Possumhaw: Time to get checked

October 8, 2012 10:00:41 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


Last year Carole found out she had a mass. Carole is one of those people who does everything right. She eats right, exercises and gets annual mammograms. So when the doctor said he saw something suspicious, Carole wasn't worried. If it was cancer it had to be small. Right? 


Wrong. The tumor was the size of a lemon. The doctor said only a mammogram could have revealed the cancer. 


Carole went through treatment, and today she's cancer-free and happy as a lark. Her hair is still wispy and soft as a baby's. She wears fun hats and big earrings with matching "beads." She wears bright colors -- pink, purple and blue. Carole got checked, and her cancer story turned out well.  


At one time at Shaeffer's Chapel there were 10 out of 100 members diagnosed with some form of cancer. Mostly it was skin cancer; each one had treatment, from minimal topical creams to disfiguring surgeries. That means that one in every 10 people had cancer. That means the next time you're with a group of 10 people, one could have cancer. 


Health providers warn of the ABCs of skin cancer: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, evolving. Well, apparently that formula doesn't apply to all cancers. Like the one that Pam Bray had.  


Pam discovered a small clear bump on her forehead. Pam has the clearest skin of anyone I have ever seen. Pam looks like the kind of person who never had a tan in her life much less visited a tanning bed, but guess what? That tiny seemingly innocuous bump was a rare and serious cancer. Pam had surgery and in time was declared cancer-free. 


Then it happened to me. The little bump came and went. The doctor checked it and said, "I think it's basal cell carcinoma." 


Within 10 days a dime-sized malignant tumor was removed. The surgeon said, "It's a good thing we got this out." 


After that I asked everyone I knew to get a cancer checkup, even Sam. He complained and said, "Every time you get something I have to go to the doctor."  


Thankfully, even after years of unprotected sun exposure, Sam was cancer-free. 


I told Connie, my dental hygienist; she told her family and they all got cancer checkups. Her son was diagnosed with skin cancer. 


At work I told Amy. She took her family for the cancer checkup. She was concerned about her young son since he spent his whole summer at the swimming pool, but it was her husband who had cancer. The top of his ear was removed.  


Summer is over and it's a good time to get a cancer checkup, whether it's skin cancer or a mammogram, or any of the other cancer screening tests. 


Friends don't let friends go unchecked. Get checked.  


Baptist Center for Cancer Care offers free prostate PSA screenings at rotating locations. Call 662-244-4673  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.