Hi everyone

Did you know that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Week in the UK and it is also World Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month? As you know we went up to London last Wednesday and that was absolutely great as, yes, it as the first time since November 2019 we were in London. Now I might write about my agoraphobia in another blog and how I tackled it, and how very common it’s been since the pandemic as, after all, it was logical to hide away and not go out. Unfortunately that went on rather too long with me. Anyway it was absolutely fine – I loved every moment of our trip.

Actually the main reason for going up to London was my appointment at the Mole Clinic to have my annual skin check. Or not annual (because of, you know what) but will be from now on.

Yes, I’ve been going to the Mole Clinic in London nearly every year ever since I was 60, so that’s nearly 15 years of checks. But this time I was able to finally get Mr F to come along for a skin check and that was because the wonderful Mole Clinic had a discount for two bookings, so it was so reasonable and actually essential as Mr F has (I’m sure he won’t mind me saying) rather a lot of moles on his back, and like all men was rather reluctant to get things looked at if he didn’t think there was a problem.

Now why do I say the Mole Clinic is wonderful.  It is because unlike the NHS and going to your GP where you might say, ‘doctor I am worried about this’, and you point to one thing, the Mole Clinic nurse specialist will ask you to undress to your knics and then from top to toe names every mark on your body looking at them with a monocular. And readers I have so many marks and blemishes now that I am the age I am. For example, I have many, many of those seborrheic keratoses on my torso, many, many freckles (which is why I am a warm complexion, it’s the yellow freckles just underneath the skin), many sun spots and, crucially, many moles. Oh the delights, of ageing, and yes, I did say that!

I just like to get all these checked out and over the years the Mole Clinic has found several Bowen’s Disease spots and one non-melanoma skin cancer, a basal-cell carcinoma on my leg (in 2015) which the NHS then cut out, which was so good as I had no idea that it was there.

I’m sure you’re all aware but here’s a few facts I have gleaned over the years.

Bowen’s Disease: is an abnormal growth of cells confined to the outer layer of the skin, usually it looks like a slow-growing red and scaly patch and is often found on the lower leg, sadly, mainly in women.  If left, after many years, a small minority will become cancerous and turn into a squamous cell carcinoma. If diagnosed the NHS will remove these by freezing or scraping it off the skin.

Squamous and basal cell carcinoma: Again these occur because of the development of abnormal cells, the latter is sometimes called a ‘rodent ulcer’ as if left it can eventually erode the skin and form an ulcer. These are non-malignant skin cancers as they very rarely develop beyond the lymph nodes (if left for a long time). And the treatment is usually surgery or, if very superficial, by scraping otherwise known as curettage. My basal cell carcinoma was diagnosed early due to the Mole Clinic and I only had curettage.

Melanomas: These are tricky and need to be caught early and excised pronto. The incision and cutting out process will go deep and may need a skin graft, which is why I go to the Mole Clinic. I have many moles of differing sizes and I don’t want to develop one of those.

Self care and prevention: Well, ha, and ha again! Obviously this is about watching your skin for any changes,  covering up and not sun-bathing, and using very high-protection sun-cream especially if you have fair, very Scottish skin like I have and I do all of those – now! If you were/are a red-head and have freckles even more important. Yup. But did I do that when I was young? No, not at all, as there was no information or much knowledge abut skin cancer in the UK and always there was that competition at school to get the ‘TAN’. Unfortunately but not unexpectedly I used to go lobster red, my skin peeled and finally I would go a little bit brown. Every year, for years. And sun-cream was that oily Ambre Solaire which positively fried you – mind you I can still remember that evocative smell of it. So my skin is damaged, big time, as up to my 40s I always tried to get that tan. Now of course, I never sun-bathe and it is one reason, why I wear a hat whenever possible. The one area that is not quite as badly damaged is my face as I always wore, and continue to wear, make-up, a lot of makeup and so I don’t have too much damage there – currently, my No 7 foundation has factor of 50. So that’s what I wear throughout the year.

But now I reap the reward of my hard-earned tans!  So I get my skin checked regularly. And dear readers, please do the same especially if you have fair skin. The end result of my trip to the Mole Clinic after a two year absence – I have nothing to worry about as nothing was found – yay!

Also do try and get your partners/husbands/sons to get their skin checked. Mr F had some areas that have been photographed and sent off to a consultant for a diagnosis.  See, it’s essential to get yourself and your partner or friend checked out by people who know what they’re doing.

