Get Checked. Tomorrow.

by Telling Dad on August 4, 2010

Because I habitually #FAIL at sun protection my body has seen more than its fair share of sunburns. Some were so bad that I awoke fused to my sheets when the Aloe Vera gel dried. It’s not pretty when you’re pried from the bed by your wife and see a life-sized layer of skin where you once were.

Gross.

I got better at avoiding UV radiation around the age of 37 but that did nothing to offset the damage already done.

I knew about the dangers of sun spots and skin cancer but I believed the doctor could just make short work of it with a razor blade and you’d be out the door.

My wife has been begging me to get some spots checked for the last year but I always scoffed at her concern because I’m invincible. To get some peace for me and some peace of mind for her, I ultimately went in to get sliced up and have some spots checked. Fortunately, they all came back as “abnormal in shape”, but benign. Just as I expected, Supergreg lives.

When I read about the untimely and unfortunate passing of Coach Bill Cowher’s wife to skin cancer, it rattled me. Hard. I genuinely had no idea you could die from it. I thought it was all topical and more of a visual ailment. But her death drew me to the internet like a moth to a flame and I soon realized that I hadn’t taken the threat, or my wife’s concern, seriously.

Not until I visited SkinCancer.org did I realize that skin cancer could kill me. Baffled that something so easily removed could lead to death, I read further, and discovered that left untreated, skin cancer can hijack a ride on the lymph node train and migrate to other parts of the body.

Last week, scared out of my wits by Mrs. Cowher’s story, I decided to go in for another check. Even with the insecurity of having a bandage on my face, I asked to have a suspicious spot on my cheek analyzed. It took about 30 seconds for the doctor to chisel out a sample for the lab, and I was out the door in minutes.

About 30 minutes ago I got a call from the office telling me that the spot I was certain was nothing, was in fact, a Melanoma. As per the Skin Cancer organization’s website, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and it can lead to serious illness and/or death.

Clearly, I’m not invincible, and I have no doubt in my mind that my wife and the passing of Mrs. Cowher, saved my life. At least from skin cancer.

Maybe not in the sense that I would have been dead next week, next year, or even in ten years had it not been for them, but melanomas can, have, and do often turn deadly. Had it not been caught early, who knows what the outcome would have been.

I’ve always known “Melanoma” to be a bad thing, but no more will I be all, “Yeah, but it’s only skin cancer”. Contrary to my prior belief that skin cancer wasn’t a bad-a$$ enough cancer to worry about, it is. And I don’t care where melanoma is located…inside or out…it can kill.

As for me, they think I’ll be 100% fine. It was caught early and it’ll be removed at my appointment a week from Monday. I’ll have a few stitches from the incision as they’ll be diggin’ in to make sure it’s totally gone. Then, a nervous week while I await test results for what I’m confident will be an “all clear” diagnosis.

If nothing else. And I don’t care about Facebook links, tweets, or even comments at this point. If you do nothing else, please read these skin cancer facts.

And if you want to gain MAJOR karma? Check yourself out next time you’re in the shower or admiring your physique in the mirror (like I often do). If you spot something, make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist. In mere minutes you’ll either have peace of mind or in-time treatment for something that could manifest itself.

Not sure what to look for? Check this out…there’s even some cartoonish nudity in it for you. If you’re into that kind of thing. Which I’m not. Just sayin’. Extra motivation.

I want you around for a LONG time because I clearly can’t risk losing any readers. But if you do stop reading my blog, I’d rather it be because you hate me, and not because of a preventable tragedy.

Get checked. Tomorrow.

Or I’ll sic my wife on ya.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

trisha August 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

The thing is greg, im one of those people that have spots all over my arms, legs, etc. HOw would i ever KNOW if it looked funny..it ALL looks funny, kwim?

trisha

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Cheryl August 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Greg- I'm so glad you got checked. I'll be hoping everything will be treatable. Please keep me posted. xoxo

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Beeb Ashcroft August 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Holy smokes!! I'm so sorry you have to go through that, but so glad it was caught and treated.

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Nicole August 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

I'm emailing this link to my husband right now!!

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Not So Average Mama August 4, 2010 at 11:51 am

So sorry to hear this Greg and i hope it will be treated in a way that doesn't make you very sick! Get better fast!

I also want to point out that this can strike children as well! I never ever thought about it with Kids until a close friend of mine took her sons in to have moles checked for removal and came back with cancerous cells!

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Cat - 3 Kids and Us August 4, 2010 at 11:53 am

Skin cancer is one of those cancers that truly scares me more than anything, always has. After learning about it in my late teens I started living by the philosophy that "pale is the new tan". Being as fair skinned and already covered in odd shaped freckles and moles, it's not something I want to increase the chances of just for a few shades of tan (or more often lobster red).

I'm really glad you had that checked out Greg. And one of these days when I get health insurance, I'll be doing the same.

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one cluttered brain August 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I'm keeping an EYE on my spots…

Good for your wife for making you go…

Skin cancer is nasty.

