One of the many wonderful things about community is that we can find things in common between our stories. In part 2 of this interview with former SkinCancer.net team member, Susan, she shares how the biopsy procedure went including questions she asked her doctor – and what it was like to receive results.
Biopsy procedure and results
How did the biopsy appointment go?
I was much more nervous about the second biopsy, the margins procedure, than the first biopsy. It was still an open wound and they were going to have to remove more of my skin around this wound. They made me sign something about risks like potential nerve damage but no one talked to me about it. I wrote a story about how I was nervous.
How long did it take to get the results? How did you get your results?
It took one week. They said they would call me in two weeks if it was abnormal, and I could call to check if I didn’t hear from them, which was annoying. Knowing they weren’t going to call unless it was weird made that phone call a lot less fun. I got a voice message from the dermatologist saying I should call back. I thought, well, I know what that means. The one on my arm was pre-cancer and I cried – the other two were normal.
Questions for the dermatologist
What kinds of questions did you ask?
They never said what kind of biopsies I would have. When I got home I called to ask what kind of biopsies and the woman looked it up to say they’d be shave biopsies. So I went to SkinCancer.net to read about shave biopsies. When I went in for the biopsies I asked how long it would take to get results and then what next steps would be. I think they didn’t want to talk about that because they thought it might not be anything. When my husband had his excision I asked more questions – and asked if they had a feeling what type of cancer it could be. They said they don’t want to make any guesses, they just send in the sample and see the results.
Did anything surprise you? Impress you? Frustrate you?
I was surprised that it was pre-cancer melanoma. Melanoma as a word is scary – not to belittle the other types of skin cancer but I was thinking it’d be basal cell. I was either prepared for them all to be fine or I needed radiation. I was surprised I’d have to go back to get more taken out. I was surprised at how long it’s taken to heal. It’s been 6 weeks and it’s still not fully healed. The nose one healed really quickly. Since there’s not a lot of flesh there, it didn’t go very wide or deep. I could hear it scraping the bone when they did it and my friend who was with me said it bled the most. But it healed pretty quickly! Now there’s just a tiny little spot. That’s the exact area where my mom gets hers and where she’s had to get skin grafts.
Are there other questions, like asking about the type of pre-cancer, that you would recommend?
Before getting a biopsy, I think it’s important to ask what type since the experience of a shave, punch, etc are so different. I would ask how long it might take to heal, and about wound care. I didn’t know a lot about pre-cancer so I asked things like “will it turn into cancer?” Also, without my asking, the dermatologist told me that she’s not worried. She’s doing these things to be cautious and make sure. She didn’t want me to lose sleep over it. That was really nice.
Thank you to Susan for taking the time to speak with us! Does any of this sound familiar? Let us know in the comments!