A man looks at a swirling shadow behind him with a worried expression. Adult senior male, fear, anxiety, recurrence, hidden, symptoms

Expecting the Unexpected can Cause you Grief

Expecting the unexpected can be a good way to live life with gusto. But it’s not a good way to be when waiting for medical test results of a type you’ve had before, that have always been NBD. (No big deal).

In particular, I’m talking about waiting for biopsy results of the types of spots that have mostly been squamous cell carcinoma in situ.

Waiting for biopsy results

I have no idea what came over me the other day when, while waiting for results of spots on my left hand and wrist, I felt my imagination get carried away. I started to expect the unexpected, in a bad way. What if it was my first melanoma? What if it was a squamous cell that had metastasized in my body?

What if?

My rational self tried to intervene. “You know what a melanoma looks like, and this is not that.” “It looks like all the other squamous cells in situ, so why should it be different?”

I’ve had so many that I lost track. After the first one or two, I was pretty calm. I expected the results would be the same, and that, if they were deeper, I would need Mohs surgery. And if they were “in situ,” on the surface, I would likely need to treat with Efudex or the combination cream that I have used for the past couple of years.

I don’t know why my worry wart self (an odd term on a skin cancer site) had intruded and was claiming the day. Some disturbance in the universe, perhaps.

Just look up the results

I was going to meet a friend for lunch. I told her that I knew the results were on Patient Gateway, the patient portal, but I didn’t like to look. What if they were bad, and nobody was available to explain it to me? She said she always looks it up. I took a deep breath and looked it up. There were two squamous cell carcinomas in situ. This of course is not nothing, but it’s way better than what I was imagining.

You’d think that might be the end of it. But shortly afterwards, my doctor called. “I have good news and bad news,” she said. I was about to tell her that I had looked it up, but she kept talking. Usually it’s not a good sign when someone does the good news/bad news thing. Did I miss something? I started to get nervous all over again.

The bad news...treat with the Effudex

She said the good news was that they were both squamous cell carcinoma in situ. And the bad news….drumroll….was that I would need to treat with chemo cream. Granted, this treatment is a pain. It’s messy and time-consuming. For the hands, you are supposed to wear gloves at night. For the other areas, if possible, you need to “occlude” with plastic wrap. The treated area gets red and inflamed. This is called a good reaction. Scabs form…and then they come off, and you have new skin!

Afterwards, I realized that the bad news part of her good news/bad news intro was about the treatment being a hassle. I realized she was using bad with a lower-case b, as in, inconvenient. It wasn’t a BAD, as in worse scenario bad. But up until then, I had started to get anxious all over again.

It’s a good thing I had a nice lunch with my friend.

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