Updated: Feb 4
My first bout of skin cancer was when I was in my late 20's and had a sore on my upper back that didn't heal. In fact, it sometimes would sting which prompted me to go to see my doctor. It looked like a small graze and certainly nothing sinister. My GP took a look at it and decided it had to come off so 7 stitches later and enduring a very painful local anaesthetic I was relieved it was over. However it was not over because the results came back as a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and I was really shocked. You see, skin cancer doesn't happen to me!
The damage to my skin happened when I was a child. As a young girl born in Wales, UK and immigrating to Australia when I was only 5, my skin wasn't used to burning in the sun. I remember having many severe and painful sunburns as a child and in those days sun protection just wasn't a thing.
In my teenager years I loved having a tan and so I would sun-bake a lot, and unfortunately sometimes I stayed out way too long resulting in peeling skin and a lot of pain. Once, I even had a case of severe sunstroke.
As if that wasn't enough. When I started lifting weights and building muscle I wanted to have a nice tan to go with it, so what did I do? I used tanning beds of course! OMG! OMG! OMG! Is it any wonder I've had a number of minor surgeries to remove about 6 BCC's let alone how many I've had frozen off?
Now BCC is bad enough, it can become very disfiguring but unlikely to spread. Not like its friend, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). And let's not go down the path of the Big Gun in the skin cancer hierarchy; Melanoma!
See that tiny dot just above my camera lens? That's how tiny my lesion was.
Fast forward late 2019 and I discover a spot on my forehead that doesn't go away. About 8 weeks on I think it's getting bigger and scaly so I make an appointment to see my skin cancer specialist. I thought it might be another BCC and I thought it might just be frozen off like the others. Well, not this time. My doctor thinks it is a SCC and it needs to be removed! Panic sets in because hey, this is my face we are talking about and the thought of having a painful local in my forehead let alone the lesion being cut out was not something to look forward to let alone what kind of scar it would leave.
The day came for the chop and I was pretty nervous. Once I was in the surgery I lay down and the doctor and two nurses tried to calm me down. Pretty ridiculous really when I actually had a third of my colon removed this time last year because of complications of Crohn's Disease. If you want to know what pain is like try having that operation and the recovery!
My face was covered and the anaesthetic was administered. This is where I need to censor the swearing that went on in my head because it bloody hurt! Then came the tugging and the burning. I was very nervous and wished I had been given a sedative. I found the actual suturing to be very unpleasant and I actually felt some pain despite the anaesthetic.
As I'm typing this it is two days post surgery and I feel quite unwell, a throbbing feeling where the cut is and a bit of a headache, probably because there is not much fat or muscle where the incision is. Or as my doctor informed me, because I was so anxious during the procedure. I think he is right!
The latest purchase to my wardrobe is a hat! The latest purchase for my beauty routine is SPF50!
I am writing this to warn other sun worshippers to be careful in the sun. Wear a sunscreen and avoid the sun between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. if you can, especially in summer. Know your own skin and if you see something suspicious have it checked!
My best advice is to educate yourself and get regular skin checkups.
Visit the Cancer Council for my information.
Disclaimer: I am not qualified to give medical advice this is my story please visit a medical professional if you feel you may have skin cancer. It is always better safe than sorry.