A Tale of Two Skin Cancers

I don’t usually talk about your physical health, other than to urge everyone to stay hydrated. I focus my ministerial energies on mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

But today, I am going to.

(Content warning: heartbreak ahead. But this topic is too important.)

My dad, in his later years, had two instances of melanoma. That’s the really bad one, of the skin cancers. But he saw his dermatologist on a regular basis, and so both were caught early. They were removed immediately, and that was that. Didn’t have to get chemo or radiation. Easy-peasy.

My older sister, 15 years ago, had a basal cell carcinoma. That’s the really easy one of the skin cancers. You can usually get it removed in the doctor’s office and go about the rest of your day.

She didn’t. And this week, I had to sign the papers for her to go to hospice.

As to why she didn’t, well, she told a doctor in the ER that procrastination was one of her faults. And like most things, it was complicated. Because people are complicated.

My heart would be broken in any case, because this is my big sister whom I love. But knowing how completely unnecessary this was … well, I’ll be honest. That sure makes it harder.

If you have a flaky patch of skin that just won’t go away, an irregular mole, or something else suspicious, this is your sign to pick up the phone right now — RIGHT NOW — and make an appointment. Better yet, be like my parents, and go get a full body check, then go back to your doctor on their recommended schedule for checkups.

And then – celebrate. Because you’re not only doing something for yourself, you’re doing something for the people who love you.

Like me.