Thursday, October 7, 2010

A serious blog.

I wasn't sure about writing this blog, but its not to tell my story but rather to warn everyone to be more careful.
I realise that I have lived a wild and reckless youth...no I'm not talking about sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. I'm talking about taking risks as regards the sun. Yes,like practically every woman (and men) of my era there were many times that I put on a smidgen of sun lotion and lay for hours under the beaming rays of the sun, in order to achieve that in-vogue tan. And then of course there was the move to the sun-drenched Middle East where there was year round sunshine.
As a result I have become very vigilant, nay bordering on the paranoid, about freckles, moles or any type of blemish that appear on my skin. I was sure my doctor was fed up of me beating a path to his door every couple of months to check out what always ended up being totally normal.

During this summer I was shaving my legs...I know, how uncool, but I really wanted to go swimming and the hair wasn't long enough to wax (too much information). I nicked something on the calf of my leg.
"Hmm, that's strange. It looks like a pimple. Must go to see the doctor."
And it got put on my list of things-to-do, somewhere between
1. Get Roxy serviced.
and
about 7. get lawnmower fixed.

It was when my sister-in-law had a mole removed from a similar area on her leg that I got around to making the appointment.
I was so used to Dr. saying
"That's harmless" every time I showed him a suspect blemish, that I got a shock when he said
"Oh. I'll remove that."

A week later, all was removed and I was told I'd get the results in a few weeks.
Four weeks went by and there was no result for me every time I rang. As people kept telling me "No news is good news. If there was anything wrong, you'd have heard by now." True.

So when I rang on Monday I was relieved when the receptionist finally said "Oh yes. The results came in today. Just wait a moment til I get them."
Listened to a few bars of Greensleeves.
"Em. Can you call in to see us please?"
My heart stopped and I barely remember making the appointment. As it wasn't for two days later, I had moments of swinging between
"Every thing is fine. He just wants to check the wound"
to
"Oh my God. I have cancer and I'm going to die."

Eventually I found myself in the doctor's reception waiting to be called in. It's amazing the things that go through your mind in such circumstances....or maybe it's just my warped mind. But I had a flashback to this weekend's X-Factor. The singers were interviewed just before they went in to face Simon Cowell to see if they had gotten a yes or a no verdict. There was lots of tears and announcements of
"What he says to me can alter my life forever." More tears and wringing of hands.
But now I felt like screaming
"You have NO idea. What this man is about to say to me can definitely alter my life."
I was called in, trying to guess the outcome by how he greeted me/was sitting/ made eye-contact.

To cut a long story short.... the news was better than I'd expected, but not as good as I'd hoped.
Yes it was a skin cancer. Of the three levels of skin cancer, mine was in the middle bracket. My doctor reassured me it had been fully removed and no further treatment is needed. Thank God for that. However as I am susceptible to it, I have to be extra vigilant by
1.looking for anything new no problem I do that anyway.
2. Avoid all further exposure to the sun Eh what does that involve?
Further discussion resulted in me discovering that the two things I love most in the world are potentially a no-no.
1. Turkey. He didn't come right out and forbid a sun holiday but he hmmed and hawed and said that further exposure would be a big risk. Fair enough.
2. My car!!! WHAT??? Dr was explaining that people aren't aware that the rays coming through their windscreen are very dangerous. I looked at him and gulped
"I drive a Beetle convertible.......but the weather in Ireland is so bad I've barely had a chance to use it in the past two years."
Again, he didn't ban Roxy from my life, but he did warn me about the importance of sun block.
He then said he would do a full body exam and check every inch of me.
Being a woman I had the totally irrational thought that
"Feck. I haven't waxed my legs since I had the growth removed. If he can see anything through the hair, good on him. (I know, too much information again!)

So the story now is.........I have the all clear but must be extra-extra vigilant.
Factor Duffle coat, here I come.

Now the reason for writing this blog is not to be melodramatic or to seek sympathy. Hey, I am cancer-free and have a new enthusiasm for life! I just want to tell everyone, especially my fair-skinned friends who spent so many glorious days in the sun with me, to PLEASE, PLEASE check for anything irregular. And if you have even a teeny tiny fear, to go to your doctor, the sooner its dealt with, the better. Mine looked more like a pimple than a mole, so you can't be too careful. Don't think you're wasting your doctor's time. It's their job.

Life is good!

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