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.

  • Lynnster, yeah

    Aww….. Heather, hang in there.

    PS My dog that looks like Chuck and all his colleagues lick the plates too, to hell with the naysayers…

  • Forgot to mention that you are SO right about your nephew Benjamin…I can’t believe how much he looks like Spencer W. Kimball! The ears, nose and bald head. Ha Ha Ha! Hilarious!

  • mermaids103

    i’ll send good thoughts your way for Ed’s little friends. if you’re up to it, send some this way. dh had more biopsies done this week. he’s had so many that we have lost count. he’s had so many come back as melanoma or “pre-cancerous” that we’ve lost count of those too. some people think, “oh, it’s just skin cancer. they cut it out and it’s no big deal.” yeah, well, it’s a big, big deal when it happens in your house. if you stay vigilant, it can be managed quite well. however staying vigilant eats up a lot your day and your stress level.

  • CTMH_Lori

    I’ve read your blog for almost a year now but I have never commented before. I just want to tell you how thankful I am that you share your life with complete strangers. Your writing makes me laugh out loud one day, and cry the next. Keep your spirits up! I’m pulling for you with this cancer battle. I’m also a fair-skinned gal, so you better believe I’ll be wearing the sunscreen every day from now on.
    As an aside, did anyone else read “laboratory” as “la-BORE-ah-torry” or am I the only weirdo here??

  • HotDrWife

    I had three moles removed last week that were suspicious, but don’t hold a candle to Ed! I agree – make sure you use sunscreen and pay close attention the little buggers on your body. And your children, too.

  • now i’m completely freaked out about the weird mutating spot on my leg. hope you’re feeling ok, and i feel your pain on the self-employed insurance stuff. most of the time it’s awesome to be your own boss, but that damn lack of group insurance is the pits.

  • Joeythegirl

    I’m SOOOOOOOO glad you posted pictures. I’ve wanted to see what Ed looked like since you first posted about “him”.
    I’m one of those weirdos that likes to see and post wounds of an interesting nature. My blog readers were fairly grossed out when I posted pics of my husbands staples from his Gall Bladder surgery this past January, no blood or gore just staples.
    I’ve also been through the biopsy process on several moles before. I never got any stitches so when my “holes” healed they looked like large white freckles, now they look like large regular colored freckles. Luckily mine were benign. Sending you healthy vibes from Arizona! Actually we’ll be in Salt Lake for 10 days starting tomorrow…so maybe the vibes will grow stronger the closer we get?

  • I had about 6 moles removed on my back, one on my shoulder, and one on my forearm/elbow (which left a HUGE scar).

    So I feel your pain.

    Make Jon change your bandages and rub the scars with Mederma.

  • chollyson

    I enjoy the fact that you went with Ed; it is totally a logical choice to designate to your cancerous entity.

  • saywha?

    Awww, man. Sorry about the cancer.It really is sucky. I think you should FedX Ed to Washington. “Mr.Ed Goes To Washington”. Yes.

    I use punctuation with wild abandonment, please don’t make fun.

  • mediaguy74


    I have had 5 removed myself. Only 1 had traces of pre cancer cells. I am sure you will be fine soon. The scar becomes barely visable as time goes on.

    In other news I have seen your name mentioned alot in recent days due to this website and woman. Any comment on this and have you reached out to your counterpart in france?

  • You’re not alone, Heather: when I had my tonsils removed in the 3rd grade, I asked if I could take them home with me. Surprisingly enough, they let me. Unfortunately, they sent them home with me in an opaque container; needless to say, when I opened it to look at the tonsils, the stench was enough to knock you out. Here’s to Ed’s final hours!

  • Here’s to wishing you a speedy recovery and as little discomfort as possible; i’m sure a fifth of your favorite liquor would certainly do the trick 😉

    -be well-

  • I’ve got a hundred gazillion and 1,200,456 freckles on me. My doctor has her work cut out for her next week.

    Good luck and, death to Ed.

  • I hope everything goes well for you. being a whitey myself, I have tried to cover up but recently got 2 bad burns.. for the first time. My dad had pre-cancerous moles and such.. I am probably doomed. People think I am crazy because I respect my husband’s religion and cover up (married a Muslim, don’t cover my hair! I’m not Muslim) but I decided not only for him but also for me.. because the sun is killer. I did it 50% for health reasons alone.

  • Emily

    Oh Heather, you are doing so much good by just sharing this information with people.

    If there is a god, I hope she is kind.


    SPF 50 is at the ready…..

