One Day

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a Gary blog day, and, yes, I know I need to create my own blog page. As you can see something is up with my face. It is one of those things, those vices, addictions, habits, escapes! We all have them, we all work on some of them, and others we choice to ignore. I have worked on my vices and addictions over the years. I no longer smoke that random cigarette in a bar. I am a recovering alcoholic and have now stopped drinking for over 16 years. So why can't I have something??
It's funny, if you smoke people will tell you that it is bad and you will get cancer. So many smokers say yes, I know, I will stop someday. Wade's Mom said that many a time and we watched her pass away with lung cancer from smoking.
I am sure we have all been lectured about something we over do. It is so easy to ignore and think that will never happen to me. Well for years I was a sun worshipper. I have olive skin and in my 20's and 30's my idea of sunscreen was a 4 spf and maybe a 6spf if I had been out all day. At the peak of my addiction to alcohol and clubbing I would go to 2 different tanning beds a day. One during my lunch hour and one after work. People would say you are going to get skin cancer, you are too tan! I listened to none of it and loved my golden brown skin. I guess then at 25, 45 seemed a lifetime away.
This past summer I had 4 red spots on my torso seem to get super aggravated. Wade had asked me several times to get them checked, but they had been treated before by the doctor and I thought they would get better. So a book tour later and super busy schedule July ran into November and I noticed they are still there. As a matter a fact these red spots are staring right at me! Finally I made the appointment and went into the dermatologist. I opened up my shirt to reveal my sun spots and before I could even point them out, the doctor said "I am sorry that is cancer". I kept explaining that I now use a spf 30 and I wear a hat and now sit under the umbrella. But she told me again just to really drive it home "It's cancer lets find out what kind." They screened my body with all sorts of lights and gadgets. Then they took Biopsies of each spot and explained that they would have the results in a week. Now the doctor wanted to look at my face! I thought well that is fine I know. I moisturize and always wear a hat when I go to the beach. As she scanned my face with a bright light like I was a piece of paper on a copying machine, I started to panic. What if there is more, what if they have to cut on my face. After a lengthy exam, the doctor explained that I had severe skin damage, likely from my earlier years and wanted to be sure that the irregular cells didn't get the chance to turn into skin cancer. She prescribed Carac Chemo Cream and I have to use it every day for one month. I was shocked but also ok with that because I knew it would prevent any future damage. I was told that the cream only targets irregular cells and they would turn red, crusty and peel or fade away. What I didn't expect was that on Day 8 of using the cream that over 40 percent of my face has sun damage.That was such a shock! Also, on day 8, I received a call from the doctor letting me know that the 4 spots that she took the biopsy from were superficial Basal Cell Cancer. The good news was if you are going to get skin cancer that is the easiest and quickest to treat. The other good news is that it was superficial and I do not have to have anything removed. I am able to use the chemo cream for 6 weeks and they will be gone!
I have searched on the web about skin cancer and also about Carac Cream. Many people said they didn't leave the house or explained to people they had a chemical peel. I am so, not that guy. I truly think that we are as sick as our secrets. I am always proud to talk about my alcohol addiction and recovery, because it is a part of me. I wanted to share what is going on with me today, because I am the lucky one. I am the one who is fixable.
I look back and think about Wade's Mom and I sure when people talked to her about smoking, she ignored the facts and swept it under the carpet. It was her vice, her addiction. I know she was shocked that it caught up with her.
I wanted to share my picture, to show that my years of sun abuse caught up with me. Mine is so visible it is on the outside there for all to see. So please use suncreen so you don't have to go down this road. I would hope that if someone showed me a picture of a 40 year old with a peeling face from past sun damage that I would maybe stop and think.
I also hope you stop and think about your vice, your addiction and think about what it is doing to you on the inside. Things you can't see, things you can ignore. I hope you all think about letting go and being the healthiest you, you can be. This had really got me thinking about the rest of my vices. I have one more to conquer and that is diet soda. We no longer have any in the house. Day 1 step 1 toward a healthier life.
So take time to center, stay center and stay away from our unhealthy crutches. I hope your glass always stays half full! When we notice that it is half empty, that is when we try to escape and look for our vice. Take time for yourself and think of those around you who love and need you! It is never too late to stop and change a bad habit, so make today the day.
I am now entering week 3 with the Carac Chemo Cream and it is supposed to be the worst. After that I will be in the home stretch! So for the next few weeks, I will be out at events with Wade as the poster child for sunscreen. The doctor has promised that my face will be smooth and pretty again! So until them I will just shine as much as I can from the inside!!



Blogger Melanie Hooyenga said...

Good luck, and thank you for sharing this. I feel like skin cancer is the one no one pays any attention to, yet it seems the most preventable.

