CSN Login
Members Online: 5

Constant Fear of New Cancers

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Hi Everyone.

I'm new to this board. I had Mohs surgery to remove two BCCs on my face about a month ago. The spots had appeared years apart (one over a decade ago, the other five years ago) but I had them diagnosed at the same time. I was really scared to have the surgery, because I had let the problem go so long and thought I would wind up badly disfigured (surfing the net at times like these can be educational, but it can also make you crazy; I read stories about people losing their entire noses), but my scars aren't bad at all. The problem is that I've read all these statistics about the likelihood of developing new skin cancers after treatment, and I'm afraid that I have a lifetime of skin cancer to look forward to. Has anyone out there made it through with minimal occurrences (like one or two)? For those who have had many, how have you made it through? And for everyone, how do you manage the fear and get on with your lives? I'm only 31, and hope to have many years ahead of me, but not years wasted driving myself nuts over what may or may not happen. Peace and respect to all of you who have shared your experiences here.

bryn1
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

hello
I am a female age 53. Recently diagnosed with melanoma
- had surgery to remove area on face on 5-27-10. The path
report came back melanoma in-situ stage 0 so I know that
I have so much to be grateful for. At present, I feel
shell-shocked by all of this. I have been so fortunate
to not ever have any medical issues until now. I feel
like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop - and fear
other sites cropping up. I have a very fair complexion and
unfortunately alot of the sun damage that I sustained
was probably before I knew about sunscreens. I lived
and played near water every summer since I was a child.
I am looking to reach out to someone about these fears -
how to cope. I, of course, will be very vigilant about checking
my body and conferring with my doctor however I wonder how
am I going to find my new normal? Alot of the fears you are going
through sound exactly like mine.

WaianaeGal
Posts: 11
Joined: May 2010

I'm a combo of both of you, and I'm dealing with the same issues, basal cell spot had been there for years... MOHS took care of that the end of March this year, and a spot on my left facial cheek with melonoma in situ stage 0 leaving a rather long scar on my face, excised March 3rd... so March was my surgery month... and yes I'm in fear on a daily basis with little or no relief from of what the future will bring.

How do we deal with these issues... I'm reading everything I can about melanoma... and I'm preparing myself for the future but praying that there is nothing.

I have a new internist, due to moving from Hawaii to Washington state, he was an oncologist for 17 years and has been a great source of info... yet I feel I can't keep bothering him. I have 2 spots on my back that will be re-checked by a new dermatologist the end of July. Since my dermatologist in Hawaii said to have these spots checked every 3 months. That has added to the anxiety.

Taking one day at a time... one step at a time...

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

This is just my opinion, and what I would do if it were me. With a confirmed history of melanoma, I would just go ahead and have those 2 spots on my back removed. Then, there is no more watching and waiting, anything that looks remotely suspicious needs to come off. It will remove your anxiety, and really, better safe than sorry.

And generally, once you've been bitten by the melanoma monster, dermatologists are generally pretty willing to remove anything that looks suspicious (and if they aren't, you may need to find a new dermatologist.) Just my opinion...

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Thanks for replying. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind.

Were you diagnosed with the BCC and the melanoma at the same time?

Do you have a long history of sun exposure?

And (and you don't have to answer this if you don't want to) how old are you?

I appreciate your response, but now I'm terrified that I have melanoma, too.

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

I hope I wasn't stepping out of bounds...

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

I hope I wasn't stepping out of bounds...

WaianaeGal
Posts: 11
Joined: May 2010

rrosner, no problem and I've also wondered on sites how far to go with our own stories...lol.

Thank you all for information, encouragement, and guidance, I appreciate all of you and your openness. And I've got all of my medical records, lab, path, surgery etc docs ordered. Its just a waiting game now. And I encourage everyone to do the same, start a binder, and take it with you to all of your appointments. If the dr doesn't have a record of something you will.

