14 September 2015

My beauty spot

About 4 weeks ago at one of our daily 8.30 am staff meetings, our production supervisor asked me what I’d done to myself. Seizing the moment others jumped on in pointing out that I had what looked like a very nasty and angry skin ulcer just above my right eyebrow.  I’d noticed it before and had always convinced myself it was nothing more than a mole that had merged with a sunspot to create a beauty spot.

Driving home that evening I looked at it again in the rear vision mirror. This time it was distinctly different to how I remembered it. Was it because of the fading light or perhaps the reaction of my alarmed coworkers’ earlier in the day still ringing in my ears. I pulled over and looked even closer. Raised now and cratered in the middle it had grown in size to around 1cm in diameter.

Waiting at the Doctors surgery I made a promise to myself to wear a bloody hat this coming summer when running. I might even buy a pair of sunglasses I thought to myself. Sunscreen however, now that’s something entirely different. That gluggy buildup of cream mixed with sweat running down your forehead and into your eyes isn’t one of life’s little pleasures by any stretch. And what about that sensation of overheating you always get. It’s like the sweat glands are all blocked up and scream out to be set free. “Mark Watson please”.

When your Doctor announces something is ‘interesting’ peering through a magnifier with built in torch, never assume he/she regards you as being unique, special or a world apart. The word interesting is their way of saying “holy crap this looks bad. Nurse we need backup and while you’re at it bring the gurney”. We then discussed the need for an urgent biopsy. After booking it in we talked for a while about Hugh Jackman and his recent battles with basal cell carcinoma. I don’t really remember paying or leaving the clinic. I do remember finding myself back at the car feeling spiritual all of a sudden which felt comforting. I’m getting old I thought to myself. Bugger.

There aren’t too many downsides to being a runner. The risk of skin cancer however is one I’ve thought a little about in the past but never for too long until now. They say a runner’s skin becomes far more photosensitive and prone to burning over time which somehow seems all the more plausible now. A month ago I was the epitome of everything a runner should be, aerobically fit with a great core and mental toughness superior to most. I never succumbed to sickness, colds or flu. I’m a runner damn it!

Then again … are any of us truly bullet proof?

Half asleep my text alert went off. Figuring it might be the work alarm I reached over and checked with just one eye open. Tuesday 7.01 am ‘Hi Mark, the biopsy of the forehead lesion shows minor skin damage – probably needs moisturiser only. Kinds regards Dr …’

I’ll still buy that hat.


  1. Whew! That was a close one. Hey, I thought you didn't get any sun in the land of the long black cloud?
    I've had quite a few rough bits taken off my hands and one off the back of my calf (which we don't think to cover with sunscreen). Always wear a cap and these days do most of my running in the late afternoon or early morning when the sun is low. Cover up well on the bike too.

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  3. Rotorua sits 1000 feet above sea level so well out of reach of that long black cloud you spoke of. Speaking of long black clouds wreaking havoc. I’ll wager a long black decaf that those mighty ABs make it further than those nasty Wallabies over there in England where the sun certainly doesn’t shine. Yes, a hat from now on and running either side of peak sunshine hours for sure. Thanks Ewen.