This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

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.

  • DDM

    Giant, enveloping, warm hugs to you. Without touching Ed’s Former Home, of course.

  • nancy robbins

    I too have many scars from biopsy from Basil Cell Skin cancer’s and one looks just like a “water bug” on my upper chest. when my kids were young they use to tell everyone that i had bugs on my chest!
    I’m sorry you have now joined the sun burns of yesterday club. I have had so many biopsy that I now think of it like a weight loss clinic. every 6 months they take chunks of skin and send them of the the lab.
    Try not to lift anything to heavey, thats when the stitches stretch and you end up with the ‘bug scars’
    Good luck with the other ‘spots’. i hope they are negitive.

  • kierewalker

    Swooping in with the wonderful news: just because your extra spots look funny doesn’t necessarily mean they’re malignant. Of course, if you ever have a mole that isn’t uniform in color, doesn’t grow hairs, or changes shape: get it checked! But the good news is that this stuff can occur with moles that aren’t cancerous. Only a biopsy can tell you for sure. In the meantime, sunscreen is the shit (a subject expounded upon by numerous posters)!

    Again, thank you for sharing this with your readers. I credit you for letting a number of people know that those funny-looking dark spots might not be so kosher after all. Here’s hoping those little moles are healthy as horses.

  • I’m sorry you’re going through this, Heather.

    And right at the time your health insurance premiums go up! At least you can’t say that you’re not getting your money’s worth from your insurance. The next time they jack your rates up, you should really milk the system and blow out a knee or get something that requires a long hospital stay.

    And thanks for the reminder to cover up and wear sunscreen.

  • Meg

    Oh, shit. Why in God’s name, when my grandfather having had half his HEAD removed for skin cancer didn’t stop me, is this making me want to stop my wicked ways?

    Heather, I am so glad it’s getting taken care of. And the jagged line of stitches makes you look tough and intimidating and ruggedly sexy.

    And smarter than most of us.

  • Melanieflorida

    After you’ve finished being poked and prodded, you can buy yourself some nice big hats and lather yourself in a nice shade of pink zinc. You can also wear big plastic “pearl” necklaces and change your name to Myrtle.

    On a serious note … so glad you’re getting all this taken care of and that you have a good doctor.

  • I’m making a mental note to get a skin check, since I’m already a vampire who shrieks if sun touches her.
    Good luck, and kick that cancer’s ass.

  • b.

    thanks so much for sharing these pictures. it’s a bummer you have to go through this, but you’ve just made me an avid sunblock-wearer (and my son) FOREVER. and i live in AZ, so i need it. thank you! and beat Ed to death.

  • I’m making an appointment right now to get my skin checked too! Now I’m skeptical of every spot on me!

    good luck with all your spots. I would use another exclamation point but didn’t want to hog them all.

  • I am so glad that Ed will be wasting away in a small plastic vial in a pool of its own urine… I sure hope that everything else comes back with a nice peppy name like Amber or something (because we all know that Amber could not possibly be anything other than a nice sort of spot)… and thank you. I went to the doctor myself, in part influenced by you and by own siblets removal of a pesky spot… I am free but with a few yellow bert alert areas… just thought I would share.

  • Erica America

    The other day my Mom told me she had a spot on her nose that looked scar-like and she was wondering if she should get it checked out, then I was all “Oh my GAWD – it’s basal cell carcinoma – Dooce has it and I read all about it on the computing box – get thee to a doctory!” So see, you’re helping save lives. Sending you a virtual lollipop O– for being a very brave girl. Heal well.

  • Yeah, I’m going next week to get two spots checked out.

    Skin cancer in my family like a bad cold. Everyone gets it.

  • riot_siren

    I’m going to show this post to my boyfriend, who is the king of creepy, irregular, sentient moles that speak to me while we’re asleep. He has this one tag mole on his stomach…he hates it when I play with it. Which is why he should get it removed, duh!

    So glad you’re okay, btw.

  • hang in there, heather! and remember to get any suspicious looking freckles or moles checked anually!

