Safety in the Outdoors by Karen Butler

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Recently, I was asked to add personal safety tips to a consolidation of tips for a hunting article by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  Little did I know that weeks later, I would learn new tips that would need to be added to the list.   When you are outside, use sunscreen; and regularly check yourself for new or changing bumps and spots on your skin.

I consider myself lucky, as I write this with bandages on my face.

Pre-Surgery Basal Cell Carcinoma

A week ago, I went to my doctor for a routine check-up, and asked her to look at a mole that seemed to have changed texture.  She thought it was fine, but as she completed her exam, she suddenly shined the light at a spot I thought was an irritated pimple.  She studied my face, and determined I had two spots that needed to be seen by a surgeon.  I of course, was a little nervous, but was confident the two spots were nothing serious.

My nerves were a little worse when I got to the surgeon’s office.  He took one look at the two spots on my face, on my right cheek and the bridge of my nose, and said, “definitely basal cell carcinoma.”

“Skin Cancer,” I thought.  I hate cancer.

Unfortunately, like so many others, I have lost loved ones to this wicked disease.  I

honestly felt like this must be a test.  With several speaking engagements coming up, I was faced with the decision to plan potential surgery around my schedule, or let the surgery drive my schedule.  It is much easier to judge someone else’s treatment decisions and tell them “not to put it off” than to apply that simple mantra to one’s own life.

Two Days Post Surgery

Basal Cell Carcinoma, according to skincancer.org, can be treated and cured if caught early. My doctor explained that only 3% metastasizes (or goes to other areas of your body).   The cancer is often caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, basically, sun.  As my doctor explained this to me, I told him, “I love the outdoors.”  I have never been one to use much sunscreen, especially on my face.  I have a multitude of excuses for that, such as when hunting I don’t want the scent, when target practicing I don’t want the sting in my eyes or the greasy feeling on my face, but really, I just didn’t have the time to stop and lather up.  Well, now I didn’t have time for surgery, but you know what?  I took the time.

My health was prioritized over my schedule.

Without my health, I would have no schedule to worry about.  The surgery removed all of the cancer cells.  It was/is painful, but it will heal.  I may have a scar, but that is minor compared to the alternative.  I’m very fortunate that my husband, Todd takes such great care of me.  He even told me not to worry if the scar stayed, he will think I’m beautiful no matter what. I’m such a lucky girl.

Initially, I had planned to keep this procedure a secret, only letting my close friends and family know.  I appreciate people’s good wishes, but didn’t want their attention focused on me.  However, as I was catching up on work, and I recounted the article on outdoor safety and a lightbulb lit up.  I knew it was time to let this little light of mine shine.  So, add this safety tip to your daily habits, if you are going outside, use sunscreen.  Take time now, to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet light, and you won’t have to make time later, like I did.

 

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