Friday, May 04, 2007

Say no to bad body art

So, yesterday morning, as I was laying in bed, willing myself to put on my game face and swing my legs over the edge to get the morning hairdo hustle started, this NPR story started to run and I flopped back to take a listen and itch at my newest biopsy divot received just the day before and I thought, oh my, how serendipitous, and I do love serendipity, always have.
So the reporter featured a young woman who had her life turned inside out by recurring instances of melanoma and the attending fear of death that would leave her very little kids without a mother. Turns out, after several lesions had been removed over the course of five years, she just never had it. The biopsies were misinterpreted, the labs were wrong, although I don't recall the reporter telling us what it was that had been scooped out of this woman. The story concludes that doctors are diagnosing melanoma when there's no cancer or when the cancer would never have become deadly, and that most dermatologists don't recommend annual skin checks for everybody. I felt a little sheepish and silly for even scheduling my first annual check. Ooh boy, was I being over reactive, I'm such a sap. And why did my internal dialog take that trajectory? because I'm my mother's daughter and besides being responsible about your annual pap smear, why the hell would you ever need to see a doctor except at a cocktail party?

So, based on this encouraging story, I just knew that the divots that she took, one on my d├ęcolletage and one below my arm, would be harmless random auto-executing body art. And how did I reach this sunny conclusion? because I completely repressed the fact that I'm pasty, blue-eyed and capable of great stupidity, therefore, high-risk for non-harmless body art, and oh yeah, I've grown bad body art before. I live on the banks of a big river in Egypt, you know the one.

I was born pasty, I can't help that. But the stupid I have to take full blame for. The innumerable times I laid in the sun like a beached shark covered in baby oil (with iodine, remember that?) trying to change pasty pale to some shade more socially acceptable when wearing short shorts. Or the horrible sunburns I got time after time after time that always resulted in weeping water blisters that I just accepted as the price of *beauty*. Hell, I went to school for one semester at the University of Hawaii and did not even own a bottle of sunscreen. The kid in the next student apartment unit called me chum. I thought that was right friendly, a sweet nick name, until I discovered that he called me chum because I was so pinky pale that I reminded him of the dead fish bits in the chum bucket they used to attract game fish when deep see fishing. Nice visual, huh?

I just listened to the message from the md's office and yes, I have grown another basal cell carcinoma. And as bad body art goes, this is the best of the bad, very manageable, kind of poseur bad body art. The bump on my d├ęcolletage (say that word with a heavy Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau accent in your head, much more fun that way, and yes, I noticed, two french words in one post, who's the poser?) is bad body art, the one under my arm is good body art, but it can't stay either, she'll burn it of with the liquid nitrogen, ooh, ooh, ooh. This will be my third scoop out and, based on my history and the gene pool I crawled out of, I'll just keep growing more. I was looking for a new hobby, now I've found it.

So to those of you who heard this story and put the kibosh on calling your dermo because full body checks aren't recommended for everyone, please reassess that decision. If you are blonde, red-headed, blue or green eyed or share my special youthful stupidity re: sun worshipping without a license, you are not everyone, you are a high-risk someone. Pick up the phone and make the call. Say no to bad body art.

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