An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Death to Ed

This morning my doctor forcibly evicted the basal cell carcinoma from my arm. In the past week he has become an unruly tenant, has been drunkenly yelling at his cat in the middle of the night. His new home is a small, plastic container that is right now being delivered to a dark laboratory. There he will spend the rest of his short life being examined, researched, and playing shuffle board with all the other excised cancers whose owners say they’re going to call but never do.

I had Jon take a picture of Ed this morning before we sent him to die alone in a pool of his own urine. He was a handsome fellow:

Those stitches are what my doctor had to use to close up the chunk she took out for the initial biopsy. When I came home that afternoon, Leta noticed the prickly ends of the stitches and then contorted her face into a shape that made me think she had just witnessed a man smelling his own feet. “Yucky!” she screamed. “It’s a bug!”

Here’s what Ed’s home looks like now:

The procedure was mostly painless, except for the initial needle prick when she numbed the area. When she said that she was going to have to send him off for another biopsy, I asked if afterward the lab could package him up and send him back to me. Maybe via UPS. She said probably not, and also? That she probably wouldn’t want to get to know me in real life.

The bad news is that today she found two other places on my body that she wants to have removed, a mole on my stomach and one on my back. These other two places actually look worse than the one on my arm, I just never really noticed them because they are in places usually covered entirely by clothing. So it’s not over yet. I know it won’t ever really be over, so much damage has been done already that I’m going to spend the rest of my life as a slave to sunscreen and the operating table at my doctor’s office.

Please look at these horrible pictures and cover yourself up. Put sunscreen on yourself and especially on your kids. Every day. Every single day.

  • My dad had an Ed on his right brow — they cut it away, and it left an interesting divot that stands out from the rest of his furrowed wrinkles. If I look into it, I can see his brain, which makes me want to ask it, “Dude, what was up with the no sunscreen, mon?”

  • Amy

    You know how doctors attributed the increase in screenings for colon cancer to Katie Couric’s on-air colonoscopy? And how they called it the Couric Effect?

    Take heed, Doctors, for The Dooce Effect. I predict you’ll accomplish for skin cancer what even the good senator from Arizona was unable to do.

    Thanks for taking care of yourself, and for looking out for your faithful readers in the process.

  • heathah

    Hi Heather… cancer is scary, period. You have every right to tell every single one of those nasty people to fuck off if they tell you that your skin cancer isn’t a big deal.

    I’m actually one big walking freckle with boobs, so looking at Dead Ed actually looks like a few spots I have on me. And I’m calling a dermatologist on Monday, so thank you.. by posting pictures of Ed Who Is Dead, you are doing a huge service to everyone who thinks that the little bump on their body is just a sore/pimple/pink freckle. I actually sent 6 of my girlfriends a link to this post too, just so they can see that this happens to REAL people.

    Please keep us updated on this, and know that you have loads of people sending you well wishes.

  • Lowter

    I think I could do a better job with the stitches … couldn’t they have used a lighter weight suture? Ask them that with the next two … tell them you are a fragile flower … you don’t need to be stitched up like you were made out of leather. Sheesh.

  • Glad to hear that Ed is gone. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. A reminder to take care of our skin is a good thing, sorry you had to go through it and hopefully the other spots turn out to be nothing much of anything.

  • DeannaBanana

    Ha. When I had cancer of the thyroid, I nicknamed it Bob. My Uncle Bob wasn’t thrilled but it was the first name that came to mind.

  • michelle

    So glad you got rid of the nasty Ed. I have a nasty boss called Ed and I excised him this week as well – when I moved to another work environment. Felt good.

    All the best with your other moles!

  • OneBabyMama

    I am so making an appointment with my doctor to see a dermatologist next week. *sigh* Even with my very dark skin (Mexican & Native American), I know I am not immune…even though I acted like I was my entire adolescence. Ugh.
    Thanks for these public service announcements, Heather. We would do well to pay attention!
    *hugs* I wish you the very best. You can kick this cancer’s ass! And you’ll have the tough-woman scars to prove it!

  • JessicaP

    I’ve never worn sunscreen before in my life, except Im sure when I was a child and my mother would hold us down, kicking and screaming, and apply a thick layer to our skin, but after today, after reading about your ordeal, I am making a promise to my skin to be nicer to it and treat it with the respect it deserves. Good luck with this and thank you for sharing…it has openened my eyes, and probably many other’s as well.

  • Heather, I’m so, so sorry about this. We are all thinking of you!

  • I’m glad it’s going well…and yeah for sunscreen. Suggestion though, maybe you can let Leta name your moles and such. She might be less disgusted.

