Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring 2015 Treatments

Treatments went well, just waiting on the skin to look "normal."  Have an appt in a couple weeks with my doctor and hoping the spot treated on my leg has responded well enough to not be surgically removed.  WAY more fun things to spend a few hundred $'s on!!!  Here are some progress photos.
Treated back of the right leg - left forearm - central chest....again!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 February

Here we go again.  Nothing much is different overall. My job still has me working 6 days a week 3 months each winter, with about 7weeks of that at 7days a week.  So, no cycling or playing during the winter :)  Makes it really easy to pick February for my derm visits, since there ain't a tan line anywhere!

During my annual derm visit, my doc asked if I was still blogging and I told her no because I really hadn't had much to blog about.  For me, I've realized this is just an ongoing little battle and that's how I see it.  I've gone through enough Efudex treatments to now self-treat when I see a spot and that's about it.

Over the past year, I've treated a couple small spots.  Of course, each winds up spreading!  Most recently, a spot on my collarbone.  Since it's become such a common occurrence, I just don't think about it any more...just do it and get on with it.

Last week's derm visit wound up adding 3 spots as noted.  The one near my breast I was really surprised about because it just looks like maybe a pink "rubbing" spot from my bras, but it's definitely reacting!

The spot on my left arm I started treating about a week before my derm visit and it's definitely reacting, but not spreading as much as they usually do, which is nice.

The spot behind my knee I would've never caught!  The minute I see it in the mirror, it's a no-brainer and it's easily felt.  But when I shower, I use loofah gloves, so I never felt it!!  Dr is letting me have 6 weeks of Efudex to see if I can prevent a surgery.  Got my fingers crossed!

One difference about these spots, is she wants them treated 4 weeks vs. 3 weeks.  Sigh.  That's not a big deal in "normal" life, but with my worklife returning to normal Monday-Friday days, my bicycle life is ramping back up to full speed, with every weekend day being spent on the bike.  For most, that wouldn't be a big deal either, but our weekends are often spent riding 600km, which means a quick get-ready Saturday morning, usually just a couple hours sleep Saturday night, then back early Sunday.  Goal is to finish up early enough Sunday to get home and get to work Monday morning!  

With such short turnaround times, it's really hard to treat each area twice each day and let the cream have time to soak in before either dressing or curling up in bed.  Just means a little less sleep each weekend, when there's only a few hours total!

My Mom continues to be fearful of the cream and continues with multiple surgeries and is now beginning radiation treatment on 3 facial points.  20 treatments, 4 weeks every Monday through Friday.  NO THANK YOU!!!!  She has way more time on her hands than I do, so I am thrilled with being able (in the same 4 weeks) being able to conveniently treat my areas on my own time.  Yes, they may be ugly, but I'm killing 'em all the same!

Live all the days of your life!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 2014 Upper Chest

What a hassle!  One little spot near my collarbone continued to be angry after my neck treatment a couple months ago and continues to get rougher and uglier.  I know if I wait til my February appt, it'll have to be a surgery spot and I can't keep paying surgery bills.  The reason this is a hassle is I'm working 7 days a week, often 18hr days and constantly in the public eye.  So with no sleep, it's hard to cope with the hassles, uglies and pain of an Efudex treatment.  But....paying another year for surgery #6 is worse!  So, I started a new round of Efudex New Year's Eve and made it 18 days before I just had to stop.  Work was climbing all over me and I just couldn't keep adding more to the things to do list.

Just like all other treatments, what starts as a single spot quickly spreads and this time spread into 2 pretty dramatic locations.  Obviously, as the reaction spreads, I expand my application.  During the highest reaction days, my work schedule was so crazy, it was all I could do to treat, so no photos of the highest reaction this time.

Been off the treatment about 10 days and the scabs are all completely gone, but there's a new rough spot, in a different location of course!  Guess I'll have to tackle the whole chest after work goes back to regular hours middle of February....better than a surgery bill :)

 The spot that started it all.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

November 2013 - Neck Summary

Well, working 6 & 7 days a week takes all the writing time away, so the "short version" is I've treated the front side of my neck and as treatment progressed, I had spots pop up behind my ears, along the back side of my hairline and even 1 spot inside my left ear.  But with work schedules had to call it quits after 19days because I can't keep up with everything.

There's a spot appearing near my right collarbone I really would like to pursue, but planning to wait til spring.  Below are some pix from treatment.

For anyone looking for additional details, my original posts from October 2011 are absolutely the most detailed and check out the tips page too.  I learned a lot more than my doctor EVER dreamed of telling me!