:)thanks for being my informant!

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hairstyles for girls August 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Wow, scary stuff!! So glad you got checked out. I need to make an appointment for both me and hubby. Don't want to take any chances.

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Thanks all! Spread the word and check out those bods! I'd do it, but my wife might frown on that. ;)

@Trisha – The self-examination link above can help with that. Asymmetry, different colors, goofy edges…freckles and such are usually okay. Best advice, learn what to look for as there's lots of photos online, and then LOOK!

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Erin August 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I am a huge supporter of UVSKINZ – Rhonda, the woman who runs it, lost her husband when he was in his 30s to it. My husband is a fair skinned man and he is always getting sliced and diced for suspicious moles and dots. So far all that has resulted is some stitches, no melanoma.

But I take care of him – he wears UV protection shirts at the beach and big floppy hats. The boys also wear tops and bottoms that provide UV protection – you wont find them bare chested at the beach. And anything that isn't covered by UV clothes has sunscreen on it.

My little 19 year old friend made fun of me the other day when we went to the beach – me in my floppy hat. And I just laughed and said I might look silly, but it keeps my skin safe. I even wore my UV shirt all day at Aquatica.

So yes – protection is very important – especially for little ones. It's the damage their skin sees when they are little that will show up as skin cancer and damage when they are older.

You can also get additional UV protection with tint on car windows, since think of all the sun your face sees driving to and from work. And you can get tint on your home windows, when the sun is pouring in during breakfast.

And don't forget sun glasses – the sun damages your eyes too! Sun glasses aren't just a fashion statement – they offer true protection – and once again it's important for little ones to wear their shades too.

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Awesome insight Erin, thank you! I do wear a sunshirt as well when swimming or hitting the beach. Granted, the ladies no longer get to stare at my blazin' abs, but it's the price to pay for safety.

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nicole August 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I'm actually dealing w/ this for the second time. A few years ago I was diagnosed with melanoma. It wasn't fun hearing about life expectancy rates because of a few bad burns I had as a kid…

I just got my latest biopsy results back. Next Thursday I have a date with my dermatologist in DC to have them removed. Oh joy!

http://www.writespell.com/2010/07/28/skin-cancer-

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Kate @ The Shopping August 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Greg. I'm with you – I have never really considered skin cancer a scary cancer. I guess I was naive, ignorant, uninformed. But, I'm so glad you caught it early and I will most definitely get checked.

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Amanda August 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I'm so glad you went and got checked Greg. I'm constantly checking all of us. Someone has to, and my kids and husband are very fair. I had a friend whose mom almost died form melanoma when we were kids. My fil has had basal cell carcinoma, and my stepmom has had melanoma spots removed from her hands. I'm constantly harping on my sister to make sure she and the baby are protected as well since her mom had the melanoma, that puts her and the baby by heredity at a higher risk (I've read).

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lisa p August 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

wow Greg thanks for sharing, I tell ya its a man thing I have been begging DH to get checked as he NEVER wears sunscreen and is out side all the time. He has some spots that I am very worried about. I too have had my fair share of slices and dices so far knock on wood all ok!

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

@lisa – You need to tell him that it only takes minutes. If he discovers you're over-reacting (just as I thought my wife was) then so be it. But, the spot that turned out to be melanoma wasn't even on her radar! It was just a very faint small blotch that I knew wasn't a part of me even a year ago. It wasn't raised, bumpy, itchy, or anything…very faint in color. So, you never know.

When I think that my bravado and flippant nature over the concern could have manifested itself into cancer, it scares me. I look at my children now and think, "man, my denial could have cost me time with them". Who knows when or if that would have happened, but at least with early detection, it WON'T.

Tell him to do it for you and the kids, not even for himself. That's what I did. I went in to prove her wrong. Turns out, it may very well have been a life saver. We'll never know…but at least I won't have to wait and find out.

Kimberly August 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I tell my husband he needs to go get checked. He NEVER wore sunscreen until about 7 years ago when he got a really bad sunburn. Now he wears it.

I had SIX spots removed in one shot. OUCH! It was not pleasant but it was something I needed to do.

I'm proud of you for getting it checked out. And thank you for posting this. I hope everyone heeds your warning and make appointments with a Dermatologist STAT!

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

@Kimberly – I had seven and while not pleasant, pain was non-existent. Six turned out to be just fine, but the one we thought was SURE to be nothing, was melanoma. Just goes to show that you never know…so take the steps TO know and you'll be better off for it.

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sarah August 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

glad you went to get checked. will keep you in our thoughts.

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GotChocolate August 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

You're going to laugh but I wear SPF 100!!! Neutrogena makes a GREAT shear sunscreen, but it still leaves a white stain where ever I've touched inside my car. STILL, I'm VERY fair-skinned and have TONS of freckles and being the ripe old age of 42 now, I am and have been for years, very religious when it comes to sunscreen. I, too, wear a big floppy hat and now that I'm "older" don't give a crap what other people think.

