Oh, yes. Cancer.
No one ever, ever, ever wants to "hear" it in a diagnosis. (ever!). But I did. I expected it from a mole removal last week - the doctor just stepped out and said "I expect that this will come back as Basal Cell Carcinoma" - but we didn't expect that the sample would tell that she didn't get it all. UGH.
So that's the call I got yesterday. Yes, it's basal cell, but it's larger than the sample of skin that was taken (about a dime size patch) and I get to go have a consultation with a plastic surgeon (yipes - another hard swallow) to talk about how he'll remove the rest of it. But not for another few weeks. sigh.
So, things going through my head...this is not what I expected. I know that I have an "unhealthy addiction to the sun", grew up in Southern CA in the 60's (well before the word "sunscreen" was around) and spent years where I'd be on the beach every. single. day. We were the "baby oil generation" and I honestly thought that my darker-than-the-average-person Armenian skin was stronger than skin cancer. How foolish of me to have thought that. I didn't use my head. My mistake. And even though I haven't gone to a tanning bed in years, and really don't "lay out and work on my tan" any more, I haven't tried to BLOCK the sun from my skin. How in the world will I do that?? I LOVE the feeling of the sun on my face, my back, my shoulders... UGH. I'm sure that this scar - the dime size growing to ??? will be a constant reminder to provide covering - at least some - and to be oh-so-careful with others...and although I can't imagine ever becoming an advocate of sunscreen, I can suggest covering of clothing, shade, or just staying inside during the heat of the afternoon - or limiting the exposure to the sun. Not just for me, but for my friends' and their kids too.
One thing that will continue is encouraging others to NOT USE TANNING BEDS. I don't remember ever getting burned in one - and I'm sure that this spot of skin (and others that are sure to come up over the rest of my life) are from the blistering burns that occurred when I was little, playing in the waters of Encinitas during the summer, and waking up with crusty blisters popped on my face and shoulders. Oh, if only....I don't even know....if only what?? If only we had sunscreen back then? If only my parents kept me out of the sun? If only I believed the media, articles, statistics that said "just say NO to tanning"? If only I didn't try the tanning machines that came out and took the time factor out of that dark tan? If only I used my brain? If only I had gone sooner to get this ONE mole checked out (how many more are there on my body that need to be checked out, removed, slid under a microscope to identify?? If only.... would I take it all back??
But that's not my "adventure" - mine will be one of gratefulness. humility.
See, I've not had breast cancer - when the chance was that I could, given family history and circumstance. I haven't survived Stage 4 Colon Cancer, like my much younger girlfriend - whose prognosis is now "cancer....??? what cancer???", and I'm not even facing the much more scary "C" words that creep from doctor's mouths when they do skin biopsies....like MELANOMA, or SQUAMOUS Cell.... so this is my custom adventure from God...and I'll trust Him to pack my bags for it...and I'm pretty certain my bag will have sunscreen in it......
Welcome to my journey....