New Zealand pacer Lea Tahuhu prevailed over a mole on her left foot that was in a pre-cancerous state to make it for the tour to England. It required three surgeries for Lea to deal with a health scare which put her and wife-cum-teammate Amy Satterthwaite through scary days.
“It got me to some low places. It was such a shock, all of it,” Lea was quoted as saying in an interview with newsroom.com.nz.
Lea was on a routine check-up for the mole. But things started to change quickly. “It had been there for 18 months. It looked fine to start with and then it started growing slightly bigger and changed colour. I had the mole taken off, and all went well at that point. There’s not a lot of skin on the top of your foot that you can actually pull together, so it was left a bit open.”
When Lea bowled in the camp for White Ferns, she was extremely uncomfortable. Visits to doctor showed an infection in the wound. “I was seeing a plastic surgeon at 8.30 in the morning, and by 2pm I was in for general surgery to remove all the dead bits.”
While at the hospital to get the skin graft to cover the wound, Lea and Amy were taken aback by what followed next. “That morning then changed drastically, because it’s not often you get words such as ‘melanoma’ and ‘skin cancer’ thrown at you, that you certainly weren’t expecting. I sat there like a stunned mullet.”
Further tests revealed that the mole had been removed in the nick of time. The skin graft eventually followed with 2cm skin transferred from her thigh to her foot. “What was supposed to be one local surgery and two weeks recovery, ended up being three surgeries and eight weeks later,” recalled the 30-year-old pacer.
The recovery was mentally demanding. But Lea used the England tour as a source of motivation. “There were a few days where I thought, ‘How am I going to put ten times my body weight through my foot when I bowl? When at the moment I’ve just got a hole on the side of it. But then I thought ‘No, I’m determined to get on that plane’, and I’m pretty diligent with what I have to get done to reach goals.”
New Zealand’s tour of England starts from September 1 with three T20Is followed by five ODIs.