Before and after photos show reality of tanning beds and skin cancer the mighty breast biopsy recovery

Fast forward eight years later, when, at 28, another spot appeared on her lip. It would randomly bleed and heal, then disappear for months at a time only to pop back up again. The same thing happened to a spot on her breast. She thought it was her sports bra that was causing the bleeding, so she put a band-aid on it and it stopped.

When Ehrlich finally had her dermatologist appointment, she ended up having three biopsies — two on her upper lip and one on her breast. Her doctor told her he thought it was basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer in the U.S.

The results showed all three spots were basal cell carcinoma. Erlich was told she would need Mohs surgery — a microscopic surgery done in stages that removes, examines and reconstructs the cancerous area. She was told not to worry because this is the “best kind” of cancer to get in terms of survival rate.

Ehrlich had the spot on her breast removed in August 2017 and the Mohs surgery on her face in September 2017. Since all three spots were so small, she had no idea what to expect post-surgery. The scar on her breast was much bigger than anticipated, but she could live with that.

The morning of her Mohs surgery, Ehrlich arrived at 7 a.m. and sat in the waiting room with her girlfriend. During that time, a woman came out of surgery with a bandage on her nose. She told Ehrlich this wasn’t the first time she had Mohs surgery done, and that she would be OK. That gave her some comfort, as she continued to believe she would only have a small hole, similar to her biopsy.

It took four sessions for the doctors to get the cancerous region removed. During that time, Ehrlich had gotten closer to the woman she met earlier, who was going back for her fifth session. As she said goodbye to her, she was devastated at the thought of both of them going through so much pain.

After the plastic surgeon took photos of her face, they discussed a plan on how to close the hole. Because the hole was close to her lip, he wasn’t sure they had enough skin to close it up without messing up the look of her lips. He mentioned a skin graft, which would include her wearing a bag-like object the size of a half banana on her face to help grow new skin.

Ehrlich was, once again, devastated. Not only did she not want something that big on her face, she was a sign language interpreter and she didn’t want her clients looking at it. She also wouldn’t be allowed to move in certain ways and would have to take off work for a long period of time. She wasn’t OK with that and didn’t think it was the best solution for her.

At the end of their meeting, the surgeon said he would go home and think of another solution. The next day, Ehrlich showed up at the surgery center to hear his new plan. He said they would forget the skin graft and try to use skin she already had by cutting a Y shape and literally pulling the skin over the hole. If that didn’t work, they would have to do a skin graft. She felt relieved and hoped for the best.

Ehrlich has had several follow-up visits with her plastic surgeon and things are healing nicely. She uses a silicone treatment during the day and sleeps with a silicone sheet at night to help with the scarring. She’s currently looking at laser treatment options to help with the scarring.

Now, instead of going to tanning beds and spending time in the sun, Ehrlich enjoys going to hot yoga and spending time with her fiancé and their family of animals — two pugs, one Shiba Inu, one African grey parrot and one Hahn’s macaw. She is also a marathon runner who enjoys spreading awareness about skin cancer prevention and the importance of getting your yearly skin check.