Just like the other times, the itching drove me crazy.  Add to it that it's colder weather, but I couldn't have anything around my neck made dressing for work awkward to say the least.

Once the scabs come off, the itching decreases, but it's still there!  It's been almost 2 months and I'm surprised there's still some redness, but glad to see it looking so normal.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Next Round - Day 11 - Nov 14, 2013

Reaction continuing to increase (yea!) and the itching is starting to drive me CRRRRRAZY!  Like with my face, the best way to "scratch" is not to scratch but stretch my neck around as much as possible.  The skin pulling kinda feels like scratching.

Sleeping still isn't a problem yet (unlike with my face and chest), so I have high hopes that will be the case the next 2+ weeks.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Next Round - Day 7 - November 10, 2013

FINALLY - SOME REACTION!  My perspective has changed SO much since my first round of being terrified.  Now, I WANT IT.  Now, I want the reaction, see more reaction, see more, I'm not a twisted psyche, just someone wanting to see the fruits of my labors and I want to kill more and more cancers and pre-cancers :)

Itching started pretty heavily Friday (Day 5ish) and I tried wearing long earrings today because I wasn't thinking.  They just drove my itching crrrrazy, so off they came.  2 more weeks!!  Don't know why the photos have so much red.  Maybe I'm straining my neck too much trying to maximize the light?  Will keep trying.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Next Round - Day 5, November 8, 2013

Nothing visible yet, but the itchies have started!  Wacky as I am, I'm go through this and NOT get any reaction would suck.  I want to see some cancers and pre-cancers die :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Next Round - November 4, 2013

Time for Round 4? 5?  I actually don't really want to know!  Pattern seems to be pick an area each fall and spring and just see what happens.  This fall I've chosen my neck, so of course I'm hopeful the reaction isn't real strong since I can't hide it with clothing :)

Just like with my face, there's only 1 little rough spot (in the dip at the bottom of my neck) and the rest just looks like an ol' lady wrinkly neck!  When did THAT happen?!?!  So, I'm hoping the reaction isn't severe.

Forgot to take pics before I put the cream on, so it's certainly easy to see where I'm applying.  Basically the front and both sides of my neck, from jawline almost to collarbone.  Debated the back of my neck and hopefully I won't regret not doing it, but it seems so hard to reach accurately.

Started the treatment Monday morning (today is Thursday) and getting a couple of itchies, but that's it.

Like before, I've put on my "special" pillowcases, so I don't get cream on my fun sheets.  If needed, I've got Aquaphor and the Mupiricin steroid ointment ready to go for when I stop treatment.  No anxiety this time around.  Thank goodness for THAT!  The first round with my face had my office wondering if I should be committed.  But, it was such an unknown then, plus, I had to wait several months for winter to come before I could start it...made me a basket case back then.

Not worried about changing anything.  Still have a 200mile training ride with my buddies Saturday. So, here I go again! :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013 - Never stop living!

Never stop living!

Work and cycling continue to consume time, as it does every summer :)  I'm still bummed with about $500 still left to pay off on the spring surgeries.  Weird as it is, I'm "comforting" myself that last spring, there were 3 surgeries, this spring 2 least I'm going in the right direction, right?!

But life absolutely goes on!!  And it goes on OUTSIDE, which is where I'm happiest.

Two weeks ago I completed the 1200k (756mile) Grand Randonnee in Alaska and actually had to worry about SUNBURN!  Alaska is beautiful, the weather was amazing and the people I got to ride with were spectacular!  My only downer from the event was the roads were so bad (bump, bump, bump, bump that never ended) that my body parts started failing so by the 2nd day, I actually wondered if my knees, back and achilles would hold together another 400 miles.  They did, with lots of highs and lows, but I was glad this event may be a "one and done" event, unlike others that I look forward to repeating.  Alaska is in an abnormal heat/dry front right now, which this Texas gal was grateful, though woefully unprepared for!  I started each day with as many layers on as possible, then stripped as the day went on.  I'd tucked my little 70spf travel bottle in at the last minute and thank goodness I did.  My arms didn't get saved, but my face and neck did!

Week before Alaska, Dan and I raced (and won) the mixed team 12hr race at the Tonkawa Ultra Race.  Again, heat played a huge factor in winning because other teams weren't as used to it.  I'm sneezing during the podium pic, but I really AM happy to be there!

