The Long Road to Mohs

Tomorrow morning I’m having Mohs surgery for an infiltrating basal cell cancer on my face. My surgery was originally scheduled for two months ago, but because of COVID-19, the procedure was postponed. Having the surgery postponed was a relief yet, at the same time, caused me worry. The surgeon’s office is located in a hospital, and honestly, I didn’t want to have to walk through the hospital to get to my doctor’s office during a time when the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire. On the other hand, I wondered if the cancerous area would be spreading during the delay.

COVID-19 and Mohs surgery delays

I previously wrote about my journey to getting to the point of having Mohs. I wasn’t initially sold on having Mohs surgery. Thankfully, though, I was comfortable with the surgeon during my consult with him. He took plenty of time to explain what he would do and what I could most likely expect. Surgery was scheduled for two weeks later. But one week later it was mandated where I live, that all elective and non-emergency medical procedures were to be taken off the schedule. Once that mandate was lifted, my surgeon’s office called to reschedule.

Hesistant about the COVID-19 test

During that phone call, I was told that because of the coronavirus, I would be required to get a COVID test prior to surgery. I completely understood the reasoning behind this - I want my health care providers who will be operating on my face to be healthy, and they want to know that I am also healthy. But even though I understood why I needed the test, I was petrified to get it. I’d seen videos of people getting the test, and it looked awful.

My journey to get the COVID-19 test

There was no choice but to get it though, so I called the phone number I was given to get scheduled. My surgeon’s office warned me that there were only two people answering calls for the entire state and to not leave a voicemail because they had no time to listen to voicemails. Twenty-one tries later, I got through. It was coming up on a holiday weekend, and the scheduler said that because I needed to get in soon I wouldn’t be able to go somewhere close to my home as those locations were closed on weekends. I was scheduled for 8:00 on a Saturday morning, at a hospital that was nearly an hour’s drive from my home. I was told that I would need to enter the hospital through the emergency department to get registered and would then go to the lab. In my mind, I pictured an emergency department full of very sick people. I was sure if I didn’t have the coronavirus when I went in there, I would have it after I left there.

Should I take this as a sign?

I wore two masks into the hospital, a fabric one and a paper one. I had Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer with me. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that no one but me was in the emergency department registration area! When I got to the lab, the lab technician told me the scheduler had scheduled me too soon and that I would have to come back on Monday because the test was only valid for 96 hours. I was beginning to think I wasn’t supposed to have this surgery!

Finally ready for my Mohs surgery

I went back two days later, and thankfully the test wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined. This particular lab did a throat swab and then one nasal swab. It was pretty uncomfortable but tolerable. This has definitely been a circuitous route to get a surgery, but I think I’m as mentally prepared as I can be for my Mohs. Here’s hoping for no surprises during the surgery!

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