We did a couple of other things in London including going around a large department store and finding nothing but enormous milkmaid type dresses, plus we looked at beds. This department store had many and we had a good look round.

And then we went to The Photographer’s Gallery, which is just off Oxford Circus and very near the Mole Clinic. Loved it as this is what I like doing – looking!

The exhibition we went round was For the Record: Photography and the Art of the Album Cover and very good it was too.

 

I wore my fuchsia coloured charity shop jacket and a cross body bag over my charity shop black spotty dress.  To be comfortable I also wore my fuchsia coloured trainers!

The exhibition was curated by someone who has 50,000 album covers! There were many iconic covers.

Afterwards we had a lovely cup of tea – here’s Mr F looking rather dapper.

On the way home I took this shot of the Battersea Power station which you can see is now surrounded by apartments.

What a contrast to how I remember Battersea Power Station in the 1960s captured here in this rather splendid album cover.

That’s all for now, but I shall be up in London again this coming Wednesday when we return once more to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the place in London I love the best. More about that trip next week.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

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23 thoughts on “Getting your skin checked out – it’s important!

  • 23rd May 2022 at 11:32 am
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    What a very interesting post Penny, thank you for that.

    I have a close friend who is a doctor, so i show her anything on my skin that I am not sure about. However, i was recently unable to see her so i consulted the GP about a small white thing on my forearm. They asked me to send photos, then said they couldn’t see properly so please could I go in. In I went, saw a different doctor from the one who had asked me to go in, and she more or less laughed and said ‘What? THAT!’ She was not nasty to me in any way, I don’t mean that, but she did imply I was making a fuss about nothing. She just said come back if it changes but otherwise it is nothing to worry about. So I was glad I went anyway.

    Anyway, your thorough check up sounds like a great idea, and i am glad you got the all clear, and hope your husband also does. I too remember the compeition to get a tan when i was at school. I have very fair skin and burned easily, so I gave up very soon and have avoided the sun for many years. Ambre Solaire – what a memory! My mother would never buy it, she said it was far too expensive and only needed by people who had the money to go on foreign holidays (the furthest we ever went was Brighton or Bournemouth!) So it had a very glamourous image in my mind.

    I’ve noticed that moisturisers now often have a far higher protection factor than they used to, whichi is great. I never used to be able to find anything over a 15.

    I love your dress and jacket, also your bracelets. I wish I could wear trainers with skirts but I am nowhere near your height. It’s tempting though, especially if you are going to be walking around all day. I feel so bad tempered if my feet ache.

    The problem I have with hats is that they all seem to slide off my head (I have fine and slippery hair) and any summery ones with rims just blow away. Maybe this is because I live in NE Scotland!

    And Battersea Power Station – yes, that second image is etched on my memories, as we lived in SE London so train to/from Victoria trudged past it every time we went up to town. It certainly looks very different now.

    Best wishes for your next expedition! My youngest daughter and I love the V & A. She was at art school in Dundee so we also visited the new-ish branch there, but felt that the exterior was perhaps a little more impressive than what (at least at that time) was inside. Worth going though.

    • 24th May 2022 at 7:57 am
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      Hi Rosemary – well actually I’m sorry the GP had that attitude of slightly laughing as really if one has fair skin and are over say 60, it is after the years have gone past that skin cancers appear, so a whole body check is the way I do it. And anything and everything should be checked as the earlier things are found the better. I am vigilant because I had a friend who died from a melanoma. OK she was pregnant, but she had very fair skin and was Scottish, so that may be the explanation. Glad you’ve got that friend to ask!

      I think I bought that Ambre Solaire with my pocket money??? Can’t remember as yes, don’t think my mother would have bought it for me. And hurrah for foundations and moisturisers now that have high sun-factors!

      That hat fits my head very well so it stays on in the wind! Apparently you can pack it and actually I think I did!

      Not going up to the V&A next week – actually got too much on. Going in a couple of weeks time, but can’t wait as yes, the V&A is magical isn’t it!

