HOME ARCHIVE 2018

We all have a skin in this game of life

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The nurse was friendly, but to the point, asking me all kinds of questions while typing away on the computer. This was the big day. I had an appointment for a skin cancer screening.

I’ve never had one, and my wife had nagged me into getting it, just to make sure that everything was alright. But what if it wasn’t? Well, she said, it’s good to know early on so that it can be treated.

Either way, there was no way out. She made the appointment, and there I was, sitting next to the nurse.
“Would you mind if the doctor brings in an intern for the examination?” she asked. “They have to learn somehow, you know.”

I was thinking, isn’t that what classrooms are for, and maybe cadavers? This was my first time with a dermatologist, and I was already nervous – not about the examination, but about the what if.

How could I refuse? What difference did it make? After all, she is studying to be a doctor, and one day I may have to rely on her expertise to keep me alive.

“Of course not. That’s fine,” I replied.

“Great. Take off all your clothes and put on this robe, but don’t tie it in the back.” She repeated the don’t tie it part twice. I would not dare to tie it anywhere after that.

The intern entered the examination room. Shouldn’t she be in high school, I thought? They make medical students this young these days?

She asked some more questions and then left, being very polite and writing it all down on a notepad.

A few minutes later there was another knock on the door. The doctor entered with the intern and a different nurse. There were four of us in the room, and the examination began.

It’s usually just me and the doctor, and we can talk about all kinds of things, like the high cost of health insurance. But I already had that talk with the receptionist in the hallway, and she agreed with me.

Dear readers, this is one of the most important examinations you can get, and it may save your life. Skin cancer can be treated easily if caught early. If it is allowed to spread, though, it can be fatal.

As we grow older, there are all kinds of skin issues that pop up. It is a good idea to get a screening once a year to at least ease your mind that there is nothing wrong.

And, if you get lucky, the doctor may even bring with him a pretty intern. But I can’t promise that. I can promise that you’ll be glad you did it. It is completely painless.

“People with your fair complexion and blue eyes are at a greater risk,” said the doctor. “Where are you from?”

“I was born in Hungary in Central Europe,” I answered. Then he got interested if I had been back there recently. Yes, a while back. Then we talked about driving in Europe, and how he once rode a train through Vienna.

“You need to go back, and this time get off the train,” I said. “It is one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe. But take plenty of money with you.”

That led to other topics, and then the big verdict. He was examining me the entire time we talked.
“You’re fine.” he said. “But stay out of the sun or use sun block. Come see me again for another screening next year.”

That was it. Music to my ears, just like when I woke up after a colonoscopy last year and heard that I was all clear. Three years earlier I had five polyps removed.

Take care of yourselves, dear readers, and your body will take care of you. Stay healthy for a long time and enjoy the active years of your life.

As Benjamin Franklin said, an ounce of prevention of worth a pound of cure.