Dobermom, I agree with you, "just remove the dang spots" so I can get on with life... even with appointments for body checks every 3 months...

rrosner, I just turned 58, grew-up in So Cal and Az, when there was SPF nothing, zinc oxide but only used on your nose, and yes I remember some major sun burns.

My first BCC was on my forehead and typical, bleeding itching spot that wouldn't go away, started in Sept 07, removed Jan 08. The 2nd BCC was byopised and removed March 2010 a Mohs surgeon in Honolulu after referral from my Hi dermotologist.

The spot on my face with the melanoma had been there since at least 2004, looking at my passport pic its there, byopised and removed March 2010 in Hawaii.
My Calif Kaiser internist dismissed it as cosmetic in 06, 07 and 08 and wouldn't do anything about it AND the Kaiser dermatologist did the same in 2008, I'm working on an informational letters to both once I get all my records.

I am retired and spend winters on Oahu and summers in Washington. Thru all of the info I've gotten from all of you I now have drs and dermatologists in both places. With my Washington internist a former onocoloist of 17 years.

The dermatologist in Hawaii is the one who pursued the removal of the melanomcystic proliferation, which is was was the final dertermination, with melanoma in situ within the proliferation, the spot was about the size of a nickel.

WOW... way too many words... sorry for the long response... it just start flowing... kind of thearaputic (sp)...

You are all in my prayers and good thoughts go out to all...

bryn1
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I hope I didn't scare anyone - always a risk when writing about our own stories. I am alot older at age 53 and I have
sustained alot of sun damage over the years - way before sunscreen
was ever on the market. (never been in a tanning booth though and never
actively tried to tan - just spent alot of time near and on water)
Basal Cell is very common - I
know of many people who have had it and are doing fine with no reoccurences. BCC doesn't mean at all that you will ever develop Melanoma. When I
responded to your post - (by the way I am new to the site and not
entirely sure how to use it) I was responding to the coping mechanisms
that might be helpful for us all dealing with this no matter what the specifics. I think we all want to wrap this into a nice package and put it behind us. My plan is to continue to get the very best care I can and
have monthly checks by my dermatologist as I can only surmise that it must be very normal and necessary to keep close tabs on our skin.

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Thank you, bryn1. That was a reassuring relply. My questions were actually in regards to the post "Both Sides", though.

washoegal
Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

Probably no reason to fear, just be vigilant. I've had 3 BCC removed. One large one on my leg which was I am almost sure from a sun tanning booth, one on my face, and another one on my arm. I also have had a Melanoma (stage 3) but don't let that throw you into a tizzy, I am just about sure in my case that is genetic, my mom had it too and both of us had it it "spots the sun don't shine".

Basel Cell is not a problem, it is slow growing. So as long as you don't wait too long it's not a "killer", though it's not fun to start becoming a road map either!

Take care of yourself.

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Dear Washoegal,

Thanks for your reply. How has your treatment been going?

Your response was very helpful, but I suppose I am in a bit of a tizzy, because of the melanoma issue. i've now read several posts by people who've had both bcc and melanoma. In your case, you said your mom had it (and I hope she made it through okay). Did you have any genetic testing done? Have you read anything about the likelihood of inheritance? And, again,are you doing ok?

Thanks

washoegal
Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

My mom was just fine. She had melanoma when she was about 26, that must have been back around 1947. The doctor took out the original site plus all the lymph nodes in her leg.

I have not bothered with genetic testing, I don't have children so not much point. I haven't read anything on inheritance, except for that one rare gene but it seems like every thing else is inherited, or can be, so why not.

I seem to be doing just fine except for lumps and bumps for lymph fluid build up. That part is annoying. But otherwise pretty much back to normal. I chose not to do the interferon route. I had two lymph nodes with cancer but only a very small microscopic amount. For a 5-10% chance that it would help it didn't seem worth a year of my life. Hopefully I made the right decision for me! Also, I am about your age (57). Grew up on the beach in So. Cal. Did all the wrong things when I was young, oh well!