November 17, 2011 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Class factotum said...

Whoa! I am so glad that your cancer is easily treatable. I was a tan teen - I was a lifeguard and on the swim team and we lived in Central America, so it was year round - but then, when I was a lifeguard in college, I saw women in their 40s who had tanned for years and their skin looked like leather. Since my late 20s (I wish I had done it sooner), I have worn sunblock on my face and a hat every time I go outside.

When I lived in Memphis, I would even put zinc oxide (which is found in diaper rash ointment) on my face when I went out running. People stared, but I didn't care. I don't want wrinkles, leathery skin, or skin cancer.

November 17, 2011 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Gary, thank you so much for sharing your story. Skin cancer is definitely one our vanity never allows us to seriously apply to ourselves. Btw,your inner light shines through all the time...I knew just from reading Wade's It's All Relative. Best wishes to you.

November 17, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Wenders1022 said...

Thanks for sharing. I have gone through a similar treatment and the upside is that you will look like you had a top notch chemical peal at the end of all of this (but you get to say you weren't taking vanity measures because it was a medical treatment).

November 17, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger GregX2 said...

Thanks for sharing, Gary. From one addict to another, it's the journey.

November 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Wade -I'm sorry you're going through this but it's so good you acted when you did! In fact, you've inspired me - I have these spots on my nose that have been there a while. Just made a derm appt for Dec 6th!

Be well!

November 17, 2011 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger PSRicky said...

every 3 months i see the Dermatologist to keep in check all the damage i did in my golden youth days .... so far all simple stuff when checked and i have a few years on you Wade. Keep those picture hats handy ...

November 17, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

Thanks, I immediately sent it on to my children !! All the best.

November 17, 2011 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Troy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I will forward it to my own spouse in hopes that he will heed your warning more than he hears mine.

November 17, 2011 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger sosparkly said...

Best of luck Gary!

November 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Party Girl said...

I was a devotee of tanning with baby oil and iodine (!!) until I was 23 and saw the face of a woman who spent summers on Cape Cod beaches, and winters on Florida beaches. Her face looked like a well-worn leather couch - there was a not a spot on her face that was not criss crossed with fine lines. My SPF 15 lotion (and higher) was slathered on daily, and now, 30 years later, it does not look like someone has sat on MY face for the past 3 decades - thank you Mrs. LaTanzi for letting me learn from your mistakes!

November 17, 2011 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Rima said...

Gary! I am SO GLAD you caught it early and that you are going to be okay. You are a rock star. It's good that you shared this. I'll be thinking about you and sending up some healing vibes.


November 17, 2011 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Thomas Owens said...

I am glad to hear that it isn't as serious as it could have been. It is good to know that you are going to be alright. Thank you for blogging about the dangers of sun exposure. It is a real threat and we don't often think of what the UV rays can do to us. A very good pos, Gary! May you and Wade have a Happy Thanksgiving.

November 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger TerriW said...

Good for you, Gary! Hugs!

November 18, 2011 at 5:14 AM  
Blogger TeresaT said...

Gary - I am so very grateful to hear that you are on your way to full recovery. I am also extremely inspired by your honesty. I can personally relate to clinging to that one last vice. I was once 100 lbs over weight and addicted to smoking. I worked hard lost the weight and began to smoke more. I then quit smoking and but drank more. After a while and a fe eye opening experiences I had to be honest with myself and give up my wine and cocktails. Over the last few years tanning has been one of these things that I know is so bad for me but I some how try justify in my mind because I gave up so many things already. Your truth has inspired me to live my own truth. I make a promise to you and to myself to stay out of the tanning bed because the TRUTH is tanning beds cause cancer and the TRUTH is I love my life and want to be here for a long healthy time. Many people would hide away or like you said call it a bad chemical peel, but not you. In your honesty you are calling all of us to be honest with our own selves. I thank you for that Gary. I am so blessed to have such inspiring friends. See you at Satya soon!

November 18, 2011 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger K. Zastrow said...

Thank you for sharing. Your courage and honesty could be instrumental in keeping someone from going through a similar experience. Best of luck on a speedy recovery!

November 21, 2011 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger clearness said...

Lots of love and prayers for a fast healing and that you are cancer free forever.

November 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Freenie Belle said...

Gary, You have a tremendous energy about you and it is good that you are sharing this energy with others. You and Wade are so in touch with what is wonderful and beautiful in life that this will help nourish and heal you. Thank you for opening your heart. I will offer a prayer for you in healing meditations I do. You may be interested in "Deepak Chopra, The Soul of Healing Meditations." Very powerful, my best to you, Darlene

November 27, 2011 at 8:48 PM  
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