Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Melanoma Head's Coming

To my son Tommy,

"Buck Melanoma, Moley Russell's wart. Not her wart. I'm the wart. She's my tumor, my growth, my pimple. I'm "Uncle Wart." Just old Buck "Wart" Russell, they call me. Or Melanoma Head. They'll call me that. "Melanoma Head's" coming. I'm sor-- Uncle, Maizy Russell's uncle. I'm her uncle."
That is the movie quote that has been going through my head today.  I had to have a couple moles removed from my back.  About a month ago I went to my first dermatologist session to have all my moles and skin tags checked.  You were a major contributor in the decision to go.  In your curiosity for "what is what" you spent a day pointing out many of my imperfections and trying to decide if they were moles, nipples, skin tags, birth marks, or perhaps freckles.  Your mother had recently pointed out a few moles she had questions about as well.  Your grandfather Leo has to go to the skin doctor often to get things removed, so I figure both you and I have a proclivity to skin problems.  Combine that with some bad sunburns when I was younger and due diligence on my part is absolutely necessary.  I don't think most people start checking for these things until age fifty but with all the factors, and just to be safe, I need to start a bit early I suppose.   In fact I probably should have started ten or fifteen years ago with the family history.

Hopefully we can lessen your chance, and your mother and I will do our best to keep you slathered in high SPF.  No doubt there will be a time or two where, for one reason or another, we will be unsuccessful and you might end up  with a sunburn or two.  It is just part of growing up.  One day we will get you all slathered up and send you down to the beach or a pool and you will be having so much fun that you will not be willing to come in for the re-application.  I know when I was young when mom or dad stopped me in the middle of my playing to throw on some goop, it would really tick me off.  Now I am on the other end of that exchange and we will hopefully get you to the point where you are not in your late thirties going "was that mole always there? is that an irregular outline?  what do you think the biopsy will show?"  Nothing like the benefit of hindsight to finally explain what your parents were trying to do.  When I was just eight or ten, I just thought my parents were protecting me from the immediate sunburn discomfort and thus protecting their sanity because dealing with a sunburned child can be a pain.  I had no idea they knew what they were talking about and trying to protect my future self from my present self.  I hope you are easier than you stubborn old man when it comes to accepting your parents wisdom.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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