A WOMAN whose acne scar turned cancerous and left her with a gaping hole in her nose has told of her hellish ordeal.
Melissa Fife, 40, noticed the scar on her nose becoming irritated and started to get embarrassed about its appearance.
The American marketing specialist from Salt Lake City, Utah, then noticed a few changes to the lesion.
But to her horror, it began to grow larger.
Melissa’s skin around the blemish started to flake and become raised as it morphed into a different shape.
To try and fix the scar’s appearance, she consulted a plastic surgeon, who immediately recommended a dermatologist as he feared she was showing signs of skin cancer.
Within a week, Melissa had had a biopsy and received the horror diagnosis that it was indeed cancer, basal cell carcinoma skin cancer to be exact.
Her cancer is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer in the US and despite the shock, Melissa was calm and was reassured her cancer had been found early in 2020.
She was scheduled for Mohs surgery – an operation done under local anaesthetic, where the cancerous tissue is cut out – but mortifyingly, her cancer was deeper than medics thought.
She was told she would need to have four stages of this procedure on her nose and it was this that left her with a massive open wound in her nozzle.
“The entire procedure lasted seven hours, then the doctor scheduled me for another surgery with a plastic surgeon the following week”, Melissa explained.
Though she had bandages, Melissa found it too difficult to face looking at her wound and how the hole altered her appearance.
She explained: “This was very emotional for me. I didn’t want to see the open wound.
“I felt that it would be too traumatic to see how graphic it looked – I cried several times thinking about it.”
The Salt Lake City resident added: “My family members were kind enough to help me change the bandage so I wouldn’t have to look at it.”
She later plucked up the courage to have a look herself to get an idea of how invasive the operations were, the last of which reconstructed her nose using a skin graft from her collarbone.
But while her nose was on the mend, the ordeal left one of her nostrils partially collapsed and she plans to find a way to reconstruct it in the future.
She said: “It looked like there was a piece of dried-up, dead zombie skin sewn on my face.”
After spending most of her life outside in the sun due to her love of the outdoors, Melissa now has to be extra-diligent with sun protection.
And she admits that since her surgeries, the way she views her own beauty has also changed.
She said: “When I had the open wound, I wanted to hide, but I realised I was hiding from myself.
“I post pictures of my nose on social media, because I want people to know they aren’t alone.”
She concluded: “I want people to see that healing takes time, and life doesn’t have to stop.”
“I like to think that I haven’t changed, but that would be unfair to say – I have changed.
“I’m happier, bolder, and unashamed of how I look. Most importantly, I’m grateful every day for the chance to heal.”