Sometime in 2012, when I was under the illusion that I was happily married, I noticed a dark mark on my right upper arm. At first I thought it was my vaccination mark. Then I realized that my vaccination is on my left arm and that it looked the same as always. This was something new.
That summer I went to my doctor’s office to have it checked. My doctor was on vacation so I consulted the locum taking her place. She examined the mark but felt that it was nothing and suggested that I just watch it for changes.
Fast forward 3 1/2 years now that my life has finally settled enough for me to consider my own health. I went to my doctor for my first physical since my separation. I showed my doctor the mark and she was concerned. She said she was sure it was a basal cell carcinoma, the best kind of skin cancer to have, but that it needed to be removed. She referred me to a specialist.
The specialist had a different concern. She looked at the cells through a special microscope and said that she didn’t like what she was seeing. She was surprised at how large the mark was and said that it was too big for her to remove without leaving terrible scarring. She was going on holidays at the end of the week but wanted it biopsied before she left. She asked her nurse to book time for me, even if it meant she had to stay late one night because we needed to see what we were dealing with as quickly as possible.
She cut out an elliptical cross-section of the mark. She sewed the skin back up with dissolving stitches in the under layers and nylon stitches on top. I returned 2 weeks later to have the top stitches removed but the pathology report still wasn’t in. She said she was going to follow up directly with the lab to get the report.
Tonight I received a call from the specialist from her home after hours. The pathology report confirms that I have the aggressive and most dangerous skin cancer, melanoma. I have to call her office tomorrow to make an appointment to go back in next week to determine the next steps.
Melanoma is the least common of skin cancers but it causes the most deaths. If it is not treated early enough it can spread through the blood stream to other parts of the body making it difficult to treat. I feel like close to 4 years of this growth on my body is not early intervention.
I am disappointed with myself for not following my gut that this was something that needed to be removed when I first found it. I am also being compassionate with myself though. It is very fresh in my mind the last 3 years of hell that have been my reality. Especially because many aspects of that daily battle still exist. When I reflect back on what I was dealing with emotionally and the tasks that I had to perform physically and mentally, all by myself, just surviving each day was a victory in itself. The worry and stress I carried for me and my children and the responsibilities that were now solely dumped on me along with the impact of the consequences of my husband bailing on his family buried me. It is no wonder that my own physical well-being fell so low on the priority list.
So as I read an email that Dave just sent addressed to “Robo McBlobo” I am reminded that I have strength of character, perseverance, faith, hope and trust in a greater purpose that will allow me to deal with whatever this cancer has in store for me.