Skin cancer

A place for people affected by any type of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, to support one another, ask questions, and share their experiences.

Telling Daughter I have to have face surgery for cancer?

B181
Posted by

Hi all, My Doctor suspected I have cancer on my face so set me up with an appointment at the local hospital two weeks ago and today I got examined at the Hospital and diagnosed with BBC cancer on my face just below my eye. I was told I would need an eye surgeon to remove it because it's so close to my eye. I know my daughter is going to see the surgery in time when I have the op. I was of course upset when I got the news today but I did look it up my condition so was fully prepared when I went in to see the consultant. I went into work after receiving the news from the consultant and was fine but later when I rang my daughter to tell her I just choked when I heard her voice and had to ring off without telling her. I know she will be upset but she is very bright and clever so not telling her is not an option as she will figure it out herself. BBC cancer is certainly not the worst thing to have nor is surgery but how do I put it to my daughter?

latchbrook
Posted by

Hi  and welcome to the online forum

I'm sorry to hear that you've got BCC but as you said it can usually be cured with surgery. As BCCs are very slow growing it could well be some time before you get an appointment. This should give you time to prepare your daughter and I thought this article on talking to children and teenagers might help.

I know there are a number of people in this group who have had BCCs removed from their face recently and who have young children or grandchildren and I'm sure they'll be along in due course to tell you of their experiences when they told them. 

Please come back and ask any questions you have as we're a friendly bunch and there's nearly always someone who can relate to what you're going through who can tell you what their experience was.

x

B181
Posted by

Thank you Latchbrook, I guess I should have said my daughter is now grown up with a couple of degrees so not in her teens but still my daughter and of course quite clever so will figure thing out. I figured out what type of cancer I had after talking to my doctor and then checking my condition online. I know you should not diagnose yourself but it was so obvious as it clearly matched BBC pictures online and of course the consultant confirmed it was BBC today too. If I can figure thing out I know my daughter will so I just have to work out the best way to put it to her that I have cancer but it will be gone after the surgery. 

latchbrook
Posted by

Hi  

Well that'll teach me to presume, lol! I should have asked you, sorry.

Okay, so the previous link wasn't suitable but this one on dealing with people's reactions might be more appropriate. I think that explaining to her that BCCs are very slow growing, rarely spread and are usually cured by a simple operation should help allay her fears. You could also show her the information on this site if she wants to read more about it like this page which explains what a BCC is.

Best wishes and apologies once again

x

B181
Posted by

Thank you Latchbrook, I did look at the link you sent to me and it was useful even though aimed a younger children. I'm going to see if I can explain the condition and procedure to my daughter tonight so fingers crossed that I don't mess it up or get choked again. As you say I should have some time on my side before I really need to tell her.

The updated link you have just given me has some good points about listening to and considering other peoples reactions which I will try to put into action. 

Thank you

Kezzajj
Posted by

Hi B181,

Sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I too had a bcc, but it was on my nose and had been misdiagnosed for over 2 years.  It resulted in me having to have quite a large part of my nose removed, including the rim of my nostril and the structure that separates the nostrils. I had reconstructive surgery using cartiledge and skin grafts from my ear to try to rebuild my nose and a skin graft from my stomach to reattach my ear. Unfortunately, as I didn't receive the proper aftercare following surgery, my grafts partially died and I was left with a large piece of dead black skin on my nose, which smelt like a dead rodent, for months. It has now fallen off and I am awaiting further surgery to try to correct the mess they left me in.

I have 2 daughters aged 17 and 12. My 12 year old has special needs and suffers with anxiety. I knew I had to tell them as the dressings following surgery alone, made me look like an Egyptian mummy. I was just very honest with them both about it all. My eldest understood, but after telling her, she's never wanted to talk about it again and distanced herself from me after the surgery, choosing to spend more time with friends away from home. My youngest also understood, but asked lots of questions, which again, I have answered very honestly. She does come to some of my appointments with me, which I also think has helped. 

She's been a real mother hen, reminding me when to take my morphine after the surgery and making me cups of coffee.

It was important that my children understood that this type of cancer isn't terminal and although I would look very different, I'm not going to die and I'm still the same mummy inside. 

My youngest was scared of the state of my face after surgery and whilst the dead grafts were still attached and didn't want to be physically near me or cuddle up, but she's slowly starting to want her daily cuddles again now. 

She's also become very defensive when strangers pass comment on my facial deformity, or stare at me.

I think honesty is the best policy when telling family and friends, so that they know that although you need surgery, you're going to be fine afterwards. Give them the opportunity to ask questions if they need to and chat openly.

I hope your surgery goes well. Xx

B181
Posted by

I can only say how sad it makes me feel when I read about your personal experience with bcc. My father had extensive surgery on his noise (he too has skin cancer also cancer in other places too) for him the surgery was very extensive and covered his entire noise and after his noise looked completely red raw for about a year after surgery, it's about four years on and now his noise is looking much healthier and normal. I'm going to say a prayer for you and this time I know you and your daughter will make sure you receive the after care you need to make a full recovery after surgery. It's important to stay positive and look into the future and beyond what has happened right now. Thank you for telling me about your experience so far with bcc and the surgery because it will help me to look at the aftercare.

I did manage to tell my daughter about my imminent surgery for bcc last night but first I had a couple of glasses of wine for courage. I actually felt a lot better once I had told her and explained the procedure. So that is hurdle no one out of the way next is copping with the day of surgery and the probable stairs that will follow when I have added scars on my face around my noise and eye. Fingers crossed all goes well in the future for both of us. X

Kezzajj
Posted by

Thank you for your prayers. I'm really pleased to hear that your dad's nose is now looking much better. 

