Jan is a loyal client in her 70’s who over time has become a friend too. She got in touch with me recently to ask for help. She wanted to share her story of being diagnosed with skin cancer and needed advice on how to treat her wound in the weeks following surgery.
“It occurred to me Esther that you may be able to help others with this salutary warning about how vital we protect our skin from the sun. The rays are much fiercer now.”
You can read my conversation with Jan below. I think you’ll agree that we need more thoughtful and brave people like Jan in the world…
Jan, can you take us back to the start of your journey? When did you first discover something was wrong?
Last December (2021) a spot on the back of my neck appeared. My doctor sent me to the hospital dermatologist who diagnosed actinic keratosis & told me it was "not sinister". I had cryotherapy but the spot only semi healed and then divided into two sores. As they weren't healing, I went back to my doctor who sent me straight back to hospital to see a different dermatologist.
It must have been a very difficult diagnosis to hear.
It's been a complete shock to my system. In June 2021, things moved quickly, and I underwent an operation to remove the carcinoma immediately. It left quite a scar!
You’ve been a client of mine for years; you’ve been looking after your skin, so how did you get skin cancer?
I’m 77 years old now. The doctor said this was caused all those years ago when sun protection was unheard of. Then, (unlike now), as children and young adults, we did not have sunblock or products that kept us UV ray protected. Mothers were not informed and products not in evidence.
After the carcinoma was removed, you were left with a large surgical scar. How were you told to treat it?
I was given a wound treatment sheet and told to only use Vaseline, which I did once three days elapsed, and then the wound dressing came off but Vaseline got everywhere! It’s hard to reach the back of neck to apply the stuff to the scar and stitches (which dissolve), plus it kept getting on the pillow at night!!!
So I went my own way and used calendula cream, plus I opened flaxseed oil capsules & massaged them into the scar. Then I had to reapply fresh dressing. I also take collagen supplements.
How did your doctor respond about your choice to use natural plant-based remedies?
The doctor was a very professional plastic surgeon and had performed over 900 operations, so she knew her stuff. She did not approve, but it’s my body after all.
In times gone by of course, I would have been accused of witchcraft (I keep 2 cats as well) for believing in more natural regimes. I also put calendula flower petals on all my salads.
You have great faith in natural cruelty-free skincare; it must have been challenging to be told to use a by-product of the petroleum industry like Vaseline!
Yes. I saw your newsletter about the Happy Skin Salve and asked for advice as I feel we’re on the same wavelength. In fact, I've always believed in you Esther, right from the time you only had your first little boy and we spoke on the phone when I ordered a product. I'm very proud of you that you've achieved so much with your natural ranges.
You explained that the doctors opt for Vaseline because it doesn't allow the skin the dry out,
“it keeps the wound moist so that a scab does not form, therefore accelerating healing and avoiding itchiness etc. Wounds with scabs taken longer to heal and can be longer or deeper.”
You described the ingredients in the Happy Skin Salve and how they could have the same effect as Vaseline.
I sent for your salve and started using it straight away. I applied it and redressed the wound/stitches on the back of my neck, keeping an eye on progress. I also applied it to the back of my hands as it felt so silky.
I felt so blessed to have an opportunity to help you. How did your wound treatment progress?
Two weeks after the surgery I had an appointment to check the stitches and wound. The doctor said considering the short time since my surgery, the wound was healing quicker than normal.
However, the doctor said keep using Vaseline on my wound and under the dressing as it makes a difference.
So I told the truth - that as grateful as I am for the surgeon, nurses and everybody involved in helping me so far, I'd taken responsibility for my own healing and Vaseline did not suit. The difference seen was only because I’d been using a naturally made skin product.
For in truth, Happy Skin HAD made an enormous difference to how the wound looked and felt. Even for the short time I'd been using your product. The redness, itching and pain around the incision had calmed and the wound became a paler pink.
I massaged the area 3 times a day. Each time I sterilised my hands and the tip of a knife from the cutlery drawer. I didn't want to take any chances by putting my finger in the pot. I keep Happy Skin in the fridge to keep it firm, so only use the knife tip in getting out a small amount and applying to my fingertip. The wound dressings that I use are sterilised too.
Three weeks after the surgery and it’s a fantastic product Esther – it’s worked magic on my wound. To be recommended for others in same situation. Thank you.
Four weeks after the surgery and the Happy Skin is superb! It's simply done wonders for my wound. I massaged it in every day and healing has been advanced due to this fact. If others can be helped, that would be positive. Happy Skin has been positive for me when I took responsibility for my own healing.
Unfortunately, medical professionals still recommend Vaseline. If other people in the same situation as myself want to use Happy Skin, it must be entirely their decision and responsibility. I can only report what has happened to me when I used it.
Five weeks after her surgery, I received the best email I could wish for from Jan.
Thank you for all your concern, Esther. I certainly feel you to be a kindred spirit. I had the best news today. The pathology letter was sent to my doctor. He called me in to go through the letter and examine the surgery site. I AM CLEAR! I’m still using your Happy Skin on the area. I can't sing the praises enough of your product.
I have to go back in 6 months and I have to examine my skin constantly. As you said in an email, (it was reiterated by my doctor), wear a big hat, cover up your skin as far as possible, wear sun factor 50 and renew after 2 hours and try to keep out of sun between 11am and 4pm. I do that now but of course in my case, the damage was done from my teenage years. We hadn't a clue how much damage was being stored up by our body.
The sun is much fiercer now than when I was a teen plus, I had short hair then. Now my hair is long to cover my neck under my big hat.
Six weeks after her surgery, Jan sent me a photo of her scar.
Happy Skin is amazing and I'm so grateful to you Esther for making this product. You can clearly see the scar and I'm still massaging in Happy Skin, what a difference! The operation was on 14th June, 6-7 weeks ago. It’s so remarkable how quickly the wound has responded to natural ingredients. My doctor was pleased on the speedy progress but its only through your salve Esther - NOT Vaseline.
To be fair though, it must be hard to be in the NHS and my op was speedy. They recommended all they knew about…Vaseline. I wish the medical profession was more flexible in their outlook. Education about nature and natural products should be top of school curriculum!
I hope this article helps people realise the risk the UV rays pose to our bodies, now and stored up for the future if we do not take care.
This planet and the plants have been around longer than us humans....but I guess fear is at the core. A scientific mindset does not trust in Nature enough.
Love to all and big hugs to everyone,