  • sera

    Just wanted to say that you ROCK.
    ‘Wow!’ You’re probably thinking to yourself. ‘What an eloquent comment! This person must also be a writer!’ Sadly, I am.
    Ever since a friend told me about your blog I’ve been reading regularly and am never disappointed by your wacky observations, amazing attitude, and great sense of humour. AND you hate Crocs – a woman after my own heart!
    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for being such a cool, intelligent, and hilarious woman who expresses her thoughts and opinions so well – you’re an inspiration to many, and we need more people like you getting the word(s) out.
    (Question – any plans to write a book? – If you did, I’d buy it!!)
    Cancer sucks – but the way you’ve faced it is both inspiring and heartening.
    Best wishes to you and your beautiful family – sending you many good vibes from Canada (we Canucks are known for our good vibes. And our pot).

  • Elmo Heather,
    I’m glad to hear that Ed has been evicted from the Big Brother House, however sorry to hear that you’ve found a few more houseguests for elimination. I am also sad that the doctor seems to have removed a few of your arm freckles. As someone who has always longed for freckles, I am deeply saddened by this. Keep up the good fight, Heather, and thank you for posting this to help all of us be more mindful of the sun in the future. You’re in my prayers, girl.

  • I guess I really need to be more careful when in the sun too and to stay out of it whenever possible. I worried about it a bit, but not enough really. And I’ll have to really make sure my doctor checks my skin real well next time I see she too.

  • oromat

    Crossing my fingers for the end of Ed… and Ted… and Fred. May there never be Ned or Zed or Jed

  • Hope your mind is at ease, the other two punks notwithstanding.

    My daughter said the most interesting thing today: I was out stacking firewood and she pulled into the driveway and came over to pretend to help. She said “Have you been reading Dooce lately?”

    “Sure.” We’re both regular readers.

    She said. “It’s the weirdest thing. I feel like when I’m watching a sitcom, and then out of left field something serious happens. So my reaction was “Ohh, they gave Dooce cancer!”. And now I have to keep watching, because you know it’s going to turn out all right but you don’t know how they’re going to do it.”

    I totally got what she was saying.

    I realize as I’m tying this that there’s really not much you can do with it. But – it felt like something worth mentioning. I’ll bet a lot of people in your readership will go, “Huh. Yeah, I get that.”

  • Having your mortality thrust in your face this way is always very scary. Good luck on this.

  • art2mis

    It is my understanding that you and Jon are incorporated? Have you looked into buying group insurance through your company? My hub and I have a little computer consulting business, and when we were both working full-time for it we found out that a company with at least 2 employees qualifed for group insurance. This was before our child was born (or conceived) and we had been dismayed by the lack of any individual policies that cover maternity. The ability to buy as a group was wonderful. Plus, we ran the expenses through the company’s books. I promise, I’m not an insurance agent, nor do I represent one. 🙂

    (BTW, I’m a friend of Jenorama’s, don’t have a blog of my own, although she’s bugging me to start one)

  • Mandaladreamer

    You might find it helpful to do a search on Can-X, or Black Salve, both are ointments which you can use to draw out the skin cancer yourself. I’ve used Can-X myself and know others also. The main site for it was discontinued by the FDA because it claimed to do what I just told you. But there are sources out there for it and it’s an amazingly simple process, especially if you can reach the site yourself. It’s also effective on animals. And if the item in question isn’t a cancer, the initial treatment will have no effect at all.
    It’s too bad more people don’t know about this, or take more responsiblity for their own treatment. It’s so cheap, easy, and effective.

  • You know, the scariest thing about Ed is that he looks so harmless, at least to my untrained eyes. Thank you for sharing the pictures to help us recognize him for what he is. And I hope that the other spots turn out to be nothing to worry about. Thanks again.

  • Okay, I want to inject some hopeful reason here. You probably wouldn’t have been told this, but it’s not uncommon after giving birth (yes, even after a year or so) that these kind of moles or common cancers can pop up. I had the exact same thing happen a year after the birth of my second son. My gyno told me it’s something he sees a lot of in women that have gone through extreme hormonal changes. I had been vacationing with my boys and husband in Hawaii when driving through some touristy town in a jeep one of the boys yelled out “eeewwheee” mom there’s a really gross mole on your head. At home I went to the derm and discovered what you have just gone through. Then they discovered more on my body, just like you. Well, they went in and double dug the crap outta them and twenty years later I’m still alive, the scars are non-existant and I faithfully go once a year to do a full body check. And all is well.

