Too much sun over an old man’s life causes skin cancer. JT has found this to be true. Apparently the iodine and baby oil mixture popular with sunbathing teenagers in the 1950s did not work that well. He has now had three skin cancers removed.
The first two were basil-cell carcinomas. The third was a squamous-cell. Both are caused by an accumulation of exposure to the sun over a lifetime. The difference between the two is that the slow growing basil-cell spreads out as it grows; whereas the squamous-cell grows deeper and hurts more when it is removed.
JT’s latest was a squamous cell on his upper lip just below his nose. When the plastic surgeon stuck the needle in his lip to deaden it, JT clenched the side of his chair really hard ….it almost brought tears to his eyes. After the deadening set in, it was almost humorous while the doctor operated. Being right there, eye to eye, inches from his nose, every move could be seen. In the Mohs surgery for removing skin cancers, the surgeon cuts out the cancer, then immediately performs a biopsy to determine if all the cancer cells were removed. This takes about 20 minutes. If all the tissue margins are clear on the removed cancer cells, the incision is stitched up.
If the biopsy is positive, the surgeon goes back in and cuts out more tissue, then biopsies it. This procedure continues until all the cancer is gone. All of JT’s was removed the first time. Then the stitching started. About 14 stitches were put in. Each time the line was pulled through, it stretched his upper lip out as far as it would go.
Thank goodness he could not feel a thing, but JT now knows what a fish caught on a fishing line feels like. The incision was bandaged with a large ball of gauze, taped just below his nose. He looked almost like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It stuck out nearly an inch from his upper lip…with the swelling it looked like Joe Lewis* hit him in the smacker. The lip was so swollen that JT could hardly breathe. For the first day, he drank through a straw and slid Cheerios one at a time into the corner of his mouth. After a day of recuperating, JT went out into the public. Passers-by would glance at his nose, then turn quickly, careful not to make eye contact. Then there were others who would glance at the bandage,