Update: It’s Over! Nik’s Fight Against Skin Cancer and Her Recovery

Hey guys! Nik here! Hope y’all are well!

So it’s definitely been a wild ride these last few months (in so many different ways), but aside from all that’s been happening with the show and our travels, I wanted to take a quick sec to bring y’all up to date on what’s been going on with my skin cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Which I’m so very happy to say has gone really, really, really well! In fact I officially had my last post-procedure laser treatment a couple of weeks ago,and I’m now officially done with it all! Well, at least for the time being. More about that later.

So if you didn’t already know about my little brush with skin cancer, it’s probably best to get caught up a little first. Here’s an easy link to my previous posts which pretty much spell the whole thing out. So check those out first, then come on back for “the rest of the story” as they say. 🙂

The Mohs Procedure and the Immediate Aftermath:

Okay. So. I’m not really sure what I was expecting when this whole journey began, but thankfully it sure has been a whole lot easier than I thought it’d be. Still plenty scary, to be sure. And I’m 100% sure that my situation would have gotten much, much, much worse had we not caught this thing early (as is the case with cancers in general I suppose). So as I look back now on the whole experience I really realize that I’m really very fortunate in lots of different ways.

So if you’ll remember immediately after I had the Mohs Procedure back in January I had a pretty sizeable hole in my face, on my cheek just below my right eye. Again the procedure itself was quick and easy and almost completely painless.

They stitched me up and put some medical tape over the whole thing, which luckily stayed put until I went back a couple of weeks later to have my stitches removed. That meant I didn’t have to do much of anything in the way of “wound care” at home which I was thrilled about of course. In fact during those first two weeks after the procedure, the only things that somewhat bothered me were the tightness in my face, the puffiness around my eye, and the itching from the wound itself. But again, thankfully no pain! Which is great news considering I’m a pretty much a big wimp when it comes to pain.

I’m not sure why, but I was super nervous about having the stitches removed after those couple of weeks had passed. Especially considering I certainly wasn’t planning on having to have twelve stitches on my face to begin with! Y’all remember the little spot on my cheek was really small there at the surface, but once Dr. Proffer got in there we all discovered that its “roots” ran pretty deep into the skin. Which required some digging, which in turn required stitches on both the inside and outside of the cut. Dang it! All of which made me really worried: was I going to have this massive scar on my face the rest of my life?

And, yeah. When the tape and stitches came off I was pretty shaken up. I sure wasn’t expecting the wound to be so big and so crazy looking. But just like she’s done since the beginning of this whole mess, Dr. Proffer was absolutely terrific, and so sweet and reassuring.  It would heal well, she insisted, and that I didn’t need to worry. It would just take some time and some proper care. Still, considering my body scars up pretty easily (and my scars usually turn pretty dark) and considering my face is on national TV for everyone to see, I opted for an additional treatment that Dr. Proffer recommended: a series of three laser treatments spaced out over several weeks that are designed to minimize the appearance of the scarring and smooth everything over nicely.

And I’ve got to say, I was still kinda freaked out after that first laser procedure, which Dr. Proffer performed that very day the stitches came out. She said the laser procedure would be very quick and easy (which it was) and that there would likely be a bit of bruising along with it (which there was). And again, once I saw what everything looked like in the end I couldn’t help but feel really nervous about how the whole thing would turn out, long term.

LOL Didn’t mean to do the “duck face.” Just trying to show the result. 🙂

Over the next couple of months I went back to Dr. Proffer for the two additional laser treatments, and indeed over that time the bruising went away and the scar kept healing and kept looking better and better, day after day.

So How’s Everything? What’s Happening Now?

So it’s now been a little over four months since my initial surgery, and I’m definitely pleased with the way everything looks and the way everything’s healed up. And I’m still doing what I can to help. I’m using a scar therapy gel recommended by Dr. Proffer almost every night, and I’m massaging the scar every time I think about it. Dr. Proffer also recommended Dermablend foundation to help hide the scar even more, but I just haven’t tried it as of yet. I’ve actually been using a medium-coverage foundation from Merle Norman, and I find it to be all that I need (when used with sunscreen of course).

