No excuse to miss free cancer scan

Tue, 05/13/2008 - 3:17pm
By: Letters to the ...

Procrastination can be deadly. There was a free skin cancer screening offered at work. I receive a yearly physical, but I just couldn’t pass up “free.” I thank God for seven different doors that He opened for me, otherwise I would not be able to tell this story.

Dr. Chastain was the physician that noticed a mole that was on my forearm. It had been there all my life, but other doctors took little interest in it.

I had a biopsy, and the result was numbing: malignant melanoma. By God’s grace, I was on a primitive mission trip in Montana when I got the news by cell phone.

My mind raced: I was 48 years old, three small children and a wife at home. People die from this! God’s grace and timing are always perfect. I was surrounded by six men from my church who prayed for me there at the camp. That night I went to bed, thinking the worst, praying for the best.

The next morning was beautiful, clear crisp sky, awesome snow covered mountains. The Bible verse in Luke 12:25-26 came to mind while absorbing this great vista: “Who of you by worry can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot not do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

There was no doubt that God was in control of the universe, so what is a little bump on some guy’s arm?

The procedure was scheduled within six days of diagnosis. Dr. Chastain would remove the area that was contaminated with the cancer. This was an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia that took approximately two hours.

Dr. Chastain and his staff have an excellent bedside manner. We had small talk about numerous interests and events, but when he said, ”Good thing we caught it when we did,” I focused on his words, not the knife in my arm.

I had to ask what he meant, a year or two? He replied, “No, two or three more months, and we would have been discussing treatment of chemo, radiation and survivability rates.”

My jaw dropped to the floor. I can procrastinate with the best of them, and I realize that God positioned the right people, at the right place, at the right time for my melanoma to be found and treated.

This all occurred just five months ago. I am cancer-free, and telling everyone to get a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist. The scan is just a fancy name for a visual inspection of your body to see if any thing abnormal is present. It is painless and takes only 5-10 minutes.

The church that I attend, First Baptist Peachtree City, even offers a free skin cancer screening in partnership with Skin Cancer Specialists.

Early detection is the key. If they had found mine a few years ago, they could have removed it prior to it becoming cancerous.

Everyone needs to be scanned. If you spend any time outdoors, use sunblock, hats, clothing to protect yourselves. “Lube” the kids up before they head out to play. If you want to have that tanned look, use the spray-on stuff; don’t kill yourself for a tan.

Lace up your running shoes, grab the sunscreen and join the nonprofit SCAN Foundation (Skin Cancer Awareness Network) for its second annual “Save Our Skin” 5K Walk/Run May 24 at Perimeter Place.

· What: SCAN Skin Cancer Awareness 5K Walk/Run

· Where: Perimeter Place on Perimeter Center West. See web site for directions

· When: Saturday, May 24, 2008 Skin Checks start at 7 a.m. Race starts at 8 a.m.

· Register at: or Race Day registration available.

Dave Bowers

Peachtree City, Ga.

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