Srila Prabhupada: ” Suppose you know the cause of cancer. What is the benefit? Even if you could stop cancer, you could not make a man live forever. That is not possible. Cancer or no cancer, a man has to die. He cannot stop death. Death may be caused, if not by cancer, simply by an accident.”

Morning Walk, May 3, 1973

I recently had a squamous cell carcinoma removed from my cheek. You can get all the background information on this cancer here. SCC isn’t the bad skin cancer, that dubious honor goes to melanoma  which can easily metastasize to other parts of the body.

It was an outpatient procedure  that took about 5 minutes with local anesthesia in a doctor’s office. They cut off the skin and then cauterized it.

Nothing like the smell of my own flesh burning to remind me I am getting old.

I was referred to a specialist who said we caught it in the earliest stage.  He also said that once you have one, it is common to get another  so his nurse give me a spiel on staying out of the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM and wearing UV resistant clothing.

I had all the risk factors  — fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes,  extensive lifetime  exposure to the sun (a factor for anyone) and  Prograf  (an immune suppressor to prevent rejection of my liver transplant) that has as a side effect greater sensitivity to the sun.

Prograf also recommends avoiding midday sun.  Although I get a  fraction of the sun I used to get, I can’t say I have been religious about avoiding it.

I usually wear a broad brimmed solid weave straw hat but not always. I guess I will be more careful avoiding  sunshine in the future. Which is hard being into gardening.

I am going to study blood root, which an old timer told me he witnessed a guy with an bad external cancer use and get it into remission.  If  diagnosed with another SCC early stage, I will consider using the blood root salve first.

As a kid I spent practically every waking hour in the sun during the summer, either playing or working. From the age of 13 I was working with tractors or cows outdoors 60 hours a week except during harvest  when we would work overtime.

My father set a good example wearing long sleeve shirts and a broad brimmed hat but I was too cool — T shirted and hatless. Later in life I adopted  a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes, but I had decades more of lots of sun exposure before the fatigue of my medical condition the last few years forced me indoors and onto the couch.

As I was always aware of the risk for skin cancer, I had been pointing out dry spots on my skin to my family doctor. A couple of years ago he had frozen off a few spots with liquid nitrogen but they had persisted.

A few months ago I started putting shea butter on them. The one on my cheek did turn to SCC but  on the other cheek it has  gotten better so I will continue to apply the shea butter to any hard spots.

There is one spot on my eyebrow where the specialist has me scheduled for a biopsy in November.  This has been around for a while and is sensitive to the touch so we will see if it persists.  Maybe it will clear up with the shea butter, that would be nice.

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