So, what do you think people who “look like they have cancer” actually look like? I’ve known a lot of people with cancer … early stages, treatment stages, later stages… In my mind’s eye, I think I can recognize a person with cancer.
Most of the people I know who have had cancer were either elderly men and women, or young women. By young, I mean before sixty years of age, because I’m in my sixties, and not particularly feeling young at present. I stopped feeling young when I was diagnosed with MS. But I think I stopped looking young when the skin cancer was developing, unsought, and undiscovered.
When I lost a lot of weight, the first thing my neurologist asked was if it was of my own volition. I said yes, I had decided and changed eating habits to accomplish it. It was the year I was first diagnosed, and the year i began self-injecting the medication that weakened my then powerful immune system.
For decades before the diagnosis, my immune system was strong and reliable. I taught children, and children have childhood diseases, which are most often contagious and so spread rapidly through classrooms, especially elementary classrooms. They came with colds, with influenza, occasionally with German measles and sometimes with the real rubella. They came with chickenpox, and poison ivy (don’t ever let anyone tell you that poison ivy is not an illness, or not contagious. Kids don’t wash the sites well, and the oil still on their inflamed skin is carried from their legs by their hands to their face, or to another child or adult’s hands.) And say what they will, doctors who believe that shingles are not contagious have never spent a full year in a second grade classroom with overexposure to developing chickenpox in students. I have, and on numerous occasions have had shingles as a result.
My immune system fought those illnesses and protected me from most of them. And while it could not protect me from poison ivy oil or chickenpox virus, it responded quickly to such invasions, by sending armies of histamines to wherever it broke out on me, resulting in an over-reaction of protective swellings … goose eggs, you might say … red, hot goose eggs.
My cheeks are definitely hollowing. They have been growing (or un-growing?) inward for a few years now. They now resemble my father in law’s face during the year he had cancer, surgery and treatment. My hair line resembles my dad’s in his later years. And my eyebrows … I’d have to say my mother’s when she was in her sixties and early seventies. Sorry, Mum.
I have thought it through and decided that I will go to the surgeon and let him cut the squamous cell from my chin. The swelling of my forehead is increasing due to the treatment the dermatologist prescribed to save me from further cryosurgery there. This is much worse than the three little spots of crust and blistering would have been. Once again I live and learn. The rest of my face has no swelling, but my eyes are spreading apart due to the goose egg’s absorption of the bridge of my nose. I don’t know why one eyebrow is up and one is down, unless there is more internal swelling there.
Overall, I would say this is the face of cancer in my mind’s eye. This is why I didn’t want surgery/scars on my face when I was still teaching, and why I would have to stay home when shingles returned, or poison ivy resurfaced. What to do, what to do? If I put anything on it, I may react to that. I’m thinking I might ask the pharmacist about over the counter benedryl. It might do some good. I don’t think it can do harm. My immune system won’t allow it.