  • Erin- Thanks, so much for the medical photograph idea. I was seriously wondering about that as I was reading Heather’s post. Debating whether or not if it would work. I’m going to be taking some pictures of some suspicious spots and start to document any changes.

    Heather- Thank you for sharing this. If for no other reason than helping us all remember that none of us are safe by thinking “it won’t happen to me”.

  • I have had three cancerous moles removed, in similar locations and I have to go to the dermatologist once a year so he can inspect me naked because I have about 300 billion freckle/moles all over my body.

    It was scary at first but now it’s kind of like getting my teeth cleaned.

    But I never go outside without SPF 25, at minimum.

  • Looks very familiar to me. You’ll be fine. Still yucky, though, isn’t it??

  • MTSP

    Hi Heather, I went through a similar ordeal in February with melanoma on my scalp so I know exactly how you feel. My damn hair STILL hasn’t grown back on that spot. I have a checkup in Sept, but the doctor thinks I am ok. Total scare and now I am super-paranoid about my skin. But I am so glad you got it taken care of early. There are tons of people who wait until it’s too late.

    THANK YOU for advocating sunscreen! I am constantly telling my friends & family to put it on. People don’t realize how dangerous it is to not wear it. Especially for kids, since my oncologist said most of the damage was done when I was a kid.

  • For the first time, I’m posting w/o reading comments.

    1) I, too, wanted my excised mole when my doctor cut it off. I also wanted to keep the small lump that he cut out of my armpit (which was straying very close to my boob). He nixed both ideas of mine. He finally gave in when I wanted my gall bladder – he didn’t give me the organ, but let me keep the big, fat gallstones in a jar. I figure if it came out/off me – it’s still mine. Do I need to mention that I also have my wisdom teeth in a jar? But my husband finally made me take them off the bookcase in the living room. I ended up mailing them to a friend of his.

    2)As sick as this may sound, I couldn’t imagine you NOT sharing these photos with all of us, who are bizarrely intertwined in your lives. Thank you for sharing.

    Hang in there, kiddo. Laughter IS the best medicine, and your sense of humor (sick as it is) will help you get well!

  • marisakc

    Glad you got rid of the unwelcome squatter! Could be in a worse place, though. My father had to have skin cancer removed from his nose which involved reconstructive surgery, etc. Needless to say this was even less attractive than the creepy spider-like stiches in your arm.

    …and on the plus side it finally got me to forgive my mother for putting so much sunscreen on me as a child that in family videos from Christmas visits to Santa I actually blended in with his beard. I looked like the kid in “Powder” and resented the heck out her for that. So the scary ugly cancer fear is totally helping with that.

  • Looks very familiar to me. You’ll be fine. Still yucky, htough, isn’t it??

  • brilliant advice, heather. if u look at the photos of me on my blog, u’ll think that i’m not a person who needs sunscreen but after years of beach time in brasil, florida + california, i know that EVERYONE needs it.

    thank god this was all caught so early 4 u. i’m sending u peace + magic 4 your healing.

  • Adios Ed. I am so sorry to hear to hear that he has some obnoxious friends. It sounds like you are in good hands though.

    My family history for skin cancer has led me to perfect a sun protection ritual for my 2 year-old.

    First, I dip him headfirst, Achilles-style into a vat of sunscreen followed by the head-to-toe SPF Hazmat suit. Topping it all off is a lovely desert-style flap hat and UVA/UVB glaucoma shades.

    His whole body is still baby-butt white. I figure this approach will work great until he realizes I’m a bit crazy.

  • trulyscrumptious

    Oh yikes. Best wishes for the rest of ’em, Heather. This must be scary. Thanks for the reminder about our good friend SPF.

  • MommyofOne

    Heather,

    I was getting a mole checked out at my dermatologist when I came across the issue of Glamour which contained the article featuring you. Weird.

    I’m sorry about the cancer and glad that it is gone. Thank you so much for sharing your story and pictures. You have raised awareness for all of us. My 4 year old daughter has milky skin just like Leta’s and red hair so you better believe I’m not going to stop my SPF 50 campaign with her anytime we’re in the sun for more than 10 minutes.

    Thank you again.

  • Megan

    How timely to read this just minutes after getting back from my own biopsy.