      Thanks Rosemary 😊

  • 23rd May 2022 at 12:00 pm
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    Such good news, Penny! An “all clear” for you and a “Bravo” to the handsome Mr. F for getting a checkup! I am of the same, naive generation of sunbathers. My Japanese (from Japan) grandmother would just fret over my getting so dark. She was right but not for the correct reason.
    You looked perfect for your London visit. Loved the color pairing and the jacket/dress combination. You look sophisticated in that train car photo. Good for you for stepping out and enjoying yourselves! I vicariously peeked over your shoulder at that marvelous album cover exhibit. Thanks for sharing.
    I have a simple theory of the overwhelming presence of milkmaid dresses in stores this season…a continuation of the “comfort factor” during our shelter-in-place/isolation period. Everything loose, no restrictions around the waists, etc. I can appreciate that! I have three maxi, loose linen dresses that I enjoy but they are much more tailored though still loose.
    We also had a lovely Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History midweek visit taking our four grandkids (6-11yrs). It was part of their homeschooling curriculum. We practically had it to ourselves! It was an absolutely delightful, beautiful California oak setting in the foothills with plenty of outdoor attractions like a butterfly enclosure, a riparian/creek side picnic area, wonderful exhibit rooms of California species of birds, reptiles, etc. So thankful that the grandkids were so intrigued and enjoyed themselves. With a picnic lunch, we spent a wonderful day there!
    As usual, I can go on and on, Penny. Suffice it to say, the luncheon I spoke about in my last comment, went well. I ended up in a completely different outfit than planned (lol) and was glad I made the change.
    Once again, I am looking forward to your next cultural adventure in London! Take care, Penny! Charlene

    • 24th May 2022 at 8:07 am
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      I think we were all naive about skin cancers in those days, it was just get a tan. In the 60s when I was at school there was a French film star called Bridget Bardot who had very blonde hair, blue eyes and blue eyeshadow, pink lipstick and a deep deep tan. She was our role model and all we did was boil ourselves in the sun to attempt to look like her!

      We went around the exhibition thinking of those days when you got out the record player and put on your LP and danced around the room – we also looked for covers that we had. It was very much an exhibition for our age group! Some were so evocative but I don’t think I’d collect them and fancy having 50,000!!! Wow!

      Sounds as though you had a great time with your grandkids! Although Oscar is delightful and becoming a proper little boy I’m looking forward to him being a little bit older so we can take him on outings. However he is a sweetie so I shouldn’t wish those early months away and it’s lovely to have another grandchild!

      Actually we’ve postponed the V&A trip as too much going on, but the V&A will happen – probably in 2-3 weeks time as it is such a lovely place to visit.

  • 23rd May 2022 at 12:05 pm
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    Looks like you had a great day in London Penny. I’ve been watching Secrets of the Museum which reminds me of all the wonderful exhibitions I hope to get back to seeing one day. I’ll never forget seeing the 16th century portrait miniatures back in 2019. I remember how desperate some people were to get a tan back in the day. My sixth from had a little garden for it’s own use and girls would use coconut oil on their legs and arms! Not me however, which is why it seems a bit unfair that I’ve now got stage 3C melanoma, as you know. Mine started as just a flat stain right next to my ear where I’d had a benign lump removed 24 years ago. I was unaware that it could be something dangerous, I thought it was a darker age spot. the lump only came up some 18 months later which was when I went to the Dr. The rest of my skin has very little sun damage, I’ve been told. I was brought up on the south coast however and of course we knew nothing about the dangers of sunburn. Now we do, I’m more that disappointed to discover that both my son (blue eyes, fair skin) & granddaughter got sunburned on a recent holiday. Will they never learn?
    I’ve just had a horrible week of side effects with new meds so I’ve had to stop with a view to starting again on a half dose. More conversations with consultant this week. C’est la vie!

    • 24th May 2022 at 8:19 am
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      Hi Lynda and I’m so sorry about the side-effects. That’s the problem with meds. They all have side-effects so I hope you find a replacement swiftly. And yes, there is quite a lack of information out there on skin cancers and like you I wince when I see people sun-bathing on a beach and getting that boiled red look. Fortunately my kids don’t sun-bathe, particularly my son who is a red-head and more so than I was. I know everyone needs the sun to process Vitamin D but boiling your skin red is not the way and has repercussions later on.

      Also I often look at American film stars and at their deep suntans and wonder… Hopefully they are faked?? Or do they have stronger skin types???? All I know is that the Celts shouldn’t ever sunbathe. I now put fake tan on my legs and that’s it. But yes, so annoying on your part that one pops up like that. Keep me in touch with how it goes, especially with the meds situation.

      Hope you have a better week

  • 23rd May 2022 at 12:07 pm
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    Afternoon Penny

    Thanks for another interesting post. A little stroll down memory lane for me – the Photographers Gallery and Battersea Power station. I’m rather glad that albums are coming back – covers were always part of the pleasure of purchase.

