Mayor John Kinnaird
May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, and I want to help make you more aware of this common health issue. There are several different types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell skin cancer, and squamous cell skin cancer.
Nonmelanoma skin cancer is a very a common cancer in the United States, with more than 5 million people diagnosed each year. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are nonmelanoma skin cancers, are the most common types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than the more common forms of skin cancer. Melanoma is more common in men than women and among individuals of fair complexion. Unusual moles, exposure to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time, and health history can affect the risk of melanoma.
Many skin cancers can be prevented by using sunscreen, wearing large-brimmed hats, long sleeves, long pants, and minimizing your direct exposure to sunlight. Be sure to keep these recommendations in mind for yourself and your family, especially your children. Sunburn can be the beginning of skin cancer that will not appear for many years.
Early detection is important for skin cancer, and the following are the things everyone should be on the lookout for:
A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin;
A sore that bleeds and/or doesn’t heal after several weeks.
A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed.
A wart-like growth.
A mole (or other spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color.
If you see any of the above signs, please see a dermatologist and have it addressed. My experience with skin cancer began about 35 years ago when I had a half-inch diameter piece removed from my upper back. I went to Dr. Warner who told me it probably started when I got burned as a youngster. He often told me cancer can take years to mature and that I would probably have a continuing relationship with cancer. He was right. After seeing him for about 20 years, he ended up recommending that I visit the cancer center at Johns Hopkins. I have been going there ever since. Over the years, I have had several surgeries on my nose, including two skin grafts, two surgeries that required my nose to be cut wide open, and countless sessions with topical chemo treatments. All the skin from the inside of my left ear was removed a few years ago, and I still have issues with it. I have had at least eight surgeries on my cheeks and forehead, including one in mid-April and another scheduled for mid-May. These have ranged in size from one to two inches in diameter. My scalp has been the worst area for me, having at least a dozen surgeries. Many of those have been one inch in diameter but two of them were three inches across and went all the way to my skull. Those required me to change the dressing regularly and apply salve to the skin and bone. The first one was surgically closed after two months, and my lymph nodes were removed when it was closed. I then had 28 radiation therapy sessions to kill cancer in my nerves the doctor could not remove. Since the radiation, I experience constant pain in the front part of my head. The surgery last June took nine months to close up by granulation, meaning nine months of almost daily bandage changes and wound care. This April, I had another surgery on my left cheek and my lower left back, and I have more scheduled in May. I also have a shelf full of costly cancer drugs and cremes I use every day to try to slow the progress of my cancers.
I used to tell people that I had “pretend” cancer that could be treated and removed easily. After all these years, it has occurred to me that my cancer is far from pretend; it is with me every day and causes a lot of physical and emotional pain. This is the result of not wearing sunscreen or hats for my entire outdoor working career. Please do not make the same mistakes I did. Always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing; it can make a big difference in your health for years to come.
Questions or comments? I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 301-606-9458.
Mayor Don Briggs
Reminder, the 42nd National Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend will be held this year on May 6 and 7. The commemoration previously held the first weekend in October, henceforth, will be held on the first weekend in May. This offers better weather probabilities and less roulette challenges than early October presents. Please welcome the thousands of guests who will be visiting Emmitsburg that weekend to honor those who gave their lives in fire service. I will greet families and friends on Saturday evening. It is one of the most special times for me. The Sunday memorial service is open to the public, but it does take on special arrangements in taking buses from the Mount. It is best to contact the Fallen Firefighters Foundation for directions. Check the website at www.firehero.org/events/memorial-weekend. If you can’t make it, stop what you’re doing on Sunday and listen to the bagpipes and siren at our firehouse at the end of the service, as it joins in with all the firehouses across the country that closes out the service as a final tribute to those very special people among us.
Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day is not too far away, on Saturday, June 24. It is led by the Lions Club, with most of the other civic groups, Knights of Columbus, Masons, and the town pitching in. It is a great community event in Myers Community Park, with vendors, games, multiple food choices, parade, and fireworks. Coming soon is an updated website: emmitsburgevents.com. Visit it.
Pickleball, pickleball. Last spring, the town had a pickleball court template printed over the tennis court in Myers Park, so there could be the choice for optional use. As tennis activity on the court ebbs, “pickler” use is strong, very strong. By one estimate, across the globe, 32 million people played the game last year. To take a shot at the surge, one community is developing a 32-court indoor pickleball facility. A developing consensus for the reasons for the success of the game is that it’s a great workout, easy to learn, social, low impact, equipment is affordable, and you can play doubles.
Another recreational activity that is growing almost exponentially is disc golf. One estimate is that over 4,000,000 people are playing the game. Our town course, located in Myers Park, is one of the most attractive courses in the region, drawing users from multiple states for casual and tournament play. The activity comes with an amazing cadre of volunteers who mow, weed, and maintain the course. Give it a try; we have some discs at the town office (security deposit needed).
New bleachers for baseball and softball in both Memorial and Myers Parks, covered places with grills, new tot equipment at Silo Hill Park, and basketball court installation has now started.
We are becoming a well-connected pedestrian and bike friendly town that is less car dependent and offers a diversity of both active and passive recreational opportunities.
To our seniors with fixed incomes, the presence of Frederick Health is up here, increased transit services to Frederick helps. But this is a tsunami, with the increased cost for everything. This week, we spent $7-plus for a box of cereal. The remnant government program for food stamps that paid $193 a month pre-COVID and was increased to $215 per month during COVID now has been reduced to $40 a month. How does that work?
The community Pool will open on Memorial Day weekend and will be open on weekends then daily after schools let out.
With spring upon us, summer soon to be, Emmitsburg is out there for each of us to enjoy.