Here's the link to those Neutrogena sunscreens I was talking about. They work great for me!
http://www.neutrogena.com/category/id/100326.do

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trisha August 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Greg, btw, i wish your comments were descending. Ok.

Now the 1 mole i have always wondered about I cant see. Its on the side of my neck. I can take a picture of it but i cant see it…and i have had it as long as I could remember…i mean years and years. Its one of those wierd ones, but they ALL look weird.

What kind of dr did you go to? Just a regular doctor? A specialist? Maybe ill make an appt.

trisha

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

@trisha – I'm working on the nested comments. :) When I customized them they went all nutso on me.

I made an appointment with a dermatologist but a family practitioner should be able to spot areas of concern. If you've had the mole for years and years then it's probably nothing. PROBABLY. :)

There are lots of photos on the web that I referred to as well as "warning signs" and it's helped a lot with self-examination. In fact, that's what led me to ask the doctor to test the blotch he did. It wasn't raised or even mole-like…just a discoloration I wasn't used to seeing that I had seen on the web.

Jenny August 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm

i thought i had skin cancer once. turned out it was only ringworm xD

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Donda August 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm

What a great attitude you have!! Men usually have to be made to go to the doctor. Kudos to your wife for not backing down on this one. Now, go give her a big hug!

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Stefanie August 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm

My grandfather had melanoma and the cancer then spread into his bones, brain, lungs and blood (I believe…I was 9). Anyway, I know how deadly it can be and have had 3 moles removed to make sure that I was ok. As a kid I was always outside with no sun protection on my skin so it definitely worries me.

Glad you got checked out! Good luck with everything!

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Lisa @ Crazy Adventu August 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

OMG! I have so many birthmarks and moles. I love the one on my face, too. But this, this scares me.

Greg, I am so glad you went in. Now, to get myself there. I'm scared!

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

@Stefanie – Sorry to hear about that and I was sunburned almost every summer. No doubt it means I'll have to be vigilant in my scans!

@Lisa – Don't let fear turn into regret. Make the appointment! It's probably nothing, especially if it's symmetrical, one color, and not abnormally shaped. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised afterwards…and if not, you'll be relieved by early detection.

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Shop with Me Mama (K August 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Great post Greg. I am glad that you will be OK and that you caught this in time, how scary! My body has thick moles all over it. I think I need to go in, but it would take the doctor a few hours to go over them all… But now I will do it!!

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Telling Dad August 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

@Kim – You'd be surprised! Most can be diagnosed as nothing to worry about in about two seconds…there are visual clues. If they see something, they'll look closer, but he was zooming over mine going, "nope, nothing to worry about, that's fine, nope, no worries".

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Faythe August 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Good news that they found it in time, and you will be okay.

My DHs dad has one on the side of his nose that was removed. And DH had a few removed from his upper body & neck area, the doc said his skin was as tough as horse hide to cut through. it was pre-cancerous. He has more, but our current doc doesn't seem concerned. I also have a lot of skin spots & tags… tags have been removed a few times & they said they are not to be worried about. but the brown spots bug me.. I guess I need to be more assertive with my doc. a couple have grown & are dry & scaley feeling which makes them itch. I was never one to tan, I tried a few times as a young teen, all I did was burn & peel on the nose & top of the shoulders… I am very fair. so I do not bother.

just call me pale face :)

thanks for the wake up call!

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Shannon August 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

I am one of those people that gets burned even when I use sunscreen so this hits home. Do I just go to a regular dermatologist and tell them to scan my body? I know I have some spots on my back I can't see well.

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Rob August 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Glad you had it checked out and it was caught and treatable. I agree getting tan is no longer cool. I am in amazment when I see people at the beach using SPF2 or putting baby oil on. WTF is wrong with them,not safe at all. I am fair skinned as well and burn SUPER easy so I am always appling SPF 50. Again, glad to hear you are ok and all is going to be well.

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Melinda August 9, 2010 at 5:00 am

I remember the days of oiling up and soaking up the UV rays, how stupid but then again we didn't fully know the dangers. Thinking of you while you go through this episode.

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Brandy August 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

Glad you posted this!!! I worry about Scott, with his job he is out in the elements all day. I bought him sunscreen for his face but he sweat so much it slid right off and stained his under shirts, and it is not like I can send him out with a big floppy hat…wouldn't match his hard hat lol. I will definitely make sure Scott reads this post. Take care!

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Janis @ Sneak Peek A August 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Glad you posted. Hope Part 2 went ok.

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Jessica September 22, 2011 at 6:13 am

Thank you for posting, I’m having a small heart attack after reading your post. I’m 25, and have had new moles/beauty marks appearing on my hands and legs, as well as my moles turning a darker brown. I keep pushing the thought to the back of my mind but now…not so much. Oh sidenote, I just found your blog today and I’ve been reading for HOURS. Haven’t done my dishes and totally skipped on making dinner for my munchkins (pizza to the rescue!). Love your blog.

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