12 May 2007

Living in the land of eternal sunshine

Took Princess Sleepyhead off to the doctor today, and while I was there thought I should have this spot looked at on the side of my face. Earlier this year I had a basal cell carcinoma cut off my face. Having been a medical laboratory scientist, I knew that if you have to have a skin cancer then this is the one you want. It's classified as a malignancy because it is invasive, but it doesn't metastasise to other parts of the body the way other malignancies do, so doesn't usually kill anyone. I had thought it a pimple that wouldn't go away so was somewhat dismayed to find it was something more.

But that's the thing about living in this country, being so near the ozone hole and in a sunny climate where people traditionally worshipped the sun (I mean that metaphorically). When I was small, my mother would tell us to go out and get some sun, because it was good for us. Whenever we came home sunburnt, she would say we looked healthy. That nice healthy glow... That was the attitude of the times, though personally I never liked the sun much and always eschewed sunbaking. I'm a shade kind of girl. On the other hand, I did have about a year of Xray treatments on my skin to help me deal with acne. And my skin specialist used to tell me to go out and get as much sun as I could too. Sounds barbaric now, but the links between sun and skin cancer weren't nearly as clearly drawn as they are now.

So, anyway, this new spot wasn't like the old because it was pigmented, which meant my mind was running more towards melanoma. Happily, this wasn't the case. He said I had a couple of things going on: a solar keratosis, which has a three per cent chance of developing into a squamous cell carcinoma (somewhere between a BCC and melanoma in seriousness) and something else, which might be a wart or something else. So I had it all burnt off. The doctor said I would probably have a blister by tomorrow and might not want to pursue this today, but I said, "Nah, I'm here now. Just do it." Sounds like a Nike ad! Oops. Anyway, it's the first time I've had something taken off with liquid nitrogen. He cut the BCC out under a local. The N2 burned -- not too sharp, but not entirely comfortable either. The side of my eye is all puffy now, but not as sore as where I had my flu shot from work on Thursday. Each year mine swells into a red lump, but this year it seems less noticeable than other years -- except that Sir Talkalot keeps forgetting and grabbing me on the arm there. Isn't it funny how people always seem to touch you when you've had a shot? I wonder whether they really do touch you more or whether we just notice it more because it's tender. Dunno.

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