One or twice a year, I drive up to the Huntsman Cancer Center, where they keep naked pictures of me on their computer. You see, I have all the warning signs for skin cancer: I’m fair, my dad and grandma had it, I suffered several blistering sunburns as a child, and I’m covered in oddly shaped moles. Sometimes I think most of my pigmentation went into my moles, leaving me otherwise almost albino in my hair and skin coloring.
I’ve been going for several years to let them compare my photos with my current hide, and so far they’ve found one patch of basal skin cancer, which they burned off in a manner that made me smell my own flesh cooking. At one point, they presented me with a portfolio of my most suspicious-looking moles, and my wife is supposed to compare the photos with my moles each month, but somehow we’ve never gotten around to doing that.
One of my suspicious moles was located where the sun don’t shine, and I used to have to bend over and spread my cheeks for the nurses to see it. Finally, the dermatologist cut out that mole, not because it was the most dangerous-looking specimen but because he didn’t want his nurses nosing around down there anymore. In my portfolio, however, I still have a picture of that mole in its natural context. “It just looks like someone’s armpit,” the doctor reassured me.
The joke I always make to the nurses is, “If you see any barnacles, please scrape them off.” My shoulders and upper back are covered in hair, as if my body grew a defense barrier after all those childhood sunburns. Nowadays, the nurses don’t check my private areas anymore; during checkups, I leave on my garment bottoms and pull up the legs. I guess that means I’m supposed to keep a particularly close eye on my own underwear area, but I don’t.
This past Thursday, May 12, I went again, and they shaved off another little red scaly patch that is probably another basal. They also took a new round of photos. If I ever get this blog equipped to handle photos, perhaps I will post a few mole pictures here. Perhaps I could even get people to subscribe to a whole website of them . . .