Sometimes the medicine appears worse than the disease

I must be crazy to post these online for the world to see, I know. But I’ve so appreciated others who have done it before me, I want to help them raise awareness about skin cancer and this particular treatment called fluorouracil (brand name Efudex or Carac or Fluoroplex). I’m using the generic in 5% strength.

Fluorouracil is a topical chemotherapy, an anti-metabolite for you chemistry types. Basically it destroys the DNA of the cells that absorb it. Since abnormal cells multiply more rapidly than normal cells, only the abnormal ones end up absorbing it. It doesn’t last long enough to affect normal skin cells. So wherever the stuff causes a reaction, like redness, swelling, blistering… that’s where the bad cells are lurking.

The types of cells specifically targeted by this treatment are superficial basal cell carcinomas (an active cancer, though not terribly dangerous) and actinic keratoses (the earliest stage of squamous cell carcinoma, which can be more dangerous). I have both types.

Warning! Truly disgusting photos follow. Do not read further if you are squeamish! Continue reading

The Sunshine State?

So how is it that I’m enjoying North American internet, yet it’s the beginning of February when I should be back “home” with my husband? Well, lucky me, I’m still on Christmas vacation!

I’m at my Mom’s place in Florida — have been since January 1, will be until March 1 — which is fun, relaxing, and comfortable, for the most part. I’m here for so long because I need to treat my face and arms for skin cancer, which is not so fun. No need for alarm, it’s not a melanoma or anything life-threatening… I’ve just had a lot of basal cell carcinomas (the most common and least dangerous kind of skin cancer) and lots of sun damage, and need to be proactive. This time around, the doc blasted two AK’s on my face (actinic keratoses, the precancerous version of squamous cell carcinoma, which is more dangerous than basal cell and runs throughout my Dad’s family) and took 5 biopsies elsewhere, 4 of which were thankfully negative. The 5th was an active basal cell on my arm, which I had spotted while I was enjoying a bit of sunshine on the French Riviera a few months ago.

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