I’m a cancer survivor. It’s a true statement, but one that makes me feel like a bit of a phony. You see, I’m more lucky than heroic. I don’t know what it’s like to stomach chemotherapy or have my skin blister from radiation treatments. I never lost my hair or spent much time pondering my own mortality. And I didn’t have to explain all of this to my kids.
When I was diagnosed with Melanoma about 6 years ago, it was just a small spot above my left elbow. To me, there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about it … just another spot. Thankfully, I had a routine of going to the dermatologist once a year and my doctor spotted the trouble. I had a chunk taken out of my arm and a lymph node removed to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread.
I don’t mean to be unsympathetic toward anyone who’s truly fought cancer or suggest that even the best preventative measures will keep sickness from striking anyway, but that’s all I had to do. My cancer was gone.
Yes, I’m more lucky than heroic. But I am still a cancer survivor. And I will take credit for this: I went to my doctor routinely. As a light-skinned guy who grew up under the hot Fresno sun, I instinctively knew I should be watchful for skin cancer and I acted on those instincts.
I urge you to act too. Make and keep the medical appointments you know you should. In April, I’ll turn 50. Anyone who’s about to turn 50 knows what that means … colonoscopy. I’m told it’s not fun and I’m sure I’ll be the “butt” of jokes amongst my friends, but I’m going to do it anyway. Because I’m not a hero.
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