I have a genetic predisposition to being at higher risk for skin cancer, so I see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. I had a mole on my arm that looked different from all of the others and my dermatologist had said we should keep an eye on it. About two weeks ago I noticed that it was changing: it was darker and starting to have uneven borders. What really frightened me was when I happened to notice in a photo of me from 2013 that it wasn’t even on my arm! It’s not normal to grow new moles when you’re over forty. I called her office to be seen and she agreed that it should be biopsied.
Afterward I was nervous but did my best to put it out of my mind. I figured I’d have the results within a few days which they said is typical. I wasn’t able to focus on my work so I tuned out by tuning in to junk TV on the couch.
When I didn’t hear from the office a few days later I called and spoke to the nurse. She said they had to send my biopsy out of their office to a more advanced lab in Massachusetts. That occurs when they can’t rule our melanoma and need more testing. She said she would call me with the results in a couple of days.
That really frightened me. My mind went to some very dark places. It might surprise you to know that I did not pray to God to ask for a favorable outcome. That’s because I do not pray for God to change material things. God does not give or not give someone cancer. We all know too many people who were taken too soon. I do not believe God turned away from them nor do I believe that it was God’s plan for them to suffer. No way!
This morning, the day I was to hear from the office, I resolved to stay out of my head. I noticed that a friend posted on Facebook about having a hard morning. Helping others is always helpful to me when I’m too focused on my own issues, so I reached out to her. She was grateful and so was I.
Next I decided to go to the Old Port and immerse myself in the beautiful day. I spent the morning enjoying the sights along the waterfront. I watched sailboats and tour ferries, tourists and seagulls that ended up leaving some unwanted, shall I say, performance art on my car. The silly artwork above was painted on a small decorative lighthouse by the waterfront. I wandered in and out of little shops and chatted with some of the shopkeepers. I overheard two of them talking about a scandal. They stopped to ask me if I had any questions, and I said yes, WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DISHING ABOUT? They immediately included me.
I had lunch with Wayne. We indulged in chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Still no call.
After lunch I decided to call the dermatologist’s office to check in. The receptionist put me on hold and said that the doctor would be calling me back. That seemed really ominous, since the nurse had said she would call back but now it had to be the doctor?! Boy it must be bad news, I figured.
I told Wayne that I didn’t want to head back home, but instead would hang around the Old Port while I waited. I didn’t want to be alone at home. The views were so pretty and a stark contrast to what I was thinking. Was it not just melanoma, but had it metastasized? Would my new life with Wayne be cut short?
God comes to us when we make room to experience him and embrace him, and that is through the people and living creatures we love. I closed my eyes in my car and did a short centering prayer (more on that in future posts). I asked God to help me accept whatever the results would be with grace and gratitude for the life I have lived and for being engaged to my soulmate. I then looked around at all of the people. We’re all going to die. I resolved to spend more time making my peace with death in general. I had many thoughts, some sublime, others silly, but all focused on whether or not I have lived being true to myself.
Over two hours passed with me sitting alone in my car waiting for the call.
Finally, my phone rang.
“We ruled out melanoma.”
It was not a normal mole nor was it yet melanoma, but a moderately atypical mole. Removal was the right thing to do, yet it’s possible it can return! If it does it will have to be removed again.
I will be writing more about death in my blog, specifically texts from my antiquarian Christian books that have offered me comfort on the topic. I will also be writing about life with chronic PTSD, nightmares and how much I have overcome with the aid of meditation and not medication, connecting to the natural world, old souls that live on through their written words and eating a healthy vintage-inspired diet.