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Wildlife Expert Ron Magill Opens Up About Skin Cancer Diagnosis

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(Source: Zoo Miami/Ron Magill)

(Source: Zoo Miami/Ron Magill)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You can count on wildlife expert and Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill for three things: Having some kind of wild creature in his arms, or around his neck, speaking excitedly about animals, and being outside in the sun.

“I’ve worked outside most of my life. I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve spent countless weeks on the equator, in the Galapagos, in Africa,” Magill told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

All that time, Ron said he never wore a drop of sunscreen.

“I’m a Latin guy, my father’s Cuban, my grandfather was a Colombian Indian, dark hair, olive skin, always tanned great. I’m not a candidate for skin cancer,” said Ron.

Or at least that’s what he used to think. About two months ago he felt a bump under his mustache that he thought was an ingrown hair or a pimple at first.

“It didn’t go away, it was there for several weeks and then I started to mess with it and it started to bleed and I said I need to get this checked out.”

He turned to Dr. Manuel Iriondo who biopsied that bump and learned Ron had skin cancer.

Ron said he got a sinking feeling in his heart when he heard that news.

But the good news was the cancer is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, according to Dr. Iriondo.

“Mr. Magill came in with a basal cell carcinoma which is a little small cancer of the upper lip.”

Once Ron learned the cancer was not the more dangerous melanoma and instead was mild and fairly common, he felt relief. But then he worried about the surgery to remove it. Ron’s had a thick mustache for three and a half decades.

“It’s kind of been a trademark of mine…I hate to say that, but it’s kind of a trademark…my daughter even freaked out and said ‘dad, I don’t know what you’re going to look like without a mustache. I’m freaking out!’”

Thankfully, Dr. Iriondo worked to remove Ron’s cancer without shaving the ‘stache.

“We tried just carefully to cut a little bit of the hair but not much so he did well.”

And the best part is Dr. Iriondo does not believe the cancer will come back. But the scare has left a big impact on Ron.

“This has been a kick in my butt, that sunscreen is now on the counter with my razor and everything else. It is part of the morning routine.”

And now, in addition to his educating the public about our environment..He’s also sharing this warning.

“Don’t be like me. Put on that sunscreen especially here in South Florida. It could save your life.”

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