There is an old saying that goes, "There is no fool like an old fool" and I certainly have to plead guilty. This is because I have just gone through a painful and time-consuming ordeal that was probably unnecessary, if I had just listened to my wife.
Over the past few weeks I had a lump develop on my nose. It looked like a simple pimple that you can squeeze when it comes to a head, and then the skin clears up and it goes away. But this was not the case for me, this time. This lump just kept getting larger and larger and had a white core at the center. This continued until it became obvious that I had to seek medical treatment.
When I visited our local dermatologist, he did a biopsy and determined that it was cancer. Thankfully it was one called Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer and fairly easy to treat, but in most cases requires surgery. My local doctor made me an appointment with a surgeon in Little Rock, who specializes in this type of surgery. The doctor’s nurse told to us to bring snacks because we may be there from four to six hours. We could not wait until the big day arrived.
Finally, the day came, and I was sitting in the doctors operating chair and we were under way. After he deadened the affected area, he began to probe and peel away the top layer of skin. They did a biopsy and, after about 45 minutes, he came back and said they had to take a little more. They did, and after another 45 minutes he came back again and said they had to get a little more around the edges. After this process was complete, he got a mirror and let me look at what he had done to me, showing a hole about the size of a dime, and about 1/8-inch deep. Janis said she could see the bone — big encouragement, right?
After this process is when the real fun began. The surgeon introduced me to his plastic surgeon, who would soon begin to cut skin (it sounded like scissors cutting cloth), and pull it over to cover the hole where the cancer had been. After getting enough skin to cover the affected area, he began to stitch it up so the later healing could begin. After several minutes, we left the doctor’s office feeling grateful for the advancement of medical technology that made this surgery possible, and for a new and better educated beginning to stay out of the sun.
While I realize this has not been a pleasant subject to talk about, if this column just keeps one person from having to go through what I have just experienced, it will be worth it. Now, please allow me to share a little information that may come in handy later. First, Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is "an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers and they often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growth with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed."
Anyone who has fair skin, light hair, and blue, green or gray eyes can get SCC. And, anyone with a history of substantial sun exposure is at an increased risk. The way to prevent this condition is to seek the shade, do not burn, avoid tanning or UV tanning booths, cover up, use sunscreen SPF 15 or higher, wear a hat, and see a physician once each year. This is especially important if you are at a greater risk. Forgive me if I praise her, but this is exactly what Janis has been trying to get me to do almost from the day we were married. I should have listened to her, and I am so blessed.