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Saturday, December 24, 2005



Queensland is considered to be the skin cancer capital of the world. I believe we get more skin cancers per head of population than any other area. We are blessed with a pleasant sunny climate and beautiful beaches. Besides, in our culture a bronze tan is considered healthy. We spend hour after hour in the sun trying to get our skin to look like that of some of my Thai friends. But my Thai friends do not see bronze skin as a blessing. That is why whitening cream is such a big seller in their country.

Before I went to Asia in 2002 I went to a skin-cancer clinic for a checkup. Because we have the highest incidence of skin cancers we also have the most advanced diagnostic equipment. The doctor scanned my body and photographed any suspicious moles. He found one mole that looked dangerous so he cut it out and sent it for a biopsy. The result came back as positive. Yes, I had a skin cancer that would have killed me if it was left alone. Fortunately he removed it all.

While in Asia I did ask a couple of doctors including a skin specialist to take a look at my skin. But I was not happy with the level of their knowledge. So when I returned I booked myself back into the skin-cancer clinic. These guys are so busy there was a two-month wait.

Last week I finally got to see the doctor. Not the same one as before. When I took my clothes off for him to check my skin he said, 'Mmmm, you sure enjoyed the Australian sun in your youth.' Anyone who has seen much of my skin knows that it is covered in moles and brown marks. Yep, that's me in the picture.

I replied, 'Yes, I rode a surfboard every weekend when I was a teenager and I sailed a catamaran for many years.' He gave me the good news that I would continue to get more of these marks as I got older.

He checked me over. The supposedly suspicious moles were OK. He could tell that even without his scanning equipment. He even knew the medical name to describe them. He photographed a few for future reference and then found a strange mark on my neck. He said he had no idea what it was, so he scraped a bit off to send away for checking.

I waited a few days and phoned him for the result. It is OK. I have nothing to worry about—for the moment anyway.

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