alt=an older woman showing a range of emotion

Sometimes the Little Things Can Get to You

Sometimes, the effects of skin cancer come in little pings. Or as I said previously (mixing my metaphors here), as a drip, drip, drip. An annoyance here, a pain there, a rush of anxiety over there, and even a laugh now and then. In that spirit, here are three little things.

1. Something funny

Picture Denis the Menace and his famous cowlick. Well, I looked in the mirror the other day and realized I have my own version. Only, it’s salt and pepper and not blond. And while his was tied to his mischievousness, mine is the result of my dermatologist shaving a tiny area of hair off my scalp, scraping off some skin that I had been picking, and instructing me to apply the combination cream, Efudex (fluorouracil) and Dovonex (calcipotriene), for seven days.

I hope the cowlick calms down, because to me, it looks kind of goofy. But like much of skin cancer that makes us self-conscious, it’s probably a bigger “problem” for us than it is for the observer.

2. Something I would feel sorry about

The habit of skin-picking is a bad one that I can’t seem to stop. (If you have tips, leave them in the comments.) I either pick little loose pieces on my scalp or the scabs that form after “chemo-cream” treatment with the combo mentioned above.

I noticed the other day that I did it unconsciously. While I was writing at the kitchen table, I reached down and picked a scab off my calf without even realizing it until it was off.

This seems harder to break than doing it on purpose, which I did the other night while looking in the mirror at a constellation of little scabs on my forehead. After I got off the piece that I was after, the area started to bleed, and then hurt, and then I was sorry about it.

My daughter was here one night when I started to pick, and she reminded me how I would feel after. So I didn’t do it. It’s great if someone around you can snap you out of it like she did, but I live alone, and that’s not always possible for me. I’ve thought of snapping a hair tie on my wrist but haven’t done that one yet.

3. Something that made me self-conscious

Many of my friends have Apple watches, but I’m not a fan. I am a fan of interesting and artistically made watches. One that I got in a gallery in Northampton has a pink band and face. And is NOT digital. I have misplaced it and have been making myself crazy trying to remember where it is.

In the meantime, it was my birthday. I decided to treat myself to a new one by the same watch maker. They come in different styles and colors. I tried on one with a green band and face. In my opinion, my wrist is a mess. There is a red oval where a biopsy is healing, and around it are little red raised areas resulting from chemo cream treatment in that area. I made a crack about trying to find a band that looked as good as possible with my messed-up skin.

And then, the line that I usually use when I am going to say too much: “Not that you need my whole life story…” I told the salesperson about the biopsy and the treatment, when saying nothing at all would have been better. She seemed sorry that I felt self-conscious, and she told me I looked great. Afterwards, I thought this confessional was a bit much. Do you ever share your story at a time that maybe wasn’t that appropriate?

That’s it for my skin cancer stories. They’re little, but they use up a lot of energy.

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