Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Bothersome Spot

Having devoted much of my recent worries to my sinuses, I wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned about yesterday’s appointment to see a consultant dermatologist about a tiny patch of red skin that’s been lurking on my upper arm…

When my name is called, I breeze in and am greeted by two smiling faces; a consultant, about my age, and a trainee doctor. I present my arm fully expecting to be told off for wasting valuable NHS time and sent packing with a tube of cream. 

‘Ah,’ says the consultant to his trainee, ‘what do you notice about this lesion?’

Lesion, I think, is not a word I like, but hey-ho, this is doctor-to-doctor talk, so I listen to an explanation of stretching the skin and distinctive pearly edges, still waiting to be sent home in the next breath.

‘So,’ the consultant tells me, ‘what you have is a basal cell carcinoma, and I’d like to do something about it straight away.’

In that split-second a small part of brain screams ‘F*CK!’ and another prompts me to tell the consultant that he’s clearly made a mistake as I’ve already decided it’s eczema.

‘Well,’ says the trainee, as the consultant goes off to make preparations ‘nothing like finding out you’ve got cancer, is there?’

‘No,’ I agree. We smile awkwardly at each other then settle in to a cheery conversation about ‘Junior Doctors’ until the consultant returns and explains - very thoroughly – what the options are for me. When we agree on a surgical procedure, I ask if Tom can be with me. There’s no time to spare, so I rush to get Tom from the waiting room (remember, this was supposed to be a 30 sec job so no need for him to get up from his seat to come in with me!). I don’t even have time to give him a proper explanation so blunder in with, ‘Come quickly, it’s cancer.'  Not exactly the greatest news to give your loved one, especially when he’s well and truly been through the cancer wringer himself.

In a mini-operating theatre, the next twenty-five minutes or so disappear in a blur of lignocaine, cutting and stitching. Everyone in the room treats me with immense kindness and there’s plenty of amusing conversation to distract me, including a brief comical moment when the consultant and I discover that he attended a boys’public school in the same town and at roughly the same time that I went to a girls’ grammar school. We take a quick glimpse at each other before both silently deciding that we haven’t met in a former life!

And then it’s over. I’ve been told that I’ll have a noticeable scar, but it’s still a bit of shock to look down before the dressing is applied to see a hollow in my arm. In the great scheme of things, it’s nothing, but it suddenly brings home to me the seriousness of what’s happened. Back in the car with Tom, I feel slightly freaked out – largely at the speed of events and because I never saw this coming!

I did no research about basal cell carcinomas before the appointment and don’t intend to now, since I’m very happy with the advice and information the consultant gave me, but there are two lessons I’ve learned which others might find useful:

(1) If you’re fair-skinned, take any suspicious patches of skin seriously!

(2) If your GP gives you cream to try and tells you to come back in two weeks if it hasn’t cleared up, don’t leave it another year!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the consultant and his team at Glangwili General Hospital for their kindness and care and for acting so promptly therefore sparing me weeks of further worry. And, as always, to Tom for being there.

33 comments:

Lins' lleisio said...

I can so relate to your feeling of not seeing it coming. So glad you have had it dealt with quickly and successfully. Much love, Lins

Laura E. James said...

Woah. Quite a day for you, Chris. I don't imagine it's sunk in properly yet. Take it easy and look after yourself. Laura xx

Laura E. James said...
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Laura E. James said...
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Maggie Christie said...

Holy cow Chris that's a shock. I'm very impressed with the prompt action. You're so right about fair skin and suspicious bits of it. I've had a few checked out over the years. Get well soon to your poor sinuses too. xx

arosebyanyothername said...

Glad you got it sorted so quickly and efficiently. Hurrah for the N.H.S.
Take it easy now with the tipple of your choice. XX

Lane Mathias said...

Gracious, Chris! What a shock for you. So glad they acted swiftly!
And well done for being so calm.
xx

mountainear said...

What a shocker! Perhaps it's as well you didn't have time to get thoroughly worried. Full marks to the NHS for acting so quickly.

Hope you're not feeling too overwhelmed!

Jane Lovering said...

I'm so pleased that they acted promptly..a cautionary tale for us all, here! x

Fennie said...

I guess there are some experiences that even writers could do without. So glad for you that all is well.

Kath said...

Yikes, so glad that you're okay, had it seen to so promptly yesterday and I'd have been relieved not to have had time to think about it, or I would have been a complete basket case. Take care. xxx

Chanpreet said...

