Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

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.

  • nikkinik

    I am so thankful that you are ok, that Ed is Dead (doesn’t that sound like some punk song?). I will be thinking of you and wishing you well especially during the next procedure to remove Ed’s family from the belly and back….Living here in Sunville, it’s easy to forget to wear sunscreen “just” for everyday walking around, but I will from now on. Much love to you and your family, and continued thoughts and prayers for you, Heather.

    ps…….Happy Belated Birthday! Mine was just this week too. 🙂

  • DrKyla

    I volunteer to do full body skin searches on you every 90 days. No charge, but you have to speak Southern to me, I miss it something awful.


  • toddlermama

    There’s a phenomenon called the Couric effect that came about after Katie Couric had an on-air colonoscopy. I bet there’s going to be a Dooce effect, too — I’m joining the ranks of those headed to the dermatologist ASAP for a mole check. Thanks for encouraging us all toward better health, and here’s to yours!

  • Gosh, that is scary. Without wishing to sound entirely fawning, I do think that you are very brave to blog about this.

  • I also thought the first picture was the “before”. Yikes. So glad Ed is gone, so sorry he left his friends scattered about your body. I hope this is over for you soon. I’m already an SPF freak, and white as a sheet to prove it, but there have been far too many days when I forget. No more. Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope, no, I’m sure you have scared at least one young sun worshipper out there straight and that is a very good thing to come out of a very bad thing.

    Happy Belated Birthday!

  • Laura

    Your message and honesty will probably reach further than any non-personal-well-meant-money-wasting publicity campaign will ever do.

    I am really sorry you have to go through this but thanks for sharing it with the world.

    Wishing you all the best.

  • sixsixty

    don’t rub in your sunscreen!!!

  • Glad you got rid of Ed, hopefully the Doc can destroy any of Ed’s relatives. You got lotsa’ folks out here sending well wishes your way.

    I stopped with the whole Sun thing at 18. I was drunk and laid out and was badly burned. From that point on, I’ve been known as “the girl in the bubble”. It’s not easy being milky white, but hopefully it’ll keep me skin-cancer free.

    My birth father is a carrot top, he has to have his skin PEELED. Not a pretty site at all.

    Glad your Doctor’s caught it.

  • Not only was he a handsome fellow he had an impressive set of aerials. I suspect he will not be sorely missed.

    Keep hope about the other spots. Both my SIL and myself went to our dermatologists (separate appointments, different dates) and not only did they check the initial complaint they removed other areas as well “just to be safe”, to the count of two each. I suspect they’re just anal that way. Or maybe like traffic cops they’ve got a quota to meet. Still, it’s better to be in paranoid than nonchalant hands.

    Wishing you good health and strong, strong sunscreen for the future.

  • Yikes, these photos are not what I expected. I am very sorry you had to go through this but am also glad you are able to get the care that you need.

    This has to be a short comment, I don’t think I applied sunscreen in the last few minutes…

  • Bea

    out! out! damn spot – seriously, glad to see that ed has come to his senses and (forcibly) moved on. hope his relatives follow his example soon!

    Fun Factor of Ed? -20000
    SPF Facor now sitting in our bathroom cabinet? +2gazillion

  • kittyrex

    I am probably beyond saving (Summer when I was a kid included an expectation that I would get a severe burn at least once) but my children are not. They are 12 and 14 and I can honestly say that they have never been sunburnt in their lives, due to me applying sunscreen when they were young and indoctrinating them when they were older. It is now a habit.

    I generally suck as a mother so I’m claiming the kudos where I can. At least I’ve done something right.

  • Yes, ma’am. Will do. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Sorry it was so promptly followed by shitty letters, needles and cutting. I suggest you make this a birthday month and spend the rest of it wallowing in cake and tequila.

  • I’m glad Ed is gone… I don’t think you’ll miss him too much. I’ve been reading your posts for a while… keep up the good work.

  • Lesley

    Hey, be glad they upped your insurance before you had Ed sucked out of you! You can bet your ass that next time a $72 increase is going to seem like nothing!

