Cancer removal reveals silver linings

    Bad news...My left eye is stitched shut for a month and both eyes are swollen, black and purple.
    Good news...I walked into the hospital with cancer and walked out cancer free. Once my eye is exposed again, I’ll have vision in both eyes. Not everyone is that lucky.
    I encourage everyone to take heed. If you have a mole or spot of any kind that gradually changes, see a dermatologist. If anyone in your family has had skin cancer, take an even closer look.
    My Dad was the best at finding a silver lining in most grim situations. Although the surgery process created an extensively grueling day, it is over and I’ve been blessed with many silver linings.
    First of all, we are fortunate to have specialists who visit our local hospitals and I’m thankful for my dermatologist. Although I have skipped over a bump on my under eyelid while putting on eyeliner for some time, he instantly recognized it as needing more attention. A biopsy report showed cancer and surgery was necessary. It’s not my first and tendencies show it probably won’t be my last.
    A medical advancement I’m thankful for is the Mohs method to remove skin cancer thanks to Dr. Frederic Mohs’ wisdom. The surgeon takes as little tissue as possible around the cancer biopsy. It’s tested to determine if there’s any remaining cancer and more is taken in phases until the microscopic tests show no more cancer.
    It avoids destroying healthy tissue and minimizes scarring. Due to cancer having spread more than expected, mine took four phases in a five-hour process.
    Once tests showed no more cancer, I transferred to the plastic surgeon who deals only with eyes. She had to replace my lower eyelid with grafting from my healthy eyelids. A stent was placed to recreate my tear duct.
    I’m lucky to have had a cream-of-the-crop surgeon for the two-hour reconstruction. On the other hand, there shouldn’t be any mediocre specialists.
    I’ve gained a new appreciation for how vision is enhanced when two eyes work together. Focusing has been an adjustment, but I will get my vision back and the unsightly mess has already improved.
    I couldn’t help but think of the importance I once saw in finding a good mascara that enhances eyelashes without smudging or clumping. Ha. Now I won’t even have lower eyelashes and I could care less. It’s amazing how perspectives change.
    It’s always a great compliment when people say I remind them of my Dad. I’m proud to have inherited some of his characteristics, whether they were genetic or learned.
    If I had a choice, I would rather his tendencies for skin cancer would have passed me by. My three siblings and I have all managed to inherit such genes, which is why I previously emphasized to especially pay attention if a family member has had skin cancer.
    An especially sparkling silver lining for me involves special family and friends who have prayed and offered treasured support in many ways. Once again, I’m reminded how blessed I am.
    Take a close look at your life and count your blessings. Hug those you love and be grateful you can see them.
    Here’s to life and its silver linings!

LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: lori@jpipapers.com

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