Take a Chance, you may save a life


On my wife’s arm in 1958 a little mole grew, it was notable because it was quite dark.  Next it developed a little red spot right in the centre of the dark area.  It really looked different so she went to the Doctor who removed the mole and sent it for a biopsy.  Several days later I received a call from the Doctor telling me that I had 24 hours to get my wife to a hospital in Winnipeg the capital of Manitoba or he would not be responsible for her life.   The phone call really got my attention.  At the time we were living in Flin Flon, Manitoba a well established mining town and from there to Winnipeg it was a 400 kilometer drive.  We made the long trip and as soon as we arrived in Winnipeg Sonia went directly to the hospital, she was admitted and the operation took place the same day.  The surgery excised a large scoop out of her forearm arm, right down to the muscle; she still has the prominent scar.  Sonia had to be examined every three months for the next five years and after that she was published as being cured, one of 49 people in North America.  In those days curing malignant melanoma was an unusual event.

Fast forward to the spring of 1999 Sonia had to have a knee replacement in Burnaby BC and we booked into a motel not far from the hospital.  The Motel building was shaped like a square and in the centre was an outdoor swimming pool.  The rooms were closely adjacent to the pool separated by a solid board fence.  Sonia was in hospital recovering and I was in the motel.  One afternoon I was idly looking out over the pool and there were two young men sitting in deck chairs having a drink and taking in the sun.  Soon one man left, I remarked that it was a great day to the remaining man and soon we were in a conversation about the trip he was going to make on a vacation to Indonesia the very next day.

I noted on his arm what looked to me to be a very well developed malignant melanoma.  So I said ” have you ever shown that black mole on your arm to a Doctor?” he replied that he had about seven years ago.  At that time the Doctor told him not to worry about it.  I told him that I thought it might be very serious and that he should go to emergency and see a Doctor before he left for Indonesia.

In October of 1999 Sonia was having her other knee replaced and I just happened to be in the lobby of the motel and a guy came over and gave me a big hug and said the Doctors said that I owed you a truck load of beer.  I was lost. Then he reminded me about our conversation at the pool back in the spring.  He took my advice, he went to emergency, he did not get to go to Indonesia instead he went under a long treatment program to cure his melanoma.  At least he was still alive and working and looking very much like a survivor.   I think that sticking your nose into someone else’s business can be risky but it can be rewarding.

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