  • PixieMegh

    Wow! All I have to say is that my hubby had one similar to that removed because I said it was ugly. It was pre-cancerous. He, like a dummy, didn’t ask to be mapped or have any of 3 other funky moles looked at at the same time. After seeing this, I’m making him make an appointment 1st thing in the morning!

    Heather, thank you so much for your courage to post your personal trials. You help so many people to either a) laugh through their own similar problems or b) raise awareness for said issues. Love, hope and prayers being sent your way for those other little buggers!

  • As a fellow pasty skinned fair-folk living in fear of my own wee buddy Ed, I feel compelled to applaud your call for covering up, and caution everybody not to put too much stock in sunscreen. I’m not sayin’ don’t wear it, because that would be stupid, but there have been several studies done in the last few years that would indicate that sunscreen isn’t the magic shield that we had all hoped for. While it would seem to be a darned good thing to throw against your kind of cancer (which is a pretty sucky thing to have happen to you) sunscreen doesn’t protect as well (or at all, depending on who you ask) against melanoma, which is far deadlier. Trouble is, folks don’t know that their sunscreen is only protecting them against one kind, so they lather up and stay out all day, increasing their risk of the other kind. We all need sunscreen and hats and long sleeves and to stay largely out of the sun.
    I’m including this link to a great article that articulates it far better than I ever could:

    and I reccomend reading it, but I wouldn’t go off on a big google-fu episode or anything. It can give you the willies bad enough that you’re slapping black paper over all your windows and living like something out of Nosferatu.

  • Hey Heather – I wish you the best of luck. I had four moles removed last week to be on the safe side, and while it’s not a fun thing to do, it’s better than having to worry about it later. Hey everyone! Get those buggers checked out!

  • After seeing those photos I will now immerse my pale, freckly body into a deep vat of 30+ SPF and I’m not coming out ’til the sun has finished greedily gorging on its gas and imploded into itself. I won’t even peek.

    Glad to hear you’re getting it sorted – good luck with the other two!

  • I am a registered EMT who thinks nothing of controlling bleeding or doing CPR on a 300 lbs. person (trust me, it’s not any fun!) but why is it I’m so creeped out by stitches? They remind me of spiders, but really I don’t mind spiders!

    As soon I saw your photos it was like little alien bugs started crawling all over my body, so Leta’s expression I’m sure is what I looked like.

    The fact that there seems to be more, you’ve scared me straight. Actually I’m very good about putting on my sunscreen, but I seems to miss spots! I’m sure I have plenty of sun damage from when I was kid…by back and shoulders are covered in freckles.

    You’re a strong person, and you have a wonderful family there for you….

    You’ll kick the Mo’Fo’!

  • I am right there with ya. I just had one removed today as well, and posted a pic on my blog.

    It is the 3rd one that I have had removed. The first 2 were basal.

    With a Danish father, and 20 years of surfing, I was not surprised to have them pop up.

    Hang in there, be super vigilant with body checks and get them removed as soon as they pop up. It is the ones that grow and grow that require huge excisions and reconstructive surgery.

  • “Ed is dead baby, Ed is dead.”

    One thing most people don’t know about sunscreen is that it inhibits vitamin D production. Not saying don’t use it, but keep this in mind.

  • PK

    Thinking good thoughts for you.

  • Rumblelizard

    Best wishes for a fast recovery and a complete end to any canceriferous incidents! Sunscreen recommendation for your face (I have to wear 1,000 spf sunscreen at all times because I’m extremely fair-skinned and also have rosacea, which hates the sun) is Neutrogena 30 SPF Sensitive Skin sunblock. It’s oil and fragrance free, and doesn’t irritate even my skin, which gets irritated if someone even looks at it too hard. Also, read this article for key info on which sunblocks actually work and which are total bunk:

  • lisser

    About, oh, two years ago, my beloved had a bit of chest (just below the collarbone) removed because of a basal cell carcinoma. He also had two wee bits of back removed. Fine since then, with regular check-ups.

    We have since become sunscreen junkies. We have a bottle in the car, a bottle on the workbench in the basement, a bottle in the kitchen cabinet, and we have a few stashed away in the medicine cabinet. And yeah, the Pit That Was ED is yucky, yes, but think of it a cosmic warning to wear yer spf 125. Oh, and get one of those scar bandaid packages from the drugstore. The carcinoma removal can leave (as it did w/beloved) a significant keloid. We call it his Frankenstein scar. Then again, if you let the keloid be, you can scar the spawn with it when she doesn’t want to wear sunscreen. “See, Mama (or, in our case, Daddy) didn’t wear sunscreen and NOW look at her!”

