In a previous post entitled ’49 things I want to do while I’m 49′ I listed 49 goals I would like to reach for the last year of my 40’s. As of Monday, I can now check #37 off of my list. It read something like this:

#37 – Have skin cancer taken off my lip. In my head, I’m screaming to the top of my lungs that I don’t want to have my lip cut on!!…but it has to be done 🙁 I’m so vein.

Three years ago I found a minuscule spot on my top lip, right smack dab in the middle. I immediately suspicioned skin cancer…why? Because I had already had three removed. One on my nose, one on my arm and one on my collar bone…and this one was eerily similar. For me, these skin cancer spots first start with an itchy spot then, months later…or maybe even years…they start to bleed involuntarily. This particular type of skin cancer, the Basal Cell, is very slow growing and thankfully not life threatening but they need to be removed just the same.

My last skin cancer removal was on the very tippy tip of my nose! It was aweful…and there was no way to hide it! When they removed it, they found it was much bigger underneath than it was on the surface. By the time romoval was finished, it looked like a big ol’ fat rat had come in the middle of the night chewed off the end of my nose! Seriously! I was devistated, mortified and embarrased. I thought it couldn’t get worse….I mean…can you think of a worse place than the tip of your nose??

I CAN…how about in the middle of your top lip!

Yep, it happened again. The last time I went in for the one on my nose, my doctor watched it for almost three years before I finally insisted on a biopsy. I vowed NEVER to wait that long again. Well, it happened again. Every time I would go in to let her look at the suspicious spot on my lip, it would be “healed over” and not visible, then she would in turn, dismiss it and say it was a fever blister. I knew different, I knew it was no fever blister, so finally, once again, I insisted on a biopsy.

Sure enough it came back as another Basal Cell…the result of years of too much sun exposure and sun lamp abuse. Oh how I dreaded the removal of, yet another spot in, yet another prominent place on my face. Soon after, the surgery was scheduled…this time I planned ahead and brought in a plastic surgeon to do the “closing up” of the incision. I didn’t do that for my nose…I didn’t know I needed to do that… and I regret it to this day.

I had two months to prepare myself mentally for the removal. I was schedualed to have the MOHs procedure on October the 22 with the “closing” to take place the next day under general anesthesia. My doctor, as well as my plastic surgeon both felt it would be a very small removal with minimal scaring…I hoped they were right.

As time drew closer…I began to dread it more and more, fearful I would come out looking more like the Bride of Frankenstein than my usual self.

Finally, the day arrived and the MOHS surgery was performed. My doctor did the best she could do with what she had to work with, but had to remove a spot about the size of a dime which resulted in the entire cupid’s bow being removed. For those of you who may not know what the cupid’s bow is…it’s the natural curve of the upper lip…the little “V” at the top of your lip. Mine was now gone. I was again, devastated by the amount of flesh that had to be removed.

Bright and early the next morning, I arrived at the surgical center ready for the plastic surgeon to work his magic. He met with us briefly and gave us a quick run down of what he could do. He confessed it wouldn’t look like it did before but he would do the best he could…not exactly what I wanted to hear. Devin knew I was upset by this bit of news and reassured me, that to him, I was beautiful no matter what and that everything was going to be just fine. His words were like warm butter to my soul. Within minutes, I was out like a light and on my way to surgery.

About an hour later, as I lay in my recovery bed, I could feel myself being stared at and admired for the work of art that was now my new upper lip. “Oh wow” the person said, “that looks really good!” Then someone else said, “Isn’t it amazing what they can do these days?” “yep, that’s gonna heal up nicely!” As the fog in my head began to clear, I realized it was my Mom and Devin standing directly over me evaluating and bragging on my new lip. As my eyes began to focus and they could see that I was coming out of the anesthesia, they immediately began to assure me that everything looked great, but I knew different, I could feel that a lot of work had been done. I soon found out that, even though the end result looked great, I now had 25 stitches and an incision, that started at the base of my nose…ran all the way down to my lip…and back up under my lip to the top of my gums! So basicly the plastic surgeon took out the middle section of my top lip and sewed the two sides back together in the middle. While I appreciated all the positive words and encouragement from my Mom and Devin…the person with the zipper running down the front of her face wasn’t so pleased!

Now, I realize that in the big scheme of things…this minor surgery is nothing compared to what some people are having to go through…and I know that it may not sound like a big deal to everybody else…but to me it was a pretty big deal and a shock to my system.

Eventhough this has been an unpleasant experience I have learned a few things through it all…

I have learned that I am a pretty vain person! The Carly Simon song, “you’re so vein, you probably think this song is about you” plays over and over in my mind!

I also learned that when you have had the middle of your lip cut out and then sewn back together again…it’s hurts like the dickens!

Last, but certainly not least, I learned that I am loved with a “no matter what” kind of love. Devin loves me no matter what! No matter what happens, no matter what I look like and no matter what we face…he loves me no matter what. My mother loves me no matter what…no matter what comes our way…she loves me! And most importanly, my God, the lover of my soul, the forgiver of my sins, the light in my darkness, the calm in my storm and the peace in my fear…He loves me with an everlasting, unwavering and all consuming love…no matter what!!!

I already knew this, but it’s nice to be reminded 😉 even if it takes losing my top lip to remind me.

1 Samuel 16:7 – Man looks on the outward apparence but God looks on the heart.

Jerimiah 31:3 – the Lord says, I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Thanks for reading! I love you more than lip liner 😉