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A shameless act of self promotion: my brush with death

By Kym Durance - posted Tuesday, 18 March 2008

No sooner than I decide to engage in another exercise of shameless self-promotion by writing about “my brush with death” than football legend and television celebrity, Sam Newman and his media machine, steal the limelight with his television crew and a story about prostate cancer. Nevertheless here, as they say, is my story.

February 19, 2008 - 4.35PM. “That looks a bit nasty!”

I was in the doctor’s waiting room for a 4.45pm appointment. I needed a review of my medication and was well overdue for a check up. As well as a medication review I wanted the GP to check out a mole on my back. My wife suggested that it might need to be seen.

I was in the doctor's office by 4.55pm. His opening gambit was to ask what I needed. I started with the mole. Shirt off. A bit of a prod and a closer look with a magnifying glass of some sort.


“That looks a bit nasty” he stated. “Any history of sunburn, blistering?” he went on to ask.

“Not for years. But as teenager I was as stupid in the sun as the next kid in the late 60s and early 70s I guess” I replied.

“Well, I don’t like the look of this at all. No time like the present. What’s say we take it off now?” he asked.

“Sure” I said.

Take it off? Excavate it might have been a more precise.

Ten minutes later I am on my stomach stripped to the waist with my GP and his nurse fussing about next to me. I could hear packets being opened, instruments clinking, the gurgling slurp of local anaesthetic from ampoule to syringe and gentle directions being delivered in low doctor-to-nurse tones.


So there I was. Shirt off, trying to nonchalantly read the book I had taken to the surgery in case I had to wait. Not much waiting now though. A bit of local anaesthetic then bit of prodding, poking and pulling, a lot of suturing followed by a dressing and a comment from my GP that he had to use every stitch he knew under the sun in order to bring the wound together as he had to “carve” out a pretty big ellipse of flesh!

Good for him I thought; the last thing I needed was a gaping aperture in between my shoulder blades just because he lacked a few variations on a half hitch.

Given the time, it was approaching 6pm, the GP asked if I would courier the biopsy to the pathology laboratory myself as the routine delivery run had already left the surgery. “Not a problem” I said.

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About the Author

Kym Durance is a health professional and has worked both as a nurse and in hospital management. He has managed both public and private health services in three states as well as aged care facilities; and continues to work in aged care.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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