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Outdoor Life: Skin cancer not so bad - Take my word for it
Alvin Richardson

Today I’m addressing all my friends and readers who fall into categories that include fishing geeks, camping fanatics, boating enthusiasts, yard workers, gardeners or just plain old sun worshippers.
    As a chronic giver of advice I’m resigned to the fact that I mostly get ignored and that’s what I’m hoping for today. You see I had a recent bout with skin cancer and it wasn’t that big of a deal so despite what you see on TV or what your doctor says don’t give it another thought.
    What you need to know is that going out unprotected in the fierce Georgia summer time day in and out, year after year has plenty of advantages. Most importantly you have to remember that you will be regarded as a macho, tough, really cool guy with a stunning tan that will make you the envy of all your friends and a tremendous role model for your children. A guy who fishes all day in the sun shirtless, with no hat, and no sun screen is worthy of hero worship. No one could be tougher or more hip than that.
    As for my latest episode with skin cancer I can report that it was a breeze. First off the doc gives you some great drugs from which there is no hangover. That was really good stuff. I fell off a cliff of sleepiness into oblivion and woke up feeling no pain for the first hour. Later I discovered that there were a couple of aches and pains on different places of my anatomy. It was beginning to hurt on my forearm where the nasty little brute had been but my upper thigh was throbbing as well. Come to find out the plastic surgeon dude had taken a four inch hunk of hide off my leg to use as a skin graft to cover my arm where the cancer had been.
    Big deal. I went home that very day and figured I’d be out and about in a few days. Turns out I was bandaged up pretty thoroughly and in addition had some kind of electronic box with a tube coming out of it attached to me. The technical term was wound vacuum I think. That put a severe cramp in my manly style. It’s not really that cool to show up in town whining and moaning. Also turns out I had to wear it for a week until my follow up appointment. No showering, no activity, lots of stinkiness.
    I headed back to the doctor’s office the next week and he un-wrapped the bandages that covered my surgery. To my surprise he’d gouged a chunk of meat out of my arm as big as a silver dollar and about as deep as an average ribeye steak. It was an ugly gash and was surrounded by staples holding the new skin in place. He then proceeded to take those staples out of my tenderized skin and to say that it hurt would be the understatement of all time. I broke out in a cold sweat and hollered like a sissy. Once they got me down off the ceiling I had a few choice words for my doctor friend. That was pretty embarrassing for a macho, cool guy like myself but as you know I place great value on those qualities and several days later had regained my composure.
    In phase three of this operation I had to stay bandaged up for another couple of weeks before going back to see the doc once more. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to look at my new skin graft again because it’s so gross but alas the orders were to change the dressing every couple of days. My poor wife will have to smear some anti-biotic cream on it and re-wrap it for me. That was collateral damage I hadn’t really counted on. The poor woman’s face went ashen when she saw it the first time and I know she’s not looking forward to seeing it up close and personal again. Unfortunately that’s just part of the price for having a macho and cool husband.
    So as you can plainly see skin cancer is not a big deal. The moral of the story is that when you are outdoors don’t cover up, never wear sun screen, and forget about going to the dermatologist. If you follow these simple guidelines you will always be acknowledged as the rugged outdoorsman you seek to be. You might have a few scars to show for it but what the heck. We macho men love to sit around and compare old war wounds anyway.
    In closing today’s episode let me say that it is my fervent hope you will do as you always do and ignore my advice. In this case it is particularly important.