Carefully aiming the electric knife around my eye, the dermatologist slowly sliced away another growth from my face.
“Most people wouldn’t tolerate that like you did. Redheads have a higher pain threshold than most other people,” he said, when he was finally done with the knife and the can full of liquid nitrogen that he’d used to freeze off the other growths he’d found.
Jewel had accompanied me to this appointment, and the doctor turned to her. “So your daughter here and your son will have that too.”
Skin full of cells that are more likely to become cancerous, even in the total absence of exposure to sun, is their other inheritance from me. That trait was exposed recently by research into the causes of skin cancer, and knowing it could save their lives.
It could save my kids from the knife around their eye, at least.
My skin is already beyond its lifetime limit for exposure to sun, according to the dermatologist, so I go in every six months so he can lay into my face, arms, legs and any other place where my skin has turned on me and is now attacking me rather than protecting me. To be fair, I failed to protect my skin for about 40 years, allowing the sun to beat on it every day–but I didn’t know that would kill it.
Maybe my skin doesn’t know that what it’s doing will kill me.
But I do. And I know that 3B’s and Jewel’s skin, even if they lived out their days in a lightless cave, is likely to turn on them too. It’s too late for me, but maybe by the time this happens to them, there will be a treatment, a vaccine, a cure.
That’s why I ride–to save my kids.
Even with my higher tolerance for pain, I couldn’t bear to see them under the knife or worse. I’ll do whatever it takes to save them, as any parent would. Part of that is simply insisting on sunscreen, hats and protective clothing when they’re out in the sun, just as I wear a hat on every sunny day when I remember–I am an old dog, after all.
I’ll also continue to work for more research for prevention methods, treatments and a cure and I’d love your support. Please donate today.
And if you don’t think cancer can be cured, you haven’t met Charlie.