20 June 2006

Cancer? I Don't Even Know Her!

I went to my dermatologist last week to have some weird skin things looked at and removed. I'm fine, thank you.

I've gone to my skin doc at least once a year for about eight years. After all, I am a walking poster child for skin cancer. Not that I've ever had any (only one pre-cancer, and two pre-pre-cancers); but I am blonde, blueish-eyed, fair complected; and spent those formative years in the sun in Phoenix and by the beaches of southern California. Back in the 1960s, who knew from skin cancer?

Anyway, I started going to make sure I didn't have any of those bizarro things that could actually be problems. My stuff has all been benign this and nothing that. Whew!

But, what is really odd, is that two people I know -- one from work, one neighbor -- both recently went in for regular screenings and both were found to have cancers! That's right! Not only did they not really see anything on their skin, in one case I could not even see where it was. This is so scary. My stuff is all at least slightly visible. Theirs? Nothing.

I have been a proponent of responsible skin treatment for many years. I try to stay out of the worst of the daily sun, and wear anti-sun creams whenever I cannot. Now, I am even more wary of bad sun days -- and you should be too.

You really should develop a relationship with a skin doc. Go just for a screening. Then, go if you see anything strange developing on your skin. Most of the time what you will find is benign; but it only takes one malignant skin cancer to make life very unpleasant.

What's even worse, if you are a person with darker skin, your cancers can actually be worse! Eeek! This is not funny, really. Don't play around with skin cancer.

More about skin cancer in people with dark skin in this Los Angeles Times

An organization from which you can learn more about skin cancer is


Matt Hinrichs said...

I think it's wonderful that you're aware of the symptoms and see your dermatologist regularly. You should also make sure to wear a hat and shirt whenever you mow the lawn, either that or wait until the sun goes down. I'm only saying this because I want you around for as long as possible!

mass Bradley said...

As a survivor of a nasty basal cell carcinoma on my left neck area that, if left untreated, "would have killed me in a year or so", (my surgeon's kindly words), I agree emphatically with you regarding skin safety.
Mine was a pea-sized black dot, ragged aound the edges, that because of its location I couldn't see in the mirror, and my wife never noticed its growth.
It was my angelic BARBER who, every month for three months in a row, when I visited her for a haircut, admonished me to have it checked out.
She got the biggest Christmas bonus ever that year, because she saved my life!
So have SOME OTHER SET OF EYES check you out at least once a month! And Listen To Them!!!
(PS: removing it wasn't at all pleasant, but the scar has since vanished and I'm healthy. Consider the alternative...)