Skin Cancer Scare!

It all started on October 14, 2011. We went to the dermatologist, Dr. Amy Orsini. She examined the bump and said that the bump on my skin looked red. We scheduled an appointment to take a biopsy of the bump on November 14, 2011.

Leading up to the appointment was nerve wracking. I didn’t really know what to expect or what was going to happen. I had never had anything like this before!

On the day of the biopsy, I remember being really nervous. We had to wait for about 40 minutes for the doctor. I had a test the next day, and really needed to get home to study.

At last, the doctor arrived. She apologized for being late. There was also a very nice nurse. When Dr. Orsini started, she first gave me some local anesthesia through a shot. There were three or four of them, and they hurt like hell! It was the most painful thing that I have ever experienced. After that, I didn’t feel anything. I was listening to the iPod the whole time, and the doctor and nurse were talking to me. The nurse and my mom held my hand the whole time. Before I knew it, the doctor was stitching me up. I felt a little bit of that because the medicine was wearing off, but it wasn’t too bad.

The next day, Dr. Orsini called with the result. We received some harrowing results. The bump was cancerous, and I had to get the bump removed again. I was so upset that I immediately started crying. I couldn’t believe it! The first experience was awful, and I could not imagine going through it again!

We then went to a doctor named Dr. Singh Bel. She was one of the nicest doctors I have ever met. She felt very comfortable doing the procedure. I was relieved at that point. We thought that this was for sure the doctor that we would be sticking with for the procedure.
Unfortunately, the tables turned for the worst. We got a call two days later from Dr. Singh Bel. She said that she wasn’t sure how big it was, and that I needed an MRI done of my brain to see the size of it.

The MRI was terrible. I had to lie in the machine for about two hours! The machine was as loud as a lawn mower, and I had to keep my head perfectly still. The worst part was that I had to get contrast injected in the middle of it. I was so scared that I started crying. My mom had to hold my shoulders down. The technologist could not find a vein, and so he had to stick me twice.

We got the results a few says later. Good news- the bump was smaller than she expected. However, she didn’t feel comfortable removing it, so she sent us to Northwestern.

When we got to Northwestern, everything started moving really fast. I saw two doctors on the first appointment. I was crying, and I think I had a good reason to. Initially, the plastic surgeon said that he’d need to shave half of my head for the surgery. This was just too much for me. When I heard the news, I started crying. The doctor, meanwhile, just sat there and stared at me. I was thinking, “ You are an idiot. You just met me, and then you gave me extremely horrible news that made me cry. Now, you’re just sitting there staring at me. What’s wrong with this picture?”. I was enraged, but didn’t say anything.

We then went to the main surgeon’s office. I was so upset at this point that I didn’t even care about what was going on. This was a big mistake on my part, but I didn’t know it. We met a nice nurse named Jennifer, who would later be the one who would talk to me on the phone and answer my questions. We met with a resident, and I didn’t even try to understand what was going on. Everything that happened that day was a blur.

The next time we went back to the hospital, January 23, was for the first surgery. At this point, I was so freaked out that my dad had to give me a tranquilizer called Valium. It was so scary! I had to get shots in my head to numb me up. I must have had about 20 shots (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating!), and they injected me three times to get the tissue out. I was panicking. It took about five hours before the surgery was over.

Later that day, I also went in for a pre-surgical checkup. By that time, I was so upset and worn out that I didn’t even care about what was going on. The checkup, to be honest, sucked! The nurse said, “Why is there blood on your shirt?”. What a bogus question! “ I had surgery this morning”, I retorted. When she left, she asked my parents, “ What ya got goin’ on there?”. What a bitch! * smirks*

Waiting was the hardest part. It was so hard to go to school and pretend everything was normal when it wasn’t. I have to admit that my grades went down, but who could blame me. I had to tell my teachers about what was going on, and that was extremely awkward. They were like, “ Is everything ok?”. What was I supposed to say to that, “yes”?

On February 7, Jennifer called to see how I was doing. She warned me about getting my head shaved: “ Be prepared to see yourself when you wake up”. That scared the crap out of me!!

The morning of February 8, we had to get to the hospital at 6:00 in the morning. My surgery was scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. There was so much to do: register, get my hospital bracelet, and go to my room. I was really scared. They gave me a horrible green hospital gown to change into. I was sweating uncontrollably here! I had absolutely no idea whatsoever what to expect.

We waited for what seemed like forever. I just lied on the bed staring at the clock. Eventually, all these people started coming into my room. It was so damn scary! I was staring up at this weird looking bag hanging on the ceiling with plastic tubes coming out of it. I put two and two together and realized that it was an I.V. Oh well, I guess that’s inevitable. I thought to myself.

Before I knew it, it was time to get the I.V. Unfortunately, I am a needle phobic. In fact, I almost fainted at a blood test once! The nurse had to give me a shot to numb me before, and that hurt like hell, and it didn’t even help! I still felt the I.V needle going into my hand.

The plans changed a bit at this point. Originally, I was going to have half my head shaved, but they decided not to do hat, but instead to do a skin graft. I was a bit concerned, but at least I’d have hair in the end!

Eventually, the time had come for me to be wheeled down to the OR. I was so drugged up that I didn’t really pay attention to that. I started freaking out when I got to the OR. There were so many people hanging around in there! The room was really big with bright lights. I tried to calm myself down by chatting with the nurses, most of whom were men.

Then a squishy teal ( I don’t know whether it was blue or green) mask was put over my face, and I fell asleep. The mask was unexpected. It freaked me out, but I didn’t really have time to think about it. I don’t really remember much after that…

The next thing I knew, I woke up in the recovery room. I was intubated during the surgery, so my throat was a bit sore. Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t nauseous at all when I woke up! After a few minutes, I was wheeled to another room to see my parents. I had a popsicle and some ginger ale. After that, my parents left to go get me some food from Corner Bakery. I had not eaten all day!

After about an hour or so, the nurse, who’s name was Teri, had me get up and try to walk around. I was a bit dizzy, but I was fine. It was time to go home after that. I missed about 5 days of school, and I wasn’t allowed to wash my hair for five days. It was disgusting! I wash my hair every day, so I was glad when I finally could again! By the fifth day after the surgery, my hair was an absolute mess. I couldn’t go to school because of that, but luckily I could wash my body- thank god! I hate going a day without a shower!

It was really great to go back to school the Tuesday after surgery, which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day! A lot of people asked where I was, but they weren’t rude about it. There’s a difference between rudeness and curiosity! I had to wear an adorable black hat with a grey flower that my dad’s friend made me, but nobody noticed. At New Trier, many kids wear hats!

Unfortunately, due to the surgery, my grades started to slip. I didn’t fail any classes, but they went down by a letter grade at most. But that wasn’t the most of my problems! That didn’t stop me!

We went back to the surgeon, and he said that I’d have to have another surgery to take off another bump, luckily not cancerous. It was so scary to think about, but it really wasn’t that bad. I was sedated, so there was no general anesthesia involved- YAY!

August 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Survivor Stories

  • Teri Varner

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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