This past week was painful but absolutely
necessary. I had a tumor on my face removed.
It is a very common form of cancer, called a
basel cell carcinoma. Cause? Too much exposure
to sunlight. This particular tumor is one which
today can be avoided - not so when folks my age
were growing up and spending most of their time
outdoors. There were no sunblock/sunscreens much
less clothing which blocked the harmful rays from
the sun. We just didn't know any better!
I suspect since I grew up and matured in a time
when a computer wasn't in every home (heck,
television was brand new!) I did spend more
time outdoors. It was a mark of achievement
to have a dark tan. And trust me, I had one
about as dark as walnut furniture, complimented
with a sun-bleached streak in my long tennis
The basel cell looks somewhat like a white head,
except it is very hard and pearly looking. Along
the right side of my nose, it appeared about the
size of the end of an eraser. When it was removed
however, it was considerably larger and went deeper
than we had anticipated. It was supposed to be fixed
about three months ago, but the hot-shot plastic
surgeon neglected to read my chart and missed the
fact that I am intolerant of the anesthetic he was
going to use. At $175 for an office call to take
my history, you might think someone would pay attention.
They didn't and even though I had been 'prepped' and
was on the table in my skimpy little gown the surgery
was canceled. I didn't go back, but made an appointment
with our family doctor who is also a surgeon. He
actually knows what is on my chart and made arrangements
to have the proper anesthetic.
Which brings me to several points.
There are other forms of cancer which are caused by
over-exposure to the sun. A really common one is a
melanoma. This looks like a dark mole or even
birthmark. The surface of it is usually rough and
the outside edges uneven. Usually found on areas
which receive a lot of sun; faces, arms, necks are
the likely spots, although my dad had them on his
head with his blond hair growing through them. He
spent years on the water which of course magnifies
the sun's rays.
The melanomas are probably more serious than the basel
cell I had. The basel cell tumors are very slow
growing - while the dark melanomas grow faster and
multiply. Neither are anything to fool with. If
you have either, call, make an appointment with
your doctor and have them removed. NOW!
This is directed especially at the males reading this:
Knock it off! Stop doing the macho stuff and
make sure you have an annual physical exam. Don't
lie to the doctor. If you think you can't tell your
doctor the truth, you've got two problems. One, you
are scared that what you think might be wrong is, or
you don't trust your doctor. If the later is the case,
ask around, find a new doctor!
Most forms of cancer can be treated with very good
results if you catch them early. There are
several Fly Anglers OnLine readers who waited a very
long time. One had a rotten cough for as long as
I've known him, 6 or 7 years. He is being treated
for lung cancer. Another was having lower
gastro-intestinal problems and took everything he
could find in over the counter 'fixes.' After about
a year his wife put her foot down and got him to the
doctor. He has been operated on for colon cancer.
I won't go through the whole list, but they are much
more common than you might think.
The answer to most of these medical problems is; see
the doctor! Guys, you just have to have an annual
physical. If you have been experiencing any problems,
write down everything. Make a list and take it with
you to the doctor. Don't leave until you have answers
for all the questions - what you don't know CAN hurt you.
If you have not gotten one of the sun-exposure caused
tumors yet, count your blessings AND make sure you have
and USE a good sunscreen. There are a ton on the market,
we use BullFrog, made in Australia, because it
doesn't wash off while doing the stuff we do when fishing.
Whatever you use, USE it. Make sure you get the places
which are easily missed; top of ears, ear lobs and the
back of the neck. While you are at it, get the back of
your hands! (You should wipe off the palms of your hands
to avoid destroying fly lines.)
The good news is the tumor like I had, and the melanomas
are removable! Once gone, your system does not have to
continually try and fight them and can build a reserve
again. You may not even be aware that you haven't been
feeling exactly 'well' until the invaders are gone.
I've told my little story for a couple of reasons - I
am fully aware that the "C" word, Cancer is very scarey
to a lot of folks. I know some who have had it and don't
want that fact public. It isn't like having like having
some awful sexually transmitted disease like syphilis.
Most folks my age who have the sun-exposure kinds
simply didn't have anything to do with it at all. Many
intestinal cancers can be avoided by proper diet. More
veggies, more fruits, more fiber, less fats. Again, all
things which were not commonly known 40 or 50 years ago.
The word Cancer does not need to be a death sentence.
Younger folks should be aware of sunscreen/sunblockers
and need to use them. Today there is NO excuse
for getting these types of cancers. It is truly
something which could be entirely eliminated in
your generation! Be especially aware little kids
are very susceptible to over exposure to sunlight, even if
it doesn't look like they are getting a sunburn.
Protect yourself - and those you love!
~ The LadyFisher
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