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News

Lea Tahuhu overcomes cancer scare to make England tour

Fast bowler underwent three surgeries in the New Zealand winter to deal with a mole on her left foot

Following her recovery, Lea Tahuhu is gearing up to face England  •  International Cricket Council

Following her recovery, Lea Tahuhu is gearing up to face England  •  International Cricket Council

Lea Tahuhu, the New Zealand fast bowler, worked through potentially serious health issues to make it to the squad that is currently touring England. Tahuhu underwent three surgeries in the New Zealand winter to deal with a mole on her left foot that was in a pre-cancerous state, Newsroom reported.
Tahuhu had touched upon the situation in an Instagram post on July 27, and now, from Derby where she is with the New Zealand squad, she told Newsroom: "It got me to some low places. It was such a shock, all of it."
Tahuhu had the mole on her foot removed, but was then told it could be cancerous. Biopsies revealed she had caught it in time, but she also had to deal with a wound in a tricky spot and have a skin graft.
"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," Tahuhu said. "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."
While at the hospital to get the skin graft to cover this wound, Tahuhu and her wife and team-mate Amy Satterthwaite first heard that the situation could be more serious than expected. "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," Tahuhu said. "I sat there like a stunned mullet."
Further testing revealed that the mole had been removed just in time, and the skin graft eventually followed, with 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," she says.
The recovery process was mentally demanding, Tahuhu says, but she used the upcoming tour of England as 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."
The tour of England includes three T20Is, starting on September 1, followed by five ODIs. Tahuhu is now focusing on building up to full match fitness ahead of these games. "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."
Tahuhu - and the New Zealand women's team's - last played in April this year, when New Zealand hosted Australia. In February Tahuhu had strained a hamstring, during England's tour of New Zealand. She recovered in time to be selected for the home ODIs against Australia.