WHEN YOU HAVE A GIANT HOLE WHERE YOUR CHEEK USED TO BE AND YOU WISH YOU'D USED MORE SUNSCREEN

Warning - no gruesome pictures but somewhat graphic descriptions. Background - I'm late 30s with pale skin.
  1. ~ 8 years ago I'd just gotten married
    It was November. Bonus wedding benefit - we had one of those flex healthcare benefit cards - use it or lose it
  2. I had a 'flex benefit healthcare' card to use or lose
    It was New Years Eve and after spending as much as possible at CVS (to use up the flex card) I still had a few hundred dollars left
  3. Our (belated) honeymoon was coming up
    I scored a last minute appt with a dermatologist - naively thinking I could maybe get some retinol or something to make my skin all glowy
  4. The dermatologist took one look at me and said, 'Never mind retinol, you have skin cancer!'
    I had a tiny freckle on the side of my nose. She wanted to do a biopsy. I was all 'What? It's NYE with a band-aid on my face?!?' STUPID LEAH
  5. Biopsy comes back positive for basal cell carcinoma
    As luck would have it, this is the "best" skin cancer to get (if there's such a thing?!?). Surgery is scheduled a week later
  6. I didn't use the google
    Best decision ever. Had I googled MOHS surgery/basal cell carcinoma/nose then I might have been alerted to the 'elephant trunk/flap' where so much of your nose is removed that they replace it with cartilage from your ear and then bring down a flap of skin from your forehead to cover the ear cartilage and leave it attached for a few weeks for the blood supply.
  7. I told my boss I'd be out for an hour or two to 'get this little freckle removed' STUPID LEAH
    Husband insisted he'd take me despite my protests
  8. I check in and my dermatologist/surgeon proceeds to draw with purple marker all over my face to let me know the area that 'could be affected'
    Basal cell carcinomas are slow growing but often have deep roots almost like a tree. A little freckle -type mole on the surface can be hiding something more at home in an Alien movies...
  9. I'm having MOHS surgery where they remove tissue then do the histology 'while you wait', if the borders are clear - great! If the borders aren't clear, they keep cutting.
    'While you wait' takes about an hour for the lab work. As luck would have it, there's a Dunkin' next door. Seeing the golf-ball size dressing strapped to my face, they offer me a straw with my coffee. I laugh and it's only when I start to drool I notice all of the older people (regulars?) with their bandages and straws. Most depressing moment ever.
  10. I have to have 3 'passes'
    A pass being additional slices of your face being removed with multiple numbing injections, ironically these are pretty painful. Slices of skin/tissue removed, cauterization (eau de burning flesh anyone?) and when histology is clear, it's time for suturing
  11. So after the 3 passes (~5 hours of chair time/Dunkin' time) they're ready to close me up
    I ask if I can have a handmirror to take a look before they start. My wonderful derm/surgeon strongly counsels me against this but when I start getting cross and saying it's my 'patient right' (STUPID LEAH), reluctantly gives me a mirror
  12. THERE IS A GIANT HOLE IN MY FACE
    Like you can see the yellow fatty globules and muscle and stuff you generally don't want to see.
  13. I'm all, "What?!?! There's a huge hole in my face?!?! How's that going to work?"
    My fab doctor explains the good news (it didn't grow into my nose i.e no elephant flap/ear cartilage) and the better news (you have a lot of stretch in your cheeks and they'll just pull my face over to close the gap
  14. I was concerned about scarring
    My fab doctor tells me she'll hide the scar in the naso-labial fold (the natural line that runs from the corner of your nose to the edge of your smile). I (STUPID LEAH) start to insist that as I get older I won't want an extra deep natural wrinkle, I'd rather just have a big horizontal scar across my cheek. Thankfully the doctor overrules me on this.
  15. 34 teeny tiny sutures to close up the muscle/fascia under my skin and 44 teeny tiny sutures to close up my skin and I'm allowed to leave
    I was remarkably weepy and couldn't help but identify with Sally.
  16. It's been ~ 8 years since my face was hacked open. I am OBSESSED with sunscreen and hats (although they say 80% of the damage is done before the age of 18 - so cover up your little ones!) and unless I point it out, most people don't even notice the scar
  17. The week that I had the large bandage on was kind of eye opening
    People would openly stare and/or look away. Some people were openly kinder like they felt sorry for me. I felt so self-conscious.
  18. Wear sunscreen. Stay out of the sun 11-2pm. Don't do tanning beds.
    Believe me, tanning beds will make you tan and feel hot but when you can smell your burning flesh being cauterized you don't feel so hot, just kind of vomit-y.
  19. Being tan is not worth having a giant hole in your face (or an elephant flap)
  20. Get regular checks by a dermatologist and don't delay getting any suspicious moles, freckles, red scaly patches looked at!