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I must be cautious about projecting what is happening in my limited sphere to the world at large, but what is going on with feet?
Since this time last year I have known three people who have had melanomas on the bottoms of their feet. Two have had surgery; the third has surgery next week. Of the two that have had surgery; one is not doing well, the other is now improving after a number of post op complications. The one who has surgery next week got good PET and MRI scans, so he is projected to recover completely - except for wearing compression garments the rest of his life.
We are bombarded with statistics about sun exposure and sunburn causing skin cancer - particularly melanoma. But who gets sun exposure on the bottom of their feet?
We are told that you identify melanoma when you have a changeable black spot on your skin. I have a changeable black spot that my dermatologists assures me is a seborrheic keratosis. The melanoma’s on these friend’s feet were neither black nor changeable. One of them started as a blister that didn’t heal up.
There are even worse foot complications in my corner of the world. A high school friend requested prayer for his wife. She had a blister on the bottom of her foot that didn’t heal. She went to the doctor when it started oozing blood, and she had a flesh eating bacteria. When she woke up after surgery, he held her hand and said, “I’m sorry. I had to choose between losing your leg or losing your life. I chose your leg.” Her leg was amputated above the knee.
He went home that night and as he got into bed, he felt something different on his own foot. He looked and saw a little blister. It was still there the next morning, so he asked the doctor about it when he went to visit at the hospital. They admitted him, and he also had the flesh eating bacteria. Because his was caught so early, he only lost three toes. They are both stable and doing rehab - her as inpatient, him as outpatient.
I have so many questions?
Where do you pick up a flesh eating bacteria in February? I could understand if it was summer and they were walking around barefoot, or wading in stagnant rivers or lakes - but it’s cold outside. Neither was doing anything remotely connected with the conventional way people get flesh eating bacteria.
Is there any statistical proof that sunscreen reduces the rate of melanoma? Don’t get me wrong - I use sunscreen - it’s worth it just to prevent the misery of sunburn. But is it really effective at preventing any kind of skin cancer, particularly melanoma?
And for me the biggest question of all - how in the world do you know when to seek medical help? If I go to the doctor every time I have a cut or a blister, they will label me as a hopeless hypochondriac. I risk not being taken seriously when a real problem does arise. Yet there is clearly a time when you put away the vitamins, herbs, and OTC remedies to seek medical intervention.
If you are reading this blog, you are probably proactively involved in your own health, as I am. I will continue to live a healthy lifestyle, and provide optimum raw materials to my body through nutrition. I can be aware of changes in my body. I can call a doctor when self help remedies do not work in a reasonable amount of time. But ultimately, I live by faith. I cannot control a lot of what happens around me. I cannot even control what happens inside of me. I choose not to live with worry or fear. Ultimately I put myself in God’s hands, knowing that he is faithful to heal those who love and follow him - either in this life or the next.
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