My 40-Year Journey with Skin Cancer

Starting in 1984 I had my first skin cancer above my nose removed. Since then I have had 13 Mohs surgeries on my face for basal cell carcinoma. In between surgeries I have treated suspicious areas with Fluorouracil. The first treatment was for my entire face. I looked like I'd been in a terrible fire. It took weeks to resolve and was quite painful.

My basal cell carcinoma treatment journey continues

Since then I used Fluorouracil treatments only on areas of my face that looked suspicious. This was an easier route to go but didn't last very long (a year or so). About 10 years ago my dermatologist recommended I try the Blu-U light therapy. I don't know the clinical name for it. It involved putting a liquid on my face for one to two hours, which sensitizes my face to the light treatment.

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The aftertmath of photodynamic therapy

Then I sat within a U-shaped panel of lights. They burned my face for 17 minutes while I held a small fan that blew cool air on my face, making it bearable. After the treatment, my face was red and painful. I used refrigerated aloe vera gel to cool my face for the first few days. One has to stay away from direct sunlight for 48 hours since the skin is still very sensitive to sunlight. After about four days, my face began to peel, shedding the surface skin to allow the new skin underneath to appear. While it sounds barbaric, I have found it the most effective treatment, often allowing me a few years without evidence of new cancers.

Looking for treatment support and feedback

I wanted to share my story to give hope to folks who fear their cancer will just get worse over the years. Mine has always been basal cell. I write because I need feedback from those who have had to deal with basal cell carcinoma on the lower lip. I did daily Fluorouracil treatment on my lip for a month. It was brutal, with me shedding a layer of skin each day. I would not recommend it. My lower lip is still peeling and my doctor has used the freezing technique on it. It has yet to go away. I fear some surgical removal with a graft leaving me looking terrible. Would it impact my speech and leave me looking horrible? I live in a retirement community (my age is 82) and fear I would be isolated from others with a scary looking face.

Has anyone had an experience with surgery to the lower lip? If so, please share your story with me. I would very much appreciate it. Thank you in advance.

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

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