Joining The Club

Groucho Marx once said that he would never want to be a member of a club that would have someone like him as a member. As a brand new member of one such club, I can definitely say I would agree with that. But there are some clubs you don’t get to decide whether to join or not. The club just reaches out and makes you a member without your consent. The club I’m talking about is the skin cancer club.

I’m sitting here this evening feeling rather fortunate. A small black dot appeared on the side of my nose about 2 months ago. It never got any bigger than about the size of the smallest hearing-aid battery, was slightly raised, and kinda oval shaped. I did noticed that it would bleed whenever I wiped my greasy face off at night before I went to bed so a Breath Right strip would stick to my face. (They help with snoring. Try it, your partner will thank you) I ignored it for a few weeks until finally the child-bride started bugging me about it.

A quick joke for ya: How do you know you’re middle-aged? You have a Dermatologist as a favorite contact in your smart phone.
So I finally went to my *mine* about 3 weeks ago to have it looked at. He decided he needed to do a biopsy just to be sure. So he grabbed a chunk of it and sent it off. They called me last Thursday and said: Yep, Basil Cell Carcinoma. Or Skin Cancer to us less educated than an MD types.

Now, most everyone freaks out a little the first time they hear the word Cancer, yours truly being among them. So I reached for the modern version of “The Writ of Common Wisdom”…the Internet. Basil Cell Carcinoma is the ‘best’ kind of skin cancer there is, if you’re going to have to deal with it anyway. But you have to do something about it early. It doesn’t tend to spread, it grows very slowly and is generally easy to treat. It very rarely metastasizes into other body parts.

So again, the good karma continued; they had a cancellation for the following week after the biopsy came in so I grabbed it. The worst part of the whole thing is the anesthesia injections. What was left from the biopsy was easily removed with the tiniest little melon-baller you ever saw. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. A little Neosporin and a Band-Aid for the next 3 or 4 weeks and I’ll be right as rain.


Now this flippant, funny story is basically to make a point, and it’s aimed you younger folks for the most part. I suspect you already know what it is.

I already catch a lot of guff from my Potomac River Smallmouth Club buddies, the and crews as well. When I hit the water, I’m generally covered head to toe with quick-dry nylon and fast wicking performance shirts these days. That’s not to mention a buff around my neck, ready to pull up to my nose and cover my ears when the sun peeks over yon eastern ridge. This is not to mention my Tule outback hat, and fishing gloves as well. Sunscreen to order of spf50 is part of the mix as well, especially on the ankles. Which is basically the only part exposed to the rays of the sun these days. I look more like a 17th century English Highwayman than I do a kayak fisherman these days. But when they started burning off “suspicious-looking spots” off the back of my hands, arms and knees about 4 years ago…I figured the time had come to be more conscientious about taking care of my skin.


But all this insurance and protection is for later in life. The damage that cause the Basil Cell Carcinoma to show up on my nose was done decades ago. When I was a kid, in central NC in the 1960s, the shirts came off in March when we weren’t in school or church, and stayed off until Thanksgiving. We were as brown as Buckeyes by the end of June and they told us it was healthy! Well, lots of natural vitamin D from sunlight *is* healthy!!! But the accompanying ultraviolet light…eh, not so much. But I continued to do myself no good in the Navy on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, and then as serious road cyclist, soccer referee and coach, and avid golfer afterwards.
So you younger folks do yourself a favor, start investing in some high performance clothing and go completely covered when you get on the water. That way, when you get to be my age, you and your Dermatologist won’t be on a first named basis. And you folks approaching middle age, go find yourself a good dermatologist who you like and stick with them.

As for me…I’m gonna be just fine according to Dr Mathiue. I’ll be a little more prone to these annoying critters showing up now. So I’ll be checking in every 6 months for a once-over with the magnifying glass for the next 2 years. After that, I’ll fall back to the once a year visit.

So I’ll see ya on the river. I’ll be easy to spot, just look for the guy in the big hat. All the cool kids wear ‘em these days.

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