Friday, May 15, 2009

New Bikini & Rash Guard, 4 Stitches, and 10 Days NO OCEAN!

Sounds like the time I ran head first into the rocks and ended up with staples in my head after a bad surf accident! No, nothing that exciting. May is "Skin Cancer Awareness Month" and I became AWARE of it today...

After morning swim I had a little dermatologist exam, no biggie. Then was my nutrition session (with my same awesome doctor). It felt more like girl chat. As I was about to leave I get called back into Dr. Scheels office. Get naked, time for a full sun-damaged-skin-exam. I wasn't really worried. I wear sunscreen EVERY DAY, I never "tan" (as in just lay on a towel in the sun), and I RARELY eat foods from boxes or cans. The fact I had on ugly underwear scared me more than her possibly finding something other than wrinkles and some sun spots.

This is what I learned:
  • Actinic Keratoses (AK) - the first stage in skin cancer. Small and scaly spots, mostly found on the head, neck, ears, face, lower arms, and hands. Proper use of sunscreen can prevent AK even after sever sun damage
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma- The most common type. They grow very slowly (over months and years), usually in fair skinned people. Left untreated can begin to bleed and spread to the bone and nerves.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma- The second most common skin cancer. Typically found on the ear, face, mouth, lips. Sometimes bumpy. When found early there is a 95% chance of curing.
  • Malignant Melanoma-The most deadly of all skin cancers. estimated 8,000 Americans a year die from melanoma. Usually appears in mixed shades of tan, brown, and black. Sometimes red or white. Usually begin near a mole, moles serve as markers for increased risk.
My beautiful, perfect skinned, no sun damaged doctor found the black one, the melanoma one (bullet number 4) on me. She said we need to get it out now. In my typical chill, laid back fashion, I am not at all nervous. I let her know I have to talk to Coach Paul about a good day to have the little operation because he might kill me if I miss 10 days of swimming.

Her response, "No Bree, now. We have to do it right now." I was kind of shocked, don't people make plans for these things and take a day off to come in and have this sort of thing done. Before long I was numb under my left collar bone and asking my doctor if she is serious. What a tom boy she is, I told her to her face she was being a real tom boy just cutting into me right then and there dressed in nice clothes. Then she gave me 4 stitches and asked if I was surprised she can sew. Yes, I was.

Now what's a girl to do? On not-so-good-days I ALWAYS go to the ocean and now I can't. Today I was told to stay out of the water for 10 days and all I really needed to do after a morning like this was go in the ocean and swim out really far to find dolphins. With the help of some water proof band aids, plastic sticker thingy's to cover the water proof band aids, and some cream stuff (to prevent infection on open wounds) to put on after I swim, I am allowed back in the pool on Monday. The ocean has a bunch of staff, I guess pools are cleaner (doubt it, everyone on my team pees in it).

Tuesday I get the low-down if I'm in big sunny trouble or not. I'm feeling optimistic, as usual. In fact I celebrated that every little thing is going to be okay by hitting the surf shop and buying a NEW BIKINI! I know what you are thinking, that I did not learn my lesson yet, I did, but I'm not allowing myself to be scared, and bikini's make me smile, besides I have to have a new one to wear at Honu under my K-Swiss top!

My doctor hooked me up with all sorts of preventatives too, just wearing sunscreen is not enough. My long swims in the ocean will now be swam or swum (whatever the word is) with a rash guard on (those have SPF of 50!), I have to wear sunscreen even to 6:15 am masters swim, and I have to bring a stick of it on all long rides so I can RE-APPLY...

Look at this! Another cloudless day! Being Skin-Cancer-Awareness-Month I figured I better leave you with some pointers I learned (and check those 4 bullets above on yourself every now and then so you can catch anything early).

  1. Use SPF of at least 15 everyday before you leave the house
  2. Wear hats, visors, long sleeves when possible
  3. Find shade when possible, 10am-4pm are DANGER HOURS in the sun.
  4. Water, snow, and sand reflect the sun rays, use caution around these places!
  5. Make your children wear sunscreen/hats outside playing
  6. Get vitamin D from your diet, not tanning
  7. Use spray sunscreen on your back if nobody is near to reach it for you
  8. Avoid tanning beds & use fake tanners if you must tan for special occasions.

If you live in Kona I HIGHLY recommend you take a little trip to Ho'o Lokahi and get checked out. AND even more fun... Kona's very own #1 ranked in the world big wave free surfer, Shane Dorian (watch his big ride) endorses one of the greatest SPF sticks ever! You can put it in your bento box, on your shorts, stuff it in your sports bra, and reapply whenever-where ever! Check it out here and buy it at local Big Island surf shops!

Happy Skin-Cancer-Awareness-Month! Go get checked out!



Blogger D said...

My dad's had tons of skin cancer. He gets some cut out at least once a year... usually more like 3 times though. It's so random too cuz he just comes with stitches sometimes.

Take care of yourself!

May 15, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Blogger Maggs said...

Hoping for the best Bree. I recommend Neutrogena sunscreen (and so does my dermatologist). it's supposed to have some extra ingredient that blocks all the rays, not just the burning ones. I'm so sorry you can't go in the ocean too.

