Between 11 and 3 stay under a tree. Between 10 and 4 stay indoors. These were a couple of little sayings that I was told many years ago and ones that still stick with me. I do wish, however, that I had followed that rule. Recently I have had a wake up call that has been a little scarey and it all has to do with sun damaged skin.
Just after the birth of our second child, Rogey Bear, I began to notice a larger freckle on the top of my forehead. It didn't seem suspicious. It was just bigger and more noticeable, well to me anyway. It started to frustrate me whenever I saw it in photos. Vanity perhaps, which turned out to be lucky. About 12 to 18 months ago, I went and had a mole check as I had had a suspicious one cut out a few years earlier (nothing bad). My doctor told me it was fine and was just a pigmentation. For a few months I was happy but then one of our groundsman at work kept nagging me about it and saying it should be looked at. I made an appointment at a cosmetic clinic to have the pigment lasered off. (still being vain)
The lady at the clinic took one look and said she was not going to touch it as it looked like a melonoma. I told her that a few months ago I had them all checked so there was no way that it could be a melonoma. I was very annoyed that I had travelled over an hour for nothing, and still had to pay for the appointment. I was not going to stop here so I made a doctor's appointment to have a mole check.
The day I went in I was feeling very confident that I would get the all clear and take my letter to the clinic to be lasered. The doctor, however, noticed a small spot. It was now only 98% pigment. It wasn't that bad and I was told that she could shave it off under local anaesthetic and send it off to pathology. I still did not worry too much as it didn't sound too bad. My confidence began to crumble when I got the call. I was relaxing, having my nails done when the doctor surgery called me an said that the doctor would like to see me to discuss the results. That is never a good sign. They could fit me in the next day. I felt sick and said I could not wait and had to go in that day. They were very obliging. Basically the result showed some abnormal cells and I had to go to a plastic surgeon to have more removed, for testing.
To cut a long story semi – short, after a few weeks wait, I saw the plastic surgeon and we discussed the surgery. I went in and had to have an excision done to my forehead which had to be replaced with a skin graft from behind my left ear. Results from that showed another change and the report said that it showed signs of Lentigo Maligna, which basically is a precursor to cancer. Everything had changed so quickly.
Today, I went back for more surgery as my plastic surgeon wanted to take a little more to be sure. Jaeme Zwart has been fantastic and I would recommend him to anyone.
While waiting on the table Jaeme was concerned about how the graft had gone and he decided to change tact which will be a better result in the long run. The graft was removed and different cuts were made to stitch everything together. A couple more millimeters were taken and this will be sent to pathology again. All of the Lentigo Maligna should be gone but it doesn't mean it might not come back. I will head back to Cairns next Thursday to have the stitches removed and to discuss the reults. In the meantime, I can remove the dressing on Monday and begin putting special cream on it. I know it sounds strange but I don't mind having this surgery under local anaesthetic. It is the removing of the dressing myself, and touching the healing wound that I don't like.
I have gone from hoping cancer will never get me to being so grateful that I dodged a bullet. I still have a continuous, nagging feeling that it could happen now. To keep things in check, I will need to have a skin check every three months for a couple of years. As I am 40 now I also need to think about a mammogram. Scarey.
My advice to you is to SLIP, SLOP, SLAP and take notice of any chnges in your skin,no matter how insignificant it may be. Oh, and if someone keeps nagging you about changes they see, listen to them.
Sending blessings your way.