OK, the melanoma on my leg was teeny-tiny (less than 1 mm) so they only needed to take out a 5 mm margin, which was done on Tuesday, leaving an incision about 4-5 cm long, with five stitches in it. Just like the first "big" incision I had on my face, which has now faded to a 4cm line that only shows if the light catches it right.
The one on my face was 1.6 mm thick, which makes it on the small side of "intermediate", since I'm on the young side for such things they are going to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy [>] to check for signs of spreading through my lymph system. The margins of this tumor also have to be removed, with a 10 mm margin (eek), which means a circle about the size of a US quarter, or a UK 10p piece, this will be done using the MOHS technique [>]. The Mohs is done with a local anesthetic, which would be kind of disconcerting apart from the fact that I've done this before, and now I won't be lying on the table freaking out about massive scarring, because the first big incision has healed pretty damn well. I bet you couldn't even look at my flickr account and tell me where that first big incision was. Unless you find the photo of me with a pressure bandage on my face.
OK, maybe I will be freaking out a little, but not as much as the first time. I know there's not much I can do but trust the surgeon's skill and take good care of it while it heals. That, and start a fund for laser resurfacing and/or chemical peels.
The lymph biopsy will be done under general anesthetic, which scares me: complete helplessness = baaaaaaaaad. Complete helplessness while somebody works at my throat with a scalpel = fucking scary. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not heart surgery, and that lots of people have general anesthetics for mundane things like wisdom tooth extraction.
Now we get to the part that will probably make everyone think I'm insane.
While I'm "out" under general anesthetic, the surgeon is going to remove five other moles from my face. Yes I have that many, no I don't look like a leopard. They all look pretty much like the innocuous moley that turned out to be harbouring 1.6 mm of cancer. My moles all look pretty normal: even colour, symmetrical shape, not too big, and most of them have been abnormal. Now two have been cancerous. My dermatologist, myself, and the head and neck surgeon all reckon it's a good idea to remove and biopsy the significant moles. If they're normal, we can be relieved, if they're not normal it's better to know now, and deal with it pronto. I am going to feel like the Bride of Frankenstein for a while, with stitches on my leg and on 5 small and one sizeable incision on my face.
I'm all calm right now. Listing off how many chunks of my face are going to be removed, and they might have to go back for more later. The thing with this whole experience is that when I'm freaking out, I'm freaking out WAY too much to type or write coherantly. I've been crying in my car a fair bit, unfortunately my long commute gives my brain plenty of time to run through worst case scenarios to itself. I'm either wailing inside and wanting to run far far away or hide under my bed with a cat, or I'm dealing with life. Dealing pretty well I think. I'm trying to make sure I let myself say I'm scared, and cry a bit, trying to let some of it out so that I can hold it all together enough to feel proud of myself.