I'm coming up on 6 years since my diagnosis. May 2 is my cancerversary date. I've been on treatment non-stop since May 3, 2011. That means non-stop steroids since then. Dexamethasone is almost universally hated by myeloma patients. It's a physical and emotional roller coaster. My current dose is fairly low and I've learned to predict the ups and downs, but I'm still impacted. Another drawback of the never ending steroids is my immune system takes a hit and I can get various other issues including secondary cancers.
For me, being fair skinned and on steroids, I'm now getting squamous cell carcinoma, which is a non problematic skin cancer. Last year I had one spot removed from my arm. Yesterday I had a spot on my forehead removed, via the Mohs procedure (defined below). It's annoying. Looks ugly, but it's not too bad. Stitches come out next week.
And if you're keeping count and including my foot surgery the year before my diagnosis (my theory is the foot surgery might have lead to myeloma (that and too much aspartame)), I've now had 10 procedures in 7 years. Beast mode.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Using a scalpel or curette (a sharp, ring-shaped instrument), a physician trained in Mohs surgery removes the visible tumor with a very thin layer of tissue around it. While the patient waits, this layer is sectioned, frozen, stained and mapped in detail, then checked under a microscope thoroughly. If cancer is still present in the depths or peripheries of this excised surrounding tissue, the procedure is repeated on the corresponding area of the body still containing tumor cells until the last layer viewed under the microscope is cancer-free. Mohs surgery spares the greatest amount of healthy tissue, reduces the rate of local recurrence, and has the highest overall cure rate — about 94-99 percent — of any treatment for SCC. It is often used on tumors that have recurred, are poorly demarcated, or are in hard-to-treat, critical areas around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, neck, hands and feet. After tumor removal,, the wound may be allowed to heal naturally or may be reconstructed immediately; the cosmetic outcome is usually excellent.