No, it’s nothing rude. O_O I’m talking about Cancer.
You know, that manky disease that if you’ve never had it, you believe it’ll never happen to you?
Yeah, that one.
Well, I used to be one of those that believed it could infect anyone but me.
I’m not anymore.
You see, I’m a fairly moley person. Since in my early twenties, I’d already had 6 moles removed—either because they were huge, or were in places where they got caught a lot, or felt deeper than I was comfortable with.
Then I had a mole on my upper right arm. I never really paid it much attention. Probably because I ain’t a pretzel and couldn’t see it so well, and it never really did anything to bother me—didn’t lose its shape, didn’t grow outward like so many of mine do.
Until it decided to bleed.
The first time, I presumed I’d accidentally scratched it.
The second time, I diggety dang well knew I hadn’t.
Coupled with another mole just below where my bra sits which was sore, and the fact that I’d spent the past few weeks bordering on exhaustion, I sucked up the reality that the outcome mightn’t be good and forced myself to the doc’s.
The mole that was sore? Yeah, he wasn’t concerned about that one.
But the one that didn’t bother me in the slightest, except that it had bled a couple times? Yeah, he took a closer look at that. Using his magical magnifying device, he took a couple photographs, and then uploaded them to his desktop, and then started filling in paperwork whilst yackering away.
Me being me, I twisted in my seat to get a better look at what he was filling in.
My face pretty much went like this:
Because at the top of the form in big bold letters were the words: URGENT REFERRAL FOR SUSPECTED SKIN CANCER
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! <<That was the noise I could hear in my ears.
Then he explained that he was going to get his assistant to arrange for an appointment with the skin specialist (translate: dermatologist) for a closer look, and that I should wait in the seating area outside.
When I got out there, I realised I’d taken a leaflet off him and set about reading it.
Yeah, about then, my bowels felt a little looser.
Because the word CANCER appeared on that info sheet waaaaaaaaaaay more times that I was comfortable with, and I SWEAR it was bolded and in capitals every darn time (though it possibly wasn’t).
Once I’d been dealt with, off I trotted, ringing Mr B on the way home who sounded as panicked as I felt, and then sat staring at my laptop for around 30 seconds before I rang my best friend (Carla) and then emailed Aimee Laine (who ends up hearing all of my woes whether she wants to or not).
The next day, I was given a date for 13 days time. I also got a confirmation letter in the post with talk of a biopsy and whatnot. By this time, my head had settled down a little—because I have a motto of ‘Don’t worry until you know you have something to worry about’, so I figured then was as good a time as any to try that out.
It worked. I was pretty calm by the time I went for my appointment. The doc I saw was very nice. I didn’t even blush when I had to strip to my undies for him to check all of my moles. O_O
He took a much closer look at the one I’d been sent for than the others. He said it didn’t look too worrying (SCORE!), but that he’d do a biopsy just to be on the safe side (PLUMMET!).
I was given the option of having it done then or going back another time, but seriously? What’d be the point of going back when I was already there?
So he did the skin surgery.
Then he sent me on my merry way with the promise to contact me within a couple weeks once the results came through.
Let me just add in here: I was prepared for being chopped up a little and going through the process (I’d been there before with mole removals, after all). What I didn’t prepare myself for was how deep he’d been chopping and how long it would take me to recover from the surgery. Because I couldn’t write! O_O For almost a week! O_o This is pretty stress-inducing to someone with stories in her head.
But, anyhoo, 10 days after the biopsy, I received a letter in the post asking me to go back in 4 days time. I think then, I KNEW. The UK health system doesn’t really waste appointments to tell folk their results came back clear. My GP would have passed that info on. So, yeah, I deffo had an inkling.
Yet, it still seemed a bit of a shock when the words were finally spoken with the confirmation of: we did find skin cancer in your biopsy. My heart did its crazy THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP! trick again. I also felt a little nauseous and seemed to lose focus on the room I was in for a few seconds.
But, despite hearing the words that every person dreads, I still consider myself pretty blessed.
Because I got to doc’s fairly early when I was worried about my mole. The depth of the skin cancer was real shallow (o.7mm deep). The type of melanoma the most common (superficial spreading melanoma). And the skin specialist thinks all the cancerous cells were removed with the biopsy.
However, he’s still going to do a second cut—deeper, wider—to be on the safe side. I’ve already been warned the second round of surgery will take longer to recover from (which would suck a$$ if not for the fact my mind will be more at ease). On top of that, I’ll be seen regularly for follow-up appointments for the next twelve months, so my moles can be kept an eye on, and we can be aware faster should the cancer decide to make an unwelcome return.
So, whilst I felt as though I’d been hit with juggernaut-worthy health news a few weeks ago, it looks as though I’m gonna be fine and dandy.
Still here? Even after this big-a$$ post? Awesomeness. Because I have one more thing to say before I’m done:
I wrote this post with the intention of serving two purposes. 1) So if I vanish off the social-networking stratosphere at any point over the next month or two, you’ll have an idea as to why. And much more importantly 2) If there is any chance that my speaking up, and sharing a part of my life that I consider pretty personal will encourage other folk to check themselves more closely and not be afraid to go to the doc’s, I would happily do so a thousand times over.
My next blog post’ll be a happier one, I promise. Mr B whisked me and the kidlets away for a few days after we’d been given the results, and I had an awesome time. Check back to find out what can happen when you put Mr B, a beach, and a handful of bookmarks together.
(ps: I seriously do apologise for the size of the post)