Lea Tahuhu has revealed she had a cancer scare ahead of New Zealand’s tour of England
New Zealand bowler Lea Tahuhu has opened up about a cancer scare which almost prevented her from being part of the White Ferns’ tour to England.
Tahuhu has been a mainstay in the New Zealand setup for the last decade, alongside her wife Amy Satterthwaite.
However, she almost missed the upcoming series against England after she was forced to undergo three surgeries on her foot to remove a mole which she was told could be cancerous.
Speaking to Newsroom, Tahuhu said: “It [the mole] had been there for 18 months. It looked fine to start with and then it started growing slightly bigger and changed colour.
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“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.”
Tahuhu later underwent a second surgery to “remove all the dead bits” and she was then meant to have a third to cover it with a skin graft.
However, while she was waiting to undergo the operation, Tahuhu was told of the possibility that things could be much more serious.
“I went in to have a local anaesthetic for a small graft,” she added. “We were sitting in the waiting room and the doctor said to Amy and I to come down and have a chat.
“It was 8.25am and I was supposed to be getting it done at 8.30, but he wasn’t in his scrubs. I should have put two and two together then.
“He said ‘We won’t be doing the graft this morning because we’ve had some preliminary results back from your mole and it doesn’t look positive’.
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“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 her mole was not benign but that it had been removed just before becoming cancerous, allowing the skin graft operation to eventually be completed.
“What was supposed to be one local surgery and two weeks recovery, ended up being three surgeries and eight weeks later,” she said.
Recovering from the operations was a gruelling process, but Tahuhu was “determined” to be part of the tour of England.
She added: “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.
“It’s not as simple as being fit enough to run and to bowl again. It’s actually the stress you put on your body.
“It’s all very scientific, and done in the background as to the loads you need to hit. And being monitored by GPS and making sure you’re hitting the right numbers, so nothing else in your body breaks down.”