  • mirage1

    Thinkin’ healthy thoughts at you, Heather. Ed’s dead, baby. Ed’s dead.

  • Allison

    It is a great thing you are doing by sharing this information with such candor. Your warning will resonate and influence so many people.

    Ten years ago one of my clients had skin cancer at the same time I had ovarian cancer. People were treating my situation as so much more serious than hers. She died a truly hideous death but I’m still here.

    I cleared U.S. Customs in Miami last winter and the Customs Officer literally did a double take because I was so pasty white after a week in Mexico. “Stop using the SPF 60”, he joked.

    I don’t think so.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Rosalie


    Glad that Ed is gone, but, ack, more? Sorry learn it’s not over, and that there are more moles to be removed and examined. Are you going to name them like NOAA names hurricanes?

    I hope you are ok, given the circumstances. Thanks for sharing all of this with us. Reading about your experience had prompted me to change my behavior as I’m going to be more diligent putting sunscreen on my kids and myself from now on.

    Wishing you all the best.

  • I’m sorry this has happened to you. It’s happened in my family too. I wish more people would get the message about sunscreen. People just don’t think it will happen to them, AND IT DOES. I have posted a link to my blog also – anything to get the message out there, it’s so important. Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you.

  • Thanks for writing this, Heather. My husband just found out he has the same type of skin cancer you have and so I’m forwarding him this link so he can see that other people get through it and keep their sense of humor.

    Thanks again.

  • Jenn

    My Mom is going through this right now as well, so I know how scary it can be.

    What a great reminder to everyone who reads your site – especially for people like me, (just a few years older than you!) who grew up never having heard of sunscreen, and still neglecting it now.

    I hope everything goes well for you with the other spots 🙂

  • HI Heather!

    I was just looking through all your cool photos and I thought to myself how lucky your daughter is to have such a cool mom! I just think you are such an inspiration and you are a creative spirit. Thanks for sharing your personal life with the world. I have you in my thoughts and prayers… and again thank you!


  • susiequeue


    Thanks for reminding those of us who have descended from those wonderful northern Europeans that we are vulnerable to El Sol. Best of luck as you go through the process, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Why are they surprised that you’d wanna keep Ed?

    You’re handling this with much better humor than I would. As a whitey whitey white girl of shamrockian descent, I’ve had enough sun damage over the years to be very vigilant now. Your separation from Ed just reinforces the notion.

    Oh, and happy belated birthday! I wish you enough more birthdays to harass your great-great-great grandchildren with a kickass camera.

  • thefirecat

    Thanks for not being a part of the family, Ed.

    As an 8 1/2 year Ed survivor (though a different flavour) I am a firm believer in excising the tumour but leaving your sense of humour intact, of kicking ass and taking no prisoners, and of always being proud of your scars. Mine’s on my neck, masquerading as just another chin at this point.

    I did have a mole removed this time last year, which turned out not to be harmful, and I’d like to be the first to inform you that when your stitches are removed, your scar will look exactly like a little water-skeeter bug! Then you can name *him* Ed.

    Ed’s dead, baby. Ed’s dead.

    Keep the faith, Heather. It’s a long road, but you’ll travel it with grace and snark and lots and lots of hot dogs. (hot dogs don’t cause skin cancer, do they??)

    😮 The horror

  • BethF

    Heather, I have very fair skin and have always been agitated at how easily I burn and I rarely use suncreen, simply because I never thought skin cancer would ever affect me and I always wanted a chance to have a tan. Reading your post, particularly your post today, has made me believe that skin cancer can happen to me.
    Thank you for opening my eyes.

  • ecobabe

    Yep, looks just like the one I had cut out of my shoulder. Keep it covered with a steri strip so that the scar heals well. I didn’t and went back swimming regularly after the stitches came out and my scar is now revoltingly wide.

    Glad the prcoedure wasn’t too traumatic, I had to spend two days sitting on the couch after mine (well I was 7 months pregnant and experiencing low blood pressure spells as well)

    Happy healing and take care

  • Love ya, Dooce.

