Being of Anglo descent, I have a skin type not entirely suited to the harsh Australian sun. As a consequence, like many others similarly blessed, I had to avail myself of the services of skin cancer specialist.
During the initial consultation, my life in the sun was discussed with the specialist, Dr Ali Zahedi. Here’s the quick review. In the uninformed ’50s and ’60s, it was trips to the beach with a sun lotion that encouraged tanning and summer cricket with maybe some Pink Zink for the nose and floppy hat or a cricket cap. In 70’s and beyond, my time in the sun often involved baseball, with increasingly higher SPF ratings (30+ these days), or mowing the lawn (shirt and broad-brimmed essential but only worn consistently in the last decade or so).
During my most recent six-monthly visit, Ali and I were discussing how typical my experience was - one melanoma and no recurrence. In his reply, he referenced my interest in baseball. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew Ali had paid attention to the health issues but until that moment I was not sure he even knew what baseball was, let alone that it was my favourite pastime.
That attention to detail enabled him to outline cause and effect in a context and in terms that I understood. If I wasn’t already certain of his medical skill and willing to speak in his favour, this most recent circumstance only encourages me. I have already spread the word within my family - wife, brother, daughter and sister-in-law all visit Ali on a regular basis. Now I am spreading it to a wider audience.
I am under no illusion about Ali’s memory for “incidental” information. Almost certainly he made a note of personal interests at an earlier consultation and checked his notes either prior to or even during this visit. That is perfectly reasonable. I prefer him to allocate his memory to medical issues - the thigh bone is connected to the ….., etc, rather than my favourite colour. Because he had notes, he was able to personalise this meeting. Not that I need much encouragement to have a bond with Ali, he saved my life through his medical treatment.
When you read this post, I hope to be on holidays on the South Coast of New South Wales enjoying the Australian summer. If you’ll pardon the diversion into foreign territory, may I remind everyone to take care in the sun. The skin protection slogan these days is Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide. Slip on a shirt, slop on sunblock, slap on a hat, seek the shade and slip on sunglasses. Great advice. Prevention is much better than cure.
If you have issues about cancer, the Cancer Council is a great resource. Their Sun Protection page is a great place to start.