Before we dive into what I hope you’ve already figured out is my way of dealing with a scary experience by laughing about it, I want to tell you why I’m posting this.
I’m posting this because it’s really easy for us to ignore our health. Taking time out of your busy day to sit around a doctor’s office sucks. A lot of times doctors treat people – especially heavily tattooed people – like our ailments are our own fault, or like we’re drug-seekers. So many Americans do not have health insurance, or have shitty insurance with such high co-pays and deductibles that they’d rather just Google stuff than pay to see a doctor.
There are a lot of reasons to ignore signs that you may not be healthy. But I am here to request that you listen to your body, and don’t ignore your health. Some of you might remember a few years ago when I went to the E.R. because I was having a hard time catching my breath and it turned out I had deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. (You can read the whole story here.) Well, in May I got a little bump on my leg that I thought was a mosquito bite and this week I found out it was squamous-cell carcinoma. (You can read the whole story here.)
I’m totally fine, so no sympathy needed. It’s a really common form of skin cancer and the entire tumor was removed for the biopsy. My doctor said to just keep an eye out for more bumps, but he doesn’t think it will come back. But for months before I finally went to the doctor I tried to treat the bump myself – with natural, vegan products of course. So here are five of them that did absolutely nothing to cure cancer.
1. Quinoa Bath
I first noticed a little bump on my right calf while shaving my legs. It hurt when I poked it, and when my long skirts brushed up against it. I’m really allergic to mosquito bites, and oatmeal baths are a good way to relieve bug bites. But I hate oatmeal, so all I had in my house was Toasted Quinoa Flakes. I put them in the blender and took a warm bath steeped in toasted quinoa flour. It smelled nice, and made my skin soft, but it did not cure cancer.
2. Tea Tree Oil
I started suspecting that the mosquito bite had either become infected, or that it was actually an ingrown hair. It was really hard to see because it was on my calf, which is heavily tattooed and also as far away from my eyeballs as it could be, so instead of having it looked at after one entire month of pain I put some tea tree oil on it. I applied it “neat” as they say in the essential oils world, and covered it with a bandaid. It smelled lovely, but it did not cure cancer.
3. Coffee Scrub
By the middle of the second month I’d read everything on the entire internet about ingrown hairs and decided I had probably the worst one in the history of the world. At this point I’d purchased a magnifying glass and enlisted Tony in my bump-poking army. We applied lots of warm compresses, and I started scrubbing the bump, and both legs, every day with a homemade coffee body scrub. Tony would put on his headlamp for camping and peer at my bump with the magnifying glass every night. He googled a bunch of videos about removing ingrown hairs and we prepared to perform at-home surgery if necessary. The coffee scrub made my butt soft, but did not cure cancer.
4. Kale Brightening Mask
I decided the coffee scrub was too mild and it was time to really show this ingrown hair who was boss, so I grabbed my Pacifica Kale Brightening AHA Surface Overhaul Mask. It smells like a green smoothie, and it works wonders to peel away dull, dead skin on my face so I figured it would work. My leg bump was baby soft and hella shiny, but alas, kale masks do not cure cancer. Still thinking this was a stubborn hair, I gave Tony the green light to hack at it with a pair of pointed tweezers. As you might imagine, this resulted in a bloody mess.
5. Soapwalla Balm
After our failed white trash surgery, my bump was pretty scabby. I wanted to see a doctor at this point, but knew no one would see past this mess of crusty blood and irritation. I’d just received a sample of The Balm from Soapwalla – a repair balm containing moringa oil, arnica, frankincense and a bunch of other skin-loving ingredients. I slathered the balm on the bloody bump and covered it with a band aid for about a week. It did help heal the wound, but it did not cure cancer.
Finally, I made an appointment with a local dermatologist. I explained that I had a gnarly ingrown hair, but when he looked at it, he recommended a biopsy. He didn’t even entertain the idea of it being a hair, actually. He thought it was either a neoplasm – which is a harmless growth some people develop after an injury (again, super allergic to mosquito bites so I thought maybe that was it) or basal cell cancer (which is typically not aggressive or dangerous) but since the skin is tattooed he wanted to remove the entire growth and have it analyzed.
Three days later he called me to say it was Squamous-Cell Carcinoma – a different type of common, and typically non-aggressive skin cancer. Luckily he removed the entire growth (tumor? I don’t know what to call it) to do the biopsy so now it’s just a matter of letting the stitches heal and keeping an eye out for any new ones.
Like I said, this is the second time I had what seemed like a really minor health issue but got it checked out anyway only to find out it was actually pretty serious. It was a huge reminder to me that I need to be my own advocate – whether it’s pushing back on doctors who don’t take me seriously, or in this case, just trusting myself enough to see one in the first place.
So please take care of yourselves because if you’re reading Bake and Destroy you’re obviously really cool and the world is short on really cool people. We need you.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and buy any of these items that definitely do not cure cancer, I will earn a small commission that will go toward the couple hundred bucks I spent actually getting rid of cancer. More realistically, though, I will spend it on food.