CAUTION – Before I get started here, I’ve got a few photos posted on this post that may not be appropriate for younger eyes….to be fair though, if you’re kids are reading what I’m writing, we’ve got bigger problems to deal with.
A few years back, I was chatting with an old friend of mine over a beer. I was a bit younger, much fitter and had less beer in the ol’ belly keg, so I had my shirt off enjoying the sun a little bit.
His son who was sitting with us, asked what the big scar on my chest was. I responded with the truth and honesty, the same way I try and live the rest of my life. I told him about my younger days and what I did wrong, in regards to sun protection, that caused the Stage 2 Melanoma the I had excised. Hearing the story, along with seeing the massive scar on my chest, gave him a bit of scare, however unintentional it was at the time.
Of course not meaning to scare the kid, I felt a little shitty after that, but then came around thinking, to be honest, that’s exactly what I needed at his age, then just maybe I might have been a little more careful.
Basically I grew up in the bush so to speak, in a little bush school that had 30 children from years 1-7. It was a tough little prick of a place and bush kids pack a punch. It was also during a time when “Sun Smart” was just coming into play, only really seeing it’s advertising on television. You know, “Slip, slop slap”. Well I got to see this maybe only a handful of times throughout my early days, so it never really had a chance to dig into my thick head and take a hold.
Fast forward a little bit to my teenage years, skipping school and spending hours every day, at the beach with no shirt, no hat and sunscreen was for pussies. After all, it only stung when it got in the eye and trying to pick up chicks with stinky red eye just never worked….or maybe it was the ugly mug, 50/50 call really.
Into late teens and early 20’s, starting out in the mud and hey, we’re working our asses off outside, suns out guns out right?
Only in my later years, after my first excision of a skin cancer, did I really take heed and get my pasty red headed ass out of the sun, or at least wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
So I guess what I’m getting at here is a bit of a message. A message to kids, young men and women, along with adults as well, get your shit together and protect yourself from the sun, even the smallest things, require a pound of flesh in penance.
This was me at 30 years old. Finally heading down for a skin check that were few and far between. I was having a full check up, but this particular bit was like a pimple in a hair follicle. I picked it, bit of blood came out and I paid it no notice. A few weeks later, it was still slowly bleeding, so I got it checked.
The first excision this time was about half this big, requiring around 30 stitches to close up. After the pathology results came back, the doctor advised me there were still malignant cells too close to the excision line for safety, and that we would need to recut more out. Back we go and another 10mm either side was taken out, with cut from armpit to past my center clavicle.
This time we got it. Thank fuck because I honestly couldn’t have sat there wide awake having the doctor extract more of my body, as I could smell the BBQ pork from cauterizing my open veins that were spilling all over my chest.
Oh, you think they knock you out under a local for this shit? Ha. Wide awake baby. Not even a phone to stay occupied.
This second cut took over 120 small stitches and approximately 30 thick stitches to close properly, which of course was nearly impossible considering you could fit two, 50mm gauze pads in the open wound before pulling it together and stitching me up. I won’t show you those pics on here….
The pic above is about 4 years later. Camilla and I were hiking taking silly photos and no, my present body is but a fat shadow of my previous self. But, this is the only pic to give a good idea of what that scar healed like…..look good hey ladies? Would be beautiful across a chest like yours? Cover your shit up or put sunscreen on….lol. (looking at my sister).
The bit that’s bringing all this to mind is the latest couple I’ve just had removed yesterday, and also having a couple of photos that give a good comparison to the size of the identified problem, and initially, how much the doctor has to take out.
The picture on the left was after the excision of the first one yesterday. These are only stage 1 beginnings, so basically nothing to talk about in the grand scale of Melanoma. But the circled part of the first picture is the second that is to be excised. You can see the purple section? That’s actually larger than what the problem spot was, caused to the original biopsy a few weeks before. The second photo is obviously both spots excised.
Now I guess here comes the point I want anyone willing to pay attention, to listen to.
Don’t be a dick head bush kid.
If you’re one of these Euro chicks who comes over here to Australia and bakes in the midday sun for hours on end, pull your head in, you won’t be beautiful when they start cutting you up.
If you’re a tradie, especially roofers and concreters are the worst, put your shirt on dick head, majority of the time your body isn’t as good as you think and you’ve got it off in front of other blokes.
In this article, take it as you will. I’m not trying to be this recovered cancer patient warning everyone else to change their lives, nor am I looking for caring messages to be sent. I’m fine and because I get checked every 6 months, it’s highly unlikely skin cancer will get me.
This is just written knowledge that maybe someone might pay attention to.
The only bit about skin cancer (if you’re getting regular checks) that sucks, is as I said before, the pound of flesh to be paid in penance.