One woman’s deadly skin cancer all started with what appeared to be a small pimple that doctors dismissed. The cancer quickly spread and destroyed her nose and mouth.
Marisha Dotson was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma; given its aggressive nature, doctors gave her a 20 percent chance of survival. She is a survivor, but she suffered some devastating losses, including damage to her face, the loss of her nose, jaw, and eight teeth.
Marisha documented her journey with photos, showing her battle with skin cancer and the dramatic impacts. She is now cancer-free, thankfully, but required a dental implant to smile and talk. She says she feels “lucky to be alive.”
Marisha explained, “Cancer took my nose and parts of my jaw, but not my body so I will keep on fighting. I earned these scars and should be proud of them as they area testament of my will to live, the blood, sweat and tears I shed to survive.”
She further explained, “I have to use a dental implant now, without it I can’t eat or talk because of all the missing bones in my face. The damage I have now I will live with for the rest of my life, I’ve given up on the cosmetic side of things and just feel so lucky to be alive.”
Marisha also discussed her decision-making processes throughout her battle, noting, “Early on, I made a decision that whatever pain I had to go through to live a little longer I would do and also I have a brother to take care of so I have to be around for him.”
She further explained her surgeries and survival rate: “Surgeons removed the bone in my hard palette, I lost eight teeth, my sinus cavity and tissue from under my eye and there is also a huge gap on the left side of my face. The odds of me surviving this form of cancer were very low as were the surgery success rates, I was given less than a 20 percent chance of still being here today.”
Marisha shared, “But now I’ve had two tests to see if the cancer has come back and both are clear, which has given me hope so I’m very optimistic about the future.”
Marisha also explained how the start appeared to be a pimple, but that she grew concerned when it doubled in size and she didn’t feel well. A dermatologist made the cancer diagnosis and she required 15 hours of surgery to remove the cancerous tissue…and part of her nose.
Unfortunately, it had spread, as she explained, “My tumor was like a jellyfish with cancerous tentacles reaching deep into my face. After a couple of hours into surgery my reality shifted, the tumor was much deeper than surgeons thought and it was very painful.”
With so much cancerous tissue and cartilage to remove, Marisha was left with two-thirds of her nose and required reconstructive surgery, which she explained: “Surgeons took skin from the crown of my head, shaved off a piece of hair and took the skin then flapped it over my nose and took cartilage from my ear. To keep the blood supply, they dragged the skin over my nose and it was left hanging off my forehead for a month.”
Other cancerous spots developed on her face, requiring further surgeries. In total, she had more than 30 surgeries for removal and reconstruction, but she is finally cancer-free.
Of her battle with cancer, she explained, “I still feel sad sometimes but I always remind myself of what I’ve overcome, I had the choice from surgeons to keep fighting or give up and die, but I chose to fight. I try really hard to be positive and even though I’m cancer free now, I’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get to this point.”
Visit her GoFundMe page to help Marisha pay her medical expenses.
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