Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Does Cancer Smell Like?

Greetings all, happy hump day.  I was hoping to post this afternoon with good news after my MRI, but of course after I showed up at the clinic I came to realize it isn't scheduled until tomorrow, so hopefully something good to report then.

I posted awhile back about how you should never be embarrassed to have something on your body checked out.  Nobody is going to call you a hypochondriac or anything, I promise.  As many of you know I am very fair skinned, and have always been literally scared of getting skin cancer.  I have always feared that I would get melanoma on my head (under my hair) which led me to always spraying my hair with sun screen, which of course gives even the cleanest hair the look of a sticky matted grease ball.  My passion for high SPF sunscreen is to the point that I get playful grief all summer long with friends, I recall one exchange on the golf course last summer:

Andrew:  Michael, that sunscreen stinks, stop spraying it everywhere
Me:  You think that stinks?  What do you think cancer smells like?!

Andrew, to answer the question I posed, there is no smell.  There is no taste and very little feeling (in my case), which makes it so scary.  Cancer is silent in many forms, which is why so many people literally stumble upon it and discover it via luck.  I think back to say the day before my lump popped in and I went to the doctor; I technically had cancer that day (the cancer didn't develop and grow in one afternoon, but over a period of months), yet had I undergone a full physical by a good doctor, there would have been no way he/she would have discovered the cancer.  They say hypertension (high blood pressure) is the silent killer, but I'm convinced you could argue that cancer could claim that title as well.

Another ironic story that technically took place after I probably already had cancer growing in my body took place Memorial Day weekend.  I was again lathering up with sunscreen, when some buddies informed me of an article that had recently been published expressing concern over some key sunscreen ingredients, and how they might potentially promote the development of skin cancer.  Of course I freaked out when I saw said ingredient was in my bottle, so I immediately switched to a brand that was considered safe, good thing to, ooops!

The moral of this story is that there is very little you can do to prevent cancer from growing in your body.  No matter how much broccoli or whatever "anti-cancer" food you eat, if your cells allow one mutated cell to grow and replicate, then you could very well come down with cancer.  You can however wear sunscreen and get annual checks to ensure you don't have skin cancer.  I don't care whether you are tan or pale, you can get skin cancer, and melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, so it can be a huge deal.  Please for my sake wear bullfrog SPF 15 or greater, and go see your dermatologist annually.  I prefer to not have to read a friend's cancer blog, because they were careless in regards to simple sun protection techniques (that and I will have used up all the good cancer jokes).

Thank you all again, and please stay tuned to hopefully some news of shrinkage tomorrow evening!

Go Braves and Rangers!


  1. Michael,

    I am pretty sure your written description of our conversation lacked a few of my expletives as your sun screen got in my mouth, but I understand, you are entertaining people of all ages with your blog. Keep it up. I will do a special shrinkage prayer dance for you tonight as I boogie down to panic at the Ryman. You are a great example to all of us. Love you bud.

  2. Instead of spraying sunscreen in my hair, I just wear a hat. Just sayin'...

  3. Just wanted to say thank you for this post. My uncle passed away from melanoma about 3 years ago, and it has really opened our family's eyes to the dangers of sun exposure. I am a big proponent of LOTS of sunscreen and a yearly skin cancer exam.