To be diagnosed with cancer at any age is life altering. To be diagnosed at 30 is, in a word, gut-wrenching. At 30, you’re just beginning to fully appreciate the adult you have become. The tumultuous twenties are behind you, and you’re ready to take on the world by storm. Maybe you have a small nest egg. Maybe you’re looking to buy your first home. Maybe you are getting ready to travel the world! Wherever you are in life at age 30, cancer is most certainly not part of the plan.
So when Becca received three skin cancer diagnoses at the age of 30, her life as she thought she knew, was about to goin a completely different direction.
"I was going down a Google spiral of seeing horrible surgeries of people with skin cancer," Becca said."Everyone [I saw] was older, so I didn't have anything to compare [my own experience] to."
Becca was diagnosed with several different basal cell skin cancers. The first was on her left shoulder, which was scary enough on its own. However, her second diagnosis was directly on her hairline, front and center on the top of her forehead. For Becca, growing up in Virginia meant a childhood spent outdoors. From playing sports during the school year to spending the summers at camp or the east coast beaches, life revolved around being out in the sun. Unfortunately, with a history of skin cancer in her family, and the constant sun exposure, it eventually caught up with her.
What was so alarming about the diagnoses was that to the untrained eye, the skin cancer looked like nothing more than a raised scar. When we think about skin cancer, we think about melanoma, or irregularly shaped or oddly colored moles. For Becca, her skin cancer cells were so unassuming, they could have easily gone unnoticed and therefore, untreated. The research she had done online on how to remove the cells left her mind racing with anxiety.
"I was really concerned about how big and visible the scar would be. Skin cancer is common on your face, and doing research I saw a lot of pictures with people with huge scars," she said."I kept thinking 'I'm young,'" she added. "That was something I was uneasy about."
It's so true — by the age of 30 most of us have become comfortable in our own skin. There's a confidence that comes in your 30s. You know your face and your body inside and out — there are no more surprises. So when an unexpected threat to what we see in the mirror sneaks up, it throws us into those infamous insecurities that we have worked so hard to love and accept.
"I felt really overwhelmed," Becca said. "Based on what the scar would be, I was really freaking out. I was crying that I'd have this massive thing on my face and that my hairline would be weird," she said. Add to that, Becca had just learned that she would behaving surgery on her face simultaneously with a third skin cancer surgery on her right shoulder. The stress was overwhelming. The fear of what was going to happen was consuming her.
Becca was referred by her dermatologist to Dr. Hooman Khorasani, one few board-certified Mohs cancer surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists in the world. After meeting and working with Dr. Khorasani, Becca began to have hope that her life as a thriving, confident 30-year-old would go on exactly as she had hoped and planned.
Mohs surgery is a microscopically controlled surgery used to treat common types of skin cancer. It's done in stages, whereafter each stage of tissue removal, the entire specimen is examined for remaining cancer cells.
Becca was referred to Dr. Khorasani for her skin cancer surgery because he is considered to be the best Mohs surgeon in NewYork City and one of the few skin cancer surgeons who is capable of planning Mohs surgery and repairing any wound on any location simultaneously. As a fellowship trained, triple board-certified skin cancer and aesthetic surgeon, he is truly one of the best in the business.
"I felt like I wasn't just another patient. He sat me down and extensively walked me through what type of cancer it was, and that it was slow-growing. His focus is also cosmetic, which I appreciate, especially being young and not wanting all these scars. It felt very easy."
Her first surgery was the most extensive. The basal cell carcinoma was located on her shoulder, and Dr. Khorasani had to perform multiple stages to fully remove the cancer. Any stitches in the shoulder region are challenging because it's an area with a lot of mobility and the scar can stretch or keloid. "The actual process of surgery was great. Dr. Khorasani totally put me at ease," she said.
Becca’s second surgery was a little more concerning from a cosmetic perspective, because the cells to be removed were located on her forehead near her hairline.
Dr. Khorasani's approach is always to look you in the eyes and explain in detail in a thoughtful, understanding manner. His years of experience performing these highly detailed surgeries, coupled with his background in cosmetic surgery, ensures that he is the most capable surgeon to tackle both the health aspects, as well as the cosmetic concerns. However, it’s his compassion and genuine care for his patients that really seals the deal.
"He was very thoughtful," Becca said, especially during the surgery. "He held my hand, made me have deep breaths during surgery. I just really appreciated how kind he was during the whole process."
While the thought of tackling skin cancer is scary enough from a health perspective, the cosmetic side of things can also be anxiety inducing. For Becca, she was concerned with how big and visible a scar on her head was going to be.
This is an area where NYC’s top Mohs surgeon, Dr. Khorasani shows his true strengths. Dr. Khorasani did a short L-shaped scar on her forehead as opposed to a long straight scar and explained that theL-shape scar would place less tension on the scar and therefore heal much better. Furthermore this technique would ensure that her brow would not be unnaturally lifted on the affected side and ensure symmetry between her brows. From a healing perspective it would not alter anything on her face.
He even spoke with her about scar reduction procedures down the road, which left Becca feeling even more confident that not only would she remain healthy, but she’d love what she saw in the mirror, as well.
The expertise of Dr. Khorasani is already enough to set him apart in the industry. His genuine care for each of his patients, and the personalized attention and thought he gives to each of them, is what really leaves a mark, so to speak.
"I just think he is so personal,"she said. "He and his wife are so wonderfully caring. He personally reached out to me so many times, calling me back to ask how I was healing and feeling. In comparison, I don't think you get that personal touch and care with other doctors."
Today, Becca goes in every three months for her skin screenings. After her experiences, skin cancer is more top of mind for her, especially since her specific type of skin cancer doesn’t present itself as a mole. It’s much more subtle and so it’s imperative to stay on top of skin health screenings.
While this is an experience she never hopes to relive, her experience with Dr. Khorasani has Becca trusting that if there is ever another issue, she knows she is in the safest hands and that she has access to New York City’s top Mohs Surgeon.
If you suspect an irregular mole or area of skin, please contact Dr. Hooman Khorsani for a consultation. To expedite a consultation, message us, or call our Manhattan office at: 212-230-3378. Visit our Mohs Micrographic Surgery page and our SkinCancer Surveillance page to learn more.
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