YOUR STORY IN A NUTSHELL:
I am from Marseille with Italian origins. I am 44 years old, I have been living together for more than 10 years with Thomas, and I am the mother of two daughters, Morgane (19 years old) & Mélodie (10 years old), I am very attached to my family, I grant There is also a lot of importance to the values instilled by my parents, grandparents with whom I spent a lot of time when I was little. I inherited my grandfather's passion for cooking!
I also inherited my grandmother's skin phototype... She was red-brown with very fair skin, full of spots and moles!
My parents had much darker skin, but were always very careful to protect me from the sun: sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat or cap at all times.
I recently shared my story on Facebook & Instagram, to gather, inform, help on this "small" skin cancer, and more particularly the basal cell carcinoma located for my part on the tip of the nose, which earned me in a few months 5 biopsies, an excision and a unicorn horn!
YOUR MEDICAL JOURNEY :
I was diagnosed with my first carcinoma at 11 years old on my right forearm, it was removed in hospital under general anesthesia, and I grew up with this fear of the sun...
In 2007, I was diagnosed with my 2th carcinoma, inner corner of the left eye, I was 31 years old, and was sent to a plastic and aesthetic surgery department of the face for the operation, in order to limit aesthetic damage.
At the end of 2019, it was the 3th carcinoma diagnosed, on the tip of the nose on the left, after a long and tedious medical wandering of 18 months.
September, 2020, a small pimple in my neck itches me constantly, during my quarterly follow-up appointment at the onco-dermato I show it to her, she says to me: "we need a direct excision, it's I think it's a tattooed carcinoma". Rebelote, I get back in the ring and return to the fight.
However, I never forget an annual appointment with my dermatologist. Every year since I was very young, I have everything checked, full body, face and even scalp!
In 2007, my 2th carcinoma appeared between 2 interim visits. I was on a ski vacation and a little scab appeared at the corner of my eye. At that time, I thought it was probably a reaction to the cold and the ski mask, a simple irritation. So I went to the pharmacist who advised me to apply soothing cream. The small scab that had started to bleed, disappeared... It unfortunately reappeared during the following summer... At my next check-up, my dermatologist therefore sent me to the Conception Hospital in the surgery department. plastic and restorative. On the face, the biopsy is always tricky. Tissue removed confirmed carcinoma. So I had an excision: this is an operation to remove the tumor from the skin. To properly remove it in its entirety, the sample is always larger than the visible lesion, to be sure that all the tumor tissue is removed.
The face is a sensitive and extremely visible area, these are always delicate operations.
Then, in 2018, a small scab appeared on the tip of my nose this time.I immediately showed it to my usual dermatologist, who reassured me and explained that it could not be a carcinoma because on the nose, we speak according to him, of cancer of the old man! However, the small crust spreads more and more, grows in volume, spreads, and starts to bleed as soon as I speak more than 10 minutes At that time, I was the manager of an IT team and during meetings , which are numerous, I always have to hold a tissue to my nose to control the bleeding. It's not just talking that I bleed, it's also eating, chewing makes me bleed and this in a systematic way. My 10 year old daughter is worried because mum has a bloody nose when she talks or eats…And then, I have a daily headache, only on one side on the left of the same side than my "scab", pains that radiate to the sinus on that same side.
I finally consulted 4 dermatologists who did not want to touch my nose. It's badly placed, it's right in the middle of the face, a biopsy would leave an indelible mark on me...
Medical wandering is not just not knowing what you have, it's also wondering if you're right, if you're not wrongly worrying, it's feeling like you're going against medical advice means having to justify yourself to loved ones, feeling like your pain isn't real or proven.
It was during an appointment with my gynecologist, where my nose started bleeding during the consultation, that I told her about my 18-month medical wandering. She used her network to immediately make an appointment with a hospital dermatologist. I went to this appointment accompanied by my mother. I had to explain my medical wandering again and demand a biopsy, DEMAND MY BIOPSY. I knew something was wrong, that something was wrong with my body, and there was no way I was going to start from scratch again. It is important to know that a patient can make an explicit request for an examination or a biopsy to his doctor.
