Black Ribbon by Brett Matthew West
Artwork by helvi2 at FanArtReview.com
And its awareness month is May.
As I begin my journey with cancer, I have no idea how many other FanStorians out there reading my hen-scratchings share the same ailment.
My first tumor was discovered in my left forearm. The Mohs Procedure to remove the growth required twenty stitches to close the site after the tumor's removal.
Subsequently, a tumor has been identified on the side of my head behind my left ear. I await the biopsy results before continuing treatment, hopefully on November 20th, though that Moh's Procedure may not occur until December 17th. Unfortunately, that would allow the tumor six more weeks of growth time prior to it bring removed. Not my preference.
It is further suspected I may have two additional tumors attempting to form in my left arm; one above, the other below, where the previous tumor was removed. I have been informed by medical personnel it is not that rare an occasion for such matters to develop.
A portion of my cancer has been attributed to tending my five and one-half acre farm for the last twenty-two years. The doctors also suspect another contributing factor has been twelve years of my fourteen year Army career were spent in the jungles of Panama, along the Mediterranean coast, as well as the deserts of the Middle East. In other words, way too much sun.
My specific type of cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma: skin cancer. While I have been led to believe the five year survival rate of this form of cancer ranges 95 to 98 percent, there is a possibility, hopefully low, the cancer could metastasize into other forms. Will cross that bridge if and when I get there.
Those of you reading this posting who may suffer with this affliction have probably been informed by your doctors of the information I am about to share. For those who do not know, here are five warning signs of skin cancer, the most frequently occurring cancer in the United States. When detected early, Basal Cell Carcinomas are easiest to treat and cure.
-An open sore that does not heal (how mine was detected). The sore may bleed, crust, or ooze. It may persist for several weeks (I can attest to that). It may even appear to heal, then return.
-A reddish patch or irritated area. While this may be anywhere on the body, the most common occurrences are on the chest, shoulders, face, legs, and arms. This patch may itch, hurt, or crust. The patch may also not be uncomfortable.
-A shiny bump or nodule. May be red, pink, pearly, clear, or white. Tan, black, or brown. Can also be mistaken for a mole.
-A small pink growth that is raised slightly, with a rolled edge, and crusted indentation in the middle. May develop tiny surface blood vessels.
-A flat scar-like area that is yellow, white, or waxy. The skin in this area is shiny and taut, with poorly defined borders. KEYNOTE: This warning sign can indicate an invasive Basal Cell Carcinoma. Probably the most worrisome kind.
If any awareness of skin cancer has been raised by this posting, to me it was worth penning this piece.
Brett Matthew West
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