A couple of weeks ago, I noticed something on my back as I was toweling off after getting out of the shower. It looked like a piece of tar or something. I reached back and scratched it and it immediately started bleeding – not a good sign I figured, so I made an appointment with my dermatologist.
When I described the problem to him, he said it’s probably nothing and sure enough he took one quick look at it and said “that’s a seborrheic keratosis – nothing to worry about”. He then pointed to a bunch of other marks on my chest and back, which I had also noticed once I started taking inventory after seeing the thing on my back, and said they were nothing to worry about either, just a sign of aging.
However, he then pointed to this thing on my upper lip near my nose and said “how long have you had this little white spot?” I told him it had been there a long while and I never really thought much of it. The doc said “well the thing on your back isn’t a problem, but I’m pretty sure this is”. He then decided to take a close look at the rest of me.
He then found what I thought was just a itchy dry spot that I often scratched on the back of my leg and asked how long that had been there. I had to admit that it had been there a while too, at least a couple of years. He decided to do a biopsy on both the leg and the lip thing. The doc was reasonably sure that the lip thing was a basal cell carcinoma but thought the leg thing would turn out to be OK.
Turns out he as only half right – the wrong half. The thing on the lip was cancer and the thing on the leg wasn’t alright. It was a cancer growth too, albeit a different kind, a squamous cell carcinoma. The good news is that neither of them are melanoma and neither of them metastasize very often.
I’m scheduled to have surgery to remove both them in a couple of weeks. It will be done in the dermatologist office with a local anesthesia and I should be fine afterward.
The only thing I need to do is reduce my exposure to the sun. Of course, considering that I usually golf 5-6 times a week that will be somewhat of a problem. The doctor says there are three preventative measures, with declining efficiency, that I need to decided among:
1. Avoid the sun altogether, particularly between the hours of 10am-4pm.
2. Wear pants and long sleeves when out in the sun.
3. Use sunblock.
He also said I should definitely wear a wide brim hat whenever I’m out in the sun.
I’m going to start by cutting back on my golf but I haven’t decided how much yet. One thing that I know is that I’m going to do is continue to play in my men’s league which is Wed nights after 4PM. After that, we’ll just see.