  • Thanks for sharing Ed’s last days. This is so important, you are brave. Even a “little cancer” is very scary. Did you ever read the short story “The Carcinoma Angels”? You might dig it. Healing vibes your way…

  • Tami

    My mother, a woman of the pale and freckled variety, grew up in Texas. Even though my memories of her on the beach involve big hats and long white caftans, she has had melanomas removed twice. The scars are big, and involved grafts.

    I myself am not melanin impaired, but my spouse was genetically engineered for cloudy climes and cool bog weather, and my kids, well, they glow in the dark. Although no one likes it, we use sunscreen liberally. A better approach has been the sunscreen clothes by Solumbra. Styling is a bit golf clubbish, but you can’t beat the protection, and it’s great for kids. I just found an Australian company online called Coolibar, which I might try, largely because they are cheaper.

    I hope the spot where Ed once was heals quickly, and the other spots are nothing frightening.

  • Thanks for sharing this with us Heather – and I hope all goes well and the other two ‘removals’ turn out to be nothing. I’m always checking my fiance as he has dozens and dozens of moles (nothing scary, he’s not like a join-the-dot puzzle or anything!) but these things usually turn out to be safe. I know you’ll be taking extra-safe care of Leta in the sun, and I hope others do that with their kids.

    And I hope people realise that in the UK we’re not exempt from sun damage either – the amount of people out in the sun this week (while we’ve had a heatwave) getting sunburn, turning red and pink, sunbathing til they turn to a crisp, is scary. I’m always bemused at these people’s vacant attitudes.

  • Sara Kunkel

    Thank you for writing about this. My husband is going in today to have part of a mole removed for a biopsy. We are both pretty nervous, but reading your saga of Ed has made it less scary. We feel more prepared for what may come. You are awesome.

  • I am thinking of you, Heather, and I send you BIG props for getting through that procedure in such good humor. I am praying that it all turns out to be benign and that you will get a clean bill of health.

    And yeah, Leta’s right, it does look like a bug.

    Rock on, Heather! And I will smear more and more sunscreen on myself from here on out. I already do, but not as much as I should. A friend of mine yesterday told me she has a weird mole that she has ignored for years, and I told her about you. She is now going to the doctor. So you are helping many, many people to realize how important this is!

  • I suggest you read the Margaret Atwood story about the girl who had a “hairball” removed from her innards. It was some sort of tumor. (I actually knew someone in real life who had this. It had teeth and everything.) Margaret’s girl packaged the hairball up and sent it via mail to her jerk-ass ex boyfriend. Maybe if you could get them to give you Ed back you could use him to exact revenge on some deserving mutherfucker.

  • Clairebell

    Ed’s dead, baby, Ed’s dead. (No, i didn’t read the other comments, something about lack of attention span.)

    So while there MIGHT be a Ned, or Ted I will faithfully keep my fingers crossed that they are, in fact, just really sassy moles.

    Best Wishes and good vibes sent your way!

  • mom of six

    Consider yourself lucky that it’s not any place REALLY embarrassing! I was at my OB/GYN getting a prenatal exam when he says “You really should have this checked out.” Can you guess where it was? I didn’t want to go, for obvious reasons, and put it off. I finally did go and a Resident Doc. came in (looking all of 18) and asked what was wrong and I said I need to get a mole looked at. He said “Where?” and as my hand covered my belly I said “this area.” He said “Oh, your abdomen.” I said “No, lower.” He looked at me funny and then got all red. They removed the mole (which was about the size of an F-150) and found it was displastic (leading to melanoma) and then, two weeks later, had to take MORE to make sure they got it all! Nightmare!!!

  • Regina_Rhea

    Heather, cancer is a scarey thing. I lost both my mother and grandmother to cancer. Lung and skin respectively. I am so glad that yours was caught early!!! I wish you a speedy recover and that no more Ed’s are found. I love your website. You truly have the gift of writing and a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you for inviting us into your world. Love Leta too, my son, a 2 1/2 your old thinks she is pretty!..Regina

  • Okay, if that was Ed (short for Edwina, I assume), I think the others should be H.I. and Nathan, Jr. (“We got us a family!”)

    …and if you get that movie reference, you are so totally my new best friend.

  • Kristine

    Thanks for the close up picture of Ed. My boyfriend is very fair skinned and has tons of freckles, he also works outside all day. Since your posts about this, I bought him some SPF 60 and ordered him to wear it or they will cut chunks out of him. I hope Ed’s relatives don’t decide to come over for a uninvited stay.

  • monkeyaker

    Congrats on your breakup with Ed! That drunken bastard better not come stumbling back, knocking on your door at three in the morning, slurring and spitting and asking for his black Van-Halen T-shirt back. Tell him we’ll all kick his ass.

