It began over a year ago when a small red patch appeared on the top of my right ear. At first it was diagnosed as inflammation of the cartilage probably brought on by wearing too tight headphones. The cure was not to put any pressure on it and wait for the inflammation to die down. After several months it had increased in size and painfulness, so I returned to the dermatologist. This time a biopsy revealed skin cancer (squamous cell). Now it was necessary to perform surgery. This was duly done: a five-hour MOHs procedure followed by a three-hour reconstruction (local anesthetic). I won’t specify the details but it was all pretty brutal (twenty odd stitches, serious pain). I lost half my ear. The cause: sun damage, possibly a result of playing tennis in the Florida sun.
At the same time the ear was declared healed a lump appeared in my neck. This was duly scanned and biopsied: it was more cancer. The cancer in my ear had evidently spread to my neck and was now growing apace. A full-scale operation was quickly scheduled. This was performed two weeks ago. Again, I will spare you the gory details except to say that it was an eleven-hour operation requiring a hospital stay and subsequent daily home visits from a nurse. Full recovery is not guaranteed. It is presently difficult to eat and my right shoulder is compromised.
I relay all this in order to encourage readers to protect their ears from the sun, especially if they live in a place with a lot of it. It is easy to neglect the ears while protecting the face. Sunscreen is not enough, especially if you spend time doing water sports (as I do). Wear a broad-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap). Ideally use a fabric covering such as a skullcap or full-face sun protection balaclava (as I have done for some years). Apparently my experiences are not uncommon and you don’t want to share them.