Tag Archives: assertiveness

Happy Daffodil Campaign – Part 2

One beautiful sunny day, way back in June 1990, I went hatless at the bicentennial celebrations around Sooke Harbour.  I was having a blast.  The activity & cooling sea breeze distracted me from the danger.  As an adult, I knew better, but… gosh, I got scorched!

Susie Seekins Mt. Tolmie Garden Care Victoria
SVSeekins

By that evening, the tops of my ears were bright red & tender.
Even the top of my head, where my hair was parted, sunburned.

Time to act more like a grown-up!

I’ve been a hat kinda girl since.

That was 30 years ago!  I’ve been so good for decades.

my left ear, stitches removed.
phot by CD Miller

Recently, the dermatologist agreed with my concern over an odd spot on the outer ridge of my left ear.  A small biopsy determined it was basal cell carcinoma (BCC).  Treatable.  A quick visit with a plastic surgeon removed a larger section along the ear helix, to be sure all of the cancer was taken.

This is me practicing caution & assertiveness.  Awhile back, I  learned the most common spot for women to get skin cancer is on the ankle (See: My Happy Daffodil Campaign – Pt. 1).  Now I’m happy I paid attention to this little spot, too.

Today’s lessons:

  • BCC occurs most often on skin that’s suffered serious sunburns – even if those burns happened way back in childhood.

    my left ear, stitches removed.
    photo by CD Miller
  • This is the most common spot for men to get skin cancer. I guess a baseball cap might shade the face, but does diddly for protecting the ears.

Ageing has also presented me with dry, flakey skin on the back of my hands.  I learned it’s from long past sun exposure, too.  It’s called actinic keratoses  – NOT cancer.  But it is a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Who knew there were so many kinds of skin cancer?

Susie Seekins Mt. Tolmie Garden Care Victoria
photo by A Fox

Whenever my specialist becomes concerned about one of my spots of actinic keratoses, he zaps it with liquid nitrogen.  It’s a simple treatment. I gotta like simple remedies… especially to avoid the alternative.

The other day the ear surgery results came back – I learned that for this surgery, all cancer was removed successfully.
🙂
It is lovely to ‘Live & Learn.’

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BCCancer Agency – non-Melanoma types

My Happy Daffodil Campaign

daffodils Narcissus in James Bay, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The daffodil is the symbol of hope for the cancer awareness – – so yes, fair warning: this is about my personal experience with the “C” word.  It’s a happy story. By sharing it, I hope there’ll be even more happy stories.

Ironically, when the real daffodils were blooming this spring, it happened again.  I noticed a little brown spot on my ankle.  No big deal, but…

This spot had grown a bit since the first time I’d noticed it 6 months ago.  Again, not alarming, but…

the mole on my left ankle
photo by D J Seekins

  The most common place for melanoma (skin cancer) on women is on the ankles.  

It makes sense, really. I’ve often protected my face & arms with sunscreen, but only glossed over my lower legs.   How many times have I gone out in a skirt, shorts, or even 3/4 length pants without thinking at all about sun exposure on my ankles?  Many many times.

This time I decided to take action.  I consulted a dermatologist.  Although he really wasn’t that alarmed by the spot either, there were more factors to consider:

  • daffodils 3, Narcissus garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    The ankle doesn’t have a whole lot of extra skin on it – – so it’s tricky to remove a patch & pull remaining skin together to mend. 

  • Plus, healing an area that moves & stretches so much is very slow.

 I wanted the mole gone before it got any bigger. The specialist understood my insistence, & arranged a simple office surgery the next week.  Easy-peasy.

my left ankle - after 1 day
photo by DJ Seekins

A local anesthetic numbed the area, & after a few minutes, the incision had 3 tidy stitches.    The scar won’t even be noticeable in a couple of weeks.  🙂

Potential crisis averted.

It’s not easy for me to be so assertive with doctors, but considering my experience with skin cancer, I know my best health advocate is me.

daffodils Narcissus around Mt. Tolmie, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In 2005 I went to a dermatologist for advice about a mole on my right ankle.  I was told not to worry and given a pamphlet with photos of danger signs.

I was relieved  – – and a little embarrassed I’d made a fuss.

By 2007 friends were expressing concern. I pooh-poohed it but began to realize the changes weren’t good.  By the time the dermatologist was able to see me, in 2008, the spot had changed even more.

my RIGHT ankle - 5 years after
photo by DJ Seekins

He took immediate action.  It was proven melanoma, stage 4.  A wider & deeper surgery was needed. That meant a skin graft to patch up the wound.  Not so easy-peasy.  (read: 3 months in bed.)

How could a little spot cause such havoc in my life?

A 2nd surgery followed, removing lymph nodes in my groin area.  (read: Another nasty scar, nerve damage in my thigh, and a perpetually swollen foot.)

Three years later, I’m off my oncologist’s ‘Watch Closely’ list.   Life is good. Crisis averted.

I’m getting better at practicing assertiveness.

I’m not hiding the scars either.  Awareness is far more important than vanity.  I want more happy stories…

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

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Narcissus Daffodil, jonquil, daffadowndilly, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by BE Hansen

some sources of information:

Fighting Melanoma
Melanoma Facts
BC Cancer Agency