Falling apart from top to toe

Ok so this is not an overnight thing. As  many of you will know it started almost 6 years ago with my soft tissue sarcoma in my calf, then two years ago gravitated to my hip which needed replacing. This summer I broke a tooth and needed a root canal  and a crown (OW!) and now this, a basal cell carcinoma or bcc. Top to toe!

BCC is extremely common I might add, and never lethal. Just the larger you let it grow the more disfiguring it can become.

I am writing this as an encouragement to get your skin checked! I am in a high-risk melanoma category due to an African childhood and lots of sunburn, especially on my scalp. Having had three friends with melanomas I started getting the once-over in Singapore and have kept it up since.



On the NHS you have to present a specific mole you are concerned with to get the quick referral. In fact I had one which was raised and a funny shape so didn’t feel like a complete fraud when showed it and my nice new GP made the 2 week cancer referral to the Royal Free.


Louise’s rose

I had a lovely dermatologist consultant whom we will call Meena and, when I asked her to check my scalp (after she had discounted my other mole) – something they don’t normally do unless you have a symptom – her eyes lit up and she said ‘Oh yes! you do have a basal cell carcinoma’. I felt vindicated for knowing my body.

Next question was – NHS or private. I am trying to optimise my insurance before I give it up on the next renewal as being a total waste of money, so when the answer to the ‘how long is the NHS waiting list?’ question is over 4 months, you can guess what I chose.

Less than two weeks later finds me lying in the outpatients operation theatre with two surgeons and a nurse while they insert the local with a fine long needle – amazingly it feels like a bee-sting, nothing more, despite their warnings. I was nervous following my root canal where the injection is the only part that hurts in the long and uncomfortable, but painless, procedure. Meena tells me she always gives a worst case scenario so that patients can be pleasantly surprised!

Soon my skull is numb and were are chatting away about films and all sorts while Meena excises a chunk of my scalp the size of a one-pence piece  –  ‘got to get the margin’; this is followed by a horrible smell of burning as they cauterise the blood vessels (scalps bleed a lot) and then a lot of tugging and pulling with a fair amount of snipping as they suture two layers of skin. Then bingo, an hour or so later I emerge with a pink rinse and a neat scar.



The wound!

The moral of this story is, please check yourself for all cancers – skin, breast, bowel whatever. Only you know your body, and insist, as I did when I had the sarcoma diagnosis and on this occasion, when things don’t feel right. And then, afterwards,  you have to follow my blueprint, eat healthy, exercise and carpe diem!

I had even prepared for the worse by purchasing an Alice band with a bow to cover my bald patch for this weekend’s wedding. It seems I might not even need it, Meena did such a good job! By the way I thought photos of flowers from my garden were nicer than anything else!IMG_1426

4 responses to “Falling apart from top to toe

  1. You give great info and advice. Would love to talk to you more next time we are both in the same place (maybe Geneva..)


  2. I tend to burn a lot on my scalp — this is a good reminder to get checks there as well as other parts of my body. I gotta start wearing my sun hat!


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