Finding out I have skin cancer

I was unsure about whether or not to go to the doctor in the first place. I mean, it was just an itch on my back. In all honesty I think the only reason I really went was that it was in such an awkward place that I couldn't scratch it properly! My GP didn't like the look of it. He measured it and told me to come back in a few weeks. When I went back it had grown. It didn't look like cancer he said, but he wanted a dermatologist to look at it. He gave me some cream for my husband to put on it and he sent an urgent referral for me to see a specialist. Six whole months later, I got to see the dermatologist. Apparently dermatology is vastly over-subscribed up here. No shit!

The Consultant said he didn't think it was cancer. He wasn't sure what it was, but he prescribed some different cream and made an appointment for me to see him in a month. Four weeks later I was back again and he said it hadn't changed and that he would do a biopsy. Five minutes later I was having a slice of my back cut off whilst Uptown Funk played on the radio. It was a bit random, but then my life generally is. I was given an appointment to see the Consultant again in four weeks. I kind of thought that if there was a problem that they would call me back sooner, so when my appointment came round, I wasn't expecting to hear that anything was wrong.

My appointment felt rushed on the day. Like I was on a conveyor belt of patients needing to be seen. I sat in my seat and listened to the Consultant tell me I had skin cancer, as he had apparently thought all along. The appointment was a bit of a blur but he gave me a leaflet on Basal Cell Carcinomas, so at least I knew what I have. The Consultant is adamant that I must have had severe skin damage when I was two or three. I didn't. We didn't go on holiday that much and I always had sun tan lotion on. I have never enjoyed sunbathing or lying in the sun and I always wear suntan lotion which is at least factor 30. There's no point trying to guess when or where the supposed damage happened. Even if it didn't happen, it doesn't change the fact that I have it.

I have been applying cancer killing cream to my back (well, my husband has as I can't reach it)! It's a form of chemotherapy but thankfully it comes without the side-effects of normal chemo. The final application of a six week course happened this Tuesday.  I now have to wait until the end of  February to find out if the treatment has been successful. I have no idea what happens if it hasn't.

The Consultant had told me I wouldn't ever be allowed outside in the summer again and I thought he was being a bit dramatic. On further instruction from my GP, it appears he wasn't being dramatic. I am to stay indoors from April to October apparently. I am investing in as much UV clothing as I possibly can so that even if I have to go outside completely covered up, at least I will get outside. I won't be able to wear a bikini in the summer again. Instead I will have a very sexy rash vest and leggings!

It was a shock finding out that I have skin cancer. I know I am lucky and it could have been so much worse, and I am incredibly grateful that it wasn't. I think the thing I have found the hardest is just knowing I can't ever wear a sleeveless top again in the summer or wear a bikini in the pool again. I know that sounds so vain, but it's going to be odd coming to terms with the changes I have to make to my life.

It is highly likely, given my age and the fact that the cancer was in an abnormal place, that I will get patches of this again in the future. The good thing is that it rarely spreads to other parts of the body and at least I know what to look out for so can hopefully catch it early.

It's safe to say that I don't feel so silly now about getting a small patch of itchy skin checked out. If you ever see any change in any patch of your skin, don't hesitate to get it looked at. If it is somewhere you can't see, or can't reach, get someone else to look at it. Your GP won't mind if you go to get it checked out and it's better to get it checked and be wrong than not get it checked and there be something wrong.



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