Helping you navigate through the second half of life with clarity, vision and purpose

Good Health: Head to Toe

© 2013 Brenda Dineen | Reprinting permission with credit to author

I have had a recent brush with cancer.  At a scheduled appointment, my dermatologist scanned my body and declared: “Everything is fine but that thing on the bottom of your foot has to go.”  It was a small, dark brown freckle. It seemed completely harmless.  I had never paid attention to it. It was not painful or irritating.  Just a freckle.  How long was it there?  I have no idea.

I was quickly referred to the Skin Care Clinic where a specialist froze the bottom of my foot and cut out the small mole.  I thought that was the end of it.  Two weeks later the same doctor phoned me and said:  “The results came back from the lab and the mole that was removed was melanoma.”  He did add that the lab report found it was very shallow and very low risk (they are much more concerned if the tumour is deeper into the skin and has more aggressive features); however, in this circumstance the practice is to remove further tissue from the surrounding area.

Several weeks later I had a second surgery to remove a circle of tissue on the bottom of my foot and a square of skin from my thigh was grafted onto the bottom of my foot to cover the surgery site.  Then I had a period of three to four weeks recovering at home.  I had excellent care from doctors and nurses, as well as follow-up.

This experience was a total jolt out of the blue.  During these years of the aging journey, I expect some of the health concerns others are facing:  aching joints, problems with eyesight, feet needing support, aging skin, declining flexibility.  But to have a melanoma on the bottom of my foot was a shock.  Also, I discovered this is not uncommon. My surgeon told me:  “You are the third person I have treated this week with the same thing.”

I avoided looking online and reading people’s horror stories with melanoma. Instead, I used healing visualizations, support from wonderful friends, as well as my own self-talk.  I kept saying and feeling that my body was cancer-free.  I found this was extremely helpful. Your thoughts are very powerful and help to create the resonance that you want.

The lab result came back from the second surgery:  no malignant cells were found.

Sometimes you might not be paying attention to all of your skin. Your skin is your largest organ, weighing about 6 to 8 lbs. and covers about two square meters. Your skin performs many important functions and can regenerate and repair itself under most conditions.  It is important to pay attention to your skin and to treat it with care.

Have a good Health Support Team:

It’s important to have a number of specialists whom you trust and who give excellent service to you. In the past I sometimes stayed with doctors who were mediocre and have decided I deserve excellent care. I now have health practitioners I trust and feel really good about.

You might have some of these on your Health Support Team:

  • doctor
  • dentist
  • podiatrist
  • optometrist
  • physiotherapist
  • massage therapist
  • chiropractor
  • dermatologist (yes!)
  • holistic health practitioner

As well, you might have a personal fitness trainer, a yoga instructor, a meditation teacher, a healer, or a therapist.  A lot of women go to an esthetician for facials and pedicures. These are not only cosmetic: they are wonderful for your taking care of your skin and your overall well-being.

Look at your current state of health and ask yourself if you have all the supports you need for optimal health and wellness.

Most people I talk to have not gone to a dermatologist and are very puzzled by my experience.  “A dermatologist?”, they ask. Now that I am talking about this, I hope some of my readers might be encouraged to get a check-up with a dermatologist.  Most likely everything is fine, but it is definitely worth knowing what is happening with your skin.  You also need to avoid tanning beds and to use sunscreen that protects both UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

If you are like me, you probably love the sun. When I found out I had melanoma, my head was swirling with questions like:  Is the sun my friend?  Am I paying a price for lying on the beach? Will I have to stay indoors?  One of the doctors told me that the tumour was not necessarily caused by sun-tanning and it could be genetically linked, although there is no history of skin cancer in my family. I will be followed up at the Cancer Agency for two years, which is a good thing.

It is important to take care of your total health: head to toe.  As you age, there are many things to be paying attention to and getting care for.  One of these is your precious skin.

Warm wishes,