Michelle Davis, a 52-year-old account manager from Orewa, New Zealand, was diagnosed with skin cancer after mistaking a malignant mass on her nose for a pimple. She had noticed a red bump on her nose in April 2022 and assumed it was a spot until it became sore.
When she attempted to burst it, it wouldn’t stop bleeding, prompting her to seek medical care. Her doctor suspected cancer and, after a biopsy, diagnosed her with basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer affecting around four million Americans each year.
Ms. Davis missed the warning sign that she had a spot or sore that did not heal or go away on its own, which is a common sign of cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. She underwent surgery to remove cancer and had the skin of her nose stretched to cover up the hole it left. She is now recovering from the surgery at home and won’t require further treatment. according to the Daily Mail.
Ms. Davis had first noticed the pimple a year earlier and had spent a year covering it up with concealer. She had initially thought it would go away quickly, but it persisted, occasionally flaring up and bleeding. In January 2023, the spot became increasingly sore, which led her to try to squeeze it. When she sought medical care the following month, her doctor suspected skin cancer.
Ms. Davis underwent nasal flap reconstruction at Ormiston Hospital, Auckland, in April 2023 to remove cancer and pull the nose skin over the hole. She was left with scarring and different-shaped nostrils, but said it is healing nicely. She will need to return for yearly checks as she is more at risk of skin cancer having already had it once.
Michelle shared her story to raise awareness of the condition and urge others not to dismiss pimples that won’t go away. Basal cell carcinoma affects around 4.3 million Americans every year, with the vast majority surviving the condition.
However, doctors have linked the increasing number of cases to more sun exposure, having light-colored skin, and people living longer. The cancer is more common among men than women, which researchers have linked to men being more likely to work in outdoor professions.