In 2019, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was a struggle to get treated, and treated properly, and this is an understatement. Dermatology in my area had been handled by a private agency in an arrangement which had just collapsed – leaving a newly-formed NHS Foundation Trust to pick up the pieces (the patients). From seeing my first consultant, to my first surgery, to my diagnosis, to my follow-up treatment – it was one long fight. Six months and 2 surgeries in, the outlook for the system (and those of us in it) was starting to look better. Then, along came COVID19 and the UK Government response to it, and the fight began anew.

I have a personal toolkit: Stoicism (thanks, Dad); Anglo-Saxon (thanks, Mum); tenacity; a sense of humour so dry it cracks; a high pain threshold. I needed all of it, and then some. I listened to others’ stories (staff and patients), they listened to mine – we kept each other going. Some patients are no longer here to tell their stories – pandemic lockdown instruction meant they had stayed home to protect the NHS and save lives, yet lost their own. Still, through the whole experience was a thread of hope; through storytelling I found good people and #TeamSkin began.

I met a nurse named Adeola at the very start of this journey. She’s been with me from diagnosis, in surgery and now in clinic every six months. Michelle came to join her on the skin cancer clinical nurse specialist team, and then Soumya. If I’d been given a free hand to choose the women to accompany me on this ride I couldn’t have done better. Now, four surgeries in, we’ve shared blood, sweat and tears of laughter. I have another 18 months to go before I leave the programme and already know I’ll miss them even while I celebrate being cancer-free.

They’ve helped me to be here to share my story, but there’s a final member of #TeamSkin who’s helped me to wear my story: Alice Nicholls aka #AlicetheAutist. A throwaway casual sexist comment from a surgeon while he was stitching me up got me thinking about inking. Apparently, I wasn’t to worry about not feeling attractive because the scar would hardly be visible (I have paraphrased-for-propriety what was actually said). I laughed, told him I already had a library of scars (inside and out) and how they all made good reading and immediately started planning how to spell that out.

I researched online, I read reviews, and I made a shortlist of tattoo studios to visit. As soon as I walked into the first one on my list I knew I had found the right place. And in Alice I found the right artist and person, so together we became co-authors of my skin. Recently, I had my latest all-clear at my six-monthly skin screening from Adeola and Soumya. We talked about my next inking together. Alice then designed and wrote that part of my story.

So, dear reader, this post is dedicated, with love, to the amazing women of #TeamSkin.


3 responses to “#TeamSkin”

  1. trE Avatar

    I have been wondering where you were, and each time I searched for your blog, it wasn’t coming up! I’m so glad you’re well, and that you’re closer to being out of the program.

    But I’m happy you’ve found long-lasting friends/companions.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane Avatar

      Thank you for your patience. It’s been a busy time and I let the domain name lapse. It’s great to be back and in touch again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. trE Avatar

        🙏🏾💙 Of course! You’re most welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

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