OKLAHOMA CITY – TJ, Janet and Jrod are the most famous radio trio in the metro area.
They have been entertaining morning drive listeners together on KJ103 for 15 years.
But, Oklahoma City’s funny girl ended the year in an operating room last year after a scary cancer diagnosis.
Janet found out a few months ago she had a basal cell carcinoma on her face.
Because of her own battle with cancer, Janet now has a sobering message for her listeners: take care of your skin.
“Don’t ever think ‘That won’t happen to me. I’m too young for that,'” Janet said. “Because, you know what? Half the time, when we really have that mindset, that’s when the karma train runs you over.”
That “karma train” came roaring right at her late last year.
As soon as the dermatologist told her, she knew hers was a case of over-exposure to the sun.
“I like the feel of the sun. I do!” Janet said. “This is so wrong, but I like that feel of getting too much sun. It makes me happy!”
Janet spent years baking in the sun, fake baking in tanning beds and running outside without a hat.
She has two marathons under her belt as well as 18 half marathons.
She’s completed a 5K race every month for the past 76 months.
In other words, Janet has done a lot of full-sun training with zero UV-protection.
All of that sunshine finally caught up to her last year when she was diagnosed with skin cancer.
Doctors removed cancer from her nose.
But, that life-saving procedure left a hole in her face.
For Janet, the fix was even more terrifying than the cancer.
In order to fix a dime-sized hole in her nose, Janet’s surgeon mined a vein out of her forehead, flipped it then re-attached it to the hole in her nose.
The procedure is known as the “forehead flap,” and it is widely used because of a very high success rate.
The forehead flap surgery has actually been around for generations.
It is still best practice for healing large wounds on the face because the blood supply to the skin defect is never interrupted.
Most patients go into hiding for three weeks while their forehead flap heals but not Janet.
She refused to hide.
Instead, she faced it head held high live on Facebook.
“It’s a hard sell to try and convince people this is the best way to go,” said facial plastic surgeon Dr. Ivan Wayne. “Basically, I split their forehead, then take a piece of forehead skin and put it on their nose. But, it works amazingly well.”
Wayne did Janet’s forehead flap surgery in December.
She went back to work a few days later, with a vein hanging off the front of her face.
For weeks, she waited for her forehead flap to take, heal and fix the defect in her nose.
“During that process, that three weeks of every day having this vein,” Janet said, “it was very dark – very, very dark. I would go somewhere and think ‘People are looking at me like I’m a freak.'”
Janet would sometimes cover her forehead flap with a bandage, but sometimes she would go out in public without the bandage.
It was a long three weeks.
Finally, the day after Christmas, Wayne performed a second surgery to remove her forehead flap.
The surgery lasted just one hour.
“We disconnected the flap of skin that was on her forehead that was going to her nose,” Wayne said. “Now, I’m putting her forehead back together.”
Once the incisions heal, there will be almost no sign of the basal cancer scare.
“The surgery went very well,” Wayne said. “I’m very happy with how things went. Her nose looks awesome. The variable is how well the piece of forehead skin will match her nose. It’s perfect.”
At 42 years old, Janet is picking up some new habits, like protecting her skin for the first time in her life.
“This has been a six-week long process,” Janet said. “And, the last tanning package I bought was a six-week tanning package. It does change your perspective on what you do and how you protect yourself.”
She has a drawer full of sunscreen now including tinted sunscreen, waterproof sunscreen and sunscreen for her lips.
“I have really tried to emphasize on my children to put sunscreen on any area you don’t want a vein hanging out for three weeks,” Janet laughed.
The cancer is gone. Janet is healthy. She is bravely speaking out to remind others about the devastating consequences of skin cancer.
“I made it through. I made it. I’m doing it,” Janet said. “When I get to the top of the mountain, I will wear sunscreen. But, it does feel good to get to the top and have that sun on my face.”