One woman has shared her heartbreaking battle with quamous cell carcinoma, a deadly skin cancer, and documented her journey with a graphic series of photos.
Marisha Dotson first thought that the spot on her nose was a regular pimple. But when it started growing at ‘an alarming rate’, she scraped together the funds to see a dermatologist and was diagnosed with the rare – and incredibly aggressive – cancer.
From there, it was a rapid and dramatic journey of treatment and multiple surgeries.
‘I have had 12 surgeries, 38 radiation therapy treatments, and lots of pain trying to fight this,’ she wrote on her YouCaring Page. ‘I’m missing the protective layers in my nose, thus I am always fighting off infections and sickness in addition to cancer. I get critical inflammation in my nasal cavity and back of throat. My allergies are magnified now.’
‘March 3 I had the rest of my septum removed, the rest of my cartilage removed, half of my nasal bone removed, most of my left and some of my right nasal cavity removed, lots of deep tissue removed, pieces of bone from my upper jaw and roof of mouth removed, my entire nasal column, and most of my entire left side of nose once again. I am in an enormous amount of pain.’
In Tennessee, where Marisha lives, medical care is extremely expensive and she found herself struggling to afford the treatment, as well as basic necessities like food and accommodations.
‘I have surgery fees, medicines, co-pays, deductibles, medical supplies, transportation to and from appointments, blood work ups, transfusions, scans, insurance premiums, what insurance doesn’t cover, food, and then living expenses.’
Genuinely fearing for her life, she took to the crowdfunding website to raise the substantial amount she needed for her surgeries.
‘My greatest fear is that I will die because I won’t have the funds to have access to necessary treatments to help me survive. So I must ask for help because I want to live,’ she said.
After battling valiantly, the disease appeared to be in remission – but in July 2015, she was told it was back and had spread quicker than before.
Incredibly, Marisha was able to fight off the illness, and is now recovering with a nose grafted from skin from her scalp.
But she knows she still has a long way to go.
‘This has been an extremely isolating experience,’ she said. ‘Accepting and dealing with the changes cancer has left is not easy. It is still a work in progress that may never go away. My face is changed forever, and I am no longer the person I was a year ago. I am stronger, but I miss my face and not having to worry about cancer eating at my defenses.’