Melanoma…a scary word….something i thought happened to other people and perhaps that was rather naive of me….i live in one of the highest risk skin cancer regions in Australia after all.
I've seen my Mum have numerous skin cancers cut out…some deep enough to require skin grafts…but she openly admits that they used to play on the beach all day every day with no skin protection when she was growing up. My generation is different….we were already aware by the time i was a teenager of the effects sunburn could have on our body…so we applied sunscreen and wore hats….but did we?As i think a little harder now, i still remember slathering on the ‘tropical oil' to help speed the tan process and hats weren't exactly a fashion accessory when we were teenagers if i am perfectly honest!
If only i could go back in time and talk to my younger self, explain the fear of sitting in your underwear on a hard table in a cold room as a specialist examines every part of your body…every little mark that seems like nothing but could be cleverly hiding a skin cancer ready to invade and perhaps conquer. Maybe getting a tan wouldn't seem so necessary, so harmless then.
I have already had a few basal cell skin cancers taken out of my body and the scars aren't pretty, but i felt safe again…or did i? Having skin cancers removed even once left me with a cold chill and a fear deep into my bones. Cancer has been in my body….was a little part still there….would it keep coming back….does that spot look different…..is that mark just a red mark?
Then a few days ago i finally made time (We Mum's never seem to make time to look after ourselves first unfortunately) to have a mark i was concerned about checked. Straight to a specialist clinic this time…..no visiting GP's who tell you over and over that that mark is nothing …..and then when you insist they look closer because it's your body and you just KNOW something isn't right , a biopsy is done and yes that will need to come out immediately. Never again will i allow that sort of time to elapse as i search for an answer from those perhaps not specialised in this field. This is not something you can experiment with.
Turns out the spot i was concerned about was nothing…..but there are 2 other spots that need biopsies and one mole that is quite serious apparently. One little mole that could prove to be a melanoma….the serious one….the one that invades quickly…the one that can often prove fatal…..or it could just be an irregular mole…either way it will be cut out in 2 weeks.
As i look at photos of my family playing outside in the Australian sun…Winter, Summer and seasons in between……i realise i am still not doing enough…..we still aren't wearing hats all the time because sometimes it is too ‘difficult', Miss Teen will apply sunscreen before a swimming carnival….but not reapply even though out there all day, we still like a hint of colour to our skin no matter the age…..as i work in the garden at naptime which is of course in the middle of the day i am often without sunscreen and a hat….the damage has been done by now of course…..but can i still be making it worse?
Are we doing enough to protect our kids? The specialist told me that 15 year olds are now presenting with serious melanomas and doctors have never seen them before in that age. What will happen in a few more years?….am i doing enough to protect my girls?
How do you as a parent instill the sun safety message so that it overcomes teen peer pressure and what looks silly?
Do my 2 year olds already have sun damage on that beautiful soft skin that will affect them in 10 or 20 years time? So many questions.
I know Australian's love our outdoors and our sun….but i also know we have to take our harsh climate more seriously….for our own future and that of our children.
Please do me a little favour and visit the Sun Safety page at Cancer Council Australia…..and ensure your family is receiving regular skin checks…even if you think it isn't anything…..it is still better to check. Your time will never be wasted.
For me it has been a rough few days emotionally, i feel as though my fears have come to fruition…. Once i had had one skin cancer there would be more to follow. Of course there are more…the sun reaches everywhere after all! But this time i didn't wait and i saw someone who specialises in this field….and i am really hoping that this time will be ok too….that mole could just be masquerading as something more sinister…..i just really hate hearing that M word even as a possibility….and then there is the waiting until it is removed…then the recovery with active twins to look after….and then more waiting for results.
So we are waiting right now……and yes i am a little scared friends.
This time of waiting is just so not worth the tan of my youth that is already long forgotten…..it's legacy continues to live on in all of us ….are you doing enough for sun safety?
Please get a check today xx
Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue says
Awful! Reminds me I need to go and get checked again. I hope your worries all add up to nothing and that stomach churning can end. I hate that they don’t reapply sunscreen at school. We’re a moley whitey family. Through summer I apply sunscreen in the morning, and I put some in the kids bags, but I know they don’t think to put sunscreen on when they head out to play. So silly to be full on about hats at school yet their arms and legs are all exposed. Fortunately my little one adores hats so that task is easy.
Me too thanks Kirsty!I agree about the sunscreen….you really have no control when they hit school which is so frustrating…a hat doesn’t fix everything and yet it becomes the most important focus!Thanks for your thoughts x
no moles or freckles on me or my son but my husband has some and I get worried about that sometimes. so far no changes though!
Thankyou for the important reminder! I hope everything turns out really well for you.
Thanks so much for your wishes and stopping by xx
Jode, your post has really made me think hard about all this. I really hope all ends up okay for you as I can understand your worry. I’ve been thinking for a while I should go to one of those mole check clinics as while I don’t have any freckles or moles that have changed, I’ve never had a check before and think at my age I probably should (and my husband). I worry about my girls and the sun too but need to be more vigilant with the hat thing, especially on days when it’s not hot but the sun is still there. I always put hats on out and about and in the backyard in summer, it’s more this weather when I let things slide but the sun still has a sting in it some days I guess and as you say, it’s the early exposure that can lead to things down the track. Thanks for this reminder xx
I’d defintately recommend a check at the mole clinic Amanda…i am amazed at how quickly they have all been appearing once i slid past 35 it seems! Some of mine looked like little mozzie bites to me…not even moles which is what i always looked for!
I have been letting it slide in Winter too but trying to be more vigilant! Thanks for your thoughts x
Twins Squared says
No melanoma here but I know what you mean. I spent every summer in the sun all day every day til I was about 20. I started to wrinkle early but thanks to good skin care I’ve been able to fight a lot of that. I did get checked a few years ago and I think he said I didn’t need to come back every year yet. I think my dad has had a few removed (golf is his thing) but I am so careful to use plenty of sunblock. I actually had another mom teasing me the other day about how intricately I put sunscreen on my kids every day at swim team. I found her teasing to be a bit annoying. I’m just taking care of my fair skinned kids!
Hope all turns out okay. I’ve had several biopsies done on breast tissue at times. All turned out okay but the waiting and not knowing can get to you.
Can’t believe that Mum was teasing you…what poor form when you are protecting your kids!Yeah the waiting is the killer but i shall try and remain positive…it is more the pain of the incision around twins which scares me at the moment…i swear it took longer to heal last time as they were always knocking into my wounds!
Jode I hope that everything goes well with those tests and nothing serious comes from them. Skin cancer is a serious problem and one that has affected my father who had a melanoma removed probably almost 30 years ago now but he has a huge scar that tells the tale. I have had a couple myself removed and every six months I go to see the Molescan people to get my moles checked over, with my past family history and my fair skin I have no real choice. I have to say I have become a little less vigilant which isn’t acceptable but with your reminding I will go and get some more natural sunscreen and start getting back into the habit of the morning applications. The girls used to be quite practiced at it but not so much now but they both have wonderful hats that are great for keeping off the sun which are compulsory for them to wear to and from school too. Take care and I hope to hear some positive news soon. xx