Being of the British persuasion, I’ve always considered myself rather pale. Photographic evidence exists, however, that shows off Tom The Sun God — a fellow more mahogany than ivory. Selective memory allows me to forget the years prior to the discovery of my first basel cell cancer lump on my left hand. After that was cut out, leaving what I told people was a dueling scar, I eschewed the sun and became a pale skin advocate. Unfortunately, as my dermie told me, the damage had already been done.
Over the years I’ve had many basel cell carcinomas burned off or dug out. At one point I wryly commented to friends that I wasn’t going to die … my dermie was going to just cut out pieces of me until there was nothing left.
A few days ago I had my semi-annual dermie visit. This time she told me that instead of burning the precancerous bits off my face with liquid nitrogen, she wanted me to undergo a four-week long, twice-a-day Fluorouracil treatment.
Fluorouracil belongs to a class of medications known as antimetabolites. (I thought an antimetabolite was a character in a “Hellraiser” movie but I guess I was wrong.) It works by blocking the growth of abnormal cells that cause skin growths.
The stuff is apparently very strong. You have to wear gloves when you apply it and soap and water won’t wash it off. Luckily, I use Noxzema.
The side effects include skin irritation, burning, redness, dryness, pain, swelling, tenderness or changes in skin color, eye irritation, trouble sleeping, irritability, abnormal taste in the mouth and temporary hair loss. No, it doesn’t say where the hair loss is likely to occur. Oh, I forgot stomach/abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills, persistent sore throat, easy bruising and bleeding, mouth sores, severe dizziness, trouble breathing, rash, and itching/swelling of the face, tongue and throat.
Trust me, it was a hard decision to go ahead with the treatment. I can handle most anything but if I get any more irritable even I won’t be able to stand myself.
I’m on my second day of treatment and so far so good. Will keep you posted.