On the left hand, the spot I had been scrutinizing did indeed turn out to be another squamous cell cancer.
On the left arm, the other spot was squamous cell also.
It had been two weeks since the punch biopsy when my friend Nurse Jo was kind enough to remove my stitches at her dining room table yesterday. If it happens again, she is going to remove them a little earlier than two weeks, because my skin had started to grow over them. As the child in me says: big ouchies.
I thought the dermatologist had forgotten about me, but Dr. Scott – the dermatologist who I now see in addition to Dr. Lin – called shortly afterwards to say she had been on vacation, which was why I was only hearing yesterday. Sorry if this gets confusing; it is definitely difficult to keep all my doctors straight.
The spots are again thankfully in situ – on the skin. They are mostly gone, but one went a little deeper than the she had gotten, and one had spread a little further. So after they heal I will apply a chemotherapy cream called Efudex (fluorouracil). This will turn the areas very red, but then hopefully that will be the end of it.
Sometimes I look at my hands too closely, focusing on what I do not like. I have been told that no one would even notice the blemishes that I see, because no one examines them up close like I do. But this kind of scrutiny bears rewards, because I am the only one who noticed these two problematic areas. I call it my squamous cell radar.
I'm lucky that they grow slowly, because I feel that Dr. Neel – another one of my many specialists – dismissed the spot on my left arm when I showed it to him after he had performed Mohs surgery on another area. I think he was just ready to move on to the next patient.
He said it was a keratoacanthoma, a skin lesion that may resolve on its own or which may be squamous cell cancer in disguise. When I showed Dr. Scott one like it on my right arm, she said she would remove it and biopsy it just to be careful. When those results came back positive, I called Dr. Scott to be seen for the similar area on my left arm and the one on my left hand.
Scrutinizing my skin sometimes feels like a crazy-making thing to do, but in instances like this it has turned out to be a good thing to do.