    Being a skin cancer patient is no fun. (Take it from somebody who dealt with it at age 19 and will, as you mentioned, have the possibility of recurrence hanging over me for the rest of my life!) Although it’s probably less painful than say, colon cancer, it’s cancer nonetheless and therefore just as scary. (And those craters they leave behind hurt like a muther.)

    Glad you got Ed before it was too late.

  • Dude, based on what you said the other day I pictured this being MUCH worse than what it actually is. Not that I’m making light of your situation… just letting you know that I’ve known at least three other people with larger basal cell carcinomas that turned out to be absolutely nothing in the long run. And, all of us have little enemy spots all over us. You’re going to be just fine, Heather, and I’m really glad for that. 😉

  • I just sincerely hope your doctor was higher up in her Cancer-Removing class in med school than she was in her Stitch-Giving class. Those things look angry! Very angry, pokey stitches.

  • Death to Ed and his no-good cousins! This isn’t easy to deal with, I know, but we’re all rooting for you.


  • RushMeMyFree

    You are an amazing person and you’ve been very kind to give us your thoughts on everything that’s been happening to you, especially with such wit and candor. Happiness and health to you on this and all your future birthdays.

  • Mab

    Glad you’re ok – sorry there’s more. I have one that’s been removed too. Neosporin!! And whatever ani-scarring stuff you can get – because the scar can be ugly. And don’t you dare pick this one – trust me, you won’t be happy with the result. Mine came out looking worse than it started (totally my fault, of course)

  • jessiker

    May Ed rest in peace. Or pieces…whichever you prefer.
    I hope you’re hanging in there, girl. We need our Dooce!!

    I’m so sorry about all this. Take care of you and your family first. My thoughts are with you.

  • Good riddance, Ed. (I never liked him anyway.) Good luck with the other spots!

  • I’m glad Ed met a horrible death. Serves him right.

    I hear ya about that initial needle prick, though – my BCC was right aside of my nose. Having novocain injected into my nose was the most excruciating experience (well, I’m sure there are worse experiences, perhaps I just haven’t had them yet).

    Take comfort in the fact that the body is quite elastic, and I’m sure in no time at all you’ll hardly even see evidence that Ed was ever a resident in your body. When I first saw my stiches, I thought I’d have a horrible scar right there in the middle of my face. Now, unless I actually tell someone I had a BCC gouged from my nose, no one would ever even notice. After you get the stiches out, Neosporin or Vaseline works wonders to keep the area hydrated and the skin happy.

    Someone told me there’s actually SPF clothing out there. I personally haven’t seen it yet, but it may be worth looking into…

    I hope the other two offending little fu*****(ahem) residents are removed without incident. All the best!


  • Kate

    I thought it was a bug at first too! That burrowed into your arm. I screamed inside.

    But again, Heather, good luck. You’re going to be okay. You’ve got the whole world supporting you now.. (or at least your fanbase, which should be the whole world anyway.)

  • tigerlily

    I have always joked that I won’t be surprised if I have skin cancer by the time I’m thirty. I spent years outside as a lifeguard and swim instructor, and have had some severe sunburns during my life. I used to hate being so white but I’ve come to be quite content with the lack of sun touching my skin, and slathering on the sunblock over the past while.

    Shortly before your original post about Ed I noticed a mole that seems to have changed, and have promised myself that I will have it looked at. When I made a comment last night about it to some friends they went “yeah, but it’s not like skin cancer’s going to kill ya”. I shouldn’t have been shocked, as they both smoke [and one has the most OUTLANDISH thoughts about her reasons for not quitting] but I still stood there in shocked silence and stated “are you kidding me?”

    Thank you for sharing this with us, in hopes that everyone will start to wear even just a little bit more sunblock. Sending lots of happy vibes your way.

  • ann

    amen, sister, amen.