And today the scar still isn’t completely hidden, but it is still looking better. And I’m feeling great! And now that some time has passed I honestly don’t really mind having a little battle scar, to tell you the truth. It’s a daily reminder of what I’ve been through, all the good and bad, all the worry and relief, all that kind of stuff. And it’s a daily reminder that I’ve got to take really good care of my skin. (Of course having said that, if it continues to shrink and totally disappears over time I’d be pretty cool with that too. LOL!)

Filming in Guatemala!

So Dusty and I spent an action-packed couple of weeks in late March/early April filming an episode down in Guatemala, which was the first big trip we’ve taken since my surgery. And what did I do differently this time? I used facial sunscreen! Repeatedly! And of course sunscreen everywhere else too. I also upgraded my sunscreen choices to the Neutrogena line and I use a tinted Elta sunscreen on my face. And since we’ve been back, I’ve also ordered a powder sunscreen to try for easier re-applications. I’ll let ya know what I think about it!

And yes, I also wore a hat (and continue to wear hats) as much as possible. In fact, I just bought two more large, wide-brimmed floppy hats yesterday. So bring on that summer sun! I’m ready for it!

A Life-Saving and Learning Experience

So once again, if this experience has taught me anything it’s that I need to love my skin and take really good care of it. Damage has been done and there’s nothing I can do about that, but I can sure as heck prevent any further damage, and I absolutely intend to do that. I also intend to nag and preach to every person that will listen to me when it comes to using sunscreen. It’s just so important y’all!

Progress! The scar as of May 6th, 2018 (four months after surgery).

And I’ve also learned that I’ll never really be out of the woods on this deal. Hopefully of course this will be the last skin cancer scare I ever have to deal with, but most likely there will be more. That’s just kinda the way it all works. Unfortunately once you have one, you’re more likely to have more. So there’s that. But I’m going to make all of my dermatologist appointments (which I never really worried too much about before) and I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. That’s for sure! And if you notice anything suspicious on your skin, I sure hope you’ll see your dermatologist too. If you’re in the Texas Panhandle area, I highly recommend Dr. Jones at High Plains Dermatology. He’s a very down-to-earth, very thorough doctor and I’ve felt really good about him.

So that’s the skinny folks. It’s been quite a journey so far and I so, so, so appreciate all of you who have reached out to offer your love and support, and to tell me your own skin cancer stories. And those of you who have been to see the doctor and found problems of your own because you’ve been reading about my experience, I sure do feel for and and what you’re going through, but I sure am happy to have played at least a small role in helping you get diagnosed and treated. Makes it all worthwhile for sure! And if we can all share our stories and experiences, maybe more and more people will pay closer attention to their own skin and get the advice/help they might need.

And last but certainly not least, another big thanks to my wonderful family and wonderful friends who have been so supportive through this entire process. And to my wonderful husband for being my rock! Love you sugar!

Cheers guys! Summer’s almost here. And I can’t wait! How about you? Here’s to your health. Here’s to a great summer. And here’s to floppy hats and sunscreen! 🙂

Thanks y’all! Big hugs to everybody!

~ Nik

 

6 Comments

  1. Just now reading this (a bit belatedly!) and so happy for all the good news ~ Thanks for sharing your message and for your positive example. You’re a dear and a darlin’, and we all want your shining spirit to be housed in your healthy body for a long, long time! Hope you and Dusty are happy, taking care, and getting in some good travels this summer. We’ll all look forward to hearing all about them (and seeing them on tv, too)! ❤️

    • Awwww. Thank you very much Kim! I sure appreciate it! And Dusty and I are definitely traveling this summer! We’ve got lots of great new adventures planned for season three! Thanks as always for coming along for the ride! 😉

  2. I had no idea you were dealing with this. I am thankful it is done and you are carrying on, Niki. God bless you. And, you look wonderful!

  3. Jeannette Balthaser

    Just finally got to spend some time on your website and learned about your bout with skin cancer. My son had a basal cell cancer on his upper chest. Just removed it and
    thank the Lord, didn’t have to have major surgery. He’s well. Myself, over the past years, I’ve had uterine cancer and breast cancer. . . all taken care of with surgery and PRAISE
    GOD – no other therapy. So, I say that just to remind you to take care of your total body too! It’s such a joy to watch your shows and see you all experience it first hand. Great to see the world through your eyes. Thank you so much.

    • Thank you very much, Jeannette. It sure is a scary thing. Glad to hear you and your son both are doing well. Our eyes have definitely been opened and we’re much more aware these days. Thank you so much for watching!

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