NowBlowPoMe: MOHs

I had the cancer cut out of my upper lip yesterday. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. Although, when they were finished I looked like this:

Usually I look like this.

(I’m the guy on the right.)

I arrived at 9:45 AM. They took me in at 10:00 AM and told me about the procedure. They injected my upper lip with lidocaine. A LOT of lidocaine. I learned yesterday that redheads don’t numb as easily as others. My doctor told me it takes double the dose of lidocaine to fully numb a redhead. She said that after years of having redheads complain that they could still feel the pain after a normal dose, anesthesiologists conducted a study and found that redheads do indeed need more local anesthesia. (This explains why I felt the sutures at George Washington Hospital when I cut myself with an exacto blade. The doctors didn’t believe me but I insisted and they finally gave me more.) Apparently doctors have no idea why this is. But I know why. It’s because redheads are bad ass motherf*ckers.

So I got double the dose, even though my hair is currently dyed brownish. I guess you can’t hide being even slightly redheaded. The dose she gave me made my lip swell up so much I could see it popping out from below my nose. She left me alone to let the injection do its thing. It numbed my lip as well as my teeth, my right nostril and my cheek.

The doctor came back into the room and carved a hole about the size of a large pea around the tumor. It’s kind of like what you do to a pumpkin’s head before gutting it. She removed the piece of skin and then cauterized the wound, which smelled like burning hair and (for a split second) beef. They bandaged me up and I was told to sit in the waiting room where others sat waiting as well.

One older woman had her entire chin covered up, blood oozed from below the bandage. Another guy had the right side of his head bandaged. And yet another man had his ear covered with gauze. We were all victims of sun damage. And I was by far the youngest there.

We waited. After about an hour, the nurse came in to let everyone know if they were “clear” or not. If you’re clear, you’re stitched up and sent away. If you’re not clear, you have to go back in and they carve out another piece/layer of skin. Somehow, I was clear on the first try, something that rarely happens. (I caught it early. That’s the only reason. It can spread quickly and it can dig roots. There is no way of knowing how much they’ll have to carve out and in what shape.)

I scheduled another appointment to discuss a skin cream treatment called Aldara, which apparently enhances one’s immune system so it can fight certain skin problems/diseases including basal cell carcinoma. The side effects can be a little scary but I’m going to meet with my doctor to discuss the options. Either way, I can’t do anything about it until I’m done supplying breast milk for my little dude (who will wear sunscreen or he will not get the college fund we set up for him this week).

People, wear sunscreen. If you don’t wear sunscreen you’re a moron. And I lump you in with all the idiots who refuse to wear helmets. I was a moron. If you don’t apply sunscreen while in the sun, you are a moron. It’s that simple. And besides, do you really want to look like this?

Wear sunscreen, you moron.

Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where one writes every day for the month of November, which is easier said than done.


  1. I’m a redhead and I never go numb on the first dose, but I never knew that it was because I was a redhead. I just assumed I was a bad ass mother f@ker. LOL!!!

    I’m also a moron. A tall, redheaded, bad ass, mother f@k’n moron. I never, yes, never, wear sunscreen. Have probably worn it over the years to some degree, but I work outside year round and never wear it.

    This…This scares the crap out of me.

    enough said.


  2. Thank you for spreading the word. People just don’t take this shit seriously. My dad just died from skin cancer.
    People don’t think about it because the repercussions are not immediate.

    Also- I agree with you- the kid has read hair and she is definitely a badass.


  3. Well, I’m glad you’re ‘clear’… and if you have a scar you’re gonna look even MORE badass. Those stitches are so gnarly – but in a good way. Are you telling people you were in a bar fight? “You should see the other guy.”

    There were a lot of summers growing up that I didnt wear sunblock but now I do, every single day. Thank you.


  4. I must hear more about the skin cream treatment that may destroy any future tumors from forming. Cause I was a moron too!


  5. Julie, I meant to add that into the post. I have done so now. If you scroll up again, I’ve named and linked to the cream they are suggesting I use. Let me know if you have any other questions. I will know more once I meet with my doctor about it. I’m planning on weaning at 4 months (I think) so I should know by then.


  6. Go girl! Spread the word. More and more people I know have been diagnosed with skin cancer…all in their 30s. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. I like your stitches. They’re sexy!


  7. Good to hear that they caught everything! I think a lot more people in their 30’s right now will be diagnosed with skin cancer because we are about the age of adults who did not always where sunscreen as kids. My dad has had basal cell and has done very well. He just gets his skin checked a lot. Good luck!


  8. Is the anesthesia thing for real?! I just had to have a bunch of dental work done and the dentist gave me so many injections I couldn’t move the entire side of my face down to my neck, and I still flinched when the drill hit the tooth. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

    Glad to hear everything worked out for you. I wear plenty of sunscreen now but didn’t at all when I was younger. Now I can only hope my former negligence won’t catch up with me.


  9. I think you look cute!
    But I will wear sunscreen.


  10. Right on, you bad a$$! You’ll have to show Em these pix when he gets older and tell you got in a fight with the sun and you won (this round).

    I barely wear sunscreen myself, but I maintain that nice pasty San Francisco color year round. There’s about 14 days you can even think about getting a sunburn here.


