I was diagnosed with CRF in my late thirties and about 15 years later was put on the transplant list. It was at my first meeting with the transplant co-ordination team that some possible side effects of anti-rejection drugs were explained to me including the higher risk of developing skin cancers.
I was given skin cancer information leaflets after my transplant so I know what to look for and I keep a good eye on any moles or changes in my skin (fortunately none!). About 6 months after the transplant I saw a dermatologist who confirmed that I had very little skin damage even though I have always played sport and had sun exposure ever since I was a child so did not want to change my lifestyle completely – particularly as I was in the incredibly lucky position of receiving a living donor kidney transplant just over 6 years ago from one of my lovely brothers who proved to be a suitable donor and really good match.
I use sun cream regularly especially since I have been playing golf for well over 20 years now I make sure I use SPF 30+ sun cream before and during a round of golf, in really sunny weather I even shelter under an umbrella! One of my fellow golfers had a transplant over 30 years ago and still plays 2-3 times a week.
I know I am in an amazing position in that I did not quite get to need dialysis although I did not realise how ill I had been feeling or how yellow I had become until after the transplant! I was originally taking cyclosporine, mmf and steroids but as I had such a good match I am fortunate to be on very low dosage of tacrolimus and take a statin and apart from the odd course of antibiotics that is all I have to take now.
The benefits of having the transplant far outweigh any problems caused by side effects of the immunosuppressant drugs. I am closely monitored every 3 months with check-ups with my renal consultant having blood tests for kidney function and tacrolimus levels. I have had a few problems since the transplant mostly caused by contracting food poisoning a few years ago!