Eighty-year-old George Clark says in his younger days he wouldn't go out on a date without spending at least four hours baking in the sun. In fact, his whole life has been spent in the sun.
George Clark said, "Never worked inside, commercial fisherman. I shrimped for 25 years; I ran tug boats all over. No skin block, no nothing."
Now he's paying the price.
“I thought I had a little boil on my nose.”
That boil turned out to be the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, melanoma.
"When you hear the word cancer it's ulll. Everybody said, well, I was going to have to get my nose cut off."
Clark isn't alone in fighting skin cancer. More than one million people in the country will hear that diagnosis this year. One in five will be diagnosed sometime in their lifetime.
Dr. Hasan Murshed, a radiation oncologist, said, "We are exposing ourselves more to the sun. Sun is the main reason. More than 90 percent of skin cancer comes because of our exposure to the sun mainly."
There are two types of skin cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is more deadly. Less people are diagnosed with melanoma; however, more patients die because of melanoma.
If you notice some unusual moles on your body and are concerned it may be cancer, there's a general rule to follow called A.B.C.D.
A for asymmetric, b for border, c for color, and D for diameter. If the lesion on the skin is becoming asymmetric, the person can see the color changes or border changes or diameter, go see your doctor.
Clark has opted for radiation because it's much more precise these days, and he still has an image to maintain.
“I still go places and do things. I get around. I like to dance to go to festivals.”
The course for radiation treatment lasts between 2 to 6 weeks. The duration depends on several factors, mainly the size of the tumor and its location.
Keep in mind skin cancer can pop up anywhere, even places that aren't exposed to the sun very often, such as the palm of your hand or the sole of your foot, but 90 percent of the time, the lesions pop up in the obvious places.
As for Clark, he's not so much a prisoner to fashion these days. He doesn't mind looking a little silly when he's out in the sun.
“When I go in the water you wouldn't recognize me. I wear a big hat and tie it under my chin. I smear zinc oxide on my nose and I wear a long sleeve shirt."
If you have questions or concerns about skin cancer and would like to talk to the experts, you can get that chance this Thursday, June 26 at 5 p.m. with Dermatology Associates, Gulf Coast Dermatology, and Radiation Oncologist Dr. Hasan Murshed.
The seminar will be held in the medical office building auditorium at Bay Medical Center. Please call 747-6541 to reserve your seat and for more information.
The first 50 people to register will receive a gift certificate for a free skin cancer screening.