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Sarah Trushell from Anwick, near Sleaford, explains basal cell carcinoma diagnosis and treatment with Mohs surgery





A mum says she was left looking like a "character from a zombie movie" after having skin cancer removed under her eye.

Sarah Trushell, 38, was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common form of skin cancer - on June 28, 2023.

Her dermatologist warned she likely developed it after growing up in sunny Bermuda and Cyprus - while not wearing strong enough suncream.

Sarah's lesion before she receieved surgery to remove it on March 20 2024.
Sarah's lesion before she receieved surgery to remove it on March 20 2024.
Sarah after undergoing lesion surgery on March 20 2024.
Sarah after undergoing lesion surgery on March 20 2024.

She had surgery under her right eye to remove the cancer - leaving her with a 3in scar along her cheek.

The surgeon managed to remove the cancer cells "in one go" - leaving her cancer-free without needing further treatment.

Doctors haven’t said how long the scar will take to heal and Sarah is having to learn to embrace her new face in the meantime.

She doesn’t let it hold her back and isn’t bothered when she gets stared at in public.

Sarah Trushell says she grew up in hot countries, was often outside.
Sarah Trushell says she grew up in hot countries, was often outside.

Mum-of-three Sarah, a parish clerk, from Anwick, near Sleaford, said: “Doctors warned me about the scar, but it was still a big shock anyway.

"In a weird way, I’ve learnt to embrace it.

“It helps that I take care of myself much more - it was not taking care of myself that got me into this mess in the first place.

“So I need to make sure I stick to my healing routine - by keeping my scar clean and moistening it.

“People do stare, but I’m 6ft 2in, so I’ve had stares all my life, anyway.

“I was told by my dermatologist I wouldn’t be entering any beauty contests anytime soon - so that’s that career out the water.”

Sarah Trushell, 38, has been left with a three inch scar along her cheek after having skin cancer removed under her eye. She had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common form of skin cancer.
Sarah Trushell, 38, has been left with a three inch scar along her cheek after having skin cancer removed under her eye. She had been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common form of skin cancer.
Sarah says she was left looking like a "character from a zombie movie" after having skin cancer removed under her eye.
Sarah says she was left looking like a "character from a zombie movie" after having skin cancer removed under her eye.

Five years ago, Sarah noticed a small bump underneath her right eye - but didn’t think anything of it.

Over the years, it slowly started to grow and she’d occasionally catch it on her nail if she was itching her eye.

Thinking it was just a bit of sensitive skin, she tried covering it with silicone patches - and the bump would usually scab over.

Sarah said: “I just thought 'it’s a bump on a delicate bit of skin, I’m scratching it and making it worse'.

“But in the last couple of years, I could see it becoming more prominent.”

Sarah Trushell, 38, with her partner Ian, 48, before she had surgery to remove the skin cancer beneath her eye.
Sarah Trushell, 38, with her partner Ian, 48, before she had surgery to remove the skin cancer beneath her eye.

But her husband, Ian, 48, an IT technician for the RAF, urged Sarah to see a GP after noticing the lesion himself.

On June 26, 2023, she arranged an e-consultation with her doctor - who then saw her in-person two days later.

“My GP was fairly confident,” she said.

"He has an interest in dermatology - so he looked at the edges of it through a special camera, and got a second opinion from another GP.

“He said ‘this is skin cancer - but the dermatologist will confirm it.’

“He also told me he was ‘pretty sure’ it wasn’t melanoma and not to panic.”

Sarah Trushell, 38, with her partner Ian, 48, before she had surgery to remove the skin cancer beneath her eye. Her dermatologist warned she likely developed it after growing up in sunny Bermuda and Cyprus - while not wearing strong enough suncream.
Sarah Trushell, 38, with her partner Ian, 48, before she had surgery to remove the skin cancer beneath her eye. Her dermatologist warned she likely developed it after growing up in sunny Bermuda and Cyprus - while not wearing strong enough suncream.

In December 2023, a dermatologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle officially diagnosed Sarah with basal cell carcinoma.

She was told she had a “textbook” case - and needed Mohs surgery, which means individual skin layers are removed.

The dermatologist was confident there was a direct link to her upbringing in Bermuda and Cyprus, as well as not wearing strong SPF.

“I’ve never been a sunbather,” Sarah said.

Sarah's surgery has left her with a 3in scar along her cheek.
Sarah's surgery has left her with a 3in scar along her cheek.

“But I lived in Bermuda for a couple of years when I was really young - and we holidayed in Cyprus every year.

“We didn’t really know anything about sun cream. I remember my mum applying it but I don’t think it was strong enough.

“I have really fair skin - so while the diagnosis was a shock, I was fairly relaxed about it.”

Sarah had her surgery on March 20, 2024, and it was an immediate success.

She said: “I was sat in the waiting room with an open wound on my face, only covered by a bandage.

“I was waiting for my margins to come back from the lab - which were clear, thankfully.

“This meant they’d removed all the cancer from my face in one go.

“He said to me ‘would you like to have a look?’ and handed me a mirror.

“Usually, I’m fascinated by these things, despite being quite squeamish.

“But because it was my face, I wasn’t able to dissociate myself from the situation - I looked like something from a zombie movie.

“I handed back the mirror and felt my stomach turn.”

Less than a week later, Sarah is confident her scar is on the right track to healing fully.

She says it’s still a surprise for her in the mornings and she often forgets it’s there.

But she tries to stay positive - and doesn’t mind when people stare at her in the street.

“I’m not somebody who usually likes the attention of these things,” she said.

“But it’s just another part of our journey.

“It looks worse than it is - it’s still a surprise in the morning, when I go to brush my teeth.

“But other than that, it just feels like a cut, slightly stretched out on my cheek.”



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