Basal Cell Carcinoma is one of the two most common skin cancers. It tends to burrow down as opposed to spreading out like say melanoma or squamous cell.

While I can totally agree with how shocked you felt to learn what it was, I personally feel relieved, because you found out and your doctors took care of it asap. Leaving you shocked, but on the mend.

And unfortunately, skin cancers are on the rise in all races, so we do need to be vigilant for anything we see out of the ordinary.

Sorry for the dermatology lesson, but I am so glad you are on the road to recovery! :)

Frances said...

Chris, I am so glad that you were able to have this treated so quickly. (I write this as someone who has been treated for the same basal cell cancer a number of times, the most recent treatment having happened just before Christmas.)

You've given your readers good advice.

Sunscreen every day...and stay out of the midday sun as much as possible.

xo

Calico Kate said...

Good heavens Chris, that was a shock for the reader never mind the patient!
Ever so very pleased all well.
CKx

Sarah Tranter said...

Oh Chris - I am so pleased you had Tom with you. And so pleased it's gone and banished. Major hugs. Sxxx

Teresa said...

Well, I didn't know... I've been cross reading FB lately. Sorry I missed and so happy to learn everything is on the mend.
My daughter has fair skin (and english duchess they said when she was born: blue eyes (that turned green) and fair skin) so I constantly worry... don't mean to be mean but when she was young I felt I owned a dalmata ahahahahah every spot counted. And you're talking of a girl that loves the son.
Please don't stress unnecessarily - I think even when we have something, the way you handled is the best way - but don't dismiss anything.
Take Care. Please!
Yours,
Teresa

toady said...

Blimey Chris - so glad they acted so quickly. Get well soon and remember you may be suffering from shock so take it nice and easy. XX

Karen said...

I'm so glad everything was sorted out and you're fine. Definitely a shock to the system though.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

You must have had such a fright! I'm so relieved the consultant dealt with it immediately and that you're on the mend now.xx

Gilli Allan said...

Phew! Very pleased all well, now.

The thing that bothers me is that I've got a patch of reddened, intensely itchy skin on my leg (not to mention hundreds of moles all over me)and I'm off to Greece in a few weeks.........

Claire McC said...

What a fright for you, Chris. I'm so glad you had Tom with you and were treated quickly. Sending much love and well wishes xx

Rach said...

Oh wow. I'm so glad everything is going to be okay! Treat yourself extra nicely this week! x

Margaret James said...

Good old NHS, always there for us when we need it, in spite of its faults and failings! So glad it was so brilliant and there for you.

Rob-bear said...

I can imagine this was quite a shock, for you, and Tom. Glad you were promptly treated, even if it gave you some additional holeyness.

Hope you are soon much better!

Blessings and Bear hugs!

LITTLE BROWN DOG said...

Relieved to hear all is now ok, but must have been a worrying time... I understand many bccs are 'dealable with' - my mum had one recently, and I think the doctor just zapped it off in the surgery under a local - but everyone's different. It sounds like you are being properly looked after. Take care XOXOX

sheepish said...

A cautionary tale for us all not to dismiss spots and unusual skin problems. You are probably feeling quite shocked by it now but atleast you had no time to worry before the treatment. Take care of yourself.

Lesley Cookman said...

I missed it if it was FB, too. So pleased at the prompt treatment, Chris. Treat yourself and Tom kindly. x

Liz Harris said...

Glad they caught it so quickly, Chris. I've had one, too, and had it sorted. I have very fair skin. They said it probably dated back 35years to when I lived for six years in California and lay in the sun all day wearing only neat baby oil or amber solaire oil!! An instance of where ignorance is not bliss in retrospect.

Liz X

Jan Jones said...

I said it on twitter at the time - but (((hugs))) and I hope you are over the shock now. Take care x

Henriette said...

Yikes, what a shock! So glad they dealt with it immediately and that you feel reassured by the treatment and advice you've been given. A lesson to us all.

Flowerpot said...

Wow Chris - so glad that all turned out OK. Take care xxx

Pondside said...

Good heavens, Chris - I go away for a week and look what you get up to!
I'm SO GLAD you went in to have it looked at and that the lesion has been taken care of. You are a lucky gal.

Sue Fortin said...

Not sure how I managed to miss this post Chris. What a shock for you but how brilliant that it was sorted out so quickly! Sending hugs.
Take Care
Sue
x
P.S. It's a timely reminder for us all with hopefully summer on it's way and for me being fair skinned too. x