Living with sun damaged skin - Basel Cell Carcinoma (Morphoeic)
My name is Debbie married with 3 children, from sunny Bournemouth this is my story so far with living with skin cancer. At the age of 41 I was diagnosed with my first Basel cell carcinoma (BCC) Morphoeic type which is a more aggressive form of skin cancer (non malignant melanoma) that needs to be spotted at the early stages to avoid further disfigurement, especially on the face!
It started with me having a small spot like cyst on the side of my nose which didn’t heal after a few months and it just got bigger and formed a pearl like spot about 5mm in diameter. The first GP to have it checked said it was nothing to worry about, but after a couple of months with it, it was still not healing and was changing size and form and would often bleed. I had a second opinion from another GP and luckily he knew that it was a Basel Cell Carcinoma and referred me on to a specialist for skin cancer treatment where I had it surgically removed. This was not a pleasant experience and to add to this, I was told at the time, I also had to have a second one removed just below my cheek bone. As a result, I was back again to have this removed and unlike the first, it required a skin graft.
So that year for me was the beginning of my journey living with Basel Cell Carcinoma, caused by sun damage in my early years, meaning from now on to be extra careful with sun exposure. Knowing the damage had already started, I then had to have further surgery 2 years later to have a third removal on my eye lid. For this surgery, I had to go to the eye hospital and then a year later I had one removed from my back, then another from my stomach, leg and arms.
Already this year now aged 47; I’ve had to have a fourth removal, this time done by Moh’s surgery, on the other side of my nose. This is still in the process of healing as I write my story. I also have to go back again in a couple of months time to have yet another removal, which will be my fifth! This one is on the right side under my eye as the biopsy came back positive. I’m also to have a biopsy taken from my knee and arm and so it continues…
With all this treatment and surgery, has meant there is scarring, especially on my face, which has affected my confidence and self-esteem as a result. It has become tiring explaining to others that it’s been unfortunate for me having fun in the sun as a child and in my teen years with no knowledge that too much sun would cause skin cancer in my later years.
As a child, I had fair skin and hair, with green eyes and freckles on my nose, which my mum described as “I’d been kissed by the sun.” Little did I know the sun was causing damage to my skin! Growing up in the seaside town of Blackpool and only living 5 minutes walk away from the beach, meant my early childhood memories were of spending lovely hot summers down the beach. We had a few holidays abroad and I also did many outdoor activities such as horse riding and bike riding etc.
With my birthday being on 21st June, I had many happy parties in the sunshine with excess sun exposure, protected only by low factor sun cream. Back then my parents just said, “mind you don’t get sun burnt or get sunstroke.”
Now as a parent of 3 and living in Bournemouth (another seaside town) my warning is not to get burnt or sunstroke and to keep in the shade between 11 and 3, as this is when the sun is at it’s strongest. I would also suggest wearing high factor sun screen to avoid the risk of developing skin cancer in your later years.
Back in my teens, us girls on holidays abroad would apply a coconut oil to our skin, which at the time, was the very thing to get a deep tan. Looking back, I now cringe, as I know now it was more frying my skin than protecting it.
So this is the reason for my story, to hopefully educate others that the sun can do serious damage to your precious skin, so be warned and take Good Care of it.