Well, it's been four years now since I moved away from Kona, thought I'd check in. This is probably a dead blog by now, if there are any past readers seeing this post... HELLO again.
The obvious first question those who know me from before is "have you been diving?" Sadly no. I thought about it early on but was frankly afraid to do cold water. When I moved to Kona it was January and the water temp was 73 degrees, I didn't even need a wetsuit in those days. Once you start diving more often you start getting acclimated, and by the time I moved on I was getting cold on the second dive in 80 degree water wearing a 5 mil suit. The last couple night dives I did I was wearing the 5 mil suit with a 3 mil shorty over the top and the water was still in the high 70s. I had become a warm water weenie and was kind of chicken. The thought of 45-53 degree water has been enough to keep me saying "maybe next year" for the first couple of years. Since then, life has kinda got in the way. I need to change that.
I do miss the diving, and I miss the ability to head out and be snorkeling or swimming at the Place of Refuge in a few minute's time from where I used to live. The first couple of winters here in Oregon were tough... when we got here it was 20 degrees and didn't get over 32 or so for a week and a half, kinda rare in Corvallis to have that long of a cold stretch. I've gradually acclimated though.
So I did manage to bring back something with me from Hawaii that I wish I had not... skin cancer. When we lived there I had a spot on my chest that I had the doctor remove, he said it was probably nothing but if it grew back get on it right away and have it biopsied. A couple years after we got back I was looking for the spot and couldn't even barely make out the scar, then a couple months later it reappeared and grew fast. Went to the doctor and they thought it likely nothing but sent me to a dermatologist. She looked at it and said it looked to be a basal cell carcinoma, nothing to really worry about in the long run but that I'd want to get rid of it before it got big and ugly and weepy, so she sliced if off and sent it off for biopsy. The call a week later was one of those "Mr. Frisbie, I wish I had good news for you but I don't" calls. Turned out it was melanoma, which is pretty likely fatal if you don't get at it on time. So, it was off to surgery and they removed about a 5 inch by .75 inch puck of meat off my chest and pulled the skin back over. It left me with a nifty question mark shaped scar, I should probably get a tattoo of a sheepherder holding it (shaped like a cane as well). They got everything and and pulled the sentinel lymph node and it was clean, so I am hopefully essentially cured thank goodness. I do get to get really familiar with a dermatologist for the rest of my life. I'll be going in every 6 months for a few years then annually after 5 of being clear. I did also come up with some spots of the basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas as well, a little minor "surgery" and some freezing has done a good job of taking care of that.
I expect the melanoma was a result of repeated exposure to sun and sun burns growing up. They say 4-5 sunburns can double your likelihood of coming down with it later in life, I've had dozens of sunburns over the years, well before moving to the tropics. It wouldn't surprise me if the other two types of cancer were at least influenced by all the sun I got on the boat and my penchant for ignoring sun protection. Nowadays I'm doing the sun block and sun clothes any time I'm out in the sun. Here's a shot of me in full sun gear on a recent day of hiking.. whenever I look at that hat all I can think of is the van in "Dumb and Dumber". I didn't care for them before, but I now am a firm believer in wearing rash guards if I think about swimming. I feel I should mention this because skin cancer is pretty easy to think "it won't happen to me" and a worry for a lot of my friends, both here and in Hawaii, who catch a lot of sun. For those of you with kids, you might want to be proactive about having them wear sun protection as they grow up. If you have a mole that grows, or long term scaly spots on your face or lips you might want to have it looked at, and biopsied if there is ANY question at all about what it is. My melanoma was not anything like the textbook pictures you see, black and highly irregular and such, just a fast growing mole.
Well, that's it for now. I finally figured out how to get at this thing, had to remember some old passwords and such and get things changed a bit. I do plan to start diving again... maybe this year... ha, ha... Pat and I really want to do a dive trip before we completely forget how.