Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cancerous
I keep tasting blood from the hole in my lip where a bump used to be. Whereas the burnt-off spot on my cheek merely makes me look leprous.
I've had my annual dermatologist visit, which always means curtains for the mole that wins the Most Like Melanoma award.
It's been like this since I made the record books in 1980 as the youngest melanoma patient ever treated - at least in Longview. Once a year, I go to the dermatologist, get the once-over, and anything that looks the least bit suspicious, whether it turns out to be a plain old mole just minding its own business, or some jam from breakfast, gets the knife. If you notice a surgical scar on my face, neck or body (and there are plenty), a dermatologist has caused it.
This time, though, was the first time I was relieved of an old person's skin bit. I know about them because my parents have been losing bits of their skin to this business for years now. It seems that I have just started early, something that I tend to do with my skin cancer schedule. It was one of those actinic keratosis ones. The ones that the doctor calls "precancerous." It's so "pre," though, that they can burn them off with that freezy thing, so they are pretty "pre."
My doctor always asks the same thing in a tone that does NOT mask the judgment therein, "did you get a lot of sun when you were a kid?"
Well, duh. It was the 60's and 70's. What did we know about skin cancer? Sunscreens were called "suntan lotions." And we lived in Longview, Washington. When the sun finally came out in July, we would celebrate by playing outside all day, baking ourselves until we were flaky, and worry about the pain the next day.
And now I sit in a dermatologist's office once a year and stare at a poster of a wrinkly old woman's face on a lovely young body with the caption that says in part, "80% of all your skin's sun damage is caused before age 18."
What am I supposed to do with that now? The horse has left the barn. And the county. And now I'm getting old people skin cancers. Okay, another type of old people skin cancers.
Well, at least I have that lovely young body. As far as you know.