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Needle, scalpel and other instruments of surgery

The Day Before Mohs Surgery

I am having Mohs surgery tomorrow morning to remove a basal cell carcinoma on my face, near my right eyebrow. I scheduled this appointment weeks ago, and the day is almost here.

Scheduling Mohs surgery

As I write this, I am realizing that it may sound strange to have waited for weeks to have the skin cancer removed. When I called to schedule the surgery after my diagnosis, the woman who made my appointment told me that I could safely wait for two months. I checked with my dermatologist just to be sure, and she too said I could wait.

Even though they told me it was safe to wait, I would have rather have scheduled the surgery immediately, but I was going on vacation two weeks after the diagnosis, and I knew that I wouldn’t want to travel with a bandage on my face. Also, I was booked with work commitments, and my work involves conducting interviews and groups, and I didn’t want to distract from the interviews by having a bandage on my face. For both my vacation and my work, I wouldn’t have minded having a small bandaid but I wouldn’t know for certain how I would look until after the surgery. And that’s what’s on my mind right now, the uncertainty of tomorrow.

What is Mohs surgery?

My layman’s definition of Mohs surgery is surgery designed to remove the skin cancer in a way that gets all the cancer cells out but removes as little of the surrounding tissue as possible, resulting in fewer stitches and a hopefully smaller scar. The medical definition is similar: “During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove as much of the skin cancer as possible, while doing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.”1

The uncertainty of Mohs surgery

Even though Mohs surgery offers benefits over traditional surgery, in that the surgeon knows that all cancer cells have been removed, and that as little tissue as possible is removed, the fact that I won’t know how much needs to be removed until the procedure is finished is scary. I could walk out tomorrow with a small incision, or I could leave with a huge bandage covering my eye, making it difficult to see. I also won’t know how extensive the skin cancer is until they start removing and testing the tissue. I won’t know anything until tomorrow, and that is terrifying.

So how am I coping with the uncertainty of tomorrow? I have been trying to distract myself with work all day, but it’s obviously on my mind since I took the day off tomorrow and have been trying to get as much done today as possible. I’ve also been walking a lot and taking classes at the gym, knowing that I won’t be able to exercise for at least a week. I think that distraction is an effective coping technique when it doesn’t interfere with following a treatment regimen.

How did you cope the day before your surgery? Share in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mohs-surgery/basics/definition/prc-20014261

Comments

  • JerseyGirl
    6 months ago

    I prayed a lot. I asked God for strength to help me get through it all.

  • Renee Feldman moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thanks for commenting about how you coped. I hope you are doing well.

  • wseverin
    6 months ago

    Well, I see your writing was in 2017. I found out about two weeks before Christmas 2018 that I had sebaceous carcenoma. The earliest the local doctors could even see me was the 5th of January, 2019. I’m pretty pushy, so I found one in Houston that could see me within a few days, but no surgery until the 3rd of January this year. Although I never had THIS type of surgery before, (and I do expect more) I have had other kinds, some minor, some major, (both hip replacements before I was 55) it didn’t bother me much. The waiting for the pathology results is tough. I should find out by this Wednesday…or later. Keep your chin up and I wish you the best. Warren

  • Renee Feldman moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi Warren. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I wrote this article in 2017. I’m proud of you for advocating for yourself and finding a doctor who could see you within a reasonable timeframe. I agree that waiting for pathology results is tough. I’ve found distraction to be useful, which I know is easier to say than to do. And keeping busy works too. But since you’ve had other surgeries, I’m sure you’re familiar with those and other coping techniques. I hope you get your results soon, and that you are okay as you deal with this. Wishing you all the best. Renee

  • Nina M moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi Warren, first of all, I want to thank you for this support for @reneef. Second, it sounds like you’re really good at advocating for yourself, and as you know, that’s a crucial skill when dealing with medical issues, especially skin cancer with the lack of appointments available. This article also talks about the tough aspects of waiting for results: https://skincancer.net/life-with-skin-cancer/test-result-anxiety-adult-version/. Wishing you the best and hope you’ll let us know what you find out. – Nina, SkinCancer.net Team

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