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HEALTH MATTERS - September 2012

I finally got to see my dermatology consultant and, in double quick time, ended up back at the hospital having yet more surgery on my face last week.

The surgery wasn't as bad as last time, luckily, but there’s nothing good to say about allowing anyone to slice into your face several times over. I was at the hospital from 9.30am to 4pm: local anaesthetic, cutting, waiting for biopsy results, more cutting, more waiting, more cutting, more waiting until finally the tumours were gone and I was stitched back up. The lesions were deep rather than wide this time hence less stitches - just the 15 or so, rather than 50 I had the first time!

The consultant said this invasive kind of cancer is, other than in rare genetic cases, invariably caused by sun damage before the age of sixteen and is likely to recur. The trick is to catch it quick which is fine when there is clear visible evidence but less so when the tumour is barely in evidence. Vigilance and protection are the key words here - neither of which I am good at! Embarrassingly, my surgeon asked, "What factor sun protection cream are you using?"

Oops! Am I the only idiot with skin cancer who keeps their protection cream in the drawer?  I did buy it.  Using it is another thing altogether.  My bad, and ain't payback a bitch! I am clearly going to have to do better and, if I forget the cream, wear a hat!

I am now recovering from the ordeal, sporting a black eye and a lot of swelling as well as a spidery trail of stitches which should come out at the end of this week. Hopefully, the scars will quickly repair and fade - the one along my jawline, no problem; the longer, more vertical scar under my eye? I’m less confident about that but it will surely only get better once the stitches are out and the bruising and swelling go down.

Just to add to my joy, the deltoid muscle in my right arm has decided to stop working which means I can’t lift my arm above shoulder level. Seventeen weeks after my last treatment, this is the first indicator that another neuro relapse is imminent … and, again, it’s just too early. I need a minimum of six months so I have at least nine weeks of deterioration to endure - I hope it’s a slow burn. There’s no easy ride with this health stuff ...

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