If you’re a GEEZER, you’ve spent a great deal of your life wandering around in the pleasant warmth of the sun. As enjoyable as those days out on the lake, working in the garden, or just lounging next to the swimming pool may have been, all those years of exposure to the sun’s rays have taken an increasing toll with every passing year.  A few things that are caused when the skin is exposure to sunlight:

  • Wrinkles and lines
  • Brown spots
  • Skin that bruises and ruptures more easily
  • Yellow discoloration
  • Sagging skin

You’d rather not have any of these skin changes, but for the most part, except for making you look a little older, they really aren’t health problems. But I have left off the list a serious problem that can develop as the exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light slowly damages the skin with each passing year—skin cancer. The cancer is the result of the formation of tumors which can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).   Nearly all of these skin cancers are highly curable if taken care of early. A very small percentage of these cancers (melanoma) can be very serious, but again the earlier treatment starts, the better chance of stopping it from spreading and possibly becoming life threatening.

Photo Kelly Nelson, National Cancer Institute
Photo Kelly Nelson, National Cancer Institute

Personally, I don’t see how I didn’t see how see how both my lifestyle and behavior made me a prime candidate skin problems. During my life:

  • I spent as much time outdoors in the sun as possible. As a kid I was constantly exploring rivers, hiking, and camping out. My job as a park ranger put me out in the sun much of the time and my hobbies (obsessions) fly fishing, hunting, photography, biking, and backpacking all exposed me to the sun’s rays for long periods of time.
  • I repeatedly got sunburned (increases chances of getting skin cancer) sometimes to the point of blistering.
  • I seldom used sunscreen lotions or sun blockers when I was young. Those products first showed up in the 1930s (Glacial Cream) and in the 1940s (Coppertone), but the only thing I remember using in my early years was the zinc oxide lotion you apply to your nose and ears to keep them from burning.
  • I lived in Levis cut-offs and Converse low-cut tennis shoes as a kid, often went shirtless, and seldom wore a hat.
  • I was born with very fair skin.

Regardless of all my risk factors, I pretty much ignored the fact that I was a good candidate for skin cancer. In fact, I was 66 the first time I scheduled an appointment to see a dermatologist. On that visit, the dermatologist found what he said was a possible pre-cancerous growth on my temple. He treated it with cryosurgery by freezing the top layers of skin and then scraping them away.   His diagnosis was that it was a very minor blemish that had not reached a point of becoming a serious problem—come back and have it checked in a year.

Thing is, this was a possible skin cancer that was on my temple that I look at every day as I comb my hair, but never saw. Think about all those places on my body I can’t see where trouble could be starting. From now on, I will make sure I get that annual checkup by a specialist.

Now don’t take my word for it, I’m not a doctor (I am studying by having numerous surgical procedures done, but they keep putting me to sleep so it is slow going) so ignore everything I have said on this subject except if you are a GEEZER you need to get your old, wrinkled butt (and other body parts) checked for possible skin problems on a regular basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health: Check: All Those Years in the Sun

2 thoughts on “Health: Check: All Those Years in the Sun

  • July 9, 2015 at 10:33
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    I want to to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I’ve got you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

    Reply
  • May 7, 2015 at 10:33
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    It’s a good reminder even for us pre-geezers! I haven’t been in a few years and probably should make an appointment.

    Reply

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