When You Go to a Yoga Class and Come Home with Skin Cancer

On July 13th I went to a yoga class and came home with basal cell carcinoma.

Well I guess technically the skin cancer probably went to class with me, I just didn't know it.

I was busy trying to impress my boyfriend (aka keep my arm from shaking while side planking), and he was apparently not looking up or down but instead using a spot on my back as his drishti focal point.

We had a conversation like this after class: "hey what's that on your back?" Me: "What? Where? That? That's just a freckle, it's been there forever." "No it hasn't. That's new. Me: "Oh, well then it's probably psoriasis." "It doesn't look like psoriasis." Me: "What are you a doctor? I'm sure it's fine."

And then I forgot all about it, because that's how I roll, and because I'd just had a skin check a few months ago.

The next morning he sent me this text:

That's a hard one to ignore.

So I didn't. I called my doctor and explained what I saw, and was in his office in a gown three days later.

*Hayri is the first name of my dermatologist (Dr. Hayri Sangiray of the Dermatology Center of Richmond), and also my friend's husband.

So if you've never had a full body skin cancer screening, you should (*but maybe not by a friend's husband). Don't get me wrong, he's fantastic. But by 'allover body scan', they mean all. over. body. scan. I was really only there for him to look at the one spot on my back, but he's a professional so before I knew it, he was doing his job. Thoroughly.

But I wasn't ready. I was sitting on the table, kind of slumpy like, as in not using my best yoga posture. Holy stomach rolls I wasn't ready for anyone else to see.


I jumped up, because everything looks better standing up. Even skin cancer.

And that's exactly what he said after he saw it. "Oh yeah, that's definitely skin cancer."

Dammit again.

The rest was a blur because at the time I was getting ready to say goodbye to my boy (as I wrote in a previous post):

My dog is failing fast. His legs give out when he least expects it and he hits the floor. Hard. All the carpet runners, pain meds are not enough anymore.
In the midst of this, I have a doctor’s appointment. For a spot on my back I would have happily ignored for years if not for the insistence of someone who arguably has both a healthier knowledge and a heartier fear of cancer than I do. I’m barely listening at the appointment. I’m so used to hearing ‘that’s a barnacle, a mole, a scratch, psoriasis, eczema’…I’m not prepared for “that’s definitely skin cancer” and completely preoccupied thinking about Wags and the decision I know is looming.
I can’t process anything except he’s saying it’s no big deal and asking do I want him to remove it now. Sure; I won’t have the bandwidth to deal with this later. Also, it’s cancer and I want it gone yesterday. It’s over quickly. They tell me not to worry, and I don’t.

A few weeks later I got a phone call with the results. And I started to worry. A little.

Basal cell carcinoma with positive margins, which meant another surgery. We're lucky enough to know the best melanoma oncologist in town. Who said "have Mohs surgery" and gave me a name. That name wasn't in my network, but the 2nd name he suggested was.

And Mohs, Mohs has a 99% cure rate. Where do I sign?