May 15, 2009 at 7:21 PM

Blogger Teresa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 15, 2009 at 7:29 PM

Blogger Teresa said...

Glad you got it taken care of immediately. Better to be safe. Good doctor! I reappied at ST croix in transition with a scared of getting burnt! A great reminder to us all, thank you Bree.

May 15, 2009 at 7:30 PM

Blogger kerrie said...

wow, that's intense! glad you were looked at and had that taken care of...i'm not as good as i should be with sunscreen(and i'm a burner...) so thanks for the reminder and the info.

May 15, 2009 at 7:50 PM

Blogger Mama Simmons said...

Glad you got that caught early, Bree! I used to work for a pharmaceutical company educating doctors about an immunotherapy treatment for stage IIb/IIIa melanoma. It's a pretty nasty treatment that only works sometimes but its usually a patient's best shot if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Catch it early enough and have it removed and in all liklihood you're *fine*. ;)
Just think about how much you'll be physched to get in the ocean again by the time Honu comes around!!

May 15, 2009 at 8:52 PM

Blogger rr said...

I go on Tuesday and have so many scary things checked out. I'll be thinking positive, happy thoughts that yours was NOTHING! Glad you got looked at.. enjoy those days off.. come over for the duathlon, no swimming involved! xoxo

May 15, 2009 at 9:35 PM

Blogger Sherry Lynn said...

Bree... so scary and so lucky that you caught it early. I go to the Derm. for a body check every 6 months. I've had atypical moles removed in the past AND have some larger moles in my scalp that need constant monitoring. I'm a heavy-duty SPF50 user, but with all of the sweating that we do in training, the sun still seeps through more than I would like it to. I've also been thinking about taking the rash gaurd approach since last summer. Since it's SCAM this May, I should just jump in and get one!

Many thanks for sharing this with blogland; you very well may have saved somebody's life.

May 15, 2009 at 11:53 PM

Blogger Sherry Lynn said...

PS- Totally digging that sunscreen stick! Want one!!! :o)

May 15, 2009 at 11:57 PM

Blogger PJ said...

I learned the same lesson a few months ago when they removed a mole off of my back. It turned out to be nothing but it was a good wake up call. Skin cancer is one of those things that you never really think about...until you're forced to.

Thanks for the reminder!

Oh, and my doc let me swim again after 7 days as long as I left it covered. I was hoping he was going to say 2 months (I hate swimming)!

May 16, 2009 at 2:12 AM

Blogger t-odd said...

Wow - that will wake you up a little bit. Take care of yourself. Thanks for the good info. Being a Nordic type individual I have more than learned my lesson with too many sunburns and never a "good tan" in my life, now I don't even try - Lots of sunscreen and a hat. More than anything don't get a staph infection -that crap is NASTY! Go ride and run.

May 16, 2009 at 2:26 AM

Blogger TriSaraTops said...

So glad they caught that early! Sending you good vibes.

May 16, 2009 at 3:36 AM

Blogger Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Glad she took care of it right your attitude and your new bikini! Good thoughts floating over the blogosphere to your corner of the world.

May 16, 2009 at 3:43 AM

Blogger Nibbles said...

Bree, thank you for posting all those tips. I will be thinking of you and hoping for the best possible results. Keep us posted!

May 16, 2009 at 4:41 AM

Blogger t-odd said...

RR - make sure you wear nice underpants. Don't make the same mistake Bree made. (ha ha)

May 16, 2009 at 4:59 AM

Blogger Go Gammie said...

As always Bree, you have an interesting post. Very interesting and important information. Glad you got in and had a check up with the "Good Doctor". My 100 year old grandmother has had a few spots removed also :)
I am sure you will miss your ocean swims, but it will so nice for you to be back in after 10 days. Have a great weekend!!

May 16, 2009 at 5:26 AM

Blogger Missy said...

going to put on sunscreen right NOW before my run! Thanks and doc is joke, don't play, right NOW is the answer.

May 16, 2009 at 5:38 AM

Blogger Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Thank you so much for sharing the Bree - I am SO HAPPY you went to your doctor and she found the spot. You really don't want to mess around with this stuff. I am going to go put on sunscreen RIGHT NOW before I head out. Good vibes and hugs your way. The ocean will always be there... Hang in there!

May 16, 2009 at 7:09 AM

Blogger Lisa G said...

Bree, glad to hear you got that checked out and your doc took it out immediately. That is a really good plan to be even more careful than you already are from now on. I try to be really careful myself about sun protection, having lost my mom to malignant melanoma only 2 years ago.

Keep it up with the wonderful attitude and positive outlook!

May 16, 2009 at 8:04 AM

Blogger Stef said...

Hey Girl! Thanks for this. So glad your doctor addressed this swiftly and that you shared these tips with us.

LOVE your attitude!! :-)

May 16, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Blogger GoBigGreen said...

