Posts Tagged ‘Jimmie Johnson’

This will probably sound mean at first but I am really, really glad NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson had skin cancer surgery this week.

Of course, it isn’t that I wanted Johnson — or anybody else — to have a skin cancer situation. It is just that he is a very visible and well-respected public figure who can help awareness.

Johnson had surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma from his shoulder — and that type of skin cancer is something I know very, very well.

I’ve had too many basal cell carcinoma situations to count. My first experience was the scariest — the spot near my nose on the left side of the face required major surgery and the tumor was bigger than a quarter inside my face. Somewhere there is a Polaroid photo of the hole in my face before I was stitched back up.

Nobody I meet ever can tell this occurred without me pointing it out to them so my surgeon did a superb job. But it is hard to forget laying there and having your face cut open — it took 42 stitches to close me back up — and every time the doctor sensed I could feel it, there was another shot to the face.

A needle into the face.

Yeah, 3 1/2 hours of super, duper fun. Not.

I have had three others surgically removed and probably two dozen others frozen off with liquid nitrogen, which is negative 321 degrees. That is also the preferred way to be treated — a 10-second squirt and it freezes the area and the cancer falls off in less than two weeks.

Oh, another reason why I am glad Johnson was dealing with basal cell carcinoma — he didn’t hear the dreaded ‘M word.’

That would be melanoma. That’s the worst word you can hear when you are visiting the skin doctor and he or she identifies something suspicious.

Melanoma leads to things like chemotherapy and radiation and is a death sentence for some people. But basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread, it is a local cancer and it doesn’t kill you.

Johnson learned the same thing I did during my first experience — if you have to get skin cancer, this is the type to get.

“Carcinoma doesn’t spread. It doesn’t go to the glands,” Johnson told reporters Friday at Pocono Raceway prior to this Sunday’s Pocono 400. “They just have to dig it out and you’re good to go. Once I understood that, my reaction to the ‘C’ word calmed down.”

Good time to mention to read this stellar story about Johnson’s experience —

Johnson grew up in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon and was often outside in the Southern California sun.

I can relate. When I was a kid you played outdoors all day and there was little talk about sunscreen. I went to hundreds of day-time sporting events while growing up to watch the Padres or Chargers play and I know I was unprotected most of the time.

The sun damage accumulates over time and I have to constantly be aware. I’m diligent and nearly always have sunscreen with me and I still regularly get a new spot or mole that needs to be checked.

There is better awareness this century and that is why I am glad somebody like Johnson can tell his personal skin cancer experience.

People listen to a legendary figure like himself — his Twitter post below from Monday has so far received 763 retweets and more than 2,700 likes.

“Wear sunblock kids. I’ve spent the morning on a table having Basal Cell Carcinoma cut out of my shoulder.”

That type of reaction doesn’t happen when I post about a new skin cancer. I don’t have that type of pull.

But Johnson does and that is why I wasn’t the least bit mad that he joined me as someone who deals with basal cell carcinoma. He is someone who can raise the awareness and I hope his experience leads to some people getting into the habit of applying sunscreen.

Welcome to the club, Jimmie. Hope you never hear the M word.


Put me on the fence in terms of the San Diego Padres’ acquisition of Miguel Tejada.

You would like to think the Padres could have landed an outfield bat in a trade market where veteran names are flying around faster than Jimmie Johnson circles a NASCAR track.

On the other hand, the Padres don’t have the budgetary room for a large contract and a two-month rental of a former MVP – the Baltimore Orioles agreed to pay half of the $2 million remaining on Tejada’s 2010 contract – might be the best San Diego can do.

The Padres had to find a bat somewhere to spruce up a sagging offense. Pitching and defense have carried the team into first place. San Diego is 60-40 entering Friday’s game with the Florida Marlins.

Want to know bad the San Diego offense is? Tejada is in the midst of the worst season of his 14-year major-league career and he was immediately penciled into the clean-up spot upon arriving for Friday’s game.

The six-time All-Star is batting .269 with just seven homers and 39 RBIs.

At age 36, Tejada is no longer the offense force he once was in his prime. He has four 30-homer seasons to his credit with the most recent one coming in 2004. He has driven in 100 or more runs six times, the last time occurring in 2006.

Tejada was the American League MVP in 2002 for the Oakland Athletics when he had 34 homers and 131 RBIs. He matched the 34 homers in 2004 for the Orioles when he knocked in a career-high 150 runs.

Tejada is playing shortstop for the Padres on Friday night, the first time all season he has played the position. That concerns me because Tejada was a 20-error man even in his prime. Baltimore moved him to third base this season because it was believed Tejada no longer was an every-day defensive shortstop.

Tejada certainly will be an offensive upgrade over light-hitting Everth Cabrera and he can also spell third baseman Chase Headley. Headley has struggled against left-handed pitching this season.

We’ll soon see if being in a pennant race inspires Tejada to regain his past form over the next two months.

The price was right (Double-A pitcher Wynn Pelzer) so it’s not like the Padres gave up two or three prized prospects in hopes of a quick fix.

But I wonder if the Padres could have done better. If they only have financial room to add one hitter, was a declining Miguel Tejada the best option?

We’ll know the answer to that question soon enough.