Not too long ago I found out that I needed to start wearing glasses at work…which was kind of a funny way of noticing that I’m getting older and things are not always going to work perfectly with my body and brain. My appendix went on holiday years ago, I take daily medications for my health, I see a chiropractor for my back, and I wear glasses to help me see. Okay…all things that remind us that we are not invincible. However, there is a word that no one wants to hear even if it is as minor as mine: Cancer.
Yesterday Kate and I finally got a checkup done at the dermatology office, our first since 2007! Usually they look me over and tell me I’m fine then scrutinize Kate because of her fair skin. It was the other way around this time and I was the one with the troublesome skin. A spot on my arm I had been dismissing as dry skin turned out to be skin cancer. A spot on my face is still yet to be determined but it may be a basal cell. Last (just to kick me while I’m down) a spot on my hand is an area to watch but is most likely a large sun spot. Awesome. My skin is getting old. Yeah, yeah, yeah about the over-sized pores behind my ears Doc…let’s get back to this skin cancer crap! A quick zap of the freeze-o-matic and it is official…I have become my father.
My parents have skin cancers treated every year which is both comforting and disturbing. It is comforting to see how it is a nuisance but not a hindrance to them. It is disturbing because…I’m only 33 years old…how can I have skin cancer already?!!! 34 is exactly 3 weeks from today and I still feel like a young adult with the power to act like a kid. Having kids has made me feel older and put things in perspective…I want to live as long as possible without being a burden to see them grow up and enjoy life. I want my grand kids to know me. I’m not saying skin cancer is going to kill me but it does cause me to pause and think back on all those times I didn’t wear sunblock because I was too lazy. Now I am paying the price. That scares me to my core because I smoked over a pack of cigarettes a day for well over a decade. Was quitting in 2007 enough? Did I quit in time? Will I live to see the things I want to see and die of natural causes? Or, will I die of lung cancer like every other smoker in my family?
I knew I was being an idiot when I didn’t wear sunblock and I knew I was an idiot when I smoked cigarettes. It’s not fair that we can’t see the actual consequences of our actions in the act of idiocy. Only after the damage is done and life has changed do we look back and wonder what the heck we were thinking. All the sunblock in the world cannot go back and fix the skin damage I have cause my body throughout my teens and 20’s…it will only prevent what I may develop from here moving forward. Quitting smoking was a great idea…but what damage have I already done? Only time will tell. So if you are reading this and you smoke, sun bathe, take harmful drugs, or do any of the things you know might cause damage down the road…I urge you to quit. If I read this post in my 20’s I would have blown it off and sparked another cig…so what can I say to inspire one person…one reader to quit? I don’t know. I just know I wish I could go back and tell myself to quit. I wish I could go back and tell myself that my aunt will die of lung cancer at the age of 52…I wish I could go back and tell her too. It isn’t worth it. Do you want to miss out on your kids’ lives? I don’t want to miss mine.
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