Good luck. I know those days were very scary while i waited to see as they biopsied my melanoma. I guess it is the one thing i like about MN is that i am not tempted to be outside all day long, and when you live where you do I can see how hard it would be to not ride run swim mid-day.I totally rescheduled my life and really try to be covered or inside between 10 and 4. Doesnt happen alot but at least I try.
I just "Graduated" from my 2 year anniversary of quarterly check ups, but it is never far from my mind.
Hang in there, lots to do other than swim in the ocean and be in the sun...dang it. I know.

May 16, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Blogger ADC said...

Hope it all heals quickly. Glad you've got it checked out.

May 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Blogger Silvi said...

Ah- same right now! Got 6 things cut out last wednesday! Just preventive check though- but I am not allowed to train anything for 2 weeks! So no worries if its just the ocean for you! Am doing work, papers and house cleaning instead to prevent becoming depressive without moving my ass for so long... best wishes, Silv

May 16, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Blogger Molly said...

Bree, fingers crossed that it all turns out for the best and you heal quickly. Good job getting your checkup done - it's more than I have done and I really should (super-pale person that I am). Thanks for all the wonderful preventative suggestions.

May 16, 2009 at 11:42 AM

Blogger Train-This said...

Nice post BREE!!!! It's good to know that a sunshine girl like you needs to lather up too!

May 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Blogger Charisa said...

Glad you went and got checked out - I had a scare like that 8 years ago. Now I take sunscreen with me on long rides to reapply :) Wishing you the best! Oh - and love the new biking to wear at honu!!

May 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Blogger Jen said...

See, Bree...just what we were talking about that day at the Y!
I hope all turns out okay and glad you are armed for the sun with the proper stuff now!

May 16, 2009 at 3:27 PM

Blogger triitagain said...

Bree, you will be in my prayers!

May 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Blogger Coach Liz said...

Thank you for this post. One of my good cycling buddies called me yesterday and he had a mole cut out off the back of his upper arm yesterday and stitched up and it was one of those black spots as well. He called me yesterday to tell me to wear my SPF50+ on the bike and when I went out running.

I guess I am going to have to get my moles and spots check out now. Too many people are scaring me with these little stories.

May 16, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Blogger Oscarjet said...

Big hug fron Andorra ! no more time .... bye !!!!

May 16, 2009 at 8:57 PM

Blogger Bruce Stewart (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Sounds scary, but I am glad the doctor found it and dealt with it. I've always had a lot of trouble using sunscreen as I hate it when it gets in my eyes (as my face needs it more). Probably best to get your training done early in the day whenever possible. In Taiwan the women cover themselves from head to foot to stay out of the sun, although their skin is much better suited to the sunny weather here. I hope the Honu preparation continues.

May 16, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Blogger Shawn and Tracy said...

Thanks for the reminders. It is so easy for us triathletes to get into skin trouble when we spend so many hours in the sun.

May 17, 2009 at 6:57 AM

Blogger IronBob said...

Back in the olds days (I qualify as a person that remembers them)Mom and Pop would just send you out to get sunburned. (Tanks fer nutin!). But they were ignorant then. We (me as a parent), much smarter, now.

I hope all pans out well in the future on this and we will all say a prayer on the home front that it does.

Best Regards

May 17, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Blogger Mel said...

Glad it only ended with a couple of stiches:).....we need you around a lot longer!!!! Cool little write up on YOU on rock!!!

May 17, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Blogger Leah said...

Whoa, scary! But a good reminder to us all. Glad you got it taken care of.

May 17, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Blogger Cy said...

Thanks for all the reminders Bree. I just love the sun, but I know I need to be much more careful.

I'll be praying for good news for you on Tuesday.

Way to keep such a positive attitude-You're amazing.

May 17, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Blogger Jacqi said...

Here's to good thoughts! I hate those full-on skin exams!

May 18, 2009 at 6:24 AM

Blogger MadisonDuo said...

So glad the doctor found it and that they removed it immediately!

Sending you good vibes...enjoy this time off from swimming/the ocean - cause when you do get back in - it'll just be that much better.


May 18, 2009 at 7:56 AM

Blogger MadisonDuo said...

So glad the doctor found it and that they removed it immediately!

Sending you good vibes...enjoy this time off from swimming/the ocean - cause when you do get back in - it'll just be that much better.


May 18, 2009 at 7:56 AM

Blogger E.L.F. said...

Oh I just read this! Take care of your skin, girl! And consider over-wintering here in Chicago :) We don't see much sun through winter!

May 18, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Blogger greyhound said...

Your story reminds me of Deena Kastor. Athletes who spend a lot of time in the sun have to be super careful with this--even folks like me who came late to the party and spent the last 20 years working inside.

I need to get some of that sunscreen stick, but I'll be keeping it in my bento box rather than my clothing. (**Say is that sunscreen in your trisuit, or are you just happy to see me**)

May 19, 2009 at 4:08 AM

Blogger Jenna said...

Glad to hear your doc was so quick in acting!! A little time out of the ocean might seem like a pain in the ass, but would you trade your health for it?

My Grandfather found a spot on his head, not visable through his thick hair and his time on earth quickly vanished.

I never want to say, I wish I had only known...thanks for putting this out there!!

May 22, 2009 at 9:49 AM

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