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The C Word

I have officially been diagnosed with Crud, actually three different kinds of Crud. Of course, Crud isn’t the word the doctor used. She spoke in more clinical terms, like pre-cancer, which sounds a lot like pre-nightmare, and cancer, which sounds exactly like nightmare. So I’m on the slippery slope of mortality, and if there’s any good to come of it, I’m sure it will be in sharing my story. 

Weeks ago I was killing time, seems like a poor choice of words now but nonetheless that’s what I was doing, browsing Shondaland, when I came across an article titled, “Exactly What Different Types of Skin Cancer Look Like, According to Dermatologists.” The article got my attention because Crud is not a new thing for me, but I’ve never had it diagnosed. Why go to a doctor when you can go to the Internet, right? Other than having Freddie Krueger fantasies of going after my skin tags with a nail clipper, I’m fine. Maybe. I thought I might I have psoriasis on my face. 

In 2017, a red spot bubbled up on the bridge of my nose and shed thick scales like big dandruff, but I ignored it. Then that patch disappeared and about six months ago a scaly red blotch showed up on my forehead above my right eyebrow, about the size of a thumbprint. It itches and flakes, and hairspray stings it. Then after drinking five beers with my cousin, I noticed a line of red blotches along my upper lip that seemed to be in flake sync with the Crud above my right eyebrow. So I cut back on the beer.

Then the Crud on my nose got blotchy again. So I bought some heavy duty moisturizer and makeup to hide it. Then on my left forearm there was a small red burst blood vessel blotch that looked like a scratch, but it didn’t heal the way scratches do. I diagnosed all of this as old lady skin. I live alone, no one else knew about this stuff, and I’m not going to get all Henny Penny about aging. I’m in excellent health, not on any medication, no chronic conditions. Leave healthcare for the sick people.

Still, the website showed thick crusty blobs of bumpy skin as a symptom of skin cancer, and I have a lot of that. At the dermatologist appointment I thought I’d have the giant skin tag on my neck removed and get some psoriasis cream. In a few naked minutes I learned that self-diagnosis is worth exactly what you pay for it. Chunks of my flesh are now in a lab somewhere being analyzed and my chemo cream is supposed to arrive in the mail. The preliminary thinking is the red blotch on my arm is basal cell carcinoma, my “psoriasis” is pre-cancerous actinic keratosis, and my crusty bumps and skin tags are due to age and genes, so I should expect a lot more of them, if I’m lucky.  

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About The Author
Billie Best
Billie Best
Billie Best writes the blog Beyond 60 — Loving Life, Staying Relevant at Her memoir titled "How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life (or Couples Therapy with a Dead Man)" and her collection of essays “I Could Be Wrong” are both available on
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