Skin Cancer and Yoga

Wear sunscreen, kids. 

For most of my family and friends, this is quite unremarkable. I was born and bred in the red centre of outback Australia with fair skin. This isn’t the first skin cancer I’ve had cut out of my body, and it is unlikely to be the last. The same beautiful sun that, combined with good nutrition, has granted me a strong, happy, healthy body also inflicts lasting damage. 

I’m fantastically lucky. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) aren’t dangerous though they can be destructive. I got this one lasered a few years ago but it recurred until I could ignore it no longer. I’ve been pretty sun smart over the years but I was a wilful child and it doesn’t take much in Australia. I have also been to the funeral of a good friend with young children this past year so, on the whole, I feel grateful for small mercies.

When I felt occasionally low after surgery this week, I considered how lucky I am to have access to the public healthcare system that detected it and the private health insurance system that allowed my choice of practitioner. I was originally referred to a plastic surgeon for the work but I was able to seek a second opinion when I left that appointment feeling uncomfortable about the approach. 

I ended up at the Sydney Skin Hospital under Dr Simon Lee, having Moh’s surgery under (strong) local anaesthetic. Moh’s is a type of day surgery where the surgeon makes smaller, incremental cuts at the site, leaving the wound open until pathology can establish they have excised all cancerous tissue. I needed four cuts and it took several hours. The hole ended up being at least 16mm x 12mm and I have a fascinating photo of it. But you don’t need that appearing in your newsfeed!

I am grateful for the science behind Moh’s surgery. It means the hole in my face is a great deal smaller than it otherwise would have been. I was able to have a ‘primary’ closure rather than a Harry Potter scar (although I had plans for making the most of that if it came to it). I am grateful for my husband who cared for me. I’m also grateful for the space, created by my practice, that allowed me to manage my emotional and psychological reactions as well as physiological ones. 

“No Yoga this week. Nothing upside down.” It was as if the nurse could read my mind. I have just finished the first 30 Days of Spring Home Yoga Practice Program and have a bit of re-recording to do but it can wait. I have other work to focus on and it’s a good test for adapting my practice as I so often counsel others. 

I turned 45 in July and it feels great. There are a few aspects of health that need more attention but nothing serious. There’s the irony of having skin cancer and low Vitamin D levels which amuses me no end. My breasts apparently need some looking after (!) and I have had two miscarriages this past year. I’m getting some flecks of grey that I’m perversely enjoying, and overall I believe that we are ‘beautiful at every age’. It’s all, really, ok and I hope this discussion helps others in some way. I think we are more than the physical hence, I will continue my lifelong fascination with integrative, energetic systems of health and personal development such as Yoga. 

Lots of love, 

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