Sometimes you are tracking along with a plan in mind and then something pops up to make you change directions. Or in my case, derail perfectly good plans to paint the entire house.
About halfway through the reno a little voice started whispering inside my head about a spot on my leg. "I think that spot is a little bigger" it said. "Really?" I replied, "it's quite hard to see given that I haven't shaved my legs for the entire reno". The voice added, "Yes, and I think it's a little darker too".
I humphed and replied "You do realize that I am in the middle of a renovation and cannot cope with yet another problem to deal with?" (evidenced by the fact that I am replying to voices in my head). This dark spot had appeared with one of my pregnancies and had been checked two years ago by a skin specialist.
I added a skin specialist appointment to the extensive list of things to be fitted into that week after we moved home. The voices kept on right up until that appointment. "I think that spot really should go, no matter what the skin specialist thinks, just get her to whip it off, you aren't worried by scars anyway."
The skin specialist agreed that it needed to come off and referred me to a plastic surgeon. She had voices in her head telling her it was probably a Melanoma. She felt it was likely to be at an early stage but we would only know for sure when it was removed. Waiting the eleven days for that plastic surgery appointment and another three days for results, was not a pleasant experience and the reason that blog posts have been thin on the ground over here. Considering the possibility that you may have an incurable cancer when your youngest child is still in kindy is sobering to say the least.
I am incredibly fortunate that while the spot that first appeared after one of my children was in fact a Melanoma, it was also found at an early stage and is very unlikely to have spread elsewhere. However, because of the location on my lower leg, the plastic surgeon was unable to do the full surgery that a melanoma requires at that initial visit. So now as this scar heals I am waiting for a more extensive surgery that requires an overnight stay in hospital and a week or so with my leg elevated in bed.
As any mother with small children would know, that is like asking for the moon. So, time off work has been booked, extra kindy arranged, and family roped in for weekend help. Obviously, painting the house is not going to be happening anytime soon. But goodness, as if that matters when you realise the enormity of it all and thank your lucky stars that you did not delay seeing that specialist any longer.
I don't generally post personal issues on this blog, largely because many of the difficult issues in my life, are not actually mine and therefore are not mine to share. This one however, belonged to me and if reading this prompts even one other mother or father of young children to get their skin checked, or not ignore a spot that is changing then that is reason enough. Do not presume you are safe because you are young and used sun protection. I never played much outdoor sport, was not a beach babe, and used sunscreen and hats.
Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world and it is the most common cancer in young Australians aged 15-39. It is responsible for more deaths of young Australians ( age 20-34) than ANY other single cancer. If it is caught early and removed surgically it is completely curable. To quote Queensland surgeon Dr Neville Davis, "Malignant melanoma writes its message in the skin with its own ink and it is there for all of us to see. Some see but do not comprehend".
If you want more information on how to check your skin or signs to watch for, visit the Melanoma Institute of Australia.
If you are looking for me, I'll be lying in bed for the longest stretch of time in about seven years. Any good books to read or crochet pattern suggestions would be most appreciated.