Monday, December 28, 2009

Regrets Of A Sun Worshipper

My family moved to South Florida in 1971. I was 11 years old, and entering junior high. Moving to Florida from New York City was a big change. But it was OK, as I quickly became a beach bum.

We lived about 10 minutes from Hollywood Beach, which soon became my hangout of choice, and remained such for many years.

Those were the days before SPF was a household acronym or "put sunscreen on" was ever uttered by a concerned mother.

Those were the days when sun reflectors were routinely held by prone bodies under chins to magnify the intensity of the sun onto the face which was often helped along by a mixture of baby oil and iodine.

Yes, I was guilty of all of the above, and am paying for it tonight.

I am now a two-time skin cancer survivor. I spent a few hours today in the office of a skin cancer specialist, who painstakingly removed a squamous cell carcinoma growth from my nose.

The technique used is known as Mohs surgery, named after the doctor who came up with the idea of removing very small slices of tissue, freezing and examining them under the microscope, so that the least amount of tissue is removed, while extracting all of the cancerous cells.

After my cancerous growth was excised from my nose, there was a quite noticeable cavity, so a skin graft was then done. Of course the skin to put over the hole in my nose had to come from somewhere, and the place of choice was the inside of my left ear.

Needless to say, I'm somewhat uncomfortable tonight and, thanks to the bandages I'm now wearing, look like a combination of Cyrano de Bergerac and Van Gogh.

Sadly, this was not my first run-in with the evil skin cancer. That happened a couple of years ago, when a routine body check turned up a malignant melanoma on my left leg. I now have a nasty looking scar where they cut a large slice out of it.

Yes, the years of sun worshipping has taken its toll.

It's now sunscreen, hats and regular dermatologist body checks for me. And if you haven't yet made a decent charitable contribution for 2009, check out the Danny Fund, named for Danny Federici, keyboardist for the E Street Band until he succumbed to malignant melanoma.

And please, get checked too...


Larry Thorson said...

Good advice, Nicole. I'm overdue for a checkup. Thanks for the reminder.

rustedaspie said...

Good advice and description of surgery. My father, and mother when she was alive, remind me to wear hats to keep from getting skin cancer on my bald scalp. I use that or SPF 30 sunblock. I forgot this August and got a bad sunburn at a Capitol Hill protest to keep the public option when Pres Obama spoke at the DNC headquarters. Used moisturizer later. I heard your interview in Nov with Lynn Woolsey about HR3962 and she said COBRA is extended beyond 18 mos to as long as one can afford the premium (subsidies to use COBRA to meet coverage mandate unknown). I hope that and the BSanders state single payer option a****** TCoburn forced withdrawal of get in the conference report version. California is the only state I know of that has actually created a state single payer system that was vetoed by Gov Schwarzenegger.