"All's well," reported my dermatologist after a medical procedure to remove a tissue sample from by back for analysis. Turns out it wasn't malignant.
I spent a lot of time during my early years in the sun — first working as a Los Angeles County Beach Lifeguard, then surfing, diving, climbing, skiing. Never heard much about melanoma in those days. I hear a lot about it now, mostly from the guys I worked and surfed with on the beach all those years. Some pretty sad stories too...
My doc was in his early '40s; a little fat around the gut but looked strong in the shoulders and chest. He asked what I did for a living. I explained health, fitness and sports. He said he use to climb, but hasn't for a long time. Been too busy. But he has been thinking about getting back into shape to introduce his two kids to a "great sport, rock climbing."
Signs of Melanoma
"Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color," according to the Mayo Clinic. "Melanoma can also form in your eyes and, rarely, in internal organs, such as your intestines."
Learn the A-B-C-D-E guide developed by the American Academy of Dermatology to determine if moles on your body — or that of a loved one — may indicate melanomas or other skin cancers by clicking here.
"Yep, its time to get back into working out," he said. "Need to tone up."
I said, "Yes and drop about 30 pounds."
He quickly responded, "15."
"Well, okay, 25," I said.
Smiling, he said, "Yeah, that's probably more like it."
I went into a waiting room while the local lab analyzed the tissue he carved out of my back. The surgery was a breeze. When he returned to confirm the tissue sample was not malignent and closed the incision, he remarked, "The real problem with climbing is that it takes so long to get to a place where there's decent rock. And if I'm going to get back in shape, just training to climb demands a lot of time."
I guess I've heard that line — about the "time thing" — on at least a thousand occasions.
"Doc, don't try to get into shape by climbing," I said. Get in shape to climb."
Begin with some gut work, then stretching. You know how important flexibility is in climbing. You can do your gut and stretching anywhere, anytime, like right in this office between patients. A little here, a little there... man, it all adds up. Get a mat from Sports Authority and just roll it out.Slam-bam, a couple of hundred crunches two or three times a day and you'll be an animal again.
I went on, "But you know the routine, begin slowly and build up over a couple of months. Then, if you have your sights on a serious climb, you can add resistance to your routine later."
"Not having enough time to enjoy fitness and sports, well doc, you know the story. It's never really about not having enough time is it? Truth is, everyone on our planet has the same amount of time — 24 hours a day. It has more to do with where we place our attention and priorities, right?"
He didn't respond, just smiled and nodded yes. Then I gave him a tip about a climbing spot on the Blue Ridge about an hour-plus from where he lives. It's just a top-rope gig, but has some fun routes. A great place to teach kids. That's where my two sons learned.
— Da Coach