Robert U. Montgomery

skin cancer

For Anglers and Others Who Have Skin in the Outdoor Game

protection from sun

In 2009, a surgeon removed basal cell cancer from my right forearm and left me with an impressive S-shaped scar. At the time, I asked him if one basal cell meant that I was predisposed to have another. He said that odds were good that within five years I would have another.

In 2014, five years later, a small basal cell was removed from the top of my right ear.

Today, five years later, dermatologist found a suspicious-looking tiny place on my right shoulder and took a biopsy. She's not certain because the area is so small, but wants to err on the side of caution. In two weeks or less, we'll know. If it is cancerous, she'll simply remove it.

At this point, basal cell doesn't scare me. Yes, it
is cancer, as the surgeon emphasized to me back in 2009. But basal cell typically does not spread to other parts of the body, as many cancers do. It can expand on the skin from its origin and it can do nerve damage by sending down roots, if not taken care of.

Melanoma is the bad one because it is considered malignant. Squamous is of a little more concern than basal, but not much if caught early.

Also today, dermatologist froze four areas of precancerous skin on the sides of my face. For the new few days, I'll look like a burn victim. But that's a small price to pay as a preventative against future cancer.

For someone who has spent much of his life in the outdoors, I'm one of the lucky ones. I started early with maintenance to address the damage that the sun has done to my skin over the years. An annual checkup and a few frozen spots on my face generally are all I need now.

But I've seen many older anglers, including some whose names you'd recognize, who've paid dearly for their unprotected time in the sun.

Please, don't you be another one of them. If you're someone who spends considerable time in the sun, whether fishing, hiking, playing sports, or working, you should visit a dermatologist at least once a year to ensure you don't have skin cancer. And you're never too old to start.

On the other hand, you could die prematurely if you don't.

Also, wear clothing that will protect your skin from the sun. I long ago stopped wearing tee shirts and shorts for a day on the water. Now, it's long sleeves and pants. I might start and end the day wearing a baseball cap. But when the sun is high, I also wear a hat that will protect my ears and neck. A buff is another good option to protect those areas, while specialty gloves offer good protection for hands.

And don't forget the sun block, especially for your face.