Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Today, Pop had a skin cancer removed from behind his right ear. A Basal Cell Carcinoma is a common and usually curable skin cancer that arises from epithelial cells and rarely metastasizes: often associated with overexposure to sunlight.  It left an ugly hole about the size of a dime,all the way down to the cartilage. The doctor thinks he got it all, but only time really will tell.Pop has a nephew who has had to return two or three times with a similar cancer on his ear.

We go outdoors every day without a thought of applying sun screen. I don't know how long sunscreen has been around, but to outdoors people like ourselves,who thinks of sunscreen anyway.Today is different. Everyone is lavishing the creams all over their entire bodies, but that's usually before sunning on the patio,or on the beach or at the pool or lake.Never do we think of using the stuff when we are going out to mow the grass or plant or hoe the garden.What farmer do you know that covers himself with sunscreen before going out to set tobacco or bale hay or bush hog,all day in the blazing hot sun? I don't know any.I guess it's a culture thing, but the older generations just never knew or thought about getting skin cancer.

Today while sitting in the waiting room with Pop, it was unreal the number of people,most of them older,going in and coming out with a big bandage on their nose or ears, and we were not there that long.I can't imagine how many folks pass through those doors on a daily basis with cancers on their bodies. I'm sure many of them are lucky to have the kind Pop had. It was a Basal Cell Carcinoma.That is the good kind if there is a good kind of cancer. It is the easiest kind to stop.It is  slow grower and mainly in the top layer  or two of the skin.There are other kinds that one might not be so lucky. While we were there, two of my second cousins came in to see the doctor.They had to learn the hard way. They were a big farming family,just like mine and many others, who did things the way I just described.Hard working folks,out in the sun,day after day, doing what had to be done to make a living for their families.That's the way it was done.A few years ago, they had a sister who developed a cancer.It began as what she thought was a mere mole,but turned out to be a melanoma cancer.
She signed up in an experimental program, and they worked with her for about two years, before she finally lost her life to the cancer.Now her siblings are having their checkups on a regular basis.

It seems we get so busy with life,we forget to keep check on the minor details.I know it is an inconvenience to stop everything and rub on a little sun screen,but I think it is a habit we all need to get into. I will be stocking up on a few bottles during my next trip to town.Wouldn't it be wonderful if they made a product that protects up from the sun and ticks at the same time. I had to stop working in my flower gardens just today to rub myself down with a spray that is suppose to help deter the ticks,but didn't give a thought to sunscreen.

This is not a very cheery subject, but one that was on my mind after Pop's little operation today.He and I  will most likely be visiting the dermatoligist on a more regular basis now,too.


  1. You ask how many of the older generation think to use sunscreen? I know one. My dad slathers himself with it everyday at least once, all year round. He's a red head and burns so easy, it's just become habit for him... part of his morning ritual, but he still has to go in and get little spots burned off. Pretty sure I should go in too. I've got his skin.

  2. Really good post. I nag MOh every time he is out to put on cream - but guess what he always says no. I do get him to put a hat on though.
    I try to go to the dermatologist at least every couple of years to have my bits checked. I seem to have quite a lot so it's good to go. MOH is the opposite.
    I will try again. thanks for the push

  3. you would think that i would cover up in sunscreen as my mum died of skin cancer, she was a red head with frekkles and pale skin, we always spent our spare time outside. NZ has a very high rate of skin cancer as there is very little pollution to help block damaging rays, and a dirty great big hole in the ozone near us. On the farm we used to dish out the sunscreen to europeans who came to work as wwoofers as they often got burnt, I have more olivey skin and tan up well, dont usually burn (dad is fairly dark skinned some spanish in there we think) I think its better to wear long sleeves and hats etc, im a bit iffy about applying chemicals to my skin, i hope i dont die regretting that decision.