I have never been a natural sun lover. I always felt hot and uncomfortable in too much heat so I never really spent ages basking in the sun. I'd prefer exploring or swimming, although I did work as a gardener for a while in my 20s. So, I was surprised a few years ago when I was diagnosed with a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) right next to my nose under my left eye.
It had started out as an itch that I kept scratching at night, even though there wasn't anything there, and then it developed into a kind of spot and just never went away. So, I went to the doctors and then the hospital and got the diagnosis.
The word 'cancer' is always scary, but the consultant at the hospital said to me, 'if you have to get cancer this is the best one to have', as it isn't life-threatening, unlike the other type of skin cancer, melanoma. So that of course was a huge relief. The problem was though that they do grow, although very slowly, and sort of eat away at you, so if they're near something like your nose or eye or mouth, they can be very disfiguring to remove - as they have to take away a large amount of skin around them to make sure all the cancerous cells are gone. And here was mine right in between my eye and nose! I started to realise that I could be scarred for life.
The first surgeon I spoke with did nothing to reassure me unfortunately... In fact he implied the scar would pull my eye down and my lip up over time as it shrunk... I'm sure he meant well and was just giving me the worst case scenario, but he was very clinical about the procedure and didn't realise my fears of losing my looks. I was so upset I came out of the hospital and cried my eyes out. As the song goes, 'don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...'
So, I saw another surgeon, a woman who was also a sculptress, who reassured me she understood my fears completely and would do the operation in such a way that it definitely wouldn't do that. So I felt much more confident and let her go ahead, and she did such a brilliant job it's impossible to see the scar with makeup on and even with it off, it just tucks in round my nose. I was so lucky to find her!
She said I must always wear factor 50 on my face, which I do every day, even in the winter. It actually stops you getting so many wrinkles as well so that's an added benefit! I don't think we're still that aware of the dangers of skin cancer and it worries me when young girls overdo it with the sun tan machines, as I think my cancer started when I was much young and just took ages to manifest, which is what skin cancer does.
One thing to be aware of though, is that sun tan lotion can prevent us making Vitamin D, so I take that as a supplement. And I love wearing makeup and looking good because I was so scared I was going to lose my looks, I really appreciate them now. And I adore the sun and sunbathing now... But I make sure I'm protected!
Doing Sport Relief has been so good for me as I really see that as well as looking good, I need to feel good as well and get my body moving amd more flexible, and nothing is better than exercise for creating that sense of well being and enhancing your energy and strength. It's well worth the extra effort. I love walking the dog in the woods and I'm incoporating periods of power walking into that, plus I do a walk or job around the block at night and I'm going to do yoga for felixibility.
I used to be a competitive swimmer, so training with Sharron Davies was a great reminder of how swimming really tones your body. Now just stretching in the water and doing aqua aerobics is heaven, and if there was a chance I could be in a pool somewhere really hot, all the better!
Tagged in Skin Cancer