I see my dermatologist regularly. He just loves to remove things from by body! I see the Onc on a regular basis too. The Onc has scheduled a regular series of PET and CAT scans so that if I have ANY kind of cancer they should be the fist to know!

Oh by the way, if it makes you feel any better, I have one BCC that has yet to be removed because it is on my arm where the lymph nodes were removed. The dermatologist looked at the swelling I had and the other things going on post surgical and said he'd just watch it because he didn't want to risk worsening the lymphedema or bring it down the arm. I'm all for that!

Anyway, I'm pretty much back to a normal routine. With the exception of a bunch more doctor visits. Yes, I think about it, or I wouldn't be on this site. Do I worry about it? Not very often. So take care of yourself. Be your own advocate. My melanoma, the doctor though was "nothing" but took it off anyway because I said it was bothering me.

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Can i ask you kind of a personal question? When you had your melanoma that the doctor said was "nothing", what did it look like? How could you tell something was wrong? Because there's a mole on my arm that seems to have developed a tiny notch, and two dermatologists said it didn't require a biopsy, but it's driving me nuts.

Thanks,

Rachael

washoegal
Posts: 45
Joined: May 2010

my mole was not very large on the outside but was rough looking, kind of gnarled and dark. It also itched, that's how I talked the doctor into taking it off. Anything that is taken off my skin I ask to be biopsied (and that was before melanoma).

RBuch
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2010

I think I'm in the same boat as the OP. I'm 47 and have had five BCC's removed from my face with a sixth scheduled for Friday. Although I do not have the fear of melanoma, every time I look in a mirror, I wonder if I will see a new spot. Every time I go outside, I wonder if the sun will cause another one. It would be a different feeling to know that once it is done, it is over with. I feel as if this is a lifetime with no reprieve. I'm at the point of wondering if I need to talk to someone, although I think it is hard for someone to understand if they haven't been through something similar, or to go on an antidepressant because I think of this every waking moment.

Sorry that this post wasn't as much giving support as needing it.

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Well, thank you for sharing your story, and I'm sorry about your predicament, but now I feel considerably worse.
Can I ask you: how far apart in time did your BCCs occur? When did the whole thing begin? And (if you feel comfortable answering) what does your face look like now?

rrosner
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

Well, thank you for sharing your story, and I'm sorry about your predicament, but now I feel considerably worse.
Can I ask you: how far apart in time did your BCCs occur? When did the whole thing begin? And (if you feel comfortable answering) what does your face look like now?

RBuch
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2010

I had my first ones removed five years ago. I had them for years but had ignored them, not the right thing to do. Since then I have been having at least one removed a year. I may have a genetic inheritence causing the BCC. My mom has had too many to count. She is 85 now so each individual BCC has had a cure rate.

My face looks fine. My Mohs surgeon also does the closing and does a great job. Sorry for making you feel worse. I came here reading for the first time in one of my really down moments.

Tracey Lynn
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2010

I also have constant fear of my cancer coming back. 11 years ago I had several large moles removed for cosmetic reasons, and my dermatologist took off a small black mole on my left shoulder. It was biopsied and showed malignant melanoma. Well, I about died as I studied it, and realized what it was.

Now, I'm terrified it's raised it's ugly head to return. I have 7 nodules in my thyroid, 4 nodules in my lungs, spot on my kidney and masses on both ovaries. YIKES!!
As the different nodules and spots have appeared, I've seen specialists for each organ, all who poo-poo me away that nothing is wrong, all is normal for my age (52 years old) and such. Right now I am waiting to see an oncologist who will look at the whole picture and I'm going to beg for a PET exam to get to the bottom of all these spots and nodules.

I still have kids at home, dependent on me. I don't have time to be sick or out of work. So I'm hoping a PET scan will calm me, show all things as negative, and I can get the constant fear out of my heart.

Stay vigilant in checking your skin, and yearly PAP tests, mammos, chest x-rays. It's all important so we can catch things early.

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network