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Mom Shows What Treating Pre-Cancer With Chemo Cream Looks Like

When Wendy Sobczyk isn’t working as an entrepreneur or watching one of her three kids play soccer, she’s fiercely advocating for cancer awareness. Every few days she documents the effects her chemo cream has on the pre-cancerous cells on her face and chest — her effort to stop the cells from developing into a deadly skin cancer.

A lifelong tanner, both indoors and outdoors, 50-year-old Sobczyk spent most of her free time in the sun. She never thought twice about the sunburns she often got.

Wendy Sobczyk before in car

“I used reflective blankets and baby oil all the time,” she told The Mighty. “I rarely used sunscreen at all.”

Then in 2013, while at an appointment with a dermatologist, she was told she had actinic keratosis (AK), a pre-cancerous growth caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation. If left untreated, it could develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common and deadly skin cancer that has about one million newly diagnosed cases and causes 8,800 deaths each year.

“When I was told I had AK, I thought it was just a few harmless, overexposed spots on my face. With a demanding life, I didn’t have time to overthink it.

Wendy Sobczyk before with kids

To help destroy the AK cells, Sobczyk has received liquid nitrogen treatments every six months for four years. She did all of this while still continuing to tan.

Then in August, she was concerned AK was showing up on more areas of her face, so she requested to have an even greater area of her face treated. That’s when doctors prescribed a medicated cream used to treat pre-cancerous and cancerous skin growths. It does this by blocking the growth of abnormal cells.

“I researched the cream online and saw pictures of highly inflamed faces,” she said. “It looked like they had been burned by a blowtorch. I initially thought, ‘No way, I am absolutely not doing it.’”

Wendy Sobczyk before in car

But then Sobczyk remembered Ken Nickels, a childhood friend who had survived stage 3 cancer three different times. He told her he had missed the early signs of cancer, and if he had treated it sooner, he wouldn’t have gone through what he did.

It reminded her she had three young kids to live for.

Sobczyk agreed to take on a 21-day regimen, paying $3,000 each for three prescriptive tubes (the generic costs $1,300 a tube). Her insurance company even fought her to limit the treatment to one tube per calendar year, but it was eventually approved. Although it was expensive, it was worth a chance to stop the cell from growing into full-blown cancer.

Each night before bed she applied the cream, documenting results by photo and video to give others a glimpse into her journey.

Here she is on day six.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 6, Round 1)

Day 10.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 10, Round 1)

Day 12.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 12, Round 1)

Day 15.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 15, Round 1)

Day 17 (before and after).

Wendy Sobczyk (Before and Day 17, Round 1)

Day 18 (before and after).

Wendy Sobczyk (Before and Day 18, Round 1)

Day 20.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 20, Round 1)

In this video from day 20, Sobczyk says, “Things are looking pretty angry right now.”

Day 21.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 21, Round 1)

Sobczyk shares details about how her face feels while waiting for her daughter’s soccer game to start on day 23.

Day 25.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 25, Round 1)

In this video from day 25, she describes how her new skin feels like a baby’s butt. which is exactly what her doctor said it would feel like.

Day 26.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 26, Round 1)

On day 28 she uses humor to talk about the healing process on her face.

Day 34

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 34, Round 2)

This video from day 35 shows some close-ups of Sobczyk’s face.

Day 39.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 39, Round 2)

In addition to using the chemo cream, a dermatologist had recommended she use a sunblock recommended by doctors. “It burned my skin and was very painful. I checked the ingredients and it was full of chemicals. I used it once and never used it again.”

Not wanting to put any more harmful chemicals in or on her body, Sobczyk decided to cut out sugar from her diet and made the leap to using nothing but organic products. Nickels, a former chemical company owner, created a personalized organic skincare formula just for her.

As of today, Sobczyk has treated her face twice with the 21-day regiment and she’s now on her third round of treatment for the lingering spots. But she’s also using the cream on her entire chest.

She talks about the results of a recent follow-up appointment in the video below.

“I was completely unaware of how much AK was on my face. Now I’m wondering where else there is sun damage. Scalp. Chest. Back. Shoulders. Ears. My whole body has been exposed to the sun.”

Day 43.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 43, Round 3)

Day 45.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 45, Round 3)

Because her hair is blonde and fine, she said she’s even thinking of shaving her head to treat her scalp. Whatever it takes to fully treat her diagnosis and get better. Sobczyk has a dermatologist follow-up appointment in eight weeks where her doctor will reevaluate the spots and do a full body scan, including examining her scalp and places they haven’t looked before.

She says there’s no place for modesty when it comes to treating AK.

In a recent video post, she also shared how there can be side effects from the chemo cream, and how it’s important to get a second opinion.

Sobczyk has documented all of this on the Kiss Cancer Good-Bye Facebook page and Instagram account to encourage others to go to the dermatologist. She wants people to realize there are serious consequences to sun exposure and tanning. By creating a community forum for people to engage and share real experiences, she hopes those affected can learn from each other and feel connected through their diagnosis.

“I want people to realize that skin cancer is serious. It’s not harmless — it’s painful and it’s deadly,” Sobczyk said. “Hundreds of thousands of people die from it every year, and many die unnecessarily simply because they don’t take the time to get checked once a year by their dermatologist.”

She also hopes to encourage others to make healthy changes in their lifestyle and diet, just like she did, and to not wait until it’s too late to get checked.

Wendy Sobczyk (Day 43, Round 3)

“Be ahead of the battle and learn as much as you can about preventing and treating cancer,” she added. “And ask a lot of questions — denial is deadly.”

Follow Sobczyk’s journey on Facebook and Instagram.