I saw the dermatologist today for my annual skin cancer screening. Every year, he has found a small pre-cancerous rough spot on my face that has needed to be frozen off. Every year but one, the spot has been on my nose. Today was no exception.
When I was in college, I got a really bad sunburn on my nose at a football game. In November. In West Virginia. The band always sat in the end zone that faced west, and in an afternoon game, we’d be facing the sun most of the time. It was a cool day, and being November, I never considered that the sun might be strong enough to get burned. But it was.
Now, 30 years later, I’m paying the price for that day.
I’m not the fairest of fair-skinned people. I have at least one Native American ancestor, and no Scandinavians in the family tree. And I grew up on and around the Mason-Dixon line, not in the deep South, and we never took vacations at the beach. But I got one bad sunburn, 30 years ago on a cool November day, and that’s all it took.
If you have any suspicious spots on your face, shoulders, chest, arms, wherever – go to a dermatologist and get them checked. You may be able to find a free skin cancer screening in your area; my employer does one every year, and a lot of county health departments and hospitals do as well. It may not even be a spot you can see, but you may feel a little rough area, or have a place that keeps peeling, or that scabs over but never seems to heal.
It may be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And it might end up saving your life.