– Est. 1981

Use sunscreen, skin cancer is frightening.

Disclaimer: This is going to be a lot of words, I'm sorry there is no TL;DR. If you don't know much about skin cancer, read this. If you're an expert go ahead and skip it.

I have freckles, I live in Florida, I have had a lot of sun burns in my life and I have never been to a dermatologist. Until last week.

My skin cancer story starts with a cyst. I have a small cyst under my right arm, it's no big deal and it's not the first one I have needed to have removed. I originally went to a general surgeon to have it removed. Luckily he wanted to completely put me under in order to remove it and luckily I don't want to be put under, so I went seeking a second opinion from a dermatologist. While in the dermatologist office I opted in for the head to toe check and what followed turned my life upside down, temporarily. The doctor found a spot on my "birth mark" that looked like melanoma and a biopsy was taken. During the two days of agonizing waiting I did a lot of reading about melanoma and skin cancer and completely freaked myself out.

My primary concern was that this spot has been there for a very long time, at least 5 or 6 years and if this was in fact melanoma I was sure it had been there long enough to spread and kill me. I justified everything with this in mind. My right testicle was sore for a couple of hours, oh shit it's the cancer. I was very tired recently and took more naps than usual, oh shit it's the cancer. I'm going to die! I'm not going to see my daughter grow up!

Skipping ahead, the biopsy came back and it was not melanoma. The official diagnosis was "Junctional Melanocytic Nevus with Architectural Disorder and Mild Cytologic Atypia (Dysplastic Nevus)". Very scary sounding, however, translated to english this means I have a large birthmark/mole with mild atypical skin cells that could potentially be dangerous, but not cancer. The doctors still want to remove it because it could be dangerous and it's better to be safe than sorry. That procedure will be done on September 5th, hopefully at the same time they remove the cyst under my arm.

So, all of that being said there are a couple of things I have learned. Skin Cancer is the leading cause of all cancer in the world. One study states that one in five people will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer throughout their lives. Out of those people, one in ten will be diagnosed with melanoma, which is deadly. Caught early there is a 92% cure rate, which is great. But if you're like me, a regular dude and you don't look at your back in the mirror frequently you are more likely to catch it late. Catching it late, after it has spread to neighboring lymph nodes or organs turns it into only a 52% cure rate.

Every night on TV you watch at least one commercial about viagra. You might hear something about feeling for lumps in your breasts or about some new medicine to help cure prostate cancer. A very common thing to hear as a man is how you should roll your balls around in your hand to feel for bumps, lumps or any size change. The awareness for these cancers is fairly high. Why is it then, than the leading cause of ALL cancer is not spoken about nearly as much? It's easy to detect... rub on your skin and feel for anything new, abnormal. Use your special eyes to look at yourself for anything new or abnormal. Growing up in what might be the skin cancer capital of the united states I feel like this should not have taken me by surprise.

Growing up my mother always told me to wear sunscreen, and I'm positive she mentioned skin cancer... but mostly I just "didn't want to get a burn" and a lot of times this was not enough of a deterrent to reapply every 30 minutes. There were days we spent at the beach where I didn't see the shade for hours.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, take this. Wear sunscreen and channel your inner primitive human. Ask that primitive beast if it would like to go sit
in the sun. I'm willing to bet the answer is no... Human skin really isn't resilient enough to handle the sun at peak hours. Check your skin, have your spouse check your skin. It's easy, and don't be afraid of the dermatologist. Catch things early, removing things from the skin is easy.

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