Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016

As I sit here at my desk on a cloudy February morning, I catch myself thinking about two spots that are not on any of the greens, but are on my skin – one on my ear and the other on my wrist.

Last month my dermatologist diagnosed these as precancerous cells and froze both spots (cryotherapy). In a few more weeks I am scheduled to go back to the dermatologist to be rechecked. Hopefully this initial treatment has removed the cells, but if she has any reservations, she will have them biopsied, and we’ll go from there.

I get teased a lot because I don’t wear shorts or short sleeves very often, even on the hottest days. Most people ask how I can do that and my answer has always been that I am protecting myself from skin cancer – my mom had it and beat it, yet a cousin, at age 26, left behind a wife and two kids because it was found out too late.

Because I wear long sleeves all year long, I wasn’t expecting her to find a spot on my wrist. I am sure though, now that I think of it, that my sleeves inch up throughout the day so that my wrists don’t stay covered as much as I think they do. And too, sunlight penetrates fabric.  It all starts to makes sense.

One of the things I don’t do is wear a hat, so when the area on my ear began to feel rough, scabby, and a bit painful, I suspected that there could be something going on there.

 I don’t like hats. Hats of any kind have always been uncomfortable to me.  Even in the winter I will let my ears freeze before I put one on, and even then, I will take it off every few minutes. But now, I will have to find a way to change my mindset and deal with wearing a hat, or at the least, use a lot of sunscreen on my ears. It would be best to do both.

Having cryotherapy isn’t that uncommon – I know many people who have had this procedure, but this time, it is my wake-up call. Although I have always taken precautions, I will have to take the sun even more seriously now and wear a hat and use a lot more sunscreen, while continuing to wear long pants and long sleeves. You’ll be able to tease me a bit more, but that’s ok – to me it’s worth it.

I thought I would share this experience and what I am thinking because as cautious as I have been, it wasn’t quite enough. We may think that we are doing all the right things, but it still may not be enough. It’s best to get screened at least once a year, even for those of us who aren’t outside all day. And if anything seems suspicious, its best to get it looked at. Waiting too long, or ignoring it, is the worst thing anyone of us can do.

The best thing to do, is to take care of yourself.