Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I am sharing this story in hopes that it will help at least one person!!  I was reminded of this yesterday when my daughter came home from the dermatologist, and told me what the PCA (patient care associate), who has no medical training, had told her. 

The PCA was taking her medical history, and she told them that her dad had been diagnosed with skin cancer on his lip.  The PCA told her, well, it must have only been "pre cancer" or they would have removed his whole lip.  Unfortunately, for those who haven't researched it locally and gotten a second opinion, this is the case. 

Some time in the middle of last year, my husband had a small raised brown spot on his lower lip.  He really didn't think much of it, and ignored it, thinking it would go away.
It grew larger and larger, and he finally made a call to our local family physician.  He told him that he thought maybe it was skin cancer, and referred him to a local dermatologist.  This dermatologist is  "in our network", and all of the local dermatologists work under this umbrella of dermatologists and opinions in the local region (within about a 40 mile radius or so).

The dermatologist examined him and decided that it was indeed skin cancer of some kind and that he would need to have it removed.

He went to visit a plastic surgeon, who told him that he would "remove his lower lip and then turn it outward to where it resembled a normal lip, and that eventually it would look like a normal lip".  This DID NOT APPEAL to my husband of course.

As he was checking out that day, the business office told him that we would be required to pay all of our deductible before he could be treated.  Our deductible at that time was about $3000.  Not only were we facing drastic surgery, we were also facing paying out a huge chunk of money as well.

I decided that surely he could get a second opinion from someone.  I had to really search to find a dermatologist not affiliated with this network, and finally found one about 60 miles from our home, but still within our medical network.  We called and told them our situation, and they were able to make him an appointment within a weeks time frame.  We went to the appointment, they were able to confirm that it was skin cancer, and he would need surgery. 

This time, however, this office uses an advanced method of working with skin cancers.  They were going to use a method called MOHS Micrographic Surgery.  This is a method where with the use of a laser, the physician cuts of a miniscule layer of skin, one at a time, until the skin cancer is removed, leaving the area looking basically like normal. 

Here is the link to the surgeons office where we went

The wonderful thing about this office as well, is they only required us to pay our co-pay. 

Had we only visited and listened to the first office, we would have been out of $3000 and my husband would have been traumatized unnecessarily. 

The physician prayed with my husband before he ever even started the procedure.  He ended up having to cut off many, many layers of skin on his lip to make sure he got it all.  We had to return a week later for a check of his lip.  He had huge bandages on his lip, which required lots of manipulation and changing by yours truly LOL.  They told him they had never seen such a fine job of bandaging by anyone!! :) 

It was a very scary time for us both.  My husbands dad died of Malignant Melanoma when my hubby was just a young boy.  We were both worried that they might find that it had already spread into his blood stream.  It's somewhat of a frightening thought when you are there wondering if your world is going to turn upside down and you are going to be the sole person responsible for everything and also lose your spouse! 

He had his six month checkup not too long ago, and got the all clear for now. 

He now makes sure to tell everyone, if you are out in the sun, which he was for years, working, please put on sunscreen of some sort, even on your lips! 

Also, research the treatments available, and be willing to travel and GET THE SECOND OPINION ALWAYS!! 

Feel free to comment or leave a message if you have any questions!! 

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