Fantastic news that you have told your daughter about the surgery, well done! You must feel relieved that that's over with now. How did she respond?

Do you know what type of surgery you'll need yet? I had MOHS to remove the cancer and then the reconstructive surgery 4 days later.

I know we're all different, but I actually couldn't wait to have my surgeries once I'd been given the diagnosis, as I knew that it had to be done, so felt like the sooner it was done, the sooner I would be on my road to recovery.

It also worried me that although the bcc's are slow growing, mine had been misdiagnosed for years and had already eaten It's way through the side of my nose and rim of my nostril to the point that it was no longer possible to  cover it with make up anymore. It worried me that because the doctors had ignored it for so long, that it could have spread to the cartliedge and bones in my face, which unfortunately, as I found out during surgery,  it had. However, I didn't want to give it chance to destroy more than it already had. 

The MOHS surgery was lengthy and done whilst I was awake. The only painful part was the injections to numb my nose. The reconstructive surgery was done under general and surprisingly, despite having the morphine, it was my ear, where tgey had taken the cartilidge and skin grafts from that was more painful than my nose afterwards.

I can't thank Macmillan enough for all their help and support, before and after my surgeries, they have been fantastic. I have spoken to several Macmillan staff over the phone about my concerns and now see a Macmillan therapist to help with dealing with the emotional effects that stranger's stares and comments about my face have had on me. They completely understand my concerns and never rush me or make me feel like my concerns are trivial. I would highly recommend their service if you feel you need support or just to talk to someone who understands what you're dealing with, or of course, we're all here to support you on this forum. 

Again, we're all different, but I was very public after my diagnosis. I told all my family and friends what surgeries they had planned for me, as I knew that I would probably be feeling very low afterwards and wouldn't want to have to explain over and over what had happened and why I looked different. I just never imagined that strangers in the street would be asking. However, like I said, Macmillan have been great at helping me deal with all that and feel more positive about things.

The important thing is that the cancer is out now, that's what I remind myself of and I'm lucky that it was eventually found, even if it was by accident and that it can't destroy any more of my face.

You're already one step closer to your recovery since your diagnosis. I remember time seeming to drag between my diagnosis and my first surgery, but I tried to keep myself busy and surrounded by supportive people, which really helped. 

Sending you a big virtual hug xx

Rebecca Rebecca
Posted by

Hello B181

I’m sorry to hear what you are going through. 

I do think the sooner you tell your daughter, the better for YOU as it’s playing on your mind and you’ve got enough to deal with at the moment. 

I think maybe a play on words can help, short procedure rather than operation. Focus on the positives and success rate when you tell her more than than anything else. 

As you have mentioned, your daughter is an adult and will probably be stronger about it than you think. But do tell her soon as I am sure you will benefit from as much love and support as possible. 

Take care. 

Rebecca xx

B181
Posted by

Hello again Kezzel, I thought about you today and said a prayer. Not sure about the surgery yet, the consultant who I saw said she would not be doing the surgery herself as my BCC is too close to my eye, but she explained a couple of procedures that I may have depending upon what the eye surgeon decides is best when I am operated on and that's all I know at the moment.

My daughter was great and took the news very well, after I had explained everything I knew about my bcc to her and answered her questions we chatted about everyday life so I think all is well. 

May I ask if you have a date for future surgery. 

B181
Posted by

Hello Rebecca, I did manage to tell my daughter about surgery for my bcc and you are quite right in saying select the words used, I did and it made things a lot easier to explain. 

I have a partner who is very supportive and I am at work every day so have a lot to distract my thoughts. I have only told my daughter and partner at the moment because I don't feel I either need or want to tell anyone else at the moment (except share with people on here of course). 

Thank you for your advice Rebecca,  I think you are spot on.

Rebecca Rebecca
Posted by

Hello B181, I’m so glad I was of some help and that your conversation went well. It’s funny what you said about not telling anyone, I am such a private person but for some reason, wanted to tell the world! Whereas it took me three months to show my scar to anyone as I had it hidden under a plaster. 

I hope the rest of your journey goes ok. 

Take care, Rebecca XX

B181
Posted by

Hello Rebecca, I think telling my daughter was quite hard to do but it went well so I'm glad that it is over. I think I will have to tell other people in time because they will see the scars but I just don't feel like telling them right now. I think I am lucky when I compare myself to some other people with cancer. One day at a time and take each as it comes but I'm thinking ahead too keeping positive about the future.

skylarks
Posted by

My only piece of advice would be to take no-one's advice but find out what other people did and , knowing your daughter better than anyone, decide which is the best approach.

The first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my daughter was in the middle of A-levels at school.  I picked her up from school as usual and told her I had been to the hospital, had been diagnosed and would need a mastectomy.  I was very matter-of-fact about it outwardly and told her that the consultant was pretty confident about the outcome.  I was led by her and answered all her questions.  She gave me a reassuring hug when we got out of the car and she dealt with all the chemo brilliantly although I very very poorly.

The second time I was diagnosed, 13 years later, I phoned her and told her I would be doing it all over again and, hopefully, all would be well again.  Again, I answered her questions and told her anything she wanted to know.  I did not use any emotive language or tell her how I felt or give her any information she did not seek.  She didn't need to deal with my fears as well as her own.  I have now had two mastectomies and have been diagnosed with MS so we have to take each day as it comes.  I have been completely honest with her through the whole experience and she has been tremendously supportive.

That was the right way for her, I believe.  It may not be the right way for you.  Very best wishes, I'm rooting for you. x

Rebecca Rebecca
Posted by

Dear Skylarks - How very brave you are.  I am so sorry to hear everything you have been going through.  You are an inspiration.

Take care.

Rebecca x