Ah, isn’t it nice that when you sum up the topic of a post in one word instead of using a catchy phrase it sounds so much more DRAMATIC? But at least it puts you on the spot. This post (Hi kids!) is about cancer. My cancer.
Don’t tell my mom, she’ll totally freak out.
It all started like this: I once went to a gyno-appointment, in which some lady was replacing my usual doctor. She was one of the few select people who get to see me naked, so I guess it makes sense that – when seeing all the birthmarks I have all over my skin – she recommended I go see a dermatologist, just to check. I thought well ok, why not, lets go see. But it was HORRIBLE. I waited sooooooooooo long in an overly crowded room until it was my turn, then the doctor glanced over me and sent me home. I wasn’t even fully undressed yet.
A year or so later I was still worried and decided to try again, only picking another dermatologist this time. Her office looked much more professional and she made me undress completely. By the bare eye she already spotted one “naevi”, as they call it, that – according to her – had to be “removed immediately”. That didn’t sound reassuring. And why hadn’t the other one seen it? Because it was on my right breast, a part I hadn’t unclothed that time. My new doctor agreed that was unprofessional. She then introduced me to their snaggy computer-analysing thinggy, with which they get a closer and more detailed look at the brown marks. Turns out most of them were kinda pink up close (good), but some were downright black (not good at all). They registered those, I paid for the procedure (cause guess what – no insurance coverage! Of course! And it surely ain’t cheap.) and made out an appointment to chuck the spot lying inauspiciously right next to my nipple. Ouch.
On a more recent trip, when I returned this year, I was scanned again and the results were even worse. She found several spots that had significantly darkened (apparently too fast, even for her experienced standard) and one more that had to be removed. Again. I had already noticed it, there on the tip of my left shoulder, because it looked a lot like the last one she cut out. I’m getting the hang of this now. And like the last time, with a worried look on her face, she asked if I use tanning beds. Hell no, woman! I hardly see the LIGHT OF DAY. But I guess I’ll not only be staying inside now, but also while using SPF 50+. Thanks.
Interestingly enough, on some of the last posts I read about my favorite blogger Dooce, she mentions that she just discovered she has skin cancer (we have so much in common!). Her doctor discovered a basal cell carcinoma on her arm, the most common and less dangerous kinds of skin cancer you can get. I never dared call what I had skin cancer. It was just a dark mole. So I thought. While I was at my dermatologist I thought, hey, what ever happened to that thing you painfully and surgically removed from my tender area last year? Because it’s not like I ever got any feedback. And she was all – oh that? Yeah, it was malignant. *blink* *blinkblink* EXCUSE ME? DOESN’T THAT MEAN IT’S CANCEROUS? Why wasn’t I informed of this before I casually ask about it ONE YEAR LATER?
So it turns out I have what is called malignant melanoma. Good news: skin cancer hardly ever leads to death. Bad news: when it does, it’s from the malignant melanomas (yay, I’m special!). It is one of the rarest types of skin cancer. I had to have it. Because the causes are:
- Environmental factors (like sun exposure and, apparently, high socio-economic status) – kinda check
- Skin type (umm… very light hair, yeah, light eyes, yeah, light skin that is hard to tan, totally) – check
- Genetic factors (let me see – first degree parent died of rare type of cancer that came out of no where) – yup, check.
So here I am, with a hole in my shoulder, waiting for the prognosis of this one she took out. Because if it’s already turned malignant again, I have about five others she wants to take out. It’ll be a total pain in the ass, but I prefer having scars scattered all over my body than metastasized cells. Because that is a possibility. But I’ve seen the chemo. It’s not pretty.
This doesn’t mean I have a death sentance or anything, I don’t want to play this up. I know what “real” cancer is like, I don’t want people thinking I’m comparing myself to that. This is way smaller. And since I’m in good hands now and watch out for strong sun and the “ABCDE”-Rule, I can spot them early. I will be leaving much money with my dermatologist at least on a yearly basis, so I should be covered, since there is no cure besides detecting them early on and cutting them out. Which reminds me – Dooce only had a nice round indentation on her arm after the surgery. I now have a 4cm long slash with stitches poking out, all for a speck that was maybe 3mm in diameter. That just doesn’t seem fair. So if she gets to freak out and complain, so do I. My work here is done.