Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Skin Cancer

My mother is in the midst of a series of visits to the dermatolgist to have questionable moles looked at and biopsied. After having four spots "scraped" for testing, today the doctor removed significant chunks from two of them. We'll be back in a couple of weeks for treatment of spot three and removal of today's stitches.

My mother was born in Oregon and grew up in southwest Washington. She returned to Oregon in her very early 20s and has lived here ever since. So don't think skin cancer affects only those who live in hot, sunny climates. Back before we knew how serious sun exposure could be, my mother did a lot of yard work in shorts and sleeveless tops without a hat. As did a lot of people. Little did they know that folks would be paying for it later.

My uncle is also paying the price for hours and hours spent outside and on the water in southern California.

Curiously, skin cancer wasn't an issue for my father. He was the half Swede with fair skin that burned and never tanned. He spent three years in the tropics during WWII. As a young person he loved to swim and spent time at the old Jantzen Beach amusement park outdoor pools. never knows what will "catch" you years and years later. My generation was the baby oil in the sun to broil ourselves into a tan. I spent one summer trying to get a semblance of a tan. So the clock may be ticking for me. I inherited my father's sun-sensitive skin, but after the sunburn I do acquire a little color. However, the burn part has never been much fun. And with the increased awareness and education about the effects of the sun on our skin, I've been keeping in the shade or covering up (the only way I can be assured of not burning). We'll see if it's too little, too late.

I cringe when I see people laying out in the sun for hours in skimpy swimwear. Worse yet are the tanning booths. But when we're young we can't imagine that our actions will have consequences decades later.

Anyway -- take the skin cancer warnings seriously.

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