Friday, July 29, 2005

Aging

cancer_color
I drew this self portrait two years ago after I was diagnosed with skin cancer. It manifested itself as a bb sized freckle under my right eye. I didn't give it much thought until one day, as I was washing my face, it started bleeding. I got a biopsy and was (mildly) relieved when the doctor said it was basel cell...the "good" kind of skin cancer.
I underwent Mohs' surgery, which is supposed to be the most non-invasive form of skin cancer surgery. I was a bit surprised that such a little lesion would require so much cutting and stitching...I felt a little like Frankenstein as I changed the bandages a few days after the surgery. It's the price I am paying for a childhood spent outside in the sun every summer with no sunscreen at all...back then we didn't know what UV was, much less what it could do to you. We just tried to get the deepest, darkest tan possible, sunburn be damned!
The scar has heeled now, and I'm the only one who notices it, of course.
I posted this "before and after" sketch in hopes that it will help all of us to be more conscious of the time we spend in the sun, and to pay attention to even minute changes in our skin...it can mean the difference between life and death. Luckily for me, it was just minor surgery, and a subtle daily reminder every time I look in the mirror.

23 comments:

paula said...

Thanks for sharing your cancer story with us, Rick, as well as the excellent portraits of yourself. I spent a lot of time out in the sun in my youth and 20's. I now have NO desire to get into tanning as I'm aware of the damage it can cause. Your warning is appreciated as is your art. : )

Ginger *:) said...

Thank you for sharing this... I am glad to hear that you healed so well. Thank you too, for the advice as your warning will be taken to heart by many.

Diong said...

Excellent portraits... and thank you for sharing your story.

carla said...

Rick,

I love your work! I took a look around your blog, and I really appreciate your discussions about your process on various pieces. I admire your approach of using a variety of media to achieve the effect you want. I'm will certainly keep watching to see what you add...

I am trying to revisit my love for drawing and painting that somehow got lost over the years in the morass of daily obligations, so I'm doing the Illustration Fridays thing. It's really energizing to see so many wonderful talents out there!

I had a similar experience with a basel cell on my nose (little "pimple/Mohs' surgery) - I was shocked when the surgeon showed me the size of the incision. All those years of sun worshipping just weren't worth it...

Okay, enough rambling! Thanks for sharing your work.

Carla

Kim Carney said...

Beautiful self-portrait. Your work is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, and they are wonderful drawings. My Husband has a huge hole gut out of his back, and another out of his chest on the other side. They were the dangerous ones. You have given an important message.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I knew immediately what your drawings were saying... Glad you said it... Glad it "worked". Must get myself and hubby to dermatologist... AFTER I finish chemo for breast chancer... one thing at a time.

Rick Lovell said...

Thanks, everyone for your kind comments. My little scurmish with skin cancer is nothing compared to what many must face everyday, like many of you have on this blog ring. If a little scar on my face will cause the younger folks here to pay more attention to their skin, and especially their children's, then I'm happy I put this sketch out there. Best wishes to all of you who are dealing with "aging" in its' often wonderful, and sometimes difficult ways.

James said...

Having to scroll down to the "after" picture really heightens the drama. You've created a powerful and elegant statement by personalizing the issue. And of course the portraits are wonderful on their own merit.

Rowantree said...

Nice work, and thanks for sharing your history.

Mark Stinson said...

The drawings and your story reminded me of my Dad. He would go in every few months and have more skin cancers and pre-skin cancer areas "scooped" from his face. He always had fresh wounds. It did not appear that he was ever in danger of dying from it...so he took the big wounds in stride.

I'm not sure how I'll handle it when its my turn. I spent a lot of summers in the sun...

Mark Stinson
www.comixscene.com

isay said...

so lovely portrait of yourself. you have beautiful features and your eyes are the most beautiful and visible ones. second is your nose aand lastly, your lips are wonderful. in total, you are a handsome man.

Rick Lovell said...

Oh, isay, you poor baby. You must live with a troll to say such things about me. Thanks, though...you made my year!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful portrait, I love the warm colors. Thanks for sharing your story.

wynlen
wynleDesign

isay said...

me again rick!
me again rick!

ha ha ha i shall tell you that my husband is better looking than you are although i don't draw as well as you do!

like the colors you did. you gave me an idea in changing the pictures in my post after i have enhanced it.

Rick Lovell said...

So, Isay, what you're saying is that even though your husband is a troll, he's STILL better looking than me. Ouch. (just kidding ;)

Valaine said...

Hi Rick! "Wow!" is what I say outloud each time I see your art. That's why I look up to you so ^_^ Thanks for that last comment you gave me, I was and still am honored.

I saw these two portraits when they were not colored. Wow - again! And I too really need to pay more attention to my sun exposure.

I'm thankful it was not serious!

isay said...

rick,

i love troll and i do have one in the house and i am not joking when i have left that first comments.

i forgot to mention that it was nice of you to share your story. actually, my husband is always under the sun and i am worried about it eversince bec. i had a friend who had skin c before.

Rebeccashane said...

wow.. this is a very striking post. Im glad you posted it. Very inspiring.

Julie Oakley said...

Great salutory lesson Rick and fantastic drawing. However I'm very disappointed to discover that you're not always that sexy mysterious man in the trilby and trench coat!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful portraits! And thanks for sharing your story - had a very large basal cell cancer myself. At least it was on my back, so that the scar (app 4" in diameter) is rarely seen. And I wasn't a 'sun-worshipper', I never just laid out in the sun to get a tan - I simply wasn't very careful when going to the beach to swim & ended up getting burnt quite a few times.

Heard a statistic, that if you suffer 3 or more 'moderately heavy' sunburns *within your lifetime*, you've increased your chances of skin cancer by 50% - scary.

Cecilia's Art said...

hi! it isnt your fault about what happened to u, they are test god puts in front of us, and the best way to go on is doing what we love in this short life. one year ago i was diagnostized with leukemia and now i continue fighting with this such a bad disease,, so we have to trust our feelings and dreams, and continue drawing, please!!! kisses.

cleric resources said...

Searching for cancer stage treatment and information I found this post. I totally agree with you and think it takes time!