If you are prone to hypochondriacal behavior (me), you’ve probably had several panic attacks over small abnormalities on your body that turned out to be nothing. However, not to tweak anyone’s anxiety, but every once in a while, those small abnormalities do turn out to be something serious.
That was the case for Jodie Dominy, a 41-year-old mother of two from Karalee, Queensland, Australia, whose chin pimple actually turned out to be cancerous. Unlike all us hypochondriacs out there, Dominy simply wrote off this small lump on her chin as a particularly stubborn blemish. She is, after all, a mother, and thus attributed it to the usual stress of caring for her children. However, when it refused to go away over some time, Dominy decided to get it checked out by a doctor. Warning: The images below are graphic.
The doctor she saw examined it topically but took no further steps than that. Dominy told Daily Mail, “The doctor explained I could have it removed for cosmetic reasons, but there was no harm in leaving it alone. I decided not to bother.” It is very common for doctors to dismiss issues like this, because the tests needed to explore them further are expensive and time-consuming, and more often than not, it turns out to be nothing. But that was not the case in this scenario.
Dominy went about her life as normal for the next few years, but the bump never went away. In fact, it grew considerably, eventually achieving almost an inch in diameter. Finally she decided to return to the doctor to have what she now thought was a benign cyst extracted along with a small melanoma on her lip. Fortunately her surgeon had the lump biopsied before surgery and discovered it was definitely not just your run-of-the-mill cyst — it was a rare form of skin cancer.
Dominy was diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, or DFSP, which is a soft tissue sarcoma that is often described as having roots that can latch into skin, muscle, even bone. According to Daily Mail, there have been only eight reported cases of it in Australia, and according to Dominy’s Facebook page, she’s the only one to ever have it on her face. While the cancer does have a high survival rate, because of where it was on her face and how long it had gone undiagnosed, it would be particularly difficult to remove.
Her doctors said the sarcoma had spread to her chin, bottom lip, jaw and left cheek, so they would need to take skin from her arm to rebuild parts of her face. The initial procedure took nine hours and left Dominy looking pretty disfigured. The following images of her post-op may disturb you.
And this is far from the end of it. “I have ongoing facial reconstruction surgeries still to come this year to create a jawline and some form of normality to my face, as well as ongoing speech therapy and occupational therapy on my arm to try and gain full access of it,” Dominy explained to Daily Mail. They removed a substantial portion of her arm skin, including muscles, nerves and tendons, which means she may never have perfect use of it ever again.
Dominy knows her case was extremely rare, but she hopes it will be a cautionary tale to others who experience small changes to their bodies and do nothing even if they continue to worsen. No, you don’t need to go to your doctor’s office for every little thing you notice, but if something doesn’t go away over a time, it can’t hurt to get it checked out. The best-case scenario is you learn it’s nothing and go home sighing with relief.