Last week, while at the spa having my shoulders oiled and massaged by two completely gorgeous Japanese women, it was suggested that I have a doctor look at a few moles on my back.

"Whatever do you mean Kiki?" I asked, tilting my head to the side for another sip of the bubbly.

Ok, it was a beer. And it wasn't a spa. It was my back deck. Likewise it wasn't some Asian models; it was my wife. She was shaving my shoulder hair with a dog trimmer and her reminder was a yearly one. "Think it's about time Dr. Stafford checked you out."

Because of my writing job, my dislike for the cold, and because I just generally just like being outside I get a lot of sun. Yes, I wear sunscreen and I'm actually pretty meticulous about following the directions for application but I know it's just as important to get checked regularly for signs of the "C" word - cancer.

This past week two of my friends, one a tennis coach, the other a retired professional soccer player, had to have little pieces of their faces burned off. These spots were barely noticeable - to me anyway - but caused each man enough concern to garner a trip to the dermatologist. The diagnosis was made and the scab-like blemishes frozen off with no trouble other than slight discomfort on the patient's part. In these cases early detection cost them little more than a doctor's visit. Who knows what the end result might have been had they not gotten checked.

So, before you head out this spring to hunt, fish, or just hang by the pool remember that while taking precautions about being in the sun is good, getting checked every now and again is just as important.

Now, back to my Japanese masseuses and their magic hands.