    Good health to you.

  • MeL

    Ugh. This is SO not helping me in my quest to procrastinate making an appointment with the dermatologist.

    I’ve heard about the inspection they do.

    So far only my husband, OB/GYN, and hospital nurses (and the car full of guys next to us the time I was a really drunken passenger in a car on the freeway) have seen those bits of me. Do I REALLY need to add another stranger to that list?

    Apparently so. *sigh* Adding to mental to-do list for next week.

    Glad you evicted your unwanted tenant successfully. I hear dysentary amoebas make way cooler parasites than cancer, anyway. At least you’d get to poop regularly. 😉

  • I’ve had a weirdness on my shoulder for a while now that I haven’t liked the looks of, and your bout with Ed has made me call my dermatologist for an appointment. I go in next week. Hopefully mine won’t be cancer, but if it is, thank you for making me take care of it sooner rather than later.

  • Ouch. Glad it is all taken care of… it was stressing me out!

  • Thank God I’m Asian and (almost) immune to such … inconveniences.

    1 down and 2 to go, eh? It’s alright. I’m sure that Jon will like the scars.

    Nerds always dig chicks with scars.

  • ortizzle

    I had a tumor removed from my armpit several years back. I had spent a very scary ten days previous to the operation convinced that it was Hodgkins and that my days were numbered. The post-surgical lab report revealed that it was a calcified non-malignant tumor. By the time I got around to asking the surgeon if I could take it home in a jar, it was out of the lab, on a high speed train ride to Tumorlandia.

    My doctor (and my friends for that matter) could not understand why on earth I would want the dirty disgusting tumor, even a non-malignant one. Well… as much as I hate the word, I think *closure* has a lot to do with it. If you can give it a name, look at it in a jar, and eventually toss it onto a bonfire, flush it down the toilet, or bury it in the back yard with a fitting eulogy, it makes you feel as if *you* are in a position of power (read *control*), and not the beast that reared its ugly head.

    Thank you for sending us all scurrying to the dermatologist.

    Thank you for warning us to O.D. on sunscreen.

    R.I.P., Ed, wherever you are. And the same for the pesky moles.

    Take care, Heather, and keep us posted.

  • Thanks Heather for posting this.
    I think a lot of women in our age bracket weren’t so sun savvy when they were young. Who didn’t cover themselves in baby oil and lay out in the sun frying all day?!

    Hang in there!

    ps. Stitches freak me out!

  • Laughter is the best medicine they say. Bravo to you for sharing these scary times so the rest of us will take heed.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and benign results in the future.

    Not the best way to ring in your birthday. Happy belated wishes. Happiness on your birthday and ALL days.

  • PinkPoppies

    Again, thank you for sharing. There’s nothing like the voice of personal experience to reach more than some tacky poster in the drug store. You may know this, but in case others don’t, there are clothes you can buy (quite nice looking too) that have special fibres to block the harmful rays. They also make neat bathing suits for kids with the same amterial (Australian I think). Take care, and remember everyone: Slip, Slap, Slop. Slip on a shirt, Slap on some sunscreen, and slop on a hat.

  • Varla

    Dooce, you are awesome. Glad Ed has been evicted, (and don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out now, ya’ hear?).

  • ACK. Skin cancer, I fear you! Heather, it totally sucks that you have to go through this; but here again you are able to use this medium to spread an extremely urgent message.

    I am suuuuuper fair – red hair, freckles, pale pale pale skin – and I am a nut about sunscreen. But even I forget that walking to and from the subway or sitting out at a cafe is dangerous, and we all have to recognize that, as you noted, it’s not just “layin’ out” or being on the beach that puts us at risk. It’s just moving around outdoors, being human beings. So lather up, everyone! (and don’t forget the hats – your scalp is one of the most vulnerable spots!)

    (Also – the title of this post LEAPT off the page at me because I have an ex named Ed. Of course, I don’t wish him death or anything, but for a second the association could not be suppressed.)

  • 1. The fact that another ‘Jeni’ posts on your blog weirds me out and I always think, ‘Did I already comment? Why don’t I remember?’.

    2. I mentioned your on going crayon (crown vs. cray-on) war today in my blog and thought of you.

    3. I’m sorry about the mole drama. I, too, am covered head to toe in moles and have had many removed. So far, none have been cancer, but I’m only 25, so I’m waiting for the day the news changes.