    The London skyline has changed so much in the last couple of decades. There’s some very interesting new stuff but I think it’s a mistake to swamp iconic buildings such as St Paul’s. And Battersea – which, to my mind looked so much better before the new build. Thanks for the comparison shots.

    Thanks for the rundown on skin health – very useful. I’m sure many people are still not clued up. Like you, I keep my face covered in the sun having spent every opportunity sunbathing in hot countries (eg 105o in Greece) in pursuit of that “even sun tan on our backs and on our legs…” And yes, the smell of the suntan oil returned as soon as you mentioned it. But I remember my first experience as ‘sun worshipper’ (aged about 15 – no sunscreen) getting so burnt I had to be smoothered in chamomile lotion and how painful it was getting into bed.

    I never gave ageing a thought. We didn’t, did we? We were the young ones – who were going to live for ever… (As you see, my mind is spinning with ‘golden oldies’ today.)

    Having had two ‘rodent’ basal cell carcinoma removed which, incidentally, were below the bikini line – i.e. not in sun-exposed areas, I’m like my grandmother – who embarrassed my terribly: with scarf wrapped round head and face. To which I add a sun visor to sheild my eyes. (Not a pretty sight!) but I don’t care what people think. I think of my face and my health.

    Which brings me to your ‘very useful’ hat – can take you anywhere from Buck House to the beach. I love it and need something similar; not that I’ve received an invitation to a garden party this season 😉 But, if I could find a hat like yours I would grab it.

    Hope all moles are nice and healthy and look forward to reading about you visit to V & A next week.

    In friendship, Mary x

    • 25th May 2022 at 1:38 pm
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      Hi Mary
      Yes, we never gave any thought to i) sunbathing and ii) ageing. The latter might happen one day and then – it happened! I see you’ve had two basal cells removed and cover up now. I should never have sunbathed but there was no information on the fact that many years later there would be repercussions Ah well, at least the Mole Clinic gave me the all clear for another year, and Mr F has advice to follow which is so good – it was a real breakthrough to get him checked out.

      The hat was a good buy – not charity shop but can be packed in a suitcase no problem and can be dressed up or down. Bought from Mad Hatters in Brighton in the North Laine.

      Enjoy London, Mary and all the very best x

  • 23rd May 2022 at 2:02 pm
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    How very nice to go back to London again. The exposition looks interesting.

    • 24th May 2022 at 8:22 am
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      It was a very good exhibition, Nancy, and possibly it had more of an evocative impact on people of our age as we probably bought some of those covers! Back to London very soon, but not actually next week!

  • 23rd May 2022 at 2:43 pm
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    Such excellent advice! Like you, growing up, we didn’t understand how bad tanning is for you. Also like you, I have the Scottish complexion. Freckled and fair. I used to have red hair too, but age is adding gray and now it’s far more muted. So I probably ought to get myself to a dermatologist – just in case.

    Michelle
    https://mybijoulifeonline.com

    • 25th May 2022 at 1:46 pm
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      Honestly all we did in the summer was try and get a tan. Everyone wanted to look like the French film star Bridget Bardot, who had blonde hair, blue eyes and pink lipstick and was very brown. I’ve seen photos of her now and her skin is very damaged. People are more aware but I think for some a tan is still considered a good thing. Fortunately there’s fake tan, which I use on my legs. Yes, do get yourself checked if you have moles and are a redhead. Hopefully your insurance will cover this – prevention and then early diagnosis is the best thing and again hopefully you will be told all is well.

      Thanks Michelle 😊

  • 23rd May 2022 at 7:20 pm
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    Thank you for all of this excellent advice Penny. I’m just about to forward it to my daughters as I think getting checked at a Mole Clinic sounds a great idea. I’ve now looked up our nearest one and it’s in Edinburgh, as we’re all fair skinned I think a full body check is a great idea and I’ve already booked my appointment for Wednesday 1 June.

    • 25th May 2022 at 2:05 pm
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      Oh Kathleen that’s so good to hear. Even if there is nothing found I always see my skin check as money well spent, especially as the nurse will look at every mark on your body. It is very thorough and professional.

      Good luck for the 1st June and hope you get the all clear.

  • 23rd May 2022 at 7:52 pm
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    Glad to hear you got the all clear at the mole clinic. I have pale skin too but luckily stop sun bathing in my late 30s/early 40s and I was never one to spend too many hours doing it; nor had I gone abroad much by then. We used olive oil as teenagers to tan faster!

    I loved the photographic exhibition of album covers and recognised a couple…

    Lovely to hear you’re going out more – well done you.
    xxx

    • 25th May 2022 at 2:09 pm
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      Yes, I stopped in my 40s but I think the damage was done by then! Yes, olive oil was second to Ambre Solaire although I have a distinct memory of having to buy olive oil in Boots, the chemist!

      Yes the album covers in the exhibition were a great trip down memory lane!

      The V&A trip is postponed – just as well as we have a blocked waste water pipe so today is a bit up and down! Waiting for Dyno-Rod at the moment!!!

  • 24th May 2022 at 3:11 am
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    Ah, yes…sunbathing! Getting that tan was a must, wasn’t it? I need to book appointments for the husband and me as he is (or was) a redhead and I did the tanning! I’m glad to hear all went well for you and let’s hope Mr. F has a good report. I can’t wait to read more about your next excursion to the V & A. That’s where I first saw any Dale Chihuly and I’ve been a convert ever since!

    • 25th May 2022 at 10:13 am
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      There was nothing whatsoever said about skin cancer in my youth, but maybe Marsha, that was because most of us Brits never went abroad for the sun 🤣 so we all had pasty white skin and that’s why we had competitions at school to get that tan! It was quite difficult to get a tan especially so if you didn’t have the skin to get a tan as our sun can be quite sporadic as well. Mr F has to see a skin consultant for 2 of the issues and come up to London again to the Mole Clinic in 3 months time. I’m so glad he’s being seen so to speak!

      The V&A is postponed for a couple of weeks but can’t wait for it.

      Thanks Marsha 😊

  • 24th May 2022 at 10:55 am
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    You look so happy to be on your way to London Penny! I really need to do this myself. every year my primary care physician advises me to get it done but I have been very lax. In the last couple of years my skin has developed all kinds of new marks, a bit shocking really! I do remember several years ago I did go to a dermatologist for some small bump and she was dismissive of my being there. I suppose that is why I have not had my skin checked in more recent years. And thank you for the useful information.
    The museum visit looks so interesting. actually tomorrow I am planning to join a group at an art museum north of here, in the more rural part of the county. I have passed it a number of times over the years but never visited. I was hoping a friend would join me as it is about a 40 minute car ride, but she isn’t interested so I will have to drive alone, meet the others there. Then the plan is to have lunch nearby. I have not decided on what I will wear. The question these days seems to be more and more what shoes to wear that will be comfortable. You do look stylish with the bright trainers and dress, something I might not have considered in the past but am seeing more and more these days. I must tell you that the other day I had an errand to run, to pick up new check books at the local bank. I made a real effort to look well. makeup, my new slim ankle jeans, black tee and a vintage cashmere blazer. a pair of black peep toe booties. The woman in the bank, who I have known for years, herself always a model of style asked me where I was going, she couldn’t get over how well I looked, went on about how inspired her. Of course she made my day, and made me think that caring about how one looks, even today as I turn 81 still matters.
    As always so enjoy your posts, love from New York, Darby

    • 25th May 2022 at 2:23 pm
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      Oh yes, do get yourself checked out especially if your primary care physician has asked you to do so. I love going to the Mole Clinic as they are so professional and thorough and I don’t think it a waste of money if nothing is found as I know I have had my whole body checked and I feel a sense of relief. But I suppose the Mole Clinic is set up to just check (it’s not the NHS) as opposed to a consultant who is expecting to see worst case scenarios.

      Do hope you enjoyed your trip to the museum. And like you in the past I would never have worn trainers with a dress, but not only is it comfortable it is actually fashionable!

      And how great that was to get complemented on the way you look. Love the idea of black peep toe bootees. You’ll become a role model and style icon if you don’t watch out!!!! At 81! Yay and hurrah!

      All very best from Lewes x

  • 26th May 2022 at 6:34 am
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    Interesting post Penny, I will try to get Mr M to go to the mole clinic with me. Like you I went through all the competitive tanning, and I remember when I was 40, on my last day of a Greek holiday, staying out in the sun all day without SPF because I didn’t think I looked brown enough. Now I reap the price.
    So glad you’re out and about again. Maybe a trip to the V&A in the not too distant future? I will have lots of time now I’m going to retire!

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