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My Adventures with Chemo Cream

The last couple months have been a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. I am thankful that I listened to my body and what it was telling me. I am grateful that I have a beautiful relationship with my body even if we do not always see eye to eye. I have vowed to put my health first because my health is the foundation for the rest of my life.


For at least a couple years I had noticed a spot on my nose. There was no pain or irritation, it was just a spot that was darker than the rest of my skin. It was right on the bridge of my nose, where my sunglasses sit. Some time in the last year things changed. The skin on the spot became flaky and course. At times it would hurt to the touch. I could compare it to touching a pimple that went really deep, but it didn't hurt all the time. Once irritation started happening I knew it was time to see the doctor.


Two weeks before leaving for Gem and Jam in Arizona I had a dermatologist appointment. It did not take long for him to diagnose it as a pr-cancerous spot, and yes it was due to sun damage. There are three options for treatment with this news. Getting the spot cut out, having the spot "frozen"off, or there is something called chemo cream. Whats the difference in treatment you may be asking. Well the first two options only take care of the actual spot and you will most likely have to do the procedure again on a different spot in the same area. The third option takes care of not only the spot but also the surrounding area and you are less likely to have to do it again if you take care of your self afterwards, aka sunblock and hats!!!


I was in a little bit of shock. I have lived a lot with the though "it can't happen to me", and it did. With some discussion the final choice was to do the chemo cream. Part of the discussion was that the doctor would follow what I wanted in the long run, but it would cost more money to keep coming back to have spots removed if I burnt or cut out the spots. The cream would take care of anything happening on the rest of the nose and there was less chance of scaring and I wouldn't have to go back time and time again. Not all doctors tell you about this option because then you would stop seeing them meaning less money for them. Either way I was not ready for all that came with that. I was super nervous about what I was about to do the entire trip. The doctor made sure to tell me that this would not be a fun or comfortable experience. This description didn't even begin to cover what I was about to experience.


Week 1

The first week was simple. The biggest pain in the butt was making sure that I remembered to put the cream on four times a day. I ended up setting alarms on my phone so I would remember. I had to make sure I brought it every where with me so I could stay on schedule. I also had to make sure that I waited an hour before going to bed when I put it on at night. It was made very clear that I did not want this on the rest of my face. You will see why as the pictures progress.




Week 2

Physically it wasn't too bad. The spot itself was becoming redder and there was a red spot forming on the side of my nose. I was getting frustrated and a little self conscious that I had to take time to apply this cream. I felt that it was interrupting my day. I started thinking about how I got here in the first place. I was frustrated and I was frustrated that I was frustrated.



Week 3

At this point everyone knew that I was applying the chemo cream. You couldn't help but to notice that my nose was getting red, raw and irritated. At this point when I walked into a freezer or fridge at work my nose felt like it was getting frost bit in a matter of seconds. The wind or extreme cold outside felt the same. Crazy enough the heater in my car would also irritate my nose if I turned it up to high. I was trying to stay positive thinking I only have a week left of this. I can handle this, it isn't too bad. In all actuality it was really uncomfortable.



Week 4

I was in the home stretch. It was the last week of the chemo cream. I had made it through the four weeks!! There was soreness and sensitivity to hot and cold. I was starting to become self conscious out in public and at work. I kinda stopped going into groups of people unless I had to for things like shopping and work. My skin being inflamed was a common experience.

I went to the dermatologist on the 4 week mark and he told me I needed to do another two weeks. I was so disappointed. He explained to me that some people just need a little more time and for all the sensations my skin was experiencing it would be worth it in the long run. I walked out of the doctors applied the next treatment, called one of my best friends and simply cried.



Week 5

Was beyond not excited to be out in public. My skin just burned all the time but it was the worst right after I put the chemo cream on. At night when I slept even though I was still waiting the hour after I put the cream on I would accidentally hit my nose or scrape it on the pillow and it would ooze. The pillow felt like sandpaper! It was awful and sleep was little. I felt like everything I was holding inside, all the pain and ugliness was coming out onto my face. I found it hard to look at myself in the mirror, so I was having a hard time letting other people see me too. I felt like I had this spot light on me and I couldn't disappear any more. There was no more hiding from myself or from anyone else. I kept reminding myself that I didn't let it become cancer because I took the steps needed and this was part of it.


Week 6

This was the worst week ever! Not only was every feeling and thought worse than the week before but I now had to face going to a music festival like this. Why not opt out you may ask, well I was working it and unlike a normal job there is no one to come and cover my work with ease. Yes my team would have made it through and figured it out but there is no shift coverage with gig work. I cried every time I had to apply the cream. My entire nose hurt all the time for all the reasons and for no reason. I was having some of the side effects of the cream intensely at this point. Fatigue, nausea, insomnia. If it wasn't for people talking positively into my day, being the shoulder to cry on, or asking me how I was doing both in my "normal" life and at the event I don't know if I would have been ok during this. The way I dealt with it all was I would tell people that I was done being human and I was entering my dragon era.

I felt more exposed than I have ever before. I had so many internal conversations with myself about how I got here in the first place and all the choices that led me to this place. What could have happened had I not listened to my body. Again I felt like all my internal ugliness was coming out and I had to accept so many things. It made me accept or start to accept all the other things that I couldn't change in my life bringing me some relief and release. It made me be ok with being seen, with being me. I was still nervous about everything but this wasn't forever and I was healing in more ways than I can explain.



Week 7 and 8

On my birthday I got to stop the chemo cream and start the cortisol cream, a heavy antibiotic and was to soak it for the first week of no chemo cream. When I soaked it I added a little kick and brewed a tea to put on my skin. It was rose and calendula, both good for skin and the healing of wounds. This helped my nose heal, keep everything clean and try to limit any scaring. I was scab free in a week and a half. To say that I was excited was an under statement. My nose was still a little sensitive to the hot and cold but after everything I was grateful that that was all I was dealing with!Even weeks later it is a little red as the skin is new and sensitive, I had my nose back.



Conclusion

The past year has brought many challenges and loss and I wanted nothing more than to fall back into the shadows. To not be seen but to have what I make be seen and well life just doesn't work that way. Wanting to help people doesn't mix with invisibility, but I didn't know how to deal or heal from what life was throwing at me. It has taken therapy (thank god for my therapist) and this experience to show me that I do have people in my life that care about me, that I need to share myself to help others, that I am stronger than I know. That softness and vulnerability is part of what makes me strong. I am ok with being seen, being me, expressing my emotions, needs and desires. I am ok sharing my story even though it still scares the hell out of me.

When it comes to just this experience it is taking a little getting use too putting sunblock on every day before I leave the house (docs orders). Or making sure I have a hat of some sort to help cover my face. I bought my first ball cap at an outdoor show the other day because I dont have these things but now need them. I am looking into clothing that has SPF in it to protect the rest of me too. It is definitely a lifestyle change, but as mentioned before my health is the foundation for a happy, long and prosperous life!

I have my last dermatologist appointment on May 15th. Fingers crossed that I have the green light that all is good and I am healed completely. Now to just make sure I have all the skin protection for my trip to California!

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