Some things are just that important
By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
The time to check on your health is when you’re feeling good. Because it’s those hidden invaders that’ll get you every time.
You may have read about my recent health challenge on the Franks & Beans Facebook page. But for those of you who haven’t, I’ll retell the story here. For those of you who have, feel free to skip directly to where it says “Bottom Line.”
I have what you call “congenital dysplastic nevi.” That’s the medical term for “a whole lot of very strange-looking moles.” Many of mine are on my trunk. We non-medical types call that “everything but our head and limbs.” The doctors call it our trunk.
The back part of my trunk (aka, my back) has a particular preponderance of very strange-looking moles. One of them was removed 29 years ago. The biopsy came back saying that it was caught just in time.
Going back to my teen years, I’d spend my summers cooking, and what I was cooking was me. I hated my fair skin. It never allowed me to tan. Red was a color, so I went with it. I’d put on my bathing suit, go out in the backyard, sometimes put on a little Coppertone because I loved the smell, and cook my front. Then I’d flip over and cook my back. I’d be in pain for days but I didn’t care because I finally had color.
My mom would beg me to stop doing it. “Tobi,” she’d say, “I don’t know what can happen, but I just have a feeling that what you are doing is wrong.” But who listened to our mothers when we were 14, 15, 16, 25, 48, 56….?
In June of this year, after hearing lots of commercials in which the American Cancer Society recommended dermatological check-ups, I relented and made my (two years overdue) appointment with Dr. Joseph Kist. “Dr. Sun-kist,” I laughed to myself, because of all the sun I soaked up as a teen. But dermatology is really no laughing matter.
Dr. Kist saw something on my back that he didn’t like, so he biopsied it. Before it had a chance to heal his nurse called to tell me to come back in for what ended up being a much more invasive biopsy. And before that had a chance to heal, Dr. Kist himself was on the phone. It was melanoma.
Cancer? Me? Cancer is what somebody else gets. And that is very true. Until “somebody else” is you.
That melanoma was right next to the scar from the previous surgery 29 years ago. And it was just about to go into the next layer of skin, but once again, timing was on my side. Fifty stitches later, and thanks to MOHS surgery, my doctors and I know that it is completely gone.
My visits to Dr. Sun-Kist will be much closer than one year apart, and I’m okay with that. Because that man saved my life.
Bottom line: be sure to find your own Dr. Sun-Kist (or you can call mine), and get a dermatologist to check you out annually.
And now on to my mammogram, which is two years overdue…
With lots of ♥,
Owner, Franks & Beans Communications
August 11, 2015 @ 10:35 pm
I too have fair skin. I wanted to be tan like other people. However, the sun really hurt my shoulders playing outside in the summer. I stopped going out. Now my skin has tons of freckles. Now I have age spots mostly on my right side of my face.
I never knew you were a sun worshiper Tobi. What we do comes back to us in later years. I am so glad you went to the doctors and got yourself checked out. Do we need to get you a double wide brim hat? Let me know. Your skin is like a china doll. People would love to have your skin.
August 11, 2015 @ 10:54 pm
Thank you so much Judy.
Luckily you played it smarter than I did. When you got sunburned, you went inside and stayed there. I wish I’d done that.
Thanks for the offer of a wide brim hat. I actually have one with SPF! 🙂
October 13, 2014 @ 10:46 am
Carol, let’s talk.
October 13, 2014 @ 9:47 am
So happy for you that your medical visit occurred just in time! But the prospect of serious illness raises another timely topic: having discussions with our families about what our health care choices and wishes would be if we became too ill to speak for ourselves. Samaritan has been outreaching to the community with The Samaritan Timely Conversations Initiative and encouraging people to “Think…Talk…Act” around the kitchen table while they are still in good health rather than when they are in duress in an ICU. I would love to see you address this important topic with your blog readers.