    I was seeing my dermatologist for an unrelated issue and thought, ‘what the hell, why not throw in a mole check?’ I didn’t actually think she’d find anything.
    And I don’t know if I would have asked for the exam had I not been reading your site. So thanks.

    Incidentally, I’m the one who wrote you about my shitty ex-boyfriend Ed. Imagine my amusement at the title of this post, and subsequent comments. Lots of love to you and yours.

  • erin

    Heather, wow. thanks for posting the pictures. I had a small melanoma on my arm when I was 23 and my scar looks pretty similar to your ‘after’ picture of Ed – they really do remove the skin about 1 cm all the way around the mole – the reality of which shocked me when I first saw my arm after the surgery.

    Since then, no cancer, but lots of mole checkups and several biopsies and smaller scars.

    Anyway, one piece of advice for all of you who have a lot of moles (and have hard time keeping track of if they have changed) – my doctor suggested getting a set of medical photographs made (some university hospitals have services for this). Or, you can do this on your own with a digital camera – just take shots of your body in segments in some good lighting (the segments don’t have to be too small … say your lower right arm and hand would be one shot). Then, get them printed out, and refer to them if you’re unsure of whether a mole has changed. I got a set of these done, and now bring them with me to every dermatologist visit … so, if my doctor thinks a mole looks questionable, we can both look at the photos and see if it looks bigger/darker/more asymetric/scabbier then it used to. And, if there’s a mole she wants to ‘watch’ and check again at my next visit (b/c good lord, let’s not get biopsy-crazy), she takes a digital close-up of it and puts in my file so we can compare next time.

  • kidsmom

    I’m showing my kids your post. They think I am a PIA about the sunscreen. ME: Irish, grew up in the era of greasy sunscreen and blistering burns. KIDS: mother that at least tried.

    Nancy

  • Thank you for sharing. Take care of yourself.

  • * sending you wishes for good health *

  • You said, “prick”.

    Owie Sweetpea. I’m sorry you are going through this, but I am glad that Ed is gone. Hopefully these other two punks are benign and nothing serious. Being Scottish/Irish and mole/freckle laden, I’m afraid I may one day be in your shoes.

    And if/when I am I plan on demanding ice cream. A lot.

  • Heather, I need to have my husband take a picture of the two moles my doctor removed, they turned out to be nothing. I call the scar “boat payment” because that is what I presume the doctor did with them. Sincerely hoping yours turn out to be “big shiny pieced of jewelry” or maybe “weekend drinking in Mexico.”

  • Seriously, Good bye Ed!

    My Mom had skin cancer on her face and has she learned her lesson? NO. Makes me nuts.

  • It’s like that tv show… Ed, Edd and Eddy. You know, except with cancer added for extra fun.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us and for these pictures. I’m now looking all over for anything resembling a red splotch on my body.

    I always check in for my Daily Dose of Dooce. Take care of yourself. :o)

    Amy

  • Loonytick Skook

    Oh, Heather. I hate it for you that this is happening, but like so many others, I have to thank you for posting. I am usually really good about slathering on the sunscreen when I go out, I’ve never been one to try to get a tan, but I’m the worst-the WORST, I tell you!-about forgetting to reapply. So I get several sunburns a year on my shoulders. It’s ridiculous. Seeing those images might be just what I need to remember.

  • People, people, put away that sunscreen and get yourself some sunBLOCK. BLOCK. BLOCK. BLOCK THOSE RAYS!

    Products that contain zinc or titanium dioxide are designed to BLOCK the rays rather than SCREEN them out. Screening lets in some light. If you want some color, get a spray-on tan and leave those UVAs and UVBs for the more olive-skinned folks out there.

    So long, Ed. Hope we never see you again.

  • Heather, I think it is awesome that you chose to share this personal story with everybody because sunscreen is something that skips our minds. I once read that you only need about two substantial sunburns/suntans for cancer to start. I am glad Ed is gone and hopefully the rest of his family will be gone too. Good luck with everything.

  • Thank you for sharing!

