Posts Tagged ‘skin cancer’

It was following me in the market this morning.

I couldn’t shake it off.

Like a piece of sticky paper on a finger.

I dodged and dived to no avail; round every corner there it was, glaring at me when I broke cover–the big sniper in the sky.


I got up early–6.30–it was barely light and very quiet.

I’d thought to thwart it.

Even took  Beau by surprise; most mornings, at the first stirring, his tail is up and he’s purring cupboard love.

This morning he was  slow off the mark–in the dark.

After feeding Pippa, Beau and Lucien, I lingered too long over my hot water and lemon.

I park the car with ease (thanking the Parking Fairy, who was feeling supportive) and wander up the first

aisle of stalls in the early shade–it’s still only 7.40am. Lovely.

Organic green tomatoes and thin aubergines–exactly what I was looking for–at the first stall.

A dozen farm eggs from Madame and our usual short chat about the weather.

Parsley, basil and courgettes at the next.

A small punnnet of strawberries from the stall on the corner.

As I turn back, there it is–peeking into view, low and powerful and aiming straight at me.

Hands up to the face, duck for cover and shoot over to the part of the square still in shade, to buy the fish for tonight!

As I wait for the fish lady to skin a large pile of squid, I start to think.

This is silly.

It’s the SUN for heaven’s sake, the source of light and warmth, the ripener of your tomatoes and figs and generally speaking a good thing.

I make a resolution.

At Realmont market on Wednesday, I’ll buy a hat fit for purpose–even though they don’t suit me.

(Meredith receives an email this evening from a friend in California. She keeps in touch with my blog and read about my operation.)

She’d had first hand experience of skin cancer–melanoma, in her case.

Thankfully she has come through it successfully.

She offers the name of a good sun resistant clothes manufacturer (exofficio.com) and adds some wise advice–echoing many comments on  the blog and Facebook:

Constant vigilance is the answer.

Roll on Wednesday, market day!


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I looked a fright!–in a paperlight suit of Lincoln green (Robin of Sherwood!), a white mob cap and slippers–waiving a wan goodbye to Meredith over the back of the wheelchair as I and my two minders set off down the corridor that leads deeper into the clinic.

(Green is not my color as our friend Romaine was quick to point out when shown the photos.)

Vous-êtes américain? [You’re american?]

Non–anglais; ma femme est américaine.

Et vous? Vous etes d’ici?–this to the man holding my letters of transit.

Oui! de Castres.

Et vous?– this to the man pushing the wheelchair.

Moi? Je suis d’Andalucia.

Où se trouve les olives! [where the olives come from!]

Tout a fait! [absolutely]

We’d arrived at the operating theatre.

(I wished later I’d said où se trouve les oliviers (olive trees)–that’s the image I had in my head of olive trees in Andalucia stretching as far as the eye can see; but this was a nervous pre-operation conversation initiated by experienced carers to ease my passage to the place of operation!)

It looks like it does in the TV versions–full of baffling equipment with wires attached and silent figures dressed in the same green as me (we’re all in this together!) moving meaningfully about looking like they know what they’re doing and why they are there!

The welcome is friendly though–not too jocular.

I climb as bidden onto the operating table, happy at least it is about to happen and will be over soon.

I am having a small cancer removed from the left side of my nose.

Pas grandes choses–minor stuff.

I lay the back of my head in the cushioned groove at top of the table and the assistant puts a blanket over me.

Il faut–il fait un peut frais. [It’s wise–chilly in here.]

I wait.

In a puff of smoke–at least that’s the impression–Dr Milonas, the plastic surgeon, materializes–his mask obscuring three-quarters of his deeply-tanned face, adding to sense that a magician has arrived!

Ca va? [OK?]

Oui merci.

He explains to another (a junior, I assume) what he is about to do and as far as I understand him, discusses the alternative options.

He remembers that I am an actor and that I asked him at the consultation to be careful of my face!

He talks throughout–to me, to the junior, to the nurse assistants.

It’s a strong voice, an interested voice, a reassuring and reactive voice, not a domineering voice. It makes me feel confident.

He apologises that the administration of the local anaesthetic will hurt a little.

Several times I feel a sharp pricking around the target area which quickly goes numb.

For the next 20 minutes (though I can’t be sure how long it takes)–I am in limbo, distracted by our talking, not sure if he’s started–never quite sure at what stage he’s at….

We get onto the subject of face-lifts–le lifting!

Je n’aime pas ça [I’m not in favour of that]–I croak.

Moi non plus.

Not sure why but I feel reassured by this.

We agree it is sad to see some long-admired faces change for the worse.

C’est finit?

Presque, he says, seeming to trim my eyebrows (!).

He writes a prescription and tells me to come back in ten days when he’ll take out the stitches.

Then he’s gone, vanished–in another puff of smoke!

You’re in good spirits! Meredith seems surprised.

I feel OK–he’s good.


Monsieur Milonas–master magician and illusionist, a kinder cutter it’d be hard to find!

Two days later and Michel our local G.P., seeing my face, thinks I’ve had a major fall then remembers he recommended I see a dermatologist for the little bump I had.

Bon. Tu l’a fait! [you had it done!]



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As I came out of the new organic supermarket this morning, the dry heat hit me–transporting me directly to California.

That would be nice.

Enter the shop in France and exit six thousand miles away and close to the ocean–all stocked up!

Dream on–though they did put a robot on Mars this week–not in my lifetime.

Good weather for a stressful day–a double clinic visit and the results of a blood test.

On second thoughts, maybe California and the land of perpetual sun is not such a good idea….

My first clinic visit is to a skin surgeon for him to look at a small cancer on the left side of my nose.

Stop PressPoldark’s scar becomes a reality!

Pas de soucis–the dermatologist assured me, providing a referral to Docteur Mylonas, the plastic surgeon–nothing to worry about!

He confirmed what she’d told me–that the culprit was the sun.

I had spent all my sun capital!, she’d said, charmingly.

Docteur Mylonas picked a date at the end of August for the small operation.

Just after lunch on the 28th suit you?

It’s this easy? Seems so. 

That’ll be forty euros for today, says the receptionist, all reimbursable barring 2 euros.

Quel système!

The blood sample was taken–here in the kitchen–at 8 am Tuesday by our friend, Sylvie, one of the local team of nurses.

Just the quarterly A1C  (measuring the glucose levels in my blood).

Sometimes the result comes in the post from the lab the next day.

Nothing yesterday.

I listen anxiously for the postal van’s vibrations on my return from the clinique.

Just before 1pm–a tad early–I hear it and go out to the box.

The envelope is there and the moment of truth–eek!

Worryguts in my head, it’s bound to be bad…

I unfold the paper and…

6.4% is clearly written–0.1% less than 3 months ago. In the range of normal–just!

A silent whoopee is followed by a moment of self-satisfaction as the anxiety recedes.

But there is no room for complacency, Robin, I quickly remind myself.

The 6pm appointment with the cardiologist will round off the day!

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