Tomorrow morning we go to the hospital for G's last surgery.
A year ago last summer, he found out the weird freckle on his ear was indeed Melanoma. I haven't mentioned this here, not only because I don't talk about personal drama too much, but really, at the time it was too scary to throw up on a blog. But more than a year later, it's occurred to me that just a bit of soapboxing is in order. Bear with me.
Now, compared to a lot of people's experience, this was a brush with cancer. There was no radiation, or months of chemo treatments, or the side-effects to deal with. In fact, we only met the radiologist in his "team" once and frankly, we were thrilled to see her leave the room.
That said, G's "brush" involved one excision surgery, (in which they basically cut off half his ear,) two rounds of Mohs and as of tomorrow, four plastic surgery procedures to reconstruct said ear.
Without getting too far into it, here are two things we've learned. 1. With Melanoma in particular, early detection is key. Unlike other cancers, things get bad quickly--ie Stage 2 Melanoma is not good at all. It can also develop in areas not generally exposed to the sun. So go get checked every year-- twenty-something or retiree, pale and freckly, or not.
2. Melanoma seems to stem from sunburns we got as a kid. (Other types of skin cancer can be from more recent sun exposure.) So if you have kids and they're going to be outside in the sun (which sometimes can include the car,) slather on the spf 30 (anything less is useless,) --"slather" meaning to use basically a shot-glass full. This pretty much means every day. Reapply it after swimming or any activity involving sweat. Hats and clothing with sunblock in it are also great additions especially if you're going to be at a beach all day.
You can learn more here:
The Melanoma Center
The Mayo Clinic: Skin Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation
Last but not least, if the thought of wearing sunscreen everyday makes you sad, Will Ferrel has just the thing to perk you up:
It's real. Click on the photo to purchase.
Ok. That's it! (Though feel free to get in touch with questions.) Back to our regularly scheduled program of fun, mostly kid, stuff. I promise.