b'final mattersAn Abridged History ofGrowing Up without SunscreenHandling skin cancer without the panicBY DONNY LEVITS oon after moving to New Orleans in theahow importantdermatologistandsurgeonareconfi-1990s, I began an almost daily ritual ofit is to be yourdent they nabbed all of it. running through the stupendous Audu- own advocate, IIn the grand scheme of things, this bon Park. Id loop the outer ring multiplepromptlyfoundis all very small potatoes. After all, I times, occasionally heading down past thenew dermatol- come from a family where almost ev-zoo to give my regards to the Mississippiogist. ery woman has battled breast cancer. I River and spy a few more southern live oakImgoingtoself-mockingly created a daily alarm on trees. A large part of that ritual was making peace with thetakeasampleofmy phone and titled it Scarface to re-brutal heat, humidity, and blazing sun.this, but Im 99%member to apply silicone tape, which On a mid-September morning after waking up to a par- sure this is cancer- helps soften the visible scarring. I also ticularly unpleasant sunburn on my face and neck, I headedous,saidmynewapply a sunblock skin cream to my face up to the (now-defunct) K&B drugstore on South Carroll- dermatologistafterand neck, regardless if the sun is out. ton Avenue to pick up some aloe gel to cool the burn. All theexamining that flakyAnd now I have an almost daily debate Gen-Xers out there will certainly recall slathering on babyarea. Her hunch waswith myself about whether Scarface oil and baking in the sun until your forearms were lobster- verified by the lab re- is the best worst film ever made or colored. We were SPF-ignorant, to say the least. sults, and I was sched- the worst best film ever made.I headed to the back of the K&B where the pharmacist spied me rifflinguled for Mohs surgery 10 days later. Look, while I dont make it a habit through all those gels. Whatdya need, cher? she asked. (Oh, how I miss thoseNamed after Dr. Frederick Mohs,of being prescriptive, I can say without New Orleans terms of endearment). After she got a good look at my face, shewho developed the technique, the sur- a doubt that you should put an annual scolded me. Use some sunblock, dawlin. Dont do this to yourself again.gical procedure removes basal cell andskin check on your calendar. And if you As the years went by, I kind of, sort of heeded my New Orleans pharma- squamouscellcarcinomas.Herearesee something on your loved ones skin, cists advice. But by the time we had children, I started taking the sunscreen/ thebasics:thesurgeonremovesthehave them get it checked out. I kid you sunblock thing very seriously. I spray paint my kids with sunscreen even on thecancerous section when youre undernot when I tell you my dermatologist cloudiest of summer days. We know better. local anesthetic. After the layer is tak- always offers me a lollipop. I have quite Fast-forward to another mid-September morning in 2021about 30 yearsen, a Mohs histotechnician (Id love toacollection.Andifyougetchecked after I first ran that loop in Audubon Park. I noticed a small, flaky section onhave that occupation on my resume)out as well, I promise to dig into my the side of my face, hidden under my almost fully gray (thanks, COVID) side- freezes it, places it on a slide, and thor- stash for your favorite flavor. burn. For the record, I was already getting annual skin checks. The flaky sectionoughly examines it. If they didnt getDonny Levit is a writer and Maplewood had parked itself on my sideburn for over a month. Something felt off. I headedall the cancer, the surgeon removes an- resident. He is the author of Rock n Roll over to my dermatologist, who took a sample and sent it into the lab. Ten daysother layer until the process of cancerLies, 10 Stories. You can hear him DJ later, the doctor told me that it was not cancerous, but we should still keep ancell removal is complete. They wrap uphisindierockshowUndertheInflu-eye on it.the procedure with a combination ofence and his jazz show Kind of Pool After another six weeks without any healing, I called the office to make an- dissolving stitches and external stitch- on Bone Pool Radio. Follow him on In-other appointment. It was November 2021, and I was pretty peeved when I wases that are removed a week later. Afterstagram @undertheinfluenceradio and told they wouldnt be able to fit me in until March 2022. In this day of knowingmultiple follow-ups to the office, my@kindofpoolradio.46/ matters magazine / summer 2022'