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“I thought I had a pimple but it turned out to be skin cancer”

A woman who thought she had a pimple on her nose was diagnosed with skin cancer. Michelle Davis, 52, spotted the red bump in April 2022 and thought it was just a spot until it became “really sore”. She said the pimple would flare up and down but after she squeezed it and it wouldn’t stop bleeding she went to see her doctor. Her doctor immediately thought it was cancer and following a biopsy diagnosed Michelle with basal cell carcinoma – a common form of skin cancer. Michelle underwent surgery to cut the cancer out and had the skin of her nose stretched to cover the hole it left. Now Michelle is recovering from the surgery but won’t need further treatment. Michelle, a account manager, from Orewa, New Zealand, said: “I thought 'what am I doing getting a pimple at 52'. “It will go away – I kept telling myself. “It would flare up and go back down. “I remember squeezing it and nothing coming out. “Then it bled and bled and bled – for like a week. “I was in shock when I found out. I had never heard of basal cell carcinoma.” Michelle first spotted the ‘pimple’ a year ago and would spent time covering it up with concealer. She said: “It was really hard. “Like a volcano under the skin. “I went walking with my girlfriend and it went purple and she pointed it out. “I said ‘it’s just a pimple’. “I was in denial.” Michelle said the spot became “really sore” by January 2023 and she tried to squeeze the spot. She said: “Nothing happened. “Then it bled and bled. “I thought ‘that’s not normal’.” Michelle went to her doctor in February 2023 and was told it looked like skin cancer. A biopsy confirmed she had basal cell carcinoma and she was told she would need surgery to remove the cancer. Michelle underwent a nasal flap reconstruction at Ormiston hospital, Auckland, in April 2023 to remove the cancer and pull the nose skin over the hole. She said: “They cut up my nose in a zig zag. They cut out a crater. There was a hole in the end of my nose. “They then bring the skin down to cover it.” Michelle was left with scaring and different shaped nostrils but said it is healing well. She said: “It’s still healing. “My nostrils are different shapes because they stretched the skin. “The scar tissue is hard. The nerves are numb. “Some people end up losing their nose so thank goodness.” Michelle will be monitored once a year as she said she can be more prone to skin cancer now she has had it once. She wants to raise awareness of the symptom so other people can go get it checked out. “If I’d kept ignoring it, it would have got way bigger. “I might have got to the stage where they couldn’t cut it out. “I honestly thought it was a pimple. “I thought skin cancer was a mole. "Skin block wasn't a thing when I was growing up. "Now it's in my day to day skin care." Michelle has had her stiches out and is now looking after her skin and upping her collagen in take to help with scarring. Michelle said: “At first I thought I’m 52 and single, now I’m going to have this hideous nose. “But it’s been quite empowering. “It’s only skin deep. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”