6-Month Follow-Up Appointments
In February 2021, I received a call from my general dermatologist informing me that I was being diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) 1 week after getting a biopsy of a golf ball sized lump on my right lower abdomen.
I was immediately scheduled for an outpatient wide resection. During that surgery, a Surgical Dermatologist and his assistant numbed the area with Lidocaine and resected a huge grapefruit-sized area of skin and fatty tissue in an attempt to remove all of the cancerous cells.
Pathology report showed remaining cancer
The surgical dermatologist called a few days later stating that the pathology report showed remaining cancerous cells in the margins of that wide resection, therefore I would need to see a surgical oncologist to schedule a wide excision under general anesthesia.
During that wide excision, I was put to sleep with general anesthesia, and I remember waking up crying and thanking my nursing staff and my surgical oncologist, asking if he thinks he got it all.
Got it all, but painful recovery
He was very confident, so I was confident and went home about 2 hours later after recovery. The healing process after going home was hell! I had a JP drain for a few days, and I had 26 staples across my right lower abdomen, with very poor abdominal strength. It was so painful, and I did not know if I would ever be able to walk or get myself out of bed on my own normally again.
Thankfully, I recovered after a few weeks and today I’m living as normal of a life as possible.
CT Scan before my six-month check-up
Last week, I had both my 6-month checkups with both my dermatologist and my surgical oncologist. Prior to seeing my oncologist, I had to have a CT scan of my abdomen with both IV contrast and oral contrast. The oral contrast consists of drinking 2 bottles of this thick white liquid that was “berry flavored.” It was not good, but it was not terrible.
I drank both bottles as quickly as possible and sat and waited an hour, giving time for the liquid to reach my entire colon. Then I was taken back for the CT scan, where the technician put an IV in that has contrast to light up my organs through the veins.
Those images were then sent to my oncologist, who informed me during my appointment that they looked great, and I am still cancer-free!
My appointment with my dermatologist consisted of a full-body scan in my birthday suit, aka naked. My dermatologist is very thorough and checks every piece of skin on my body, looking for any moles, bumps, or anything that looks abnormal or different from my previous 6-month visit. Thankfully, she is relatable and has great conversation and bedside manner, so the evaluation is not awkward at all.
She was content with the evaluation and said that I am good to go also. I have already scheduled both 6-month follow-up visits with my dermatologist and surgical oncologist, and they are both hopeful that I will be able to start following up yearly after these next visits.
It feels amazing to be told I am still cancer-free, especially after having a small amount of anxiety before both visits. While I will probably always worry about being told the DFSP has returned, I am living happily in the moment knowing that I do not have it anymore!
How often do you go for a skin check?