    4. I have been using Aveeno 45 sunscreen that blocks both the UVA and UVB sun rays and it works really well for me. I use the oil free kind so I can use it on my face. I apologize for the unsolicited advice, but us fair skinned, mole-y people have to stick together.

    Feel better.

  • As always, Heather, I stand in awe of you and your ability to take a lighter perspective when things are going badly. This must be frightfully scary for you and I just wanted to say that I hope everything works out for the best. Hang in there! And yes, I will stay out of the sun from now on.

  • Good luck, Heather.

    And know that I slather Max and Gus with sunscreen whenever they’re out in the sun.

    Take care.

  • Franca

    stay strong and don’t let Ed bring you down. it’s not worth it. fight that f**er and his buddies.

  • IQpierce

    dooce has a baby:
    “Wow dooce must think she’s the first person in the world to have a baby, sheesh!”

    dooce has post-partum depression:
    “Pssh, poor dooce has to change diapers. This woman actually thinks her life is hard?!?!”

    dooce commits herself to a psychiatric hospital:
    “Oh boo hoo, dooce feels like killing herself! Some people just need some common sense slapped into them.”

    dooce gets skin cancer in her arm:
    “This woman is pathetic. She thinks her cancer is bad? Your cancer is the Glass Joe in the Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out of cancer! Your cancer is NOTHING compared to this cancer that my cousin’s uncle’s ex-wife had!!!”

    And a sneak preview of the responses to next month’s posts, in which dooce is run over by a tractor and left a quadripalegic:
    “Oh LORD now she’s complaining that she doesn’t have any arms or legs?!?! Aww, poor widdle dooce has to GET SERVED HAND AND FOOT! Doesn’t she realize that she can kick back and take it easy from here on out?!?! Maybe she should realize that some of us aren’t lucky enough to get to WORK FROM HOME!!!”

  • Happy Birthday! You have cancer.

    That sucks.

  • twisted

    Well, the good news is that a wicked sense of humor comes in handy when fighting cancer. And if you get bored you can connect the dots.

  • Death to Ed and his whole da*n family…..Hang in there Dooce

  • Talon

    Okay love, now MOLES are scary fuckers. That’s where my lovely melenoma was. In a mole on my butt. However…when my dermatologist saw it, he wanted to remove it RIGHT THEN AND THERE…so if your doctor didn’t say that…then that’s a good sign, yes? (yes, I will cling to ANY shred of good hoping sort of things)

    Fare thee well to Ed…the departed, but not missed basal cell carcinoma.

    And hang in there. I love my cancer scars (not all of them were cancer, but I had LOTS of moles removed after the big one…but then I’m REALLY weird too) and don’t neglect the palms of your hands and soles of your feet as far as moles go. They’re not supposed to be there, so if you see any get them removed post haste!!

    Cancer, even common cancer is scary. The threat of cancer if possible is even scarrier.

    Please to be keeping us posted. *squeezes from a virtual stranger*

  • Karen

    I lost my mother when I was 13 to skin cancer so this does hit close to home for me. I have no words to express my gratitude for you showing this to everyone and educating them about skin cancer.

    It is so preventable yet so many people are just lazy about it. No matter where I go I always have a layer of 45 SPF on at all times. Plus I know in 20 years my skin won’t look like leather like so many other people who spend their days tanning.

  • Chloe

    Had a squamous cell removed from my forehead several years ago and now use a fabu sunscreen, L’Oreal’s Ombrelle. Unfortunately, not available in the States but in Canada, and has all the right ingredients, no weird smell.

    Good luck to you. I have a close friend who must do self-administered chemo to facial features several times a year and it’s no picnic.

  • I am so sorry, Heather.

    I am glad you can twist the positive spin on this, and be a springboard for other people. My daughter is pale and I lather her in sunscreen, but I always worry if it is enough.

    Now I can finally stick my tongue out at those who laugh at me for using SPF 50.

  • Michael

    You’re keeping “Ed” at home? In your house? With your child and dog? (We do not acknowledge husbands who put clogs in dishwashers.) Be ye not so stupid! I let the pathologist keep the damn ugly big thing the surgeon dug out of my “lower intestine” (no more details, thank you) in 2002. Science needed it, I didn’t, end of discussion.

  • HDC

    Calling around to schedule a mole check right now…. Take care of yourself Dooce! And be sure to bring lotsa sunscreen to San Jose this weekend – it’s gonna be over 100 all weekend. Bring a hat too =).

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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