Six months after my Dad died in his car accident, my wonderful generous mom, took us to Disney World to find some fun after all the sadness. In the summer, my mom had seen a mole she "didn't like the look of" on my back. So after waiting to get into the dermatologist a few months, I had a mole removed just before our holiday to the happiest place on earth! No big deal, I have had many moles taken off over the years. But this one kinda worried me just a teeny bit, because when I felt it, it had a texture. No other moles had texture.
Well, since we were on holiday, Mike and my Mom got the fun task of removing my stitches. Thing is, the mole the Doctor took off, Wasn't the one my mom was worried about!! So after our adventures with Mickey, (and it really is the happiest place on earth.) I went back to the dermatologist to finish the job. He said he would take it, only for my Mom's sake, to appease her worry. He wasn't worried. And so I wasn't worried. He's the expert right?
A few weeks later I go to get the stitches out. After that's taken care of, the nurse says the Dr. will come in to see me. " hmmm, fishy. That's not normal right? " So he comes in all "Dr. God"-like and says, "The mole came back as a cancerous melanoma. But its nothing to worry about. It was very thin, and your chances of survival are 95%. We will make an appointment with a plastic surgeon and call you. " Then he just left. He
A week or so later I saw Dr. Slobodan Djurickovic for the first time of many times to come. The name concerned me, too many syllables. For some stupid reason, when I can't pronounce a name, I get nervous, strange images of what kind of person this could be, come into my head. As if the strangeness of the name has anything to do with how they will look or act. My fears, of course, were unwarranted. He looks like he is in his early 40's, that greying hair that just makes men distinguished, stylish glasses and a sincereness to his manner. Ok, may like this guy. Until he started to describe what he was going to do to my back......
The phrases "shouldn't need a skin graft", is not something that you want to hear. Then he starts drawing the size of the skin he will take off around the original scar left by the mole removal. This thing is gonna be like an inch and half wide by 3 inches long and go down into the skin too! yikes. Feeling a little light headed now, and Really not impressed with that first Doctor. "This is what you call no big deal is it? If its no big deal, why is all this skin being removed from off my body? jerk" I don't normally call people names, but I think this guy deserved one.
Within a month I find myself in the Jubilee, just in the minor surgery area thankfully, with a local anesthetic. Dr. D has a helper, a new student watching his work. Mike is there too. This should be fine. The poking starts, those familiar giant bee stings. A lot more than any I have had before though. Breath deep, all is well. Chat, ignore the pain, then ignore the strange tugging and scraping sensations that follow, ignore, chat, smile, laugh at the conversation. Wow this is taking a looong time! Oh my, he's letting the newbie have a go at the stitches, this should be good. (not) Finally all the stitches are done. I asked how many stitches. People ask, so I should know right!? Around 30, he says. 30! That sounds a bit frankensteinish! Oh, ok, many of the stitches are on the inside, that makes sense. Wait a minute, how deep was this thing anyway! More of big deal than I thought. Ok, made it! Done! Out of here. Thanks Dr. D!
A week after my surgery, we find ourselves at the district convention. Sitting for 3 days. With me trying not to rest my back on the seat. That was one of the hardest conventions ever. But not because of the seating. Usually conventions are a wonderful reunion of old and new friends, seeing people you only see once a year, drinking in all the spiritual food, laughing, sharing. This year I don't feel like sharing. I don't want people to ask how I am. Well let me get out my list of woes, Dad died, Gramma died 5 weeks later, Dad's place is a nightmare, oh yeah and I just had surