Late last summer I noticed a tiny spot on the side of my nose. No big deal, I assumed — until it didn’t heal for several months. During a regular visit to my internist, I asked him to take a look. He didn’t think it was anything serious, but decided to biopsy it to be on the safe side. Much to his surprise and mine, it turned out to be cancer.
I was referred to a surgeon who specializes in removing my particular type of cancer and made an appointment for late October to have the tumor removed followed by reconstructive plastic surgery. But I canceled the surgery because I was offered an opportunity to tape a special for PBS in November. I knew I couldn’t be camera-ready in time for the show so I put business needs first. How serious could a little skin cancer be?
Very serious, I learned. By the time the surgery was rescheduled in January, the cancer had spread aggressively. The tumor barely missed my eye and tear duct system, which would have been extremely destructive. Instead of being a simple incision, I was cut along the left side of my nose, over to my eye and across the bridge of my nose — requiring three hours of surgery and two skin grafts. And while I was on the oeprating table, they removed another little bump that looked innocuous, but also turned out to be cancer. So I was back in surgery a few weeks later. Almost the entire first quarter, I’ve been dealing with health-related issues.
I am Native American, so it is rare for this type of cancer to affect someone with my skin type. Now, I have two important lessons to share. First, don’t postponne your health needs for the sake of your business. I should never have postponed the first surgery, because the cancer grew quickly. Secondly, never ignore any skin problems. My business partner died last month from melanoma. His dermotologist removed a mole four times before he biopsied it because he didn’t think it was anything to worry about. The biopsy came back stage three melanoma.
If you aren’t in good health, you can’t be valuable to your business. Poor health affects your productivity, judgment, and even mental state. You may think you are too busy to deal with health issues, but you can’t afford not to.
So far things look positive for me and my business is doing just fine. There is a happy ending, but next time if I don’t follow my own advice, I might not be so lucky. I hope you are listening.