WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES!
An Australian mum has taken to social media to urge others to wear sunscreen and also to have their yearly skin check!
The South Australian-based mum-of-two shared images of what she initially thought was just a blemish from a pimple.
However, a routine skin check showed it was a BCC (basal cell carcenoma) which is not ‘dangerous’ as such but needs to be attended to regardless. It resulted in her needing skin grafts and surgery.
Mum urges other mums to wear sunscreen!
“I had it removed but it needed a skin graft, taken from behind my ear. At the same time I had one from beside my eye and one on my collar bone removed,” says Tracy.
“Fast forward six months, and at a follow-up skin check the report shows that they cannot be sure they got it all.”
“I underwent micrographically oriented histographic surgery (MOHS) to remove it. This is a process where the skin removed is checked in the lab on site and more and more is removed until it is all gone.”
“I have ended up with a piece of cartilage from my ear in my nose and quite a bit of “work” done to remove it.”
“Sorry if I’ve turned you off your food today but if nothing else PLEASE WEAR SUNSCREEN.”
While Tracy has been through a lot to have these moles removed, she says she’s grateful it’s not melanoma.
She adds, “I’m lucky. This is not a melanoma and now that it’s been treated, should be the end of it. PLEASE WEAR SUNSCREEN and protect your skin as much as possible.”
“If you’re out exercising, wear sports variety. If you’re swimming, wear water-resistant variety. And reapply.”
“If it’s sunny. Wear sunscreen.”
If it’s cloudy. Wear sunscreen.”
If it’s windy. Wear sunscreen.”
If you’re only going to be outside for a short time. Wear sunscreen.”
If you’re out in the snow. Wear sunscreen.”
I have olive skin. Wear sunscreen.”
Get your skin checked once a year
School support officer Tracy says it is important to get your skin checked once a year.
“The sun damage I have comes from many a day spent on the beach trying desperately to get a golden sun tan – something that my skin was never going to get,” she tells The Healthy Mummy.
“I wish the media would promote healthy white skin rather than the super-tanned Aussie.”
How to find the right skin doctor
Amazingly, Tracy has also shared some tips on how to find the right skin doctor.
“After your first check-up, the doctor/specialist will determine if it needs to be a yearly or half-yearly thing,” she says.
“I have found that most GPS have a reasonable understanding/knowledge of skin cancers but I think it is best to go to a specialist if you can and if you can’t find one, your GP can recommend or refer you to one.”
“Find one that maps the spots on your body, records them and then can compare. I’d say don’t wait. The earlier spots are checked, the better the results as they need less doing to them.”
“I have also learnt that often, spots are simply ‘burnt’ off. This isn’t always a good thing as it literally just takes away the top and if there’s anything nasty going on underneath it can go un-noticed.”
“Also, yes it is pretty confronting and awkward standing in nothing but your undies having your body photographed but it’s far less uncomfortable than having surgery to remove skin cancer.”
If you are not happy, get a second opinion
What’s more, Tracy is urging Aussies to do their research and get a second opinion.
“I went to one place that said yes, the thing on my nose was a BCC and sent me to a surgeon. I didn’t feel comfortable with this surgeon, so did some research and found my own,” she says.
“While he did a great job, he couldn’t be sure he got it all which I didn’t find out until I went back for a review appointment with the skin doctor.”
“He then gave me a brochure and suggested radiotherapy and sent me on my way. I didn’t feel comfortable with this so did some more research where I found the Australian mole check centre which is where I wish I had been going in the first place.”
“They are the ones that sent me to the MOHS surgeon and it is now under control.”
Sadly, Tracy says she doesn’t think people fully understand how dangerous it can be out in the sun unprotected.
“People also don’t realise how big a deal it is to have a spot simply ‘removed’. And it is so important to protect our children today so they don’t have this later in life,” she says.
“I guess my final message is to protect your skin and that of your children in as many ways as you can. Sunscreen yes, (and reapply) but also hats (don’t get that scalp burnt because having a cancer removed from your head is even less fun), protective clothing, avoiding being in the sun in extreme weather, and don’t think it won’t happen to me – because it actually might.”
Thanks so much for sharing with us Tracy, and warning other mums about the danger of the sun. We wish you a speedy recovery.
Sun safety warning
More than 750,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia. The Cancer Council of Australia figures show that about two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they reach 70.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a form of cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells, states The Melanoma Institute of Australia.
According to Melanoma Institute of Australia, Melanocytes produce melanin to help protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation i.e. sunlight. When melanocyte cells aggregate together in the skin during childhood or adolescence, they form a mole.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and grows very quickly if left untreated. It can spread to the lower part of your skin (dermis), enter the lymphatic system or bloodstream and then spread to other parts of the body e.g. lungs, liver, brain or bone.
If you are worried about a mark or want a check up, please see your GP. For more, read the Cancer Council Australia‘s website for important and potentially lifesaving information.