  • Herb Fairy

    I am very glad that you got that taken care of. Along with the sun protection I also want to remind all the wonderful women to get annual Pap tests. I know. Like anyone wants to hear about that. On Aug. 11 I get to to have some unruley cells burned off my cervix by the LEEP procedure. Fun!!! I can hardly wait!!

  • Those damn Eds are always trying to take over the best neighborhoods.

    If you want I hear there are many concerned individuals that meet to keep ‘their kind’ out.

    Here’s crossing my fingers for you

  • Kim Horwedel

    i hesitate to post unsolicited advice, but if the other lesions being removed are even remotely suspicious for melanoma, make sure it’s not a shave biopsy. everything about a melanoma depends on its depth, and the shave biopsy totally ruins the chance to accurately determine it.

    good luck to you. i find it a little frustrating that so many people who have posted here seem to have ignored all of the publicity and warnings about the dangers of sun exposure and are now suddenly because of your post changing their ways. but, if you have that kind of power, then i am happy you’re able to use it for good.

  • Danielle71

    I had a similar situation back in January. I noticed one of my moles had a bit of a red spot in it and went in to get it checked out. I was 22 weeks pregnant and just thought that the moles were changing because of hormones. Not the case. The mole came back as having cells consistent with melanoma. They just hadn’t finished mutating yet. A nearby mole came back as severly a-typical. I had to have outpatient surgery and now have two 2-inch long scars on my thigh. I went in for my 3 month check up and had one taken off of my hand. That came back as moderatly a-typical and more outpatient surgery, 2 inch scar on my hand. Just went back and had one taken off of my leg, just a-typical so the doctor was able to take that out in the office, with 3 stitches afterwards. I’m turning into the Bride of Frankenstein. Hang in there. At least they are cutting this stuff out of you before it spreads and does some real damage.


  • thleen

    Hasta la pasta, Ed.

    Good job, Heather. And thanks for being proactive and sharing the lesson with all of us.

  • ads510

    i’m a long time visitor, first time commenter. heather, i LOVE your site. I first found you thru a link on a friend’s blog and soon had to read all about your pregnancy and baby experiences, as I am currently 11 weeks pregnant myself.

    But anyway, I hope that Ed is the last of your cancer woes and I wish you the best as you get the rest of your gang removed. I have always been a sun worshipper myself, but you have scared me into wearing sunscreen. Thanks for running such a wonderful site!

  • Oh, I’ve been there before. It’s not fun, I know! And the mole patrols once a year… ugh! But the good news is I haven’t had any for five years now. Hopefully, these initial carcinomas will be it for you, too. I completely agree! SUNSCREEN! FOR EVERYONE!!!

    Best of luck!


  • I was thinking of wearing all black in mourning of your dear and beloved Ed. But then I realized, hey, Ed was a bastard. And also, a bringer of the stitches. And then I also realized that it’s 90+ degrees outside, so black is just plain impractical as a wardrobe choice.

    Better luck next time, Eddie. Or you know, suck eggs.

  • Hey,
    I’ve been reading for a few months but this is my first comment. Glad your bcc is gone. I just went through it myself except it was on my face, so I had to have special surgery. Tomorrow it will two weeks since the surgery, and then the last of the bandages come off. Stitches were out a week ago to lighten the scarring, so now there’s just steri-strips on top. I’ll have a 1.5 inch scar from my eye to my hairline…but it was worth it to be able to say i’m cancer free again.

    When I first found out I had it, I didn’t know anyone who had in the past, and I wished more people would talk about it. Glad you’re doing your part to scare people into wearing sunscreen! I bet Leta’s gonna be one of the best sun-protected children ever. 😉

    I love your whole site, especially the monthly newsletter to Leta. Those are so awesome!

  • You and I have the same skin. Exactly. And you’re right. It’s never over. In the back of my mind, I’m always thinking the big “M” is getting closer and closer.

    As I sip my wine tonight, I’ll give thanks that Ed is dead and pray his evil cousins don’t ever come to avenge him.

  • I’ve decided just to mix sunscreen with gin and drink it. What’s the harm?

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.

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