This is why you should always trust your gut and be your own advocate when it comes to your health care, and what happened to me when I didn’t.
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.
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.
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 some of the anesthesia wearing off she had to stick a needle into the large open wound at the top of my head to numb me up again so she could 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.
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.