This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

February 9th, 2004

SPF 50

My column last week on cancer really seems to have struck a cord with many of you. I had the largest number of emails on that column of any I have done in the past seven years. What is especially interesting is, that with a few exceptions, most of the folks who emailed me did not post any comments on the Bulletin Board.

There could be many reasons for that of course, but it reminded me of a situation some years ago with a dear friend in Montana. This gentleman is a rancher and owns a great deal of land. That's measured in sections, not acres. Anyway, he was gone for a week or so. We had no idea where he was, and his family wasn't saying. Eventually he showed up at the house, and said he had open heart surgery in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since he wasn't Canadian, we thought it a bit odd. He 'confessed' he had gone to a private hospital in Canada because he didn't want his bankers to know he was having heart surgery. He was afraid they would call in his loans if the bankers thought he was in bad health.

At my age, I am hopefully past the stage in my life where vanity might influence whether I have a particular surgery or not (at least on my face) but I do understand wanting to keep ones medical condition private. I went public in the hope of getting folks to check themselves for sun-caused cancers - and beyond that - getting an annual physical exam.

I remember all too well when some friends, and former students of ours in Michigan came out to visit and fish the west. They spent a few days in Yellowstone National Park, and then came up to the ranch in Wilsall, Montana to spend some time with us. We were shocked when they came to the door. Both were badly sunburned and wind burned to the extent their lips were blistered! High altitude, lack of pollution and beautiful sunny days were all contributing factors. As I recall I slobbered them both up with Aloe from my house plant which at least took the pain out of it. I don't think I've ever been that sunburned and fear they will have skin cancer problems in the future too.

How many times have you seen someone steelhead fishing in the winter with just a head band on? Just because the sun is lower in the sky doesn't mean the rays are that much safer! Skiers know the dangers - and they use sunscreen!

Just to keep my husband, Castwell, and my doctor happy, I've ordered a new fishing hat. This one is from Tilley, sort of like an Australian Out Back hat, but it's breathable, with a ventilated crown, and the dark underneath the wide brim. Should keep the sun off my face, but I will use the BullFrog sunscreen too, SPF50.

Thanks for the many phone calls and emails wishing me well with my little problem, the wonderful posts to "get well quick" on the Bulletin Board, and especially to the medical professionals who posted on the Cancer Screening topic on the Bulletin Board. If you haven't read that, please do. It's important.

We fly out on Wednesday the 11th of February from SeaTac airport to Houston, Texas, to Miami, Florida and on to Nassau, Bahamas. We'll stay at the Crystal Palace and fly on to South Andros Thursday on the afternoon flight.

We are taking the new laptop - so unless there is a major disaster - I will put up a new issue next Sunday at midnight from beautiful Emerald Palms, S. Andros, Bahamas.

Wish you were going with us - but I promise to catch a fish just for you! ~ The LadyFisher

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