"Your tests came back positive." These words sent a shiver
through my body. (Later I would think about the millions
of others who have heard these same words). I have skin
cancer? How could this be – I eat a healthy vegan diet and get
more exercise than most people my age?
Perplexed, I did some research on the Web.
I found that my diet was not a factor in my cancer.
Overexposure to the
sun was. I learned that there are three main types of skin
basal cell carcinoma (the least invasive); squamous cell carcinoma
(which is mid-level invasive – and if left untreated, can
become very serious) and the most serious and invasive type of
melanoma. Maureen Reagan recently died from
Fortunately, I did not have a melanoma.
I had both basal cell and squamous
cell carcinoma. I underwent outpatient
surgery. Both of my cancerous lesions were on my face (one
right between my eyebrows and one right smack in the
middle of my nose) so I had to wear bulky bandages on my
face for a week. And now a few weeks later, I have a couple
of scars and some redness, but soon these will fade.
The majority of skin cancers come from spending too much
time in the sun. So, although I am
a vegan, this doesn’t prevent skin cancers from
developing in people like myself – who used to
bask in the sun for hours on end, but it does
give our immune system a better chance at healing and
recovering from surgery.
I urge everyone who has had at
least two bad sunburns to visit a dermatologist for a top-totoe
exam. Skin cancer, particularly
melanoma, has become much more common, possibly
because of environmental pollution and holes in
the ozone protective layer. Caught in time, skin
cancer can be cured.
Just before surgery, I went for my yearly "fix" – the
Summerfest. This annual conference,
which is sponsored by the North American
Vegetarian Society, always rejuvenates me so
much that I call it "my yearly fix." Seven MHVS
members attended this year. We enjoyed
five days of delicious vegan meals and workshops
workshops covered many aspects of vegetarianism,
nutrition, animal rights, environmental issues and
spirituality. There were cooking classes, lectures by renowned
authorities – and, since vegans have more energy – lots of
entertainment, including dancing, hiking, exercise classes,
and yoga. Even our very own Robbie Schiff did a stand-up
comedy routines. This was my sixth Summerfest and I look
forward to attending again next year.
Thanks are in order for a MHVS event. We
are grateful to Nirja Kumar for once again
hosting and preparing an amazing, authentic
Indian dinner. We can’t wait until next year
when she promised to do it again.
We had wonderful weather for our annual summer picnic,
but it was not as well attended as in previous years. Since
we want to please all our members, we would appreciate
any suggestions about the kinds of events that you would
like us to have.
Yours for another active and satisfying Fall season.
Rachel Schlecht, President