Solar Separation ~ haibun

Solar Separation

The sun rises and I embrace the warmth. I tan evenly over the course of the summer, but mindful of the power of those rays on my fair skin I limit my exposure and use sunscreen. Meanwhile, I spend my days making pickups and deliveries for a trucking company. Half of those hours are spent behind the wheel, often with the sun shining into my cab. I give little thought to that sun exposure. After all, there’s no sunburn. In fact, there’s no irritation, at all.

In my fifties, I learn the error in that assumption. I have some precancerous cells on the left side of my face frozen for removal. Two separate times, I have cancerous growths removed from my upper chest and shoulder. They can appear anywhere, even areas that get less exposure. The left side of my body seems to be the most affected, that which would have received the most sun exposure through the driver’s side window.

Dry patches on my face, primarily on the left side, are misdiagnosed by a dermatologist as a form of psoriasis, but they are correctly diagnosed as precancerous when I visit a cancer center for skin screening after moving to Missouri. Daily application of Efudex cream over several weeks gives me a face fit for a Star Trek alien when all of the precancerous areas are exposed, until the dead skin sloughs off and my face returns to normal.

That was six years ago, and there has been no recurrence. Summer has arrived, but my days in the sun are a thing of the past.

sun high overhead
shortest shadows of the year
days now grow shorter

This haibun is my response to Haibun Monday 6-21-21: Solstice I,
the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Solar Separation

mid-treatment for precancerous skin damage

67 thoughts on “Solar Separation ~ haibun

  1. Yes, too much sun can be a dangerous thing. My dear friend in Perth, Australia, an avid gardener, developed skin cancer on her scalp, and was virtually scalped surgically and left with a scarred and grafted area that she covered by wearing turbans. It’s good you’re being cautious.

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    • Thank you. 🙂 My latest experience was an outbreak of spots on my upper torso when I received my COVID vaccine four months ago. They’ve “faded” to pink spots, but I have to wonder if my past experience played any part of the occurrence. I kept in contact with my clinic, and I’ll see them for my annual skin check in September.

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  2. That really is terrifying and I’m so glad you’re okay now. It really makes us think twice (especially for us pale folks) about sun exposure and being cautious in its rays.

    A very powerful story to share.

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  3. As an actor, visiting Australia for 3 months in 1977, I got a terrible sunburn; peeled for a week. 40 years later a mole on my back turned cancerous. The sun is not our friend. My Italian heritage allows me to tan darkly, but it is a seduction. I’me a real paleface now.

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    • The dry patches on my face were primarily on my left temple, and they would come and go, randomly. What I found interesting about the Efudex cream was that it showed that even though it was predominant on the left side, the damage was all over my face. Prior to this, I had already started wearing a wide brimmed hat while kayaking. And sunscreen, of course.

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  4. I have been thinking a lot about sun protection for this reason and other reasons. I’m also very pale. Sometimes, I have skipped it when I am just outside for a short time. I was thinking about that today when I was out. Should I be wearing sunscreen? Thanks for the warning, and I hope you will stay well.

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    • Thank you. Yes, sometimes it’s the things that we take for granted. I was always aware of possible complications. I have a friend who has had a few bouts with melanoma (fortunately mine was “just” squamous cell), but I’d only thought about wrinkles or having a heavily lined face. This was a wake-up call.

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  5. I’m glad you got to the right health professional. Who knows where it would have led otherwise. I am reminded of Frost’s, “knowing how way leads on to way” and how your move to MO made it happen.

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  6. I was warned already as I child that as a redhead my – no tan except freckles – very fair skin would make me prone to get skin cancer. So I’ve always used sunscreen and thin blouses with full sleeves, and avoid the sun completely around lunch.
    Also goes for checkups every year.
    So far so good. I’m praying it stays that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Ken! I’m glad you’re on the mend. I’ve not had skin cancer (my hubby has had melanoma and carcinoma) however, sun exposure on my fair skin has taken its toll. The last few years, if I bump by arm, I don’t bruise—instead, I bleed under my skin. It’s called “senile” purpura! As we age (I hate that word) our skin gets thin. I’m not that old, but I am super fair-skinned. Feel better soon. ❤

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