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Fry Now, Pay Later

By: Noreen Young
Posted: June 24, 2008, from the February 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 6 of 6

Regarding my case, because only a one-layer cut was made during my biopsy, it was necessary to go back in to ensure that all of the cancer had been removed. To complicate matters even further, I was told that it would be best to see a plastic surgeon for the additional surgery I would need after the fact, as it was on the breast. At this point, I was given two options. The first consisted of my dermatologist cutting deeper to scoop out more tissue, sealing the wound and receiving the pathology results within eight days. If more cancer were to be found, I would have to go back and repeat the entire process, which can cause even greater scarring.

Instead, I opted for the second alternative, which consisted of seeking treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and undergoing a procedure called the Mohs surgical technique, named after the physician who created it. This type of surgery combines the removal of the cancer with the immediate microscopic examination of the tissue, along with reconstructive surgery on the wound area. You can learn more about Mohs micrographic surgery by logging on to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site at

Unfortunately, on the day of my operation I discovered yet another tiny brown spot. It, too, proved to be cancerous and had to be removed. The week before the procedure, I got a drastic haircut. It seemed appropriate, somehow—after all, I didn’t feel like quite the same person anymore. I had traded my cosmetics tray for bandages and wound care. I also posed for a family portrait on the day preceding my operation—just in case. Even though I knew that this was not a malignant melanoma, I still feared for my life.

Spreading the word

To make a long story short, I lived, I conquered and I am healing. I made a solemn promise to myself that I never will sunbathe outdoors or use a tanning bed again. The not-so-small scars on my once flawless breasts present a constant reminder. I am ashamed of myself because I should have known better. After all, I am a beauty professional.

As the result of my experience, I now am determined to launch my own personal campaign for skin cancer awareness, and want to share all I have learned with my clients and friends. The shelves of my business now display even more additions to my sun protection department. Hopefully, I have inspired you to do the same for your clientele.