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He’s not going to press his luck further

I’m sitting here writing at my desk with a sore nose and two Band aids covering a small stitched-up incision just above the bridge of my nose, the fine work of a dermatological surgeon’s art.

The doctor’s work eliminated a skin cancer from my nose.

Cancer. Like many people, that’s a word I thought I would never hear in regards to me. My mother had breast cancer and my paternal grandmother, if I remember, died from cancer. I never considered myself a candidate to be addressed with that word.

In some ways, I guess it was a matter of time. I was always getting out in the sun unprotected by hat or sunscreen, despite my wife’s warnings. That little crusty knot on my nose didn’t draw too much concern from me, either. It never grew, never shrank; never changed colors. It just sat there. For a while, I thought it was some kind of skin condition and treated it with creams.

For some time, my wife told me to get it checked out. I ignored the recommendation, but one day I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist to have it checked out. Her first words were “I’m going to remove it and get it examined,” then she brought out the syringe of lidocaine and I tried to pass out. As I’ve explained to my wife, she never has to worry about me or our daughter becoming drug addicts or getting tatoos, because we’re both afraid of needles. But I digress from the story.

The doctor, after getting me back to a fully conscious state, took the sample, and several days later called me with the news — it was cancerous. The good news, she said, was that it was not very deep, and I was given the choice of using topical chemotherapy or surgery to remove it. The odds — 99 percent successful — influenced me to swallow my fears and take the surgery.

Wednesday, when the doctor told me he got it all, I was relieved and happy.

One person has called me a cancer survivor. I don’t feel like one. My mother, who is 94, is a survivor after her diagnosis and victory more than 30 years ago. But regardless of the label, I have learned to take precautions when I go outside — as we all should.

For years, I ignored the suggestions to protect myself from the sun. At one time, we were encouraged to get that good tanned look, and I followed it. I’ve had my wake up call.

Now, I wear a wide brimmed hat wherever I go. The hat is not a problem. I’ve worn a hat or cap of some sort for years, anyway — I’m the original mad hatter, not Les Miles. Using sunscreen when I go out, however, is a habit I’m going to have to get used to, but it will come in time.

I was fortunate. I’m not pressing my luck any further.
John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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