think, IMHO. I had bladder cancer diagnosed on July 4, 2006.

You don’t yet know if you have cancer, but you have some warning signs. So you should assume that you do until it’s shown otherwise.

You have a doctor you like. That’s important. Use that relationship. You’re also lucky that if this is indeed basal-cell carcinoma, you have a form of cancer that is slow-growing and highly treatable.

Don’t give this disease, or the word that represents it, power it doesn’t deserve. Face it, fight it. You can win, you can learn, and it can teach. If you let it.

3 | Marla

March 25th, 2008 at 10:07 am


I had something like that on my nose, and had it scraped off a month or two ago. Same thing – told to wear a hat and sunscreen. Such is life in 2008 for so many. It’s the price I pay after basting myself in baby oil and broiling on the beach reading Valley of the Horses from cover to cover when I was fourteen – and for all the years before when my mom never thought twice about sunscreen because it was the 70’s and then in the 80’s I was a teenage pain – and for all the after that that I didn’t care – or remembered sunscreen for Josie and not for me.

Have you read the posts about the cancerous skin lesions over at Dooce? After looking at those images, I’m grateful I only have a wee dark scar on my nose and only needed the nitro and scraping.

It’s easy to tell people not to freak – but don’t freak. The percentages of people who die from one little lesion are so small – and it’s a great warning now to behave. And to warn your kids. And, as I said in a Facebook status update back then : I’d rather have a scar than cancer.

4 | Mikki

March 25th, 2008 at 11:24 am



I love this stuff! It is SPF 15, but when I hit the website, it looks like they make an SPF 45. My skin really improved when I started using it. Within a month, my little starter wrinkles had all but disappeared!
Good Luck – I know it is tempting to hide your head in the sand, but knowledge is power.

5 | tali

March 25th, 2008 at 11:44 am


Basal cell is not a very big deal, as it doesn’t tend to spread, or if so verrry slowly.

My dad is a walking skin cancer (has had over 10 separate surgeries, including nose reconstruction) and has had one case of melanoma, which is the one that can kill you if you don’t do anything about it.

I still forget to put on sunscreen sometimes, and have never worn a summer hat, ever.

But I really should…

6 | Roz

March 25th, 2008 at 2:18 pm


Ombrelle is a great sunscreen – on the expensive side, but really great.

7 | Sharon

March 25th, 2008 at 3:18 pm


Get a hat made that you think is cute…or if you sew…hint hint…make a stylin’hat yourself!

I will get my hands checked on April First when I have my check up.
Are we ok now?

Hugs Glad it’s probably nothing. No more sun bathin’missy!

8 | mel

March 25th, 2008 at 7:32 pm


Glad to hear that you were able to get in so quickly and things are underway, Andrea.

Someone I know who was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes delegated all internet-researching to friends and family who could filter the information for her, so she didn’t have to slog through all the worst-case scenarios herself. Could be a helpful strategy for you, perhaps?

Here’s to a joyful life and good hats!

(I’ve used Dove’s everyday moisturizer with sunscreen and it’s VERY nice–no yucky greasiness–but I don’t know if it’s available in a higher SPF.)

9 | BeachMama

March 25th, 2008 at 8:51 pm


Sorry you are experiencing both the scraping and the wearing of the hats and sunscreen. I waffle on it. I just love the sun so much that I don’t always remember to put it on. I almost always have a hat with me but, I don’t always wear it. I guess I should be just as diligent on myself as I am on my kids. This could be the year.

10 | The Veg Next Door

March 26th, 2008 at 7:50 am


Queston — it’s recommended that you apply sunscreen before heading outdoors so are you supposed to reapply throughout the day? Like if I take my kids to the park in the morning do I have to reapply if I go out again in the afternoon if we just played and didn’t swim? Such a production to have fun these days.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

11 | LO

March 26th, 2008 at 7:53 am


I am a high risk for skin cancer and so have invested in a few cute hats-expensive but hey,if I’m gonna wear them all the time they better be cute! I have two coach hats (bought at the outlet in Syracuse-yes, i am a serial shopper) and i bought a ‘shady brady’ (made famous by Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride). I bought an authentic one at the western store on yonge street in toronto but you can probably buy a cheaper version somewhere…it’s a great hat as it is crushable so travels well. As well, i have had a big freckle spot removed from my face (curse of the Irish:) and so have to invest more in my face. I have a great sunblock from my dermatologist and I like it as it doesn’t feel like i have a layer on my face. It’s not cheap but very concentrated and I only use it on my face. Let me know if you want the name or i can even make you a sample from mine:)
Good Luck!
Oh, and get some really ‘fierce’ sunglasses to go with your new hat. Then you can be safe and stylish:)

12 | andrea

March 26th, 2008 at 8:59 am


Thanks for your comments everyone. I ventured into the World of Yucky Skin Conditions on the Web and saw my share of photos. I did find my way to the Canadian Cancer society website as well.

What I really need to find out is WTH this thing on my forehead actually was. I’m going to ring the doctor today and get the scoop.

I did wander my ‘hood for a good hat yesterday, aaaand came up a dry. I’m going to have to ratch it up and try my luck somewhere else. In the meantime I’m going to spend a bit more time researching what ingredients in the sunscreens might be causing my skin to go all red. I have a feeling it might be the zinc.

Veg Girl: as for application of sunscreen, I am thinking/hoping one good dose in the morning would be fine, and then a reapplication if we went swimming.

I love the sun too. And I don’t want to hide away under a muumuu and a giant floppy hat. I would rather be fancy free and not have to worry.

It is a production, isn’t it? *sigh*

13 | Julie

March 26th, 2008 at 1:46 pm


My good friend did a lot of research about sunscreen as her children have some very sensitive skin, and she found that Vichy’s products were the best. I stole a slather or two and loved the stuff. If I weren’t so cheep I might buy some myself….

14 | anne turner

March 26th, 2008 at 5:33 pm


Coolibar.com has stylish hats made from materials that block UV. I like my Olay moisture lotion, spf 15, for sensitive skin.

15 | andrea

March 27th, 2008 at 8:58 am


Oh my lor people – have you ever seen the Cosmetic Safety Database? I’ve been plunking in various sunscreens to see how their ingredients are rated. Holy moses…

16 | Melissa

March 27th, 2008 at 12:02 pm


This is my very favourite face sunscreen and it gets a 2 on the CSD. It’s not greasy, which is good because I have oily skin, and I never get burned or tanned etc.

Olay complete defense daily UV moisturizer, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30


17 | Jen

March 29th, 2008 at 9:38 pm


I use Reversa with the spf 15 in it and Paula’s Choice spf 30. I also use mineral powder foundation which is SPF 15. I am afraid to look at the safety database since finding protection that does not make me break out is my focus. Glad that the news was positive from your doctor!

18 | Sorry to sound like your mom but… >> a peek inside the fishbowl

April 29th, 2009 at 8:06 am


[…] that got me started on a bit of a rant about “the thing” my doctor removed from my forehead that “could have been worse but luckily it wasn’t.” And that, of course, lead to […]

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