I’ve had three biopsies in my entire life, so it is not likely that this post will  be all about biopsies, but biopsies are what are happening in my life right now – so, for those who have never had one — here’s what I know.

My first biopsy was ten years ago of a small bump above my left eyebrow that refused to heal, sort like a small hard pimple.  My dermatologist just sort of scooped it out for examination.  The site healed quickly and beautifully. ” Why don’t we just leave it,”  I said.  “It would grow back,” he said.  The pathology report read “basal cell carcinoma.”    When I returned for a more complete excision with a “couple of stitches”, the doctor injected the site with anesthetic and took off, leaving me unattended on the table.  Could have been a coffee break – who knows!  When he finally returned and started cutting I said, “I can feel that!”  More injection of anesthetic and he finished the job.   Very neat – seven tiny stitches — and now, ten years year, I have a white almost invisble scar.  Mission accomplished.

Three months ago I presented with an array of actinic keratoses (AK’s) on my face, which we older folk tend to get, especially if we are of the fair, blue-eyed, freckly kind who burn easily.  AK’s are said to sometimes progress to malignancies.   This was not the first time I had had AK’s zapped (frozen) with a nitrogen spray.  The skin would redden, sometimes blister a bit, but in a few days it was off with the old rough, scaly skin, and in  with brand new skin.  This time the dermatologist (a different one) zapped over 15 areas and again, within a week, I was pretty presentable.

Last week, as new rough areas began to appear on my face I browsed through 38 photos that could save your life. As I browsed I came across of photo of a fingernail that seemed to have bluish flesh under it.  The caption read: ” Here’s a black-and-blue nail, right? Not hardly. It’s a melanoma of the nailbed, and lesions like this can be deadly.”  My immediate reaction was, “I have one of those!!!”  Just this past month I had noticed that it looked like I had a bruise under one of my toenails.  It was no trouble, did not hurt, and did not concern me until this very minute.

Now I know of a girl who had a melanoma on her arm, and they took the whole arm off, including the shoulder joint!  Those things love to metastasize.  When I called the Dermatology office as soon as the office opened for an appointment, she was going to give me one in two weeks.  “I’d rather not wait,” I said.  “I’m worried about a melanoma.”   It was about 8:30.  “If you can get here by 9:45,” she said, “I just had a cancellation and we can see you then.”

I took the picture from the computer with me and showed it to the doctor.   After inspection he thought I  might have an “ecchymosis” under my toenail.   I had no recollection of injury.  ” Ecchymosis,” I said.  “Bruise,” he explained.   We decided we needed to watch it for a month or so.

Then on to my face.  “What’s this?” he said.   There was a little spot on the left side of my nose where my glasses tend to rest.   I had thought it was irritation from my glasses and had even put a bandaid on it to spare it annoyance.  He thought it looked kind of thick and was also  intrigued by another spot nearby.   He decided biopsies were appropriate and told his nurse to prepare.    She started by injecting anesthetic with the tiniest needle you could imagine.   “Are you taking aspirin, Coumadin, or other blood-thinning drugs?” she asked.  I wasn’t.   “You’re a bleeder,”  she said.   Doc returned and painlessly removed the two lesions, and nursie (Kate) put them in little vials she had already labelled.    He said I should have a call about the biopsy results in a week to 10 days.  If they were negative, I was all done.  If positive, I should make an appointment with their Mohs expert for removal.

It is now one week from the biopsies.   I was told to wash the area daily and keep it covered with bandaids.  For two days the two areas seemed to ooze just plain serum but finally settled down and today is the first day I though I could go out without  bandaids but just a little make-up over the scabs.

Also today I received a call to make an appointment to see the Mohs expert in mid-October.    Both areas were positive for squamous cell carcinoma.    Enough for now.  Check back in late October.


Squamous cell?  You’re Irish!  You never should have come to this country! — Mary W.










Mohs surgery for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma