Virginia Beach, VA – April 21, 2004 – "I never wore sunscreen," says 67-year-old Capt. Paul Siebeking, USN (Ret.). "Now, it’s coming back to haunt me."
Siebeking spent 26 years in the Navy, much of it in the sun aboard ships and in the shipyard.
"We always had a pool at the house for the children and grandchildren," he recalls, "and they always have on sunscreen. We lived near the beach. I’ve been in the sun my whole life."
Last fall, Siebeking discovered some spots on his arm, and went to his dermatologist, who removed them. They were basal cell carcinomas, the most common form of skin cancer.
Then, there was the spot on his face. That required a plastic surgeon. It was a squamous cell carcinoma, a more dangerous type, more likely to metastasize to internal tissues and organs.
Further examination revealed another basal cell carcinoma on an ear, which the plastic surgeon also removed. Playing it safe, his doctors sent Siebeking to the Coastal Cancer Center at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
"I had 17 days of highly localized radiation treatments to my face," says Siebeking. "It looked like hell after I finished, like the worst sunburn I ever had, but it’s steadily improving"
Siebeking says he learned a lesson from the experience. "I quit smoking the day they told me I had skin cancer," he says. "When you hear that word, you make some life-altering changes."
Still, Siebeking will not live in the dark. "I won’t stay out of the sun," he predicts, "but I’ll wear sunscreen from now on, and a hat, and I’ll spend more time in the shade."