My “FU” Journey with Flourouracil

I began my journey with Flourouracil today, October 27, 2019. Flourouracil is a chemotherapy cream used to treat pre-cancer and cancer lesions on the skin.

Between November, 2018 and July 2019 I had five malignancies on my head – one on my forehead and four  on my scalp – each one Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Each time required first the biopsy, then the waiting, then the diagnosis, then the Electrodesiccation and curettage (EDC – or as I call it, “scrape and burn technique”) to get rid of the cancer cells. My scalp looks like a battle zone with all the scar tissue.

After the fifth malignancy, my dermatologist said “We have to stop carving up your scalp.  Let’s try this cream.” I had read about this treatment but not that I was to use it I did a lot more research so as to be well prepared. Although every individual reacts differently to the treatment , It’s not pretty and it’s not free of pain and discomfort. But the success rate is very high.

I find it quite humorous that the abbreviated  name for this cream is “5-FU”, especially the “FU” part (The “5” is representative of the percent of Flouracil in the cream.).  Yeah, “FU” skin cancer!

Using the tag “flourouracil” I will be creating a chronicle of this first (and hopefully only) journey with Flourouracil treatment. WARNING:  I will incorporate photos of my scalp which are likely to become unsightly.

My hope is that my sharing my experiences, those who read my accounts will know the dangers of sun exposure, practice protection from UV rays, and will spread the word.

Now, on with Flourouracil and adorning my head with scarves and caps!

 

 

Climate Change and Skin Cancer

Now that I am deeper into the world of skin cancer, the activist in me cannot help but research the linkage between climate change and skin cancer.

Here is what I have found so far.

An article on NBC Washing, April 22, 2019:

Changing Climate May Contribute to Increase in Skin Cancer

The World Health Organization predicts a 10% increase in skin cancer incidence among the U.S. population by 2050

“Scientists expect the combined effect of recent stratospheric ozone depletion and its continuation over the next 1-2 decades to be (via the cumulation of additional UVB exposure), an increase in skin cancer incidence in fair-skinned populations living at mid to high latitudes (3). The modelling of future ozone levels and UVR exposures study has estimated that, in consequence, a ‘European’ population living at around 45 degrees North will experience, by 2050, an approximate 5% excess of total skin cancer incidence (assuming, conservatively, no change in age distribution). The equivalent estimation for the US population is for a 10% increase in skin cancer incidence by around 2050.”

https://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/summary/en/index7.html

Living a Whac-A-Mole Life – repost

I had my article published at Skincancer.net here:

https://skincancer.net/stories/scalp-treatment/

I”ve added a little more to it and the editors created the headings.  Skincancer.net is a wonderful support network.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Living a Whac-A-Mole Life

The conversation with my dermatologist when he called me after I had sent him photos of yet more growths on my scalp went like this:

Doc: “It looks like we will have to take another biopsy.”

Me: “Well you know it’s like “Whac-A-Mole”.

Doc: (Big laugh) “I’m sorry I”ll have to carve up your scalp again.”

It’s like Whac-A-Mole

The biopsies were performed and the diagnosis was squamous cell carcinoma – A-GAIN. This is the 4th and 5th diagnosis since January 2019 (It is July 2019).

Scalp like a war zone

Today I just had them removed. My scalp literally looks like a war zone. Due to the rapid appearances of SCCs and AKs I will now be undergoing a 3-week treatment of Efudex in late September. In addition to the discussion with my doctor about Efudex I have conducted a lot of research on my own and sought stories and advice from those who have gone through this treatment.

Whac-A-Mole life is draining

It is like living in the arcade game Whac-A-Mole. After each procedure I have had to get rid of skin cancer cells, more growths pop up. My scalp is one big field of SCCs and AKs. Staying on top of this Whac-A-Mole life is draining and frustrating, but vigilance is necessary to ensure that treatment is immediate when necessary.

Tar Sands Resistance: Utah’s 7th Inter-generational Gathering

Each year humans of all ages gather on the Tavaputs Plateau at P.R. Springs Campground to behold the beauty of the mountains and life in them, as well as reflect on the impact of the destruction of the tar sands mine.

The mine operation can be seen from the camp – a stark reminder of the devastation that has occurred as a results only one thing:  Greed.

Although it has been nearly two years since there was any mining activity, it’s only a matter of time before it resumes….

 

…unless we stop it.

One only has to see the life that exists on this land to know that what is happening in the name of profit is just wrong.

Despite the unseasonable cold temperatures and eratic weather pattern (snow, hail, rain, bitter cold), a total of 18 participants hiked to various spots, including a tar sands seep, and the area of the springs known as Triangle Springs were we planted what is believed to be native plant species – Sweetgrass, Hops and Tobacco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next photos portray the abundant and various life forms that survive on the Plateau – and some of the humans who are protecting the land through a protest vigil.

“We only have One Water, One Air, One Mother Earth.”

Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone Spiritual  Leader, 1920-2007

What it feels like to live Whac-A-Mole

“It looks like we will have to take another biopsy.”

“Well you know it’s like “Whac-A-Mole”.

(Big laugh) “I’m sorry I”ll have to carve up your scalp again.”

This is the conversation with my doctor when he called me the other day after I had sent him photos of yet more growths on my scalp.

It is like Whac-A-Mole. After each surgery I”ve had to get rid of skin cancer cells, more growths pop up. This time I have detected four more new growths.

This will be three biopsies in 7 months (the first two positive for skin cancer resulting in other procedures). I  now have added Reishi extract  to my daily regime of vitamins and supplements.

 

 

Skin Cancer is Serious: Vigilance is Key

As Skin Cancer Awareness month is in its last week, it is far from stopping the stories. My story continues. The two “bullet hole”-like areas on my scalp where I had Squamous Cell Carcinoma removed are healing well. They still look like bullet holes, but will slowly fade. The SCC area on my forehead removed in November is barely noticeable. The bad news is that there are several more growths that have appeared on my scalp and are growing. I have an appointment on July 2. More to come.

Here is a story of a woman’s skin cancer experience with SCC, the type I am diagnosed with, as well as Basal Cell Carcinoma. “After my diagnosis, the strangest coincidence happened. I took a cab home, and the driver shared that his mother had died from squamous cell carcinoma. He was devastated. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Really, I thought, people die from this? Yes, while the statistics on nonmelanoma skin cancers are estimates, as many as 15,000 people in the U.S. die from advanced SCC every year.”

Skin cancer is serious. It can kill. I will remain vigilant. I hope others take my advice and do the same.

A Hole in My Head

 

Pets: Forever Enriching Our Lives

 

This week we helped the most beloved member of our household move on to her next life. She epitomized the word “cuddle” and was always full of kisses. She traveled to the desert and mountains with us and clear across the country to visit our family. For the entire 13 years of her life, she never complained and always showed nothing but love. There was not a mean cell in her soul. There is a void now in our family household, but she is at peace now. Dearest sweet June, faithful companion, never complaining, full of love and vigor for 13 years until blindness, deafness and arthritis took hold over the last year and in the past few days she just wore out. Up to the very end she was loving, even in her weakened state. Our lives are so enriched by her presence. Her passing was peaceful. I could just envision our pets that had passed on before June, all who had lived with June – Star, Sokrateez and Simba –  waiting for June as she passed into their realm, tails wagging. 

Thank you our lovely June for everything you were and are to us over these years.

June Carter-Cash Pope
April 17, 2006 – May 23, 2019