Skin Check

“Good job!” the physician’s assistant said when I complained about my uneven fake tan.

“It’s been a lifestyle change for me, staying out of the sun,” I said.

“I’m proud of you,” Miss Tan said.

She looked at the four spots I was worried about, froze off the two on my back, biopsied one on my neck, and waved away the fourth. But she directed her helper to take a photo of the crooked brown spot on my ankle.

It had been six months since I’d been in. A year ago, Miss Tan found melanoma on my leg and had also questioned a big mole in my cleavage area that other doctors had skipped. I was 65 and finally paying my dues for all my sun time during work and play.

Melanoma is curable if caught early. A doctor posted that comment on my blog post called Melanoma and Me. I guess if I have to get some type of cancer, it’s good to know that mine will be melanoma.

“Everyone has had it,” an older girlfriend said to me.

Everyone has had skin cancer at our age, but not everyone has had melanoma. It is the worst type of skin cancer to get because it has fingers and is hard to get rid of. No Mohs machine for me. I needed a surgeon. Mohs doesn’t work on most melanomas.

I have many friends who have had breast cancer. A high school friend died of cervical cancer.  I’ve met people who have had colon cancer, lung cancer, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Most recovered. a couple didn’t. I dream regularly about a friend who has metastatic cancer.  Cancer is the scariest part of getting old — that, and Alzheimer’s.

It’s a luck of the draw, whether a person gets sick and dies, hits their head and dies, or lives to be 100. Falling is an old person’s worst nightmare. That’s why walkers were invented.

I remember my mother-in-law, too proud to use a walker even though she was in her 80s. She lurched from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, grabbing on so that she wouldn’t fall. Even in the assisted living place, she was too stubborn to take the walker to meals with her and fell in the hallway. She ended up in the hospital with a compression fracture. Then she ended up in a care home in a recliner for the rest of her life.

My Zumba class has balance exercises where we have to lift one foot way off the ground while sticking out the opposite arm. It’s hard, but so far, I can do it.  Balance is important, especially if  you’re a dancer, or when you live with a crazy dog that is always underfoot, or worse, walking on the back of your feet.

“You flipping dog!” I yell all the time.

Except I don’t say flipping.

She will be the death of me, if melanoma and Alzheimer’s don’t get me first.

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