  11. This scares me, luckily I usually wear sunscreen.


  12. heal up quickly and remember that pale is the new tan!

    i am fair and always, always, ALWAYS wear sunscreen or stay in the shade if possible. i’ve had many a stupid burn in my life and have had moles removed that have been fine. but it still scares the crap out of me because, well, ya never know.

    you’re beautiful even w/ the stitches!


  13. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I hope you heal quickly. Bad ass motherf*ckers usually do. :)

    As a side note, you don’t have to do the immunizations on Friday. Listen to your gut. Mothers have instincts for a reason. I have seven kiddos and I chose to wait til they were all walking and talking before giving them so that if they had nasty reactions they could at least communicate what and how they were feeling. By then they had better developed immune systems, too. Just a thought.


  14. Thinking about you Kiddo.


  15. We have matching basal cell carcinoma sites. I also had the pearly white mole thing on my upper lip. I’m 37 and have had more spots show up so get yourself checked regularly!

    Take care of yourself.


  16. Heal quickly, muthaf*cka. My dad almost died of Melanoma before I was born.

    I remember reading Seventeen Magazine, blah-blah something about “Things to say to your less popular friends” and one of them was “if you have a better tan, say, “turn over – your skin is the same color as your bubblegum”” and I was soooo jealous because I was doused in sunblock daily from birth. Casper the Ghost could have used that line on me, but I was never going to get the joy of saying it to someone else. Ever.

    Anyway, what you were saying about not wearing sunscreen – it was pretty much actively encouraged everywhere throughout the eighties, so don’t be too hard on yourself.


  17. I want to throw out the fact that you should never buy face moisturizer or foundation that does not have sunscreen in it. If it doesn’t have SPF 15 or higher, I won’t buy it, because we all know that the sunscreen we slather on our bodies does not make it to our faces.

    I’m glad you had that taken care of! I dealt with cervical cancer/hysterectomy this year, so I will back you up on people taking this cancer stuff seriously. It’s worth an hour out of your day at the doctor’s.


  18. Thank you for this. I too am a red-head, early 30s. I have a spot on my cheek that I have been worried about for a while now but I have been too scared to go to the doctor. I keep picturing a huge, gaping, oozing hole in the side of my face. Compared to my imagination, your stitches look pretty good.

    A note about sunscreen though… After my Mom discovered sunscreen when I was a kid, I always wore it until, as a teenager, I developed an allergic reaction to all the chemicals. My skin reacts as if it were poison ivy now, and I even have to watch out for shower gels and shampoos that contain related chemicals. So sunscreen is good, for most people, but long sleeves and big hats are even better. And there’s nothing cuter than a baby in a hat!


  19. I have a basal cell carcinoma on my arm that we’re going to treat with Aldara. Going to being the operative term as we were going to do this a year ago and then we discovered I was pregnant. Again. Saw my dermatologist last week and she renewed the script – she indicated it was fine to apply it while breastfeeding, but to hold off until the end of our summer. So I’m going to deal with Basil the Basal in Feb/March next year.

    As a fair skinned person in the country with the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, she was very proud of the condition of my skin. I was like – see, all those years spent reading in my room/watching tv/going out to restaurants and brunch rather than going to the beach really have paid off.


  20. I’m glad they got the spot in one stage. That scar will practically disappear in about a year. I am a Mohs surgeon in the southeast. I hadn’t heard the redhead and anesthesia research – I’ll pay attention to it – but I can confirm that some people are just hard to numb up.

    Quick note on sunscreen: not all are created equal. Most block UVB much more effectively than UVA (the SPF refers specifically to UVB rays). Although this will stop the burn, it won’t completely stop skin cancer formation. UVA makes up 90% of the UV energy reaching the earth and can penetrate windows and clouds. The most effective UVA block is zinc oxide, followed closely by titanium dioxide. These have the added benefit of not causing allergic reactions like Laurel describes. Happy screening.


  21. I just had mohs surgery to remove my basal squamous cancer I used sunscreen but still got it on the side of my nose. I noticed a very small indent in my nose (about the size of the head of a straight pin) I went to my doctor and asked if it was skin cancer he didn’t think it was. I told him that I wanted to have it check to be on the safe side. Well I was right. Even the doctor that preformed the surgery thought that it was small until he started testing. the spot that was removed was the size of a nickel and the depth was half the size of a small marble. He closed it up with stitches on the inside and out. I asked that he put a lot of small stitches so i would have less of a scar.


  22. Hi – saw your photos from 2007 of your Moh’s surgery, and just wondered how your scar healed I need the same surgery in virtually the same spot and am worried about the scar. Please let me know how you made out, and i hope it went well.


    1. Hey! I’ll post a pic tomorrow.


  23. […] good. But it’s my face and that pisses me right off. I still have a scar from where they removed the cancer on my upper lip. And they used Mohs for that, which is supposed to be less invasive and scar-forming. It’s […]


  24. So I have a much bigger scar. I wore sunscreen, always. I wore a hat. I stayed out of the sun between 10-2. But I had dental X-rays for an implant. And now I look like Frankenstein. I begged for imiquomod instead or lights or anything but basically I wasn’t given a choice, and it turns out there are alternatives. Mohs is barbaric, done without anesthesia and it hurt a lot. it’s also a trend today. After all, it’s not their faces.
    Read this.


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