I’m writing this for me. Usually when I write, it’s for you, but I need to get this out, somehow. Sorry.
I’ve been beating my brains out rewriting the book, and I was feeling good, so good I finally squeezed in my annual trip to the doctor and listened while she told me everything I was doing wrong, and a few things I was doing right. After she looked over my skin and zapped a few ugly little lumps off, she started to peer at my face, making me nervous. Now I’m sure everyone at some time or another has had the feeling that the little zit on your nose is about the size of the starship Enterprise, but this time she spent a while examining it.
“I don’t like the way that looks.”
Truth be told, I didn’t either, but wishing wasn’t doing much, and eating right didn’t seem to be helping either. Even cutting down on chocolate.
“I’ll send you to the dermatologist and let him decide.”
I view all these little skin bumps as the price of living in sunny California and I figured okay, how bad could it be? So I walked into his office a week or so later (never thinking about how quickly I got an appointment) and sat. He looked at me and smiled.
“I’ll be operating this morning to remove your cancer.”
Umm. Me? It took a while until I could breathe. Or swallow. All I could do was nod dumbly and try not to fall off that frumpy little half-bed.
Now I’m not so stupid that I don’t realize I don’t have one of the biggies. In the greater cosmic scheme of things it’s pretty small. In fact, it’s just barely big enough to rate the big C. An inordinate number of our friends have had far worse, and we’ve lost several, and we lost a dear older relative because he ignored skin cancer until it metastasized and took his life. I don’t care. It’s my body and I… just didn’t know, I guess. Or expect it. I always thought if something was wrong with me, I’d sense it. I was absolutely blindsided. I had no clue. All I knew was if the diagnosis contains those six letters, it was frightening no matter how tiny the spot is.
Somehow I pulled myself together without drama, and sat there while he competently wielded his scalpel – do you know how big the blade looks when it’s right in front of your eyes? Something a Highlander would swing… Anyway, after an amazingly short time we were through. He’d call me if it was anything serious. In the meantime keep a band aid the size of a horse blanket on your nose, change it often, put tribiotic ointment on it… Yes, nurse. Oh, and we want you back to look at every place on your body. We worry about other sites…
Soulmate was… well, matter of fact. It isn’t life-threatening. It isn’t serious, nothing to worry about. You’ll be fine. The love of my life cared, but what I needed was reassurance, not facts. Yes, even me, for those of you who know me in real life. Sometimes you need that no matter who you are.
I got another appointment in record time – by this time I’m getting smart enough to be suspicious. I did get a lovely letter letting me know the biopsy from my nose was fine, nothing to worry about, and I figured this would be just more of the same. The Physician’s Assistant was a really nice, personable guy (at least it wasn’t an all-up doctor), and he looked at every place either of us was the slightest bit concerned about. I do have this little thing on my ear – it just never seems to heal right, hasn’t for years, but it’s tiny, I always thought it was just a recurring zit, but now that you mention it…
It took one look before he was calling for the nurse and his scalpel – I never knew a PA could do that but I guess they can, and they can sure move pretty fast too. What I needed was removal and a biopsy. Same thing, nothing to worry about, I’ll call you if it needs further work, but it’s pretty unlikely, here are a couple of brochures…
He called yesterday. In a month or two I go in for outpatient surgery – they work through a microscope to make sure they get everything. It’s not malignant, it doesn’t grow very fast, it shouldn’t invade the rest of your body, but there isn’t a way in the world he could convince me it was good. It was a long time after I dropped the cell phone before I could do anything but stare at the wall. It’s an inch from my brain, if that. What if…
That way leads to madness. You don’t have a choice. Stop it. Don’t even think about it.
We all carry our experiences into our writing, and this one – being scared out of all proportion to reality – is something I’ll use sometime. It gives you tremendous respect for anyone who’s had to deal with little big C’s more threatening brothers and sisters. I needed to share with you all – if you haven’t had the experience I don’t recommend it, but then you may be able to see it coming.
I sure didn’t.
They caught this early because I take care of myself and go in for regular check-ups. No matter how busy you are, make sure you do too.
Included in the emails I got when I posted was the following link – just to back up my urging that you all get checked…
Please watch it. Thanks Kathy.