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Cancer - again

The doctor winced as she looked at me and said, “You don’t have many wrinkles.”

“And that is bad?” I asked.

“Well, not bad, but wrinkles make it easier to hide the incision.”

It started as a little red dot on my face that would not go away. I asked an esthetician to look at it. “If it doesn’t resolve in two weeks, get an appointment with a dermatologist,” she said.

I did. And learned the little red dot on my face is skin cancer. The pathology report said basal cell carcinoma, as suspected, and surprise! Some squamous cell cancer is here, too. The squamous cell cancer had “roots” and can metastasize.

Now, 11 days after the cancer was totally removed - “You caught it early,” the doc said - the earthworm-looking lumpy line on my face is no longer bright red, the dissolvable stitches are dissolving and my hysteria has (almost) subsided.

Ten years ago I had breast cancer; I was not looking for another version of this insidious affliction. But even as a great indoors person, I was vulnerable.

“We all ran around in the sun as children and sunscreen did not become perfected until about 15 years ago. And we live where there is a high rate of skin cancer,” my dermatologist said.

Yes, in the dreary, rainy, cloudy Pacific Northwest. Our temperate climate invites us to wear shorts all year and who would think to apply sunscreen when walking in 50-degree cloudy weather?  Yes, harmful rays get through the fog.

My doc told me genetics factor in. Hmmm. My dad had exactly the same skin cancer in exactly the same spot on his face.

So learn the risks and take precautions. The world offers enough trouble without worshipping it on the beach. 

(S-R photo: City Beach in Coeur d’Alene )

Skin cancer on the rise

ATLANTA – The warnings about skin cancer from too much sun don’t seem to be getting through.

Half of U.S. adults under 30 say they have had a sunburn at least once in the previous year – about the same as a decade ago, according to a government survey released Thursday. In fact, the modest progress reported five years ago has been wiped out.

Not only that, but women in their 20s are going to tanning salons almost twice a month on average.

“I don’t know that we’re making any headway,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer. More here.

How vigilant are you about using sunscreen?

Show a kid this video on the danger of a single sunburn

OUTDOOR SPORTS — Many people will be hitting the sunny ski slopes this week, or maybe “coloring up” in a tanning booth, or planning for a winter getaway to a warm beach. 

Fine. Take your sunscreen and learn to cover up. 

Remember, your skin is like an elephant. It never forgets.

A single bad sunburn before the age of 18 doubles your chance of contracting malignant melanoma.

This video, “Dear 16-Year-Old Me,” is worth sharing with any young person.

Boise Most Prone To Skin Cancer

Nicole Hensley of KXLY posts: “Coeur d'Alene, you're 379 miles via US-95 and ID-55 from the city most prone to skin cancer. Boise, with an average of 51 clear summer days per year leads the nation in the statistic put together by The Daily Beast. Their melanoma deaths average out to 3.9 per 100,000 people, with incidents averaging out to 27.3. Boise ranked #1 while its other Northwest neighbors ranked #10 (Spokane), #14 (Seattle) and #18 (Portland).” More here. (AP file illustration)

DFO: This issue has hit home in our household since my mother-in-law (Coeur d'Alene) and sister-in-law (Post Falls) are having a brush with skin cancer.

Question: Do you know anyone who has contracted and fought skin cancer? And/or: Are you careful to protect yourself from too much sunshine? Or do you take any precautions?

Idaho Leads In Melanoma Deaths

Item: High skin cancer rates in Idaho, Wash. prompt warnings/Betsy Russell, SR

More Info: Idaho has the highest death rate from melanoma in the nation, and both Washington and Idaho are among the top 10 states for incidence of the deadly skin cancer, so health officials are urging folks to slap on the sunscreen and think about hats and shade as the sunny holiday weekend kicks off. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire highlighted the problem in 2008 when she declared Washington a “SunWise” state, launching an EPA-sponsored program to educate kids in schools about how to be “sun-safe.”

Question: Do you take the threat of skin cancer seriously? What precautions do you take when you’re out in the sun?