Bad Boy's Guide to Health
Surviving cancer scare, live in the now, hopes for Maria
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 pr ocedure―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.