Couple weeks before that was a really grand vacation including scuba diving in the Florida Keys.  Still have some of the Efudex scabs on my neck but finished the last of THIS round about a week before this photo.  On one of the boat photos, the scabs jump out at me like neon lights, but this one they're caught up in wrinkles :)

Fun part of the trip was diving lots of wrecks and actually making my first-ever You Tube video with the GoPro Dan got me for Christmas.  Over 100' deep, no extra light and the viewing is spectacular.  I've got a lot to learn, but below is a link to my first video diving the USS Vandenberg off Key West.

and cycling through the gorgeousness from Boston to Hyannis Port for the Best Buddies charity ride.

Great adventures in the last few weeks with more coming.  Point is, DON'T STOP LIVING.  I hope I find the picture someone took of me slathering the sunscreen on my face in Alaska because that's a choice I make in order to keep going.  I've been asked why I don't get indoor hobbies....because I'm going to die....and I do NOT want to die on the couch.  I'm going to go kicking, screaming and preferably laughing all the way.  Not giving up my hobbies helps keep me sane.  Skin Cancer....fact of everyday life and apparently for the rest of my life.

Keep Living!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

JUNE 6, 2013

Work has been insanely busy (as has cycling training this spring), so my latest round has been neglected for sure.  Short version is 2 more surgeries and another round of Efudex on my neck this spring has me going from being pissed off to just being resigned.  This is a "forever" something and I'm just incorporating it into my life like haircuts.  Not really that casually, but I'm trying to be extremely accepting.

So, the longer version.

Since I work 7days/wk for a couple months each winter, my "normal" has been to have my derm checkup, usually late February and did that again.  They ask if there's anything in particular concerning me and, as usual....yes, these 2 particular spots for sure.  Both malignant.  Both requiring surgery.  Since the surgeries March 2012 took me a year to pay off, I begged my doctor to do them herself, which she reluctantly agreed to.  

#1 spot - Top of my forehead above my left eye.  Started as just a teeny dark spot that looked like I poked myself with a needle, but nothing on the outside of the skin.  Remained just a small dark spot, but it was definitely different!  Since I can wear bangs, I was fine with the scarring she predicted.  About 3 months later and I'm pleased with the results.

#2 spot - My left shoulder blade.  This one turned into a booger.  I'd already tried treating it on my own with Efudex a couple times.  Both times it would fester, even bleed during treatment, but never reallllly go away.  She said I could try 8weeks of Efudex treatment if I wanted to, but it's a pain in the butt, so I asked her to cut it out to.....especially since I'd already tried Efudex and I didn't want to deal with another surgery later.  Do it and get it over with. This one was quite a bit larger and so the scar's a little uglier.   But again, I'm 50 years old and live an active life, a shoulder scar is pretty acceptable right now.

#3 Efudex - Had a  small little pink spot show up on my jawline about the middle/end of this April.  Since I had a 765 mile bicycle event I'd been training for this spring, I chose to wait til it was completed and started treating it May 5.  I was SHOCKED!  The teeny little spot on my jawline turned into the entire right side of my neck.  Areas several inches away from the treatment were reacting!  But I also had a scuba + bicycle vacation planned end of May, so I chose to limit the treatment to the 20 days and will do my entire neck this fall.  

All in all, I'm tired of continuing to find these things, but I'm also glad to find them sooner than later.  Our insurance changed at work last year, so my cost was a LOT higher for the 2 in-office surgeries, which disappoints me, but my doctor is working with me to pay it out over the next 6 months or so, so at least I don't have to rob savings.

Still choosing to keep living at 100%  Just finished diving in Key Largo and Key West for a few days, then went to Boston to ride bikes for a few days.  I'm certainly diligent about sunscreen, but oooooooh, it's hard sometimes!!  I see these lovely, tan ladies and I wish I didn't......but I still think "brown fat's better than white fat!"  I told a black girlfriend of mine that and she just howled...and then agreed :)  The fake tan stuff comes right off the minute you're in the ocean for a while, so no point in that.  Ah

My encouragement to you continues to be WATCH YOURSELF!  Do not rely exclusively on your doctor.  They're human and they can screw up.  It is YOUR responsibility.  You know your body better than anyone.  Be diligent.  You don't have to freak out or be scared of everything, but you do have to keep both eyes open.  I truly believe the spot on my forehead would've been missed by anyone but me.  I knew it wasn't there one day, then it was there the next.  And it never went away.  

Hope my travels through this can motivate you to keep an eye on yourself.  Ain't nobody else going to! Be safe and have fun on the way :)  I'll add some pix shortly.