© 2016 - Present The Diva Farmer

  • Tina Nichols

Living In The Shade

I have always had a rocky relationship with the sun. As much as I love a cheerful sunny day filled with the possibility of walks in the park, bike rides along the river or gardening; I dread the suns rays pounding down on my skin even more. I am blonde with fair skin that burns extremely easy; even with #sunscreen. Not only do I burn but I blister; not your small pea size blister but egg size. On average a persons risk for #Melanoma doubles if they have had 5 or more sunburns. For this reason, I prefer to spend the majority of my time indoors, or under the protection of heavy shade.

I have seen images of unhealthy #moles and know what to look for; unfortunately all of my moles look fine to me and nothing like the medical images. To complicate matters, my entire body is covered with moles and new ones are always popping up. During the past 9 years I have had over thirty moles removed and nearly one-hundred stitches to close the holes left by the 'cookie punch' biopsies. Several biopsies came back as Basal Cell Carcinoma, which is the most common form of skin cancer, and the pathology report showed that the initial extraction had removed all of it. The remaining biopsies were normal.

That all changed on December 22, 2017. There was an unusual double mole on the outer rim of my right ear. It actaully looked like a fried egg with the inner 'yolk/mole' being a darker shade of brown than the surrounding mole. Initially my doctor was intrigued by the fried egg mole but not overly concerned; until the biopsy report came back. I was diagnosed with Melanoma Cancer and told that the biopsy had gone to a second lab for further reading and to determine what Stage of cancer it was in. I kept this news to myself over the holiday because I didn't really know what it meant and I didn't want to upset anyone.

When I saw the ENT Surgeon the pathology report was still not back from the lab. I was told that I would loose a portion of my ear no matter what. Melanomo is a highly aggresive cancer and the only way to stop it is by removing healthy flesh far beyond the perimeter lines of the cancer. There was also the possibility the cancer had moved into my lymph nodes and I would need chemo.

It took all my will-power to not vomit as I walked back to car. The co-worker I share an office with, was watc with himhing her boyfriend of 8 years die from

There are 3 types of #skincancer (all are treatable if diagnosed early):

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma - this is the most common type and can cause damage and disfigurement. Approximately 4 million cases diagnosed yearly in the U.S.

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma - this is the second most common type and can grow deep into the skin causing damage and disfigurement. Approximately 1 million cases diagnosed yearly in the U.S.

  • #Melanoma - is the deadliest form of skin cancer and kills approximately 10,000 people each year.

My surgery was scheduled for January 18, 2018. During the pre-op appointment the surgeon told me that I was extremely lucky and the melanoma was in Situ (meaning it had not begun to spread) and we caught it very early in the development! However, he reiterated that I was still going to loose a portion of my ear. I was thrilled at this point and asked if he could at least make it look like an elf/faerie ear when he was done.

Heading home from hospital - love the head-wrap

48-hours after surgery

72-hours after surgery

One-week after surgery

I am now cancer-free and I will have full-body mole checks every 3 months for the next 2-years. I also have a cute elf/faerie ear and show it proudly.

When I do head outside to work in my gardens I apply sun screen, wear a long sleeve shirt buttoned up, gloves, and a hat. I try to garden in the early morning hours and follow the shade around the yard before it gets too hot because I am not shedding clothes to expose my skin. Even with these precautions I can still get Melanoma again, but I refuse to make it any easier for the cancer to take hold.

Don't believe you are safe; the sun is a beast and you need to do your part to protet yourself and to have anything "different" looked at by a professional. Better SAFE than Sorry!!