A fear unlike any other
Like raining backwards
Drops rising from my heart
Reaching to the sky
As winds of emotion
In slow motion
Stretching days into eons
Until I heard the words
“It’s not cancer!”
And then a symphony of colors
Swirled around the room
And I couldn’t catch my breath
As the mask felt like it was sucked into my lungs
And my stomach traded places with my throat
And the room turned on its end
Like a carnival ride
As the shiny metal object
Caught the overhead light
And blinded my sight
As it shot a lightning bolt
To my soul
My skin type does not place me in a high risk category for cancer. I tan easily, have few moles, no family history…etc. But, I have spent a great deal of time in the sun all the years I played tennis.
I noticed a mole on my left leg, if I am honest more than a year ago, and it looked different enough for me to show it to a friend. I don’t remember the conversation but it obviously was not serious enough for me to decide to take action.
Fast forward a year and a very dear friend loses her sister to melanoma. She pleads with the people she cares about to go get checked by a dermatologist. So mid-summer I make an appointment for a body map at their earliest convenience and I was not worried.
It is not the most comfortable feeling in the world to be stark naked and have a stranger inspect your entire body with a magnifying glass. But it became even more uncomfortable when the doctor stopped suddenly at that long forgotten mole and said, “What do we have here?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot all about that mole. When I first noticed it I wondered if it was something – I even asked a friend to look at it.”
She raised her eyebrows and asked, “How long ago was that?”
My mind hit rewind as I tried to recall when it could have been. The only reference that made any sense was that it was before I moved into my new home…and that was more than a year ago!
I felt like an idiot as I told her. She tried her best to not add to my self-judgment and reproach as she said, “That will come off today and we need a biopsy.”
I know the “B” word is intimately associated with the “C” word, but the mind is a funny thing. I was able to ignore it. Therefore, I did not worry about it for the next 12 days. (Well…mostly.)
Then the doctor’s office called and the girl started to explain the results. I didn’t hear anything until she got to the part where she explained the levels of severity; mild, moderate, or severe. And then she said, “Your mole is classified as severe which means it is one step away from melanoma. You also have a marker that says it is progressing aggressively so you have to make an appointment for an excision as soon as possible. Do you have any questions?”
For the very first time in my life I heard myself say, “No.”
But who was I kidding? I had a million questions!
So what did I do? Of course, I went to my trusted buddy, “Google,” and proceeded to go down that rabbit hole until I was absolutely certain that I was the biggest idiot on the planet!
I felt so bad that I didn’t take action when I first noticed the mole that looked “different.” I tried really hard to forget about what had (or had not) been done because there was nothing I could do to change it. I was not very successful.
I lived in fear and regret, and beat myself up from Monday morning at 8:43am until Wednesday afternoon at 12:15pm when the doctor walked in the room and blurted, “IT’S NOT CANCER!”
Looking back I can’t understand why the first lady on the phone didn’t lead with that simple, yet powerful, sentence. And then I remembered that I always believe everything happens for a reason and also happens in perfect timing. I certainly learned a powerful lesson the way it went down.
I owe my dear friend a huge hug of gratitude! I can tell you that getting a body map was not on my radar…I only went because she was so insistent. This is where I would normally tell you all to make sure you make an appointment to get checked, but I hope that the story above already made you think that! 😉