I’ve been covering up my skin from the sun for over 30 years. I use hats, scarves, shade, and of course buckets of sunscreen. But when I was a young teen I had several blistering sunburns at the Jersey Shore. At the time, we thought those burns were just painful, but not serious. Turns out they are (painful and serious). Those skin traumas are a large determinant of skin cancer in our 40’s and beyond.
I had a regular skin check two weeks ago, and the derm doctor biopsied what she called a “suspicious” mark near my left elbow. It looked just like a normal age spot to me, and I have dozens of those, heh. Abundance of caution, I told myself. Then ten days after the tiny punch biopsy, I got the call. The call you never expect if you haven’t been down that path before: “You have a small melanoma, and we want to see you as soon as possible.”
Big gulp. Step One of the five stages of grief kicks in: denial. This can’t be, look how pale I am, I can’t have cancer, I’m only 39 (I’m 62, but that really flew by),etc. I jumped over a few grieving steps and landed on “depression and anxiety”. And internet searches, the curse of anyone given a brief diagnosis over the phone. And reflection on how fragile and wobbly our existences are.
None of us has been promised freedom from disease. I better get slightly more serious about what I’m supposed to have accomplished here! And at the same time, I can let go of so much insignificant stuff that fills my mind every day. Really, truly, if my blog post is a few days late, or the windows leak a little in a rainstorm, is that such a tribulation?
Jump to Wednesday, two days ago. The first thing the doc said to me when I walked into the outpatient operating room was “Today is a great day for you! You have Stage 0 melanoma, confined to the local area.” Then she sliced me up (I needed a scar on my left arm to go with the beauty on my right wrist). Thirty minutes later I was stitched and bound and on my way to normal life again. Cancer, be gone. For now. But thanks for the lessons, I needed that.
Stay fabulous, check your skin regularly, and live a great life, xo
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