BAD BOY'S GUIDE TO HEALTH

Sur­viv­ing can­cer scare, live in the now, hopes for Maria

Times of the Islands - - Health & Wellness - BY TERRY ALLEN WIL­LIAMS Terry Allen Wil­liams is an itin­er­ant trav­eler and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia.

Ijust had a bout with skin can­cer. They call it melanoma and it is one of the most deadly of can­cers. I beat it and along the way de­vised some tips for a more com­plete life. But first, let me tell you a story. went to see a der­ma­tol­o­gist. On my face were some strange dis­col­orations and some sun-caused blis­ter­ing and sores.

Turns out the visit was more than a good idea. But I nearly blew it with a cou­ple of bad de­ci­sions.

The der­ma­tol­o­gist dealt with the skin is­sues with a ma­chine I call a “zap­per.” It looked like some­thing an ex­ter­mi­na­tor might use to get rid of your cock­roaches. In any event, af­ter he got done zap­ping my spots of erod­ing skin (which he de­ter­mined were harm­less), he de­cided to ex­am­ine the rest of my body. It was dur­ing this ex­am­i­na­tion that he found what I call “the spot” on my shoul­der. “We bet­ter biopsy this,” the doc­tor told me. The nurse then pro­ceeded to cut me, quite painfully, I might add, and then I left the of­fice and took off for one of my many trips to Colom­bia. I can stay in a rea­son­ably nice ho­tel for about $10 a day. I told them to email me the test re­sults, left no for­ward­ing ad­dress.

In­stead, they sent me a let­ter. Two months later I found out the biopsy had shown a sus­pi­cious growth. It was highly rec­om­mended that it be re­moved as soon as pos­si­ble. I was gone for an­other month. Think­ing that this pro­ce­dure― which in­stead of a sim­ple skin spot re­moval be­came a Mohs surgery and re­quired six hours at the sur­gi­cal cen­ter― would do the trick, was an­other mis­take.

A week af­ter they cut me up pretty se­ri­ously, I re­ceived a phone call from the doc­tor who had per­formed the Mohs pro­ce­dure. “We didn’t get it all,” he said. “What do you mean?” Ap­par­ently the biopsy they per­formed showed there was some­thing still there, what­ever it was, and it had a name I c ould nei­ther pro­nounce nor spell. No­body was call­ing it can­cer, yet.

I was sent to Dr. David Rit­ter at the Melanoma Cen­ter for Hope in Bonita. Dr. Rit­ter ended up be­ing very nice and very com­fort­ing. But he also rec­om­mended that we redo the surgery and “go a lot deeper.”

"When?" I asked. “I want to go back to Colom­bia and this whole can­cer thing is get­ting in the way.”

“Yes, it can be very in­con­ve­nient,” Dr. Rit­ter agreed, likely think­ing an­other crazy man in de­nial.

I would un­dergo a sec­ond shoul­der pro­ce­dure at the Naples Day Surgery fa­cil­ity. This time they did a real job on me, a mas­sive area in­volv­ing most of my left shoul­der. “My God,” I was think­ing. “That should do it.”

A week later, an­other phone call, a doc­tor. Uh-oh, nurses call to give you good news. “Ap­par­ently we did not get it all.” This time I was very scared, turn­ing to the in­ter­net to cure my­self. Pro­cessed food is the en­emy and we are eat­ing our­selves to death, I learned. So I de­cided to start fast­ing. And I did go to church and try to re­pair my re­la­tion­ship with God.

Over the next five weeks I pushed can­cer away, ig­nored it. It’s not the smartest thing, I know, but it’s how some of us han­dle f ear, push it down. Pretty dumb, sta­tis­ti­cally.

The short of it is the doc­tors ul­ti­mately de­cided to “ob­serve” my shoul­der. Wow, imag­ine. I had thought we would be do­ing im­me­di­ate surgery, fear­ing the very worst. I was ad­vised to get a cau­tion­ary imag­ing scan.

So this it, sim­ple rec­om­men­da­tions from the Bad Boy’s Guide to Health that I cre­ated af­ter my can­cer or­deal con­cluded.

1.

Do what­ever it is you have al­ways wanted to do. You only have so much time on the planet. Don’t waste it.

2.

Ac­cept the fact that you are go­ing to die and can’t do any­thing about it. En­joy the life you do have.

3.

Get right with God or what­ever you con­sider God. You are go­ing to some­day face Him/Her.

4.

Get your­self im­me­di­ately ex­am­ined and fol­low the doc­tor’s in­struc­tions, to the let­ter. “God loves you,” my Colom­bian friend, Maria, wrote af­ter I told her of the pos­i­tive re­sults. “He has saved you.” Maria has her own prob­lems. I still have hopes for her.

You only have so much time on the planet. Don’t waste it.

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