    I used to lay around in spf 8 (4 was just irresponsible) all summer, but these past few years, I’ve matured and have been moving up to 15 and 30, depending on the length of my exposure. I’ve been seeing a dermatologist (not like dating one, but going to one in an office- copay and everything) who says that everything looks fine.

    Still. It’s scary.

  • laurellz

    Aww, I’m sorry that you have more! Hey, just be thankful it’s not on your face! My mom had it, literally, on the tip of her nose. Yeah, wouldn’t that be lovely? (Don’t think I’m trying to tell you MY GOSH WOMAN, DONT FREAK OUT, because, by all means, scream out loud and throw a plant at someone.)

    And as to that covering up and lotsa sunblock thing– HUZZAH! I have generations of skin cancer in my family and as a resault, I have this theory:

    http://www.jinx.com/scripts/details.asp?affid=-1&productID=484

    and this coloured skin:

    http://i5.tinypic.com/20j09p0.jpg

    Fun, eh?

  • patchuga

    Goodbye and good riddance, Ed.

    I am sorry that he left some of his relatives, though. And hope that the removal of those is equally low-pain. My dad had basal cell carcinoma, only on his face. This scaly, dry-skin-looking spot by his nose that he thought was just, well, dry skin. Turned out it was BCC, and he had to have three operations to remove all of it, and nearly lost his nose. Scary stuff.

    I wear SPF every day i’m going to be outside and seek the shade at all costs.

  • Dooce, that’s scary. I hope you have no more Ed’s. And that Ed was not as bad as he seemed.

    Try the spray on sunscreen. Easier to get onto squirmy toddlers.

  • laurie

    You’re in my thoughts!

  • traceyp

    thanks for sharing your experiences and photos Heather and for reminding us to cover up, I am a fair skinned New Zealander who is dreading the day I find a mole that doesn’t look right…I hope you heal well and that those other two spots are taken care of easily – do they have names by the way? Take care.

  • I’m totally paranoid about the years of baking in the sun I did. I’ve asked my doctor about various “spots” and even though she’s assured me they are fine, I still find myself wanting another opinion, because I’m obsessive and crazy.

    I hope everything goes well with you, regarding Ed and the Ed-laws. For what it’s worth – you’re in my prayers.

  • I think you need to transform the Ed scar into a nice anchor tattoo. Or a heart with “MOM” on the inside. Or — better yet — “WINONA FOREVER”.

    Here’s to healthy, cancer-free Armstongs, now and forever. xo

  • ashleigh

    Heather,

    I just wanted you to know that my thoughts are with you during your trying time. I’ve told you before that your monthly posts to Leta remind me of how my mom and I were, and I say were because my mom died yesterday after a year and a half battle with colon cancer. I am 24 years old, so my mom got to see me graduate high school and college and get a great job and apartment out of college, but she will never get to hold her grandbabies. So please continue to take care of yourself and of Jon so that you can hold Leta’s grandbabies. My mother was not a complainer, and I can’t help but think if she had complained just a little bit more, she might still be alive. So you go to the doctor as often as you think you need to to make sure that everything is ok.

    And once again, thank you for letting us into your world through your posts. I feel privileged to be able to read them 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Ashleigh

  • Heather, I am sorry all that this is so frightening.
    You have my positive thoughts and well wishes.

    I am rather pale, and last Sunday I spent the day at my friends’ pool and on their boat. I did a bang-up job with the sunscreen. Except on my stomach. Which ended up striped. It’s a nice look. Really.

  • The Real Kato

    Congratulations on the eviction, Heather. Good riddance to you, Ed.

    If I may offer a suggestion, get some of those scar-reducing sheets from the drugstore and apply them early, to help avoid collagen buildup.

  • Heather, I’m so glad that your doctor is taking precautions by suggesting the removal of these ‘extras’.

    My fiance just had a mole removed from his back (after years of my prompting that HE GET IT CHECKED OUT!!) and we’re still awaiting the results. Scary.

    Take care and be well.

  • Rhi

    So thankful that you’re sharing your story about this. I had a similar spot removed from my boob. MY BOOB! Needless to say, there goes my nude modeling career. I was really counting on that as a back up.