  • Can you get those nice neighbors to bring you a basket of cookies again? I’m feeling that it’s time for another Oh My God, Our Plumbing Is Fucked confection. But with even more Nutella this time, and also your middle finger pointed at Ed as you eat it.

  • SPF 45, plus that great Jergen’s (or Olay) fake “glow” cream to give me a tan without a second of sun exposure. I like the look of being tan, and luckily now the bottled tans look really natural.

  • nina-dsd

    first time poster – even at number 2?? – mainly just to wish you good luck in the battle against Ed and his ilk. Leta’s lucky to have such a gutsy, honest mom and we, your readers, benefit as well.

  • I was kinda hoping today’s photo would be of Chuck giving Ed the what for. Ed would have zero chance of surviving that match up.

    Take care and good luck with the other hoodlums slated for removal. Hope they are as easy-going as Ed.

  • I had my gallbladder removed while I was pregnant with my second. I asked the surgeon if he would save the gallstones for me, hoping I could make a baby rattle out of it, and I got the same sort of reaction. These are doctors, for godness sake! They’ve dissected a cadaver to within an inch of its afterlife. Why would they find wanting to keep a little memento of a semi-traumatic event so morbid?

    All the best to you and yours.

  • Ani

    Good luck.

  • First… I am so sorry. I am thinking of you, and wishing you the very, very best.

    Second… Happy Birthday!

  • Ktkat

    Yeah… I have this big scary red thingy on my shoulder that my husband keeps leering at and telling me I need to have examined (he says the same thing about my head tho, so what’s THAT all about???) Anyway, it’s bigger than Ed and gets worse (redder, more “raw”-ish) after I’ve been in the sun. I am in official denial because it’s been there since I was like 17 (I’m 41 now) and my way of thinking deems that if it WERE cancer, I’d be dead by now. Maybe I oughta rethink that…

    HEAL FAST hon, and I hope Ed’s buddies are benign and gone very quickly and painlessly!

  • Krysstyllanthrox

    Skin cancer can kill and people thinking otherwise need to educate themselves.

    My grandfather passed away two and a half years ago from skin cancer that he had not gotten checked out. He had been in the sun all his life without sunscreen or other protections. The weird spots went ignored and unnoticed. So the cancer went internal. It attacked his spine, his organs, and was about to move to his brain when he died.

    My maternal aunt has a chunk of her nose and a piece of her forehead just gone due to skin cancer. We were afriad we were going to lose her too.

    My entire family now watches “weird” skin like crazy and we go to have it checked out. Skin cancer can kill. And cancer is an ugly, nasty disease.

    Thank you for sharing your story and the photos that bring it home. Hopefully you will have saved some lives by making people think so that they can protect themselves and be proactive about getting checked.

  • Leilia

    Just spent the day at our ‘ make-shift man made” beach that we have here.. with the kids. I lathered.. and I mean COATED THEM from head to toe with sunscreen, mostly just to mak sure they didint get sunburn and become miserable for days…now I will be aware of the more important reasons we do this ritual. I am,however, burned to a crisp..I guess I need to do the same for myself.
    You will be in my thoughts and prayers, Heather. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

  • victoria

    So many, many things to love about this blog — perhaps the first and foremost being the total candor (on topics that won’t hurt anyone close to you). Thank you for this post.

  • I am allergic to sunscreen. Sigh.

  • veggiegirl

    I had a bcc mole removed last year, the procedure was much more extensive than I anticipated and left a 2 inch scar on my back! Photos documenting the event would have been awesome, great idea!

  • Msyvone

    Welcome to the Pasty-White-Girl Club! Think of all the wrinkles you won’t get from being in the sun.

    Glad to hear you made it through the BC procedure fairly painlessly. Sorry to hear about the moles, but it’s good to have them checked out sooner than later! I wish you best of luck with those, will be thinking of you.

    That reminds me, must make my yearly full-body skin check appointment. Joy!

  • Leta

    Wow, Heather, your arm looks way better than mine looked when I had my tumor (named Oscar, after the Grouch-I was six) removed. I have been a slave to sunscreen ever since. I can only hope Cass (my daughter, five months old) ends up with her Daddy’s Greek skin instead of my Celtic skin. Good luck, there all sorts of life after skin cancer. I hope your recovery and subsequent spot checks are as speedy and uneventful as mine were.

  • I’m sorry, Heather.

  • Allison

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing those pictures, Dooce. I work at a cancer hospital in Boston where we are constantly preaching about all forms of cancer prevention, but you would be surprised how many people listen to the colonoscopy part and ignore the sunscreen part, even the employees! It’s great that you went and got your arm checked out and posted the story for so many to see. Good for you and best of health.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more