As it is the nose, the focal point of the face, I am sent again to the specialized department of plastic and reconstructive surgery of the face, to make an appointment for the long-awaited biopsy.
This meeting was a cold shower.
The surgeon who saw me was very abrupt. He asked me, "If I was going to do ostrich politics for a long time", his words are very harsh, violent, it's like swords sticking in me "cancer, hole in the face, amputation of part nose, sinus metastases, major operation, reconstructive surgery, forehead flap,". I came away totally shaken from that 1st appointment and very, very anxious about doing this biopsy. I was afraid of dying or being disfigured.
I asked for a prescription for anxiolytics and sleeping pills until the day of the operation. I couldn't sleep, I had panic attacks. I was petrified to do this biopsy. When the results came in, I was so scared I was almost relieved to know it was the "nicest" cancer, a non-invasive carcinoma. I was, and am, cared for by a multidisciplinary team, including my 1st appointment surgeon who ultimately turns out to be my greatest ally, the one who saved me without me. disfigure... A real hero, all in all!
I ended up having 5 nose biopsies and one excision, that's a lot of tissue removed for a tiny little nose.Today I have a local chemotherapy treatment (application of a cream) which weakens me a lot (nausea, digestive disorders, migraines) not to mention the appearance of red patches, burning sensations and itching I am also accompanied by a psychiatrist, it helps me to express and exteriorize all that I have been through and am going through.
The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 will have been chaotic, with the discovery by me of my 4th carcinoma. It took 2 excisions to overcome it. The 1st, despite the safety margins taken, was not sufficient... The results of anapath were not good, there were still traces of tumor. So I went back to the surgery box in January, last month, with again and again the same surgeon who gave me yet another very beautiful scar!
YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE :
My own gaze.
After the various operations on the nose, I had a nurse come to the house for treatment (change the dressing, clean the stitches…). I then had to return to the hospital to have the stitches removed and accompanied in removing my large surgical dressing. The nurse, and especially my surgeon present that day, asked me to face the mirror and confront myself with my image. My new image. I cashed in front of them, then I cried on my way home, cried a lot...
My nose is no longer my nose. My face is no longer really my face.
WITH YOUR LOVED ONES HOW IS IT GOING?
They are there and they are doing the best they can. It's not easy to accompany someone who is going through this kind of ordeal, I realized that very recently.
If they're too present, I'll tell them I'm strong and ask them not to complain, but if they're not attentive enough, I'll blame them for not being present enough.
There is also the gaze of others. My bandage for example, I had chosen one, in silicone, which almost melted into my face. I have people who have even asked me if my cosmetic surgery went well and if I was happy with my new nose!
The gaze of others is not only during illness but also long before it. The relationship we have with the sun, for example.
As a teenager, I played with fire. My friends all had darker skin tones than mine, especially in the summer. Me, in any case, I tanned very little, I blushed rather, but I didn't want to be different and I didn't protect my skin at all during this period. Instead, I slathered myself in monoi, and milking grease! It even cost me a one-day hospitalization for second-degree burns. I think we need to change mentalities, and make it clear that clear, natural, non-tanned skin, perhaps, is a standard of beauty, like the pin-ups of yesteryear! It's like with my big daughter, I tell her that photo filters are useless, we're beautiful just the way we are!
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SUN:
The sun is my number one enemy.
HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
I have to protect myself constantly, on a walk, after school, in the car, in town, at the sea, in the mountains...I never go out without a hat and my face/body cream at an SPF 50.
"Life isn't waiting for the storms to pass, it's learning how to dance in the rain"
My skin cancer changed me physically but not only, it taught me to go back to basics and refocus on what I really love
ADVICE FROM 'GRANNY'?
CARPE DIEM, enjoy the present moment, yours and your full health!