Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
A couple of years ago I was given the best Christmas present ever.
It is very easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed by the day to day grind of obligations. What can happen in that process of 'doing' and not enough time, is that we can create extra time in our schedule by cutting out that 'self-care' stuff.
Well I was one of those people busy being too busy. Despite my husband's constant nagging I kept putting off going to the GP to have a mole on my back checked.
On reflection I realise I was being smug telling myself 'It wasn't bothering me - I couldn't see it'. I was making fun of my husband's growing concern by telling him 'not to be so serious'. With the benefit of hindsight, not looking that clever now.
I eventually went to the GP, not out of concern for my health but simply to stop worrying my husband. I was convinced he was making a fuss over nothing. This was going to be nothing more than a waste of my precious time and money.
The GP didn't share my opinion. Mole sighted, skin specialist rung for an urgent appointment. Within two days I found myself standing in my briefs in front of a total stranger. He examined through his special magnifying glass the story of my sun damaged skin. I started to realise that this may be a little more serious than I first thought. I wasn't feeling so smug now as a sinking feeling took over my stomach.
I am a child of the sixties a time when the 'bronzed Aussie' was the look we all aspired to. The bigger the burn the better. My mother would coat me in olive oil and send me out into the sun to get nice and brown. Bit like basting a turkey , a normal practice at the time which with today's knowledge seems absurd.
The skin specialist told me that the mole that my husband had been concerned about did appear sinister and needed removal. I was now thinking of the best wording for my heartfelt apology.
I was then asked about my availability for the procedure. It was two weeks before Christmas and I was considering everything that I had to do. The sensible option to me seemed to be post-Christmas. The skin specialist looked at me and quietly stated 'I was thinking tomorrow, we can fit you in at the end of my list.' I agreed.
The next day this 'small, insignificant mole' was removed under local anaesthetic. The mole was small but the area they needed to take was much larger. It was starting to get a little real for me. The mole was put into a test tube and sent to the lab. I had a week to wait for the results.
A week later, the week before Christmas I found that my husband had given me the best Christmas present ever. The mole was malignant. Had I waited until after Christmas to have it removed, it would have been necessary to remove my lymph nodes as well.
The form of skin cancer was so aggressive deferring it's removal to a more convenient time would have cost me far more than time. An apology for my husband suddenly seeming more than a little inadequate. My jokes not so clever.
The moral of my story is that skin damage can be potentially fatal. You don't need to become paranoid but you do need to become proactive. Regular checks and making time to do these simple checks can be life saving.
Oh, and listen to the people who love you even when you are not making the time to look after yourself!
Nice article Shelley. I have a similar story to share.
My mother has always been healthy and never suffered from any kind of problem except that she was quite chubby. A few years back, she noticed the right side of her belly was a bit bigger in size compared to the rest and never took into consideration that it could be dangerous. One day, she was getting acute pain in her liver and Dr said she had gallstones. But to out horror, she was later diagnosed with lung cancer which had spread to her liver. We were all stunned as no one in our family ever smoked!!!!
You are right. Little changes in our body are early signs that should be taken care of.