See this woman?
I changed my FB profile picture yesterday to Beaker from the Muppets. It was a comment on what my nose looks like right now. I had microsurgery yesterday to remove a basal cell carcinoma from the end of my nose.
It’s a significant wound — I have a photo of the wide deep hole but won’t inflict it on the world — and I have about 10 stitches in the rest of my nose from the long line all the way up the side where they took skin to graft the hole in the end of my nose.
Basal cells are the “non-cancer cancer,” and almost never a long term problem. Except that it’s a much bigger deal than just “burning off a little something,” and an indicator that those 20+ years of running and riding without adequate sunscreen catches up with you. There is a correlated risk to higher incidences of non-skin cancers. And to avoid having a really gross scar, I have to keep my nose completely covered up for the next six months. “Wear a bandaid on it any time you’re outside,” said the surgeon. “If you don’t, the scar will be dark and gross forever.” Nice look for someone who jokes about “Everest nose” after most of my outdoor adventures.
I had the surgery as a bit of a surprise, on a cancellation. I was scheduled for the summer but asked if it was possible to move it up. I went to a 7 am spin class yesterday and was back at my desk drinking coffee and eating a muffin when they called and asked if I could come in right away.
Basically they burn off the lump, take it to the lab, and keep removing layers until there are no more cancer cells. Then they do reconstruction where they take skin from another part of your nose (or your ear) to graft the wound. It’s a multi-stage but incredibly efficient procedure called MOHS. They were great and my health will be fine. But I’ll have a scar, and I needed to scrounge up some serious painkillers last night. And it’s a demonstration that my shameless reveling in the sun has an impact.
I *love* running in the sun. I love the feel of heating up from the inside and the outside at the same time, moving my body in the sun, the other-worldly feel of floating and heat and pure elemental presence. Inverse water in the thirst of Canadian winter. Joked about my leathering skin, felt invincible. Noticed my aging chest a couple of years ago — started calling it Aunt Shirley, flippantly saying “this is what women’s chests looked like when I was a kid.” Not invincible after all.
20 years of running means that I entered this decade fit, connected to my body. This was a reminder that my body needs tenderness and care. Run. Ride. Hike. Walk. Swim. Wear sunscreen. Wear a hat. This hurts and it isn’t pretty. #wearsunscreen