Why I was away, and why I needed surgery

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 2:13 pm
Reading Time: 4 minutes
You may have noticed Kirste from The Breakfast Show disappeared for a while, below she shares her story on why she was away.
(**Some graphic, post-surgery pictures)

A couple of months ago I went to the doctors with a list. You know what it’s like, as a wife, mum of three teenage daughters and a working women you’re time poor and need to utilise your time. So when I go I usually go for a few things at once. As I went to leave I remembered another point I’d forgotten to put on my list.
‘Oh sorry before I go I just have this little sore on my nose that comes and goes..’
‘Oh my that’s skin cancer!’
‘Sorry WHAT!?’
And so began my journey. From there to a dermatologist for a biopsy that confirmed I had an aggressive form of Basal Cell Carcinoma on the right side of my nose.
Kirste's skin cancer surgery

Just before the operation began.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I mean seriously I thought it was just a pore that had gotten a bit big with age and needed cauterising or something (because I’m such an expert on these things..). Plus I don’t have the stereotypical skin colour and type that is prone to burn and damage. It seems the inability to wear chemical sunscreen for a lot of years as a youngster in the ’80s because I would break out in crazy rashes was probably the culprit. Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of alternatives to chemical sunscreens like there are now. Unless I smothered myself with thick white zinc that took days to come off and made me look like a soft serve ice cream.
With the speed of the process, I was in denial and didn’t quite process the fact that I had to have surgery to remove a tumour – until the day I went in for surgery. The nurses and my surgeon were fantastic ( the fact that she was 20 minutes late to the theatre because she was breastfeeding her 5-month-old daughter made me love her even more.) We chatted about the nurse being pregnant and what she was having and our favourite roast meat, but it was traumatic, to say the least. The fact that we got onto the topic of roast meat because I said the smell of my own burning flesh smelt like off roast pork and I probably wouldn’t touch it for a long time gives some indication- but we all agreed lamb was our favourite.

The outcome of my surgery…

The outcome was twice into the procedure room. The first time didn’t get it all and resulted in a 5 cent piece round hole in my nose- pretty big for my little snoz to manage.
Dr Kate did an amazing job figuring out how to put me back together again taking an hour to suture.
The result- I look like I’d been in a street fight and come off second best. To say I didn’t cry a bit when the dressing came off for the first time three days after surgery would be a lie. But I have shaken myself off and said it is what it is. Really, I’m lucky I had a couple of things to go to the doctor about or it could have been worse.
Kirste stitched up after surgery

Kirste stitched up after surgery (image has been blurred)

Moral of the story- don’t be allergic to chemical sunscreen in the ’80s.
No, in all seriousness although we are incredibly fortunate to have amazing weather and lifestyle here in WA we have to take the sun seriously. I’m 43 and I have had cancer. That’s the reality of it. I have to go every six months for skin checks from now on. Now that I’ve had it once, I have a much higher chance of getting more.
Kirste, post surgery

Kirste, post surgery

This has been a great lesson for my girls. At their age where they are becoming aware of their looks, it has definitely convinced them to wear sunscreen and reapply often. Something they used to whine about.

So I guess I’m sharing this purely as a motivation. Everyone just go and get a skin check, and not at a GP.

There are heaps of places that specialise just in skin checks. Some bulk bill too so cost shouldn’t be a deterrent.
And neither should time be either. If I had my time over again I would go every year from the age of 35. Just because it’s sensible, and it would be no skin off my nose…
Kirste, almost recovered from surgery
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