This is the story of a hat. Cancer and a hat.
Cancer messes with your mind as much as your body...sometimes more. When you're physically healed, you still have the mental aspect to deal with. Sometimes it makes you do things you know are ridiculous, but you do them anyway.
It has now been close to two and a half years since I found a nasty mole on my back. I knew immediately it was Melanoma...and I didn't do anything about it. I was on a vacation that still had two weeks to go. I figured it could wait until I returned home. Even then I forgot about it for a few more weeks.
I mentioned it in passing to my primary physician, who rushed me off to a dermatologist, who rushed me off to a surgeon. Even then, I put off the surgery for a week so I could attend a concert.
For a guy who immediately knew a mole was Melanoma, I didn't take it very seriously. I didn't realize how dangerous it was. That changed...and in a hurry. It only takes one death from the disease to make you get serious about it. It only takes one death from the disease to make you get neurotic about it.
I went from being a guy who was blase about Melanoma to being a guy who cancelled two trips because I saw a mark on my arm. How could I go from being a guy who knows what a dangerous mole looks like to being one who freaked out over normal dry skin in the winter? And not just once, twice? And guess what, it's normal behavior.
Last year I ran to my new dermatologist because I had some new marks on my leg. My brain was telling me two things. It's nothing. It's Melanoma. I listened to the bad brain and used the M-word to get into see her almost immediately. When she told me it was nothing, I responded that I kind of knew it but I've become neurotic about moles. She said she understood....almost all her Melanoma patients were like that. At least we were checking our bodies enough to think we're finding things...and that's a good thing.
Still....you just can't help yourself. Oh yeah, about that hat.
Last fall, a group of college friends decide to get together and go to a football game. The game is in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Day games in Texas in mid-September tend to have a lot of sun. So what should a guy who is a Melanoma survivor bring to that game? Sunglasses, sunscreen and a cap. I don't think any of us had sunscreen because it would have been too simple to go to go 7-11 and buy a bottle. If you look at the photo, you'll notice there's one guy without shades or a cap. Yeah, that would be the Melanoma survivor...ME!! Fool!
I assumed I could find one at a concession stand. You know what happens when you assume.
We're now inside the stadium and heading to our seats. No sunscreen, no hat and I don't want to get sunburned. We pass a food concession stand run by a mother and her teenage daughter. The girl is wearing the TCU cap. My neurotic brain decides that I want her hat. I offered her twenty dollars. She didn't think I was serious and started laughing. I told her I was because I was trying to avoid getting sunburned. She talked it over with her mom and I walked away with a cap.
As it turned out, I didn't need the cap because our seats were in the shade...go figure, right? But, I'd do it again because it's one of those better safe than sorry things not to mention the neurotic sunburned/cancer thing. Besides, it's a pretty good story and we've had more than a few laughs over it...especially since TCU was NOT the team we were pulling for that day.
It's eight months later and I still have the hat. I'm looking at it now. I'm keeping it because it's a reminder to be prepared and careful when being in the sun. It's also a reminder of how neurotic people get because of Cancer. Neither is a bad thing.
May is Melanoma Awareness Month. I wrote this on the first day of the month, known as Melanoma Monday about using sunscreen.
Thanks to my friend, Amy, who had her own case of Melanoma and she confirmed that I wasn't alone in going nuts over this stuff. If you live in the area, you can join us at the Miles for Melanoma was at Montrose Harbor on July 9th.
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