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Why You Should Always Trust Your Gut

This is why you should always trust your gut and be your own advocate when it comes to your health care. What happened to me when I didn’t + my basal cell carcinoma surgery pictures. Don’t let it happen to you…

Mohs Surgery Pictures

I’ve wanted to write this article about why you should always trust your gut for 2 years now but it was hard. Hard to go back to that time, how frightening it was, and the after pictures of my basal cell carcinoma surgery….but I am ready now. (originally published 10/18)

If you’re squeamish you’ve probably already clicked off of this post, but if you’re okay with it I am glad you’re still here with me.

Ever since I felt and saw the scab that just wouldn’t go away on the top of my head I felt like I needed to share my story. After going through the surgery I knew I had to share my journey with others so hopefully you wouldn’t have to experience this for yourself.

It was the middle of 2014 and I felt a scaly bump, I figured it would go away…….

After 6 months and it didn’t disappear I went to my dermatologist. I will start by saying am VERY diligent about going to a skin doctor no matter where we’ve lived because there is a lot of skin cancer in my family history and I’ve had many moles removed myself because they’ve come back precancerous. I am all about prevention.

I was told by my dermatologist it was “just dermatitis” and to put this generic liquid on it to go away, that worked for a few months and then no matter what I did the scabby spot didn’t go away.

I ignored my gut that told me he was wrong.

  • I thought to myself “he must be right”, “he’s an expert, I’m not”
  • I ignored my instincts, my gut, that something was not right
  • I didn’t push for further tests, probably because I didn’t want my gut to be right….but it was

6 months later it was still nagging at me that I needed the spot checked out so I went into my regular doctor and asked him, I got the same “diagnosis” that it must just be dermatitis. My gut told me that wasn’t right but I think I didn’t want to really admit that it was something more so I hoped my gut was wrong and went on my merry way for another 6 months……

Why you should always trust your gut

I waited for another year believing something I knew inside to be wrong, it’s not often my gut leads me in the wrong direction.

I went back and questioned the first dermatologist again, repeating that something just wasn’t right.

Once again….now 2 years later….he repeated the same words “it must just be dermatitis”. This time I trusted my gut and wouldn’t leave until I had an actual diagnosis for what this spot was.

Laying down on the table ready for a punch biopsy to be done on the top of my head which I knew would leave an open wound that would take a while to heal I was ready to either prove myself or him right…I hoped he was right.

  • Immediately after he punched the bit of skin off and lifted it up he said “oh……you’re going to have to have the surgeon look at this”.
  • My gut was right… it was probably what I had expected, but hoped for 2 years that I was wrong.
Mohs Surgery Scar Pictures

Mohs Surgery Pictures

3 long months of waiting for a surgery date (that summer was hell I tell you) came and I really had NO idea how invasive or easy it would be to remove the basal cell carcinoma spot on the top of my head.

As they shaved a large portion of hair I knew it would be worse than I could have imagined, and it was. I had MOHS surgery which meant they would cut the spot out, bandage me up, send me into a waiting room with other skin cancer patients, wait for the pathology results, and hope they got it all…..they didn’t.

Up into the chair I went again with more basal cell cancer Mohs surgery. Some of the anesthesia was wearing off she had to stick a needle into the large open wound at the top of my head again to numb me up to cut a larger area out…..and I just started to ball……..

Like that ugly cry where you literally cannot stop because you’re so scared or sad about something…..I was there…..I even frightened the doctor a little bit.

Here I am, 41 years old crying like a baby in a doctors office with an open golf size hole in the top of my head that went all the way down to my skull.

She wasn’t sure if I was in pain or something else so I had to explain that my favorite aunt had skin cancer that they told her was removed and she was okay. A few years later she was horribly sick and found out that they hadn’t gotten it all and it had spread…..within 6 months she died…..and she was in her mid 40’s……like me.

I couldn’t bear to have this happen to me too.

Needless to say after the next round of more skin being removed, and pathology looking at what was taken out, I was told that I was clear….then she stitched me up.

It took a good year for me to be completely healed, and a good 6 months of wearing headbands to cover the open wound that I had to pack with salve to keep it moist. It was in a tough spot but through it all I had to focus on the positive and what I had learned.

What I can share with others so what I went through maybe doesn’t have to happen to you or your loved ones.

  • Trust your gut when you feel something just isn’t right with your health.
    • Don’t procrastinate, as soon as you think something may be wrong get it looked at
    • Visit an array of different doctors to get opinions
    • Demand tests that may rule out what you suspect may be the problem (I should have done this much earlier on in the process, if I had I suspect my surgery and recovery wouldn’t have been as bad)

Has this experience changed me….most definitely it has! I used to be glass half empty kinda’ gal. I won’t say that those days don’t happen anymore but they’re far less often than before.

Does it suck that I have a bald spot on the top of my head that will never have hair again? Yes, but the way I look at it is “it could have been worse and as long as I don’t have to go through that again I am just fine with it”.

Why am I sharing this photo? This was taken just 2.5 months after my surgery and my head was far from healed. I considered not being in the family photos that year but thought I should just do it….and I am glad I did.

I shared my thoughts later in this article about why you should get in your family photos….and stop the excuses. If I could do it after this whole ordeal and creatively hiding the bandage on the top of my head with a bobby pin you have NO reason not to.

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I share my story with you because

  • It’s therapeutic for me to write/journal
  • I feel it is my duty at this point to share what I went through and hope you are your own advocate when it comes to your own health, prevention is key
  • You too may feel like “it won’t happen to me”……and sometimes it does…….
  • It’s okay to be the mom under the hat too, beauty comes from within

Trust. Your. Gut. Period.

Mohs Surgery Scar Pictures

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Corrie

Wednesday 18th of May 2022

Thanks for sharing! We have skin cancer on all sides of our family, so this is very helpful.

PS: I have medical trauma, too (I dealt with a life-threatening miscarriage, and then an extremely difficult pregnancy and delivery), so I know how hard it is to talk about medical issues. I appreciate your courage. Hugs.

The Typical Mom

Saturday 21st of May 2022

Hugs back

Marva

Saturday 20th of July 2019

Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us. You may have saved a life or two. I know first hand what PTSD is like. Revisiting such a terrifying and traumatic time in your life can bring it all back. Best of luck and health to you. You are a Warrior Woman

Jennifer

Friday 19th of July 2019

I’m so glad that at the end everything worked out for you. My brother just today went to that same surgery at the second layer of skin they said it was clear. Now he wonders what’s next... other than preventing of course, I pray to God that he doesn’t have to go through this again, and he’s only turning 30 this year... any pointers that I can pass along will be great

Chris cortese

Friday 19th of July 2019

Thank you so much for sharing your journey !

Gaile Hennig

Monday 19th of November 2018

Yes you were so right to keep pushing. My journey started the end of 2010 I noticed a spot on top of my head that hurt if I scratched it or hit it with my brush. It didn't always hurt and I couldn't feel anything there so ignored it. Finally told my dermatologist the beginning of 2013 and she biopsied it. She said it came back a wart. I had it frozen a few times over the next 3 years. She did another biopsy and that came back a very rare cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Luckily she got it all the first time.

The Typical Mom

Wednesday 21st of November 2018

Oh so glad it was successful.

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