“I think you have skin cancer.”
It wasn’t what Sasha said, after all I am fair skinned with a history – albeit a short history – of skin cancer in my family, but the way she said it. Very matter-of-fact.
I paused. “Um, thanks for telling me.”
I had just gotten out of the shower after an afternoon of mowing and weed eating. The shower was for obvious reasons. I was covered in bits of clover and dirt, and smelled of gasoline and small-engine exhaust. But now I was clean, and looking for a t-shirt.
I asked her to point it out. A small gray patch in the very part of my back that I can only barely see in the mirror and certainly cannot reach. (Yes, there is a part of my back I can’t reach, and that is why I have a back-scratcher.)
I’ve had a lot of sunburns in my life, but about 15 years ago, after a day at the lake with no sunscreen, I developed the worst ever. I won’t share all of the gory details, but it requires a trip to the doctor and antibiotics. The doctor prescribed Silvedine cream, normally used for treating burns, that is, burns from fire or direct heat, not the sun.
When the sunburn finally healed, it left my back and shoulders covered in freckles, many of which look suspect from time to time.
I inspect my back quite often, but a gray spot? That was new to me.
She grabbed her latest issue of Women’s Health and flipped to the page with pictures of skin cancer. None matched. From there it was on to Google. Still, nothing.
“Maybe you should make an appointment with the doctor,” she said.
I came back with the manliest response I could think of. “Great, what’s this gonna’ cost.” But, the truth is, I was a little bit scared. Talking about the Big C does that to people, even when it’s a little bitty Big C. Earlier in the day, I had read Nick Gholson’s column in The Times Record News about being diagnosed with colon cancer.
So, while still shirtless and staring at pictures of skin cancer on the computer monitor, I decided I wanted to feel this thing myself.
I reach back as far as I could, then with my free hand pushed down on my elbow to reach even further until I could finally feel it with the tip index finger.
“Wait a minute, I know what this is.”
I scratched it, and it came off. It was a little spot of grime I had missed in the shower.
I think it got more response out of Sasha than anything else that had happened. “Matt, that’s gross!”
While my scare might be something to laugh at, we all known someone that has fought cancer in some form or another, family member, friend or acquaintance. Right now, I could name four or five folks fighting some form of this disease, including my father-in-law who has dealt with it for almost nine years now. My grandfather died of cancer, and many of you have family members who have succumb to it.
So, what does this all have to do with fitness, you might ask?
Well, it has a lot to do with fitness.
Because it comes in so many forms, there is no cure. But there is good news. Thanks to endless research, cancer treatments have vastly improved over the last 30 years, and someone diagnosed today is farm more likely to survive than someone diagnosed in say 1985.
Being physically fit may help. It certainly can’t hurt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who are physically fit are less likely to develop colon, breast cancer, endometrial and lung cancer than inactive people. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute says that people already diagnosed with these types of cancer may improve their survival rate and reduce the recurrence of cancer by becoming physically fit.
Suffering along on a treadmill at the wellness center doesn’t seem so bad, does it?