MELANOMA 

Sometime last year I had an itchy thing on the upper part of my bum.  It had been there for a while but I took no notice until it was itchy.  Asked himself what it was.  Was it a bite or had I scratched it maybe on the blackberries.

He said “Oh that’s your birthmark”.  “Birthmark?  I haven’t got a birthmark, I’m perfect!!!”    No reaction.  Not even the glimmer of a smile.  Just said that it had been there for a long while.  “How long?”  “Ten years maybe”.   

You don’t usually get a chance to look at your bum, do you?  I found a mirror and had a look and sure enough there it was.  A rectangle of a brownish colour about three centimetres by one and a half centimetres, placed at an angle.  Mmm.  I didn’t think about it much as I was about to fly over to see my daughter in Adelaide and there were other things which took up my time.

At this time I also had a sun spot of sorts on my hand which really needed attending to so Jo suggested I go to the Cancer Clinic just down the road from where she lived.  We made the appointment but it was not for a couple of weeks by which time I would be flying home again.  The appointment was on a Thursday and I was flying home the following Tuesday.

After a marvellous time in Adelaide, the Thursday appointment arrived and we went to see the doctor.  He wasn’ t too worried about the one on my hand, said it was no big deal to take it off but was a bit worried about the rectangle on my bum and said he would take the one off my hand and do a biopsy on the rectangle in a couple of weeks’ time.  Discussion was had and I was prepared to leave it until I came home and could see my own doctor.  However, he said he would fit me in at lunchtime on the Monday and has staff agreed that it could be arranged for then. 

So, Monday comes around and the doctor operated on my right hand and then proceeded to take a big lump out of my bum, not a biopsy.  I could hear him doing the procedure and it sounded like a rabbit being skinned.  Luckily I couldn’t feel it but did feel a couple of the outside stitches going in and asked him if he had been trying to save on the local anaesthetic.  He didn’t make much comment.  The sutures covered a twelve centimetre gash across the top of my bum towards my right hip.  I don’t know how many stitches there actually were but a sympathetic friend advised me that there are only eight across the top of a chaff bag.  Thanks. 

I was given a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics and we returned to Jo’s home where I wasn’t in any particular pain and had a fairly good night’s sleep.  We toddled off to the airport in the morning which is about an hour’s drive across the city.  Her own car was out of action at the time and she was driving her husband’s hard-sprung ute which was a bit like riding a pig.  I had a horse once that had a short wheelbase and was a bit like that to ride.  I was reminded of her all the way across town.

After cooling my heels in the airport for another hour, we were finally loaded onto the plane for another two hours’ trip across to Sydney.  When I was dropping my back at the drop desk in the airport, the young man serving me was a bit worried about the big bandage on my right hand and did not really want to let me on the plane.  He had to ring a supervisor and then enquired of me whether I had had a general anaesthetic.  My answer of course was negative but he questioned me some more as to what had been done.  I felt like saying “You should see my bum!!!”. but kept my counsel about that one. 

By the time I left the plane in Sydney I was ready for a couple of Panadol and then picked up my bag and staggered out to where I thought himself was picking me up.  Thankfully he was picking me up and I didn’t have to get the train home as well. 

Have you ever tried to get picked up at Sydney Airport?  Don’t do it.  Do yourself a favour and go home on the train.  

I came out to where people normally would get picked up at airports in that drop off, pick up area but not in Sydney.   The only signs were DO NOT PICK UP HERE - BUSES ONLY and on the other side VALET, AND CHAUFFEUR CARS ONLY.   I kept walking and walking until I came to near the parking area where there were still no signs for public pickup. 

Approaching a man cleaning a car I enquired as to where this place might be.  He laughed and pointed back to where I had come from and then you turn left and keep walking until you see the sign for it.  Right.  Off I went and followed the signs for public pickup along and along and along.  I don’t know how far it was but I would guess about five hundred metres.  It seemed ten times that length and tears were close when I finally found it, the pick up spot that is.

Himself was parked up, not far away, waiting to hear from me and then was just going to whip around to where I was, whisk me into the car like a knight in shining armour and away we would go on the trusty steed. 

Three quarters of an hour later we finally found each other, both in filthy moods, (we certainly won’t go into that little lot) and he was parked in a “No Standing” zone so I had to run (I’ve told you before I don’t do running), run I said, dragging the bag which he grabbed, threw into the boot while I scrambled - with my wound - into the front and we sailed away into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Well, there were a few hurdles before that.  First of all it was still a three-hour drive home but at least the car was more comfortable than Jo’s ute and the train.  We had lunch and the moods settled down.  It was good to get home.

I had to see my doctor after the Adelaide doctor had had the lab report forwarded to her and it was found that he hadn’t gouged enough out of the bum for the lab to be happy.  It was identified as a melanoma and there was not enough clearance around and underneath it.  Bugger. 

A surgeon was consulted and to cut a long story short, he operated in day surgery at the hospital, taking more flesh from around where the thing had been and tidying up the wool pack stitches.  He is an artist and I now just have this lovely thin line to replace the other.  It is still twelve centimetres long. 

Speaking to the surgeon at the check up which I had to have I said that it was a strange place to have something caused by the sun.  I mean, there had been some ribald remarks and ha ha’s from people who knew about the incident.  “What were we doing out there in the bush, wink, wink?”  I said “What happens in the bush stays in the bush.”  They all want to come out and live here.

The surgeon confirmed that the sun causes these things but that they can pop up anywhere, in the anus (heaven forbid), on the eyeball (ugh), underneath the feet, in between the toes.  I now have to be checked over every six months instead of never before and I would urge you all to do the same, at least every twelve months.  It is worth it.  Things could have been very ugly.