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Showing posts from April, 2012

No Pain No Gain

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It's ten days since I had surgery for malignant melanoma on my left thigh.  So what has been happening?

There has been an overwhelming supportive response from friends and an encouraging 2000+ blog visitors from all over the world who have seen advice on signs of concerning skin changes and self checks.

My scar has been healing slowly and I have been able to do more in the last few days looked after my wife who has been a star.

However as a doctor I have not been a patient patient!  I was keen to get up and around early despite advice from the anaesthetist to take it easy; in the first few days I crashed and burned both times when I went out too soon!

Extra time has been a bonus. Lying on the sofa with my leg up I have become more geeky searching for parts to repair my mountain bike and tweeting more on mens health and health advice topics.

Yesterday I felt increased tingling pains in my leg and found that my stitches had come apart in the middle of the scar where it had been ver…

Fighting For The Assurance of Things Hoped For

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I am two days post op for malignant melanoma with a large scar in my leg and a tender groin where nodes were removed: now the real work begins in working out my faith and moving forward. (Take a look at my previous blog posts for more on what has happened in the last few days)

Faith is not a passive slumbering thing, it is real and active, coming alive even more in challenging or life threatening circumstances.  Some would say faith is blind (in the past psychologists and atheists described accepting Christian faith as a blind leap) but currently for me it helps clarify what life is all about.

Staring mortality in the face is not a popular past-time in modern culture; we are all busy, trying to get comfortable and are constantly reassured by advertising that "we are worth it" and told that we are in control. However it doesn't take much to get a glimpse of the reality lying just beneath the polished veneer of our fragile existence: a near miss on the roads, a friend has …

How to self check your skin - IF IT CHANGES GET IT CHECKED

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So here's the practical science bit, which should help you understand how to reduce your risk and how to get in there early if something changes with your skin. (skin lesion = an area of changed skin)


Background
These days with the thinning of the ozone layer, more harmful rays get through our atmosphere even on overcast days. Longer lives of exposure to the sun means we all have a higher risk of developing sun damage and skin cancers.


It's not all to do with sun exposure, but if you are fair skinned, burn easily and have many moles you are more at risk of developing skin cancer.  People who have been badly sunburnt in the past, work outdoors or have spent time in tropical countries or areas where the ozone layer is thin or the sun is strong have increased risk. If you have already had a skin cancer or have family members who have had one you are more at risk.


There are different forms of skin cancer - some spread, some tend to just sit on the skin - all need urgent  assessmen…

My Melanoma Scar Story

Amazingly I am now back in the comfort of my own home, sitting on the sofa and watching "In the night garden" with my daughter.

 Mr Dewar the surgeon just called to check everything was going OK and to explain what happened while I was asleep - they took 2 nodes from the groin and he put in 3 layers of stitches into the leg wound and a lot of local anaesthetic. A call at home from the surgeon - that's what I call service!

After the anaesthetic I awoke feeling remarkably refreshed, like when you've had the perfect amount sleep in the afternoon.

My surgeon did a fantastic job of blending the scar into the normal tension lines of my leg skin, so that when I move it doesn't pull or stretch the internal stitches.  This is however not the finished product and he explained that a large leg scar can be uncomfortable to carry with movement and tightening over the years.

Because I am very fair skinned the scar is likely to end up rather purple, so I have to come up with …

I'm glowing in the dark

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So just had 4 radioactive isotope injections around the mole excised and then lots of pics of the fallout all over my body.

It's a wierd feeling as the dye goes in it feels like being stung by a bee but fades quickly, then on screen your vessels and lymph pathways light up like a Christmas tree.

Check out the pics

Surgical check in

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So we were up early to get over to Leeds General Infirmary for 07:30 start. Met the surgical reg and the anaesthestist who were very relaxed and pleasant chatting through what would happen today.

First I have radioactive dye injected into my leg where the cancer was then they take a picture of the groin to see which lymph nodes take up the dye. These are marked to be taken out later.

Then we go into theatre for anaesthetic and the skin excision of the leg akin in an elliptical shape across my thigh toward the knee which will eventually leave a battle scar 10 cm long.

Almost forgot not to eat this morning but remembered as I was about tuck into an apple that I couldn't!

I was betrayed by a mole

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I have recently been diagnosed with an aggressive skin cancer called malignant melanoma.

For as long as I can remember I have had a large, dark, thick, oval mole in the center of my back; I asked my wife to regularly check on it because it was hard for me to see in the mirror. Ironically this one was not the problem.

Just before Christmas I noticed a freckle on my left thigh above the knee. It was itching and then became more prominent; In the past there was a light coloured freckle in this location but now it had a darker area within the old freckle that looked an odd shape. It stopped itching and I almost let it ride; but somehow this one seemed different.

I promote self checking for new or changing skin lesions in my mens health clinic, so I took my own advice and decided after noting this change to see the doc.

I made an appointment 2 weeks after it changed. Just before heading off for Christmas, I saw a GP who was very helpful and agreed that this new changing freckle should be …