“have” vs. “had”

Someone at the melanoma bulletin board suggested that people who have had melanoma removed ought not say “I have melanoma” but say “I had melanoma.”  The same would go for basal, squamous, and actinic keratosis (the pre-cancers seen in older skin.). Their reasoning is that if you’ve done the right thing and had the site surgically corrected by removing the skin carrying the cancer cells, you have removed the cancer. It is now a part of your past, not your present.

I would like to believe that. I would like to think that skin cancer is something you correct with surgery, like a broken finger. If it were true, I would not be seeing a dermatologist every three months. I would not be sent repeatedly back to the surgeon for more skin surgery.

Are people who have had malignant melanoma treated with Moh surgeries cancer survivors?  Well, yes, as long as we continue to survive, we are survivors of many things. The term “survivor” does imply an end point having been reached. But like multiple sclerosis, there is no end point with skin cancer. The damage done in our childhoods comes to fruition in our later years, and it is repetitive, and ought not be unexpected.

So yes, I guess I am a continual survivor, both of multiple sclerosis and of melanoma, squamous and basal skin cancers. I can live with that.

The sutures were removed on day 5 from my chin. The before, during, and current pictures show the seriousness of “just skin cancer.” This site required two Moh excisions (conservative cutting and re-biopsying until clear margins are reached.) The repeated biopsies are done right in the office, and take about 40 minutes before continuing with either more cutting or sutures for closing.

before, showing the small punch-biopsy site that proved to be squamous call carcinoma

before, showing the small punch-biopsy site that proved to be squamous call carcinoma

day 1 after surgery; approximately a dozen carefully placed sutures closing two surgical excisions,  with bruising evident of skin manipulation.

day 1 after surgery; approximately a dozen carefully placed sutures closing two surgical excisions, with bruising evident of skin manipulation.

day 2 bruising showing yellow tinge of aging.

day 2 bruising showing some swelling and beginning yellow tinge of aging bruises.

day 4 with bruising responding to aquaphor on sutures.

day 4 with bruising responding to aquaphor on sutures.

day 6 : sutures removed yesterday, skin is smoother with most bruising aging to yellow and moving down the neck as predicted.
day 6 : sutures removed yesterday, skin is smoother with most bruising aging to yellow and moving down the neck as predicted.

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