A stunning spot for reading our books on the way home from
the library
Even though I spend my childhood in a hot, sunny climate on the coast, the majority of my life has been in England, especially my first tastes of motherhood.  Therefore it is true to say that over the last six months we have had to do A LOT of acclimatising. Sydney’s Northern Beaches are so incredibly similar to the Natal Coast of South Africa where I grew up as a kid, that I get hit by a huge sense of nostalgia almost on a daily basis.  It’s funny the things that come back to me – the weather and landscape is an obvious one and I think there really is something to be said about the ocean having a calming effect on ones soul.  Every time I see the beautiful blue, I get this amazing feeling of calm that rushes right through me and just makes me want to smile all day. It’s a feeling that’s quite hard to put into words but it’s almost like my soul has come home.    
 
The vast and endless blue skies have a similar effect on me, as do the sound of lawn mowers buzzing or humming far away in the distance.   The lawn movers actually take me right back to when I was around the same age as Master J or Miss H and my mum used to make me have a lunch time nap.  I remember hating it and thinking how mean she was to make us go and ‘lie down’ after lunch when we would much rather have been out playing in the garden.  We used to lay on our beds, wide awake for what seemed like HOURS listening to lawn mowers buzzing away in the distance waiting for mum to come and open the bedroom door so we could be free again!!  All I can say now is “Mum, I FINALLY get it”.  Those lunch time naps keep my sanity in check these days and I do chuckle to myself every time I tell Master J “I know you’re not tired, and I really do understand that you don’t want to, but……….we’re still having ‘quiet time’ after lunch!  Poor love, I guess it’ll be another twenty odd years before he gets it too!
taking in the view
Living in the sunshine has given me a new found respect for it.  Skincare has always been one of my passions and I’m very aware of how dangerous the sun can be.  Working with some amazing skincare ranges in the past,  I thought my skin care knowledge was pretty good and my own skin was well protected and looked after, so you can imagine my horror when only a week after we arrived in Sydney an unexplained rash appeared on my face.  In the worst place too, on my forehead right in between my eyes!!!  At first it was just a small, slightly raised rash (about the size of my fingernail) and I just assumed that it was my skin reacting to the glycolic in my moisturiser now that I was more exposed to the sun (glycolic and UV don’t like each other much).  So I stopped using the glycolic for a few days and it didn’t disappear – in fact it became more inflamed and incredibly itchy.  Thank god for make-up as by this point me and the rash were not friends!  It was really baffling me too as I didn’t know what it was and I’m pretty sure I can recognise most skin ailments by just looking at them.  So one afternoon while the kids were playing in the rock pools I started to Google the rash on my iphone………….this probably wasn’t the most sensible thing to do as by the time I got home that evening I had managed to convince myself that I was dying of cancer!!  Ok, so maybe I was being a little over dramatic but the frightening thing was that it did actually match the symptoms of a form of skin cancer (thankfully not the dangerous one) but still it was CANCER!  Well so I thought anyway.  The next day I booked an appointment with the doctor and off I went with the kids.  I showed the doctor my rash (trying really hard not to rattle off my self diagnosis) and she took a closer look under a big magnifying glass.  She didn’t say anything for what seemed like ages and I just couldn’t help but blurt out “Have I got cancer??”  “Yes” she said, totally matter of factly  “It is a form of skin cancer”.  Oh my god I’m going to die, was the first thing that flashed through my head (I’ve always been a bit on the dramatic side), but “Oh right” was all I could muster.  “OMG– I have cancer!  CANCER!” was what I was actually thinking!!  “It’s nothing to worry about” she said.  “It’s very superficial and it’ll just need to be burnt off”.  I had so many questions – When will it happen? Will I have to go into hospital? Will I be referred to a skin specialist? Will it leave a scar?  Will it come back? 
 
hat and sunnies on
She then offered to burn it off for me right there and then – which threw off guard a little.  I’m used to the British NHS system where you have to wait at least a month or so for anything and if you’re lucky enough to have private cover you still have to wait a few days for the paperwork to process.  Of course I accepted – no time like the present!!  She took out what looked like a little blow-torch and explained she was going to burn the area with liquid nitrogen (gulp).  I had almost forgotten the kids were with me, until I had to explain to Master J why the doctor was about to burn my face with a torch.  “It’s because mummy didn’t put her sun cream on” I told him.  “Will it be really ouchy?” he asked, “I hope not,” I said.  “It may sting a little,” the doctor then told me!  “Oh great” I thought, as I gritted my teeth, not knowing what to expect.  Luckily I had no time to think about it and it was over in a few seconds, but “sting a little” was a serious understatement!!!!  We then went home to explain to Mr D that yes I did have cancer but now it’s all gone!  

I have since seen a skin cancer specialist (I needed a second opinion) and luckily for me it really has all gone.  I also discovered that having whole body skin cancer checks every 6-12 months for the whole family is as normal as going to the dentist in Australia.  So Mr Sun, I will be having my hat on from now on –thanks for the wake up call!!

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