You need to do what? Cut my nose open to take out skin cancer? It’s right in the middle of my face for heaven’s sake! The dermatologist looked uncertain as he took a biopsy and closed it up with a couple of stitches. I had so hoped he would look at the small red patch and say, “That is nothing to worry about.” A week later, I had the confirmation that the lab results came back positive for skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma.
As panic overtook me and adrenaline began coursing through my body, my mind immediately jumped to the worst case scenario of a permanent, grisly scar in the middle of my face. How could this be happening? It reminded me of my mom who also had cancer on her nose in about the same place. Our Scotch Irish and French ancestry gave my mom, my sister, and I such porcelain white skin. And like most people growing up, I got my share of sunburns, usually on my nose, even with sunscreen.
As I began grappling with the reality of what this would mean, I began praying and turning to God’s word for help. With God’s help, I came across 1 Samuel 16:7 when God told Samuel concerning anointing the next king for Israel, “Do not consider his appearance . . . The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” That encouraged me away from the vanity that was overtaking me.
As Christmas approached with a myriad of responsibilities in my music director/organist position at my church, I decided I needed to push through the season even after the surgery. I didn’t know who to ask to help me after the surgery. Our choir had a cantata planned a week and a half after the procedure which took place Dec. 4.
Of course, I had to wait about 4 weeks to have the surgery, but in hindsight I think this was fortunate because it gave me a chance to get mentally prepared for the journey I was about to take. I researched the MOHS procedure and asked questions of my doctor. Through my research, I realized that even 50 years ago the procedure would have caused more permanent disfigurement. One hundred years ago a person would probably die of such a cancer. Sure makes me thankful to live in the 21st century! With God’s help and that of my family, I made it through the surgery and the dermatologist said he was able to get all the cancer. What a relief!
The day after surgery, my pain shot up and so did my blood pressure, but my general practitioner adjusted my meds to help me avoid a stroke. My family was so supportive before and after. The first Sunday after the surgery, my grandson saw me for the first time. I explained to him I looked a little different with a bandage and black stitches showing that Xander called “hairs.” God put words in his mouth when he said, “Mammaw, I love you just the way you are.” That was music to my ears!
I don’t remember too much about that Sunday, though. Maybe I was still in shock. I have learned that the way I look is not nearly as important as my life. August should be the final month of internal healing.
My scar looks like a backward L because the skin had to be stretched to cover the removal of tissue. Much of the time I don’t cover the scar with makeup since a friend told me it looks like a bit of sunburn unless people are really close. My grandchildren don’t care about the scar and that is all that matters to me now.
I would advise anyone who wears glasses to get contacts before having this kind of surgery on the nose, though. I didn’t do that and regret it now. I have one tiny lump from the pressure of my glasses, but that is a small price to pay for my life.
The world values outward beauty on the surface, but inward beauty is what really matters: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22
God is teaching and I’m trying to learn.