"Ya Never Know"

Cancer: It has been circling my life now peripherally for over 12 years.  It has taken away cousins a mother-in-law and uncle and then six years ago it took away my best friend of 25 years, Carol.  Following that a mere 2 years later, my best friend of 19 years, Allison got diagnosed and we fought it together and she is a survivor.  While looking for an inspiring card for her and not being able to find an adequate one, I ended up designing and publishing a line of cards (caralworks.com) to support this very important population and their caregivers.  But then, "Lo and Behold - Ya Never Know"...I needed a card myself!

It was just this past December when I asked my dermatologist, "Hey, what's that spot beneath my eye, it looks like it has changed in shape and color."  It wasn't raised, it wasn't rusty and unbeknownst to the doctor, or me it wasn't basal or squamous either, it was already a malignant melanoma.  It too a week to come back from the biopsy and anyone who has had these biopsies knows, it's a long week but there it was, my face had to be cut up.  But this is just the beginning, not once, but they had to go into that area twice because the margins did not come back clean.

The next month another biopsy was taken from above my eyebrow..."ya never know, right"  Sure enough, it went past basal and squamous and went straight to malignant melanoma again, this time I was told that I really present as "atypical".  I have always felt like not the typical, so please everyone, check yourself!

Not everyone is the same, it doesn't have to present just like the pictures you have seen in the ads and books: it doesn't have to be asymmetrical; it doesn't have to be raised and the change in color is sometimes not easily identifiable.  I think that we should start thinking of ourselves as so indviidual that we are each atypical and get ourselves checked often but check on yourself often (and I mean that physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and all around).

I was lucky, after 3 surgeries I have a whole face, I still go for Kenalog injections to break down the scarring and for laser to reduce the pulling and redness.  I wear SPF 60 on my face and SPF 50 on my body and have almost changed my name from Debra Zak to Debra SPF and I ask everyobody about their habits concerning protection, (not meaning to be too personal) an then I have to elaborate that I am referring to their sun/skin protection.  We have a laugh, I show them my scars and then I tell them my story.  Everyone I know has visited his or her dermatologist since my diagnosis and there has been some removes and some "let's watch it's", so please remember "ya never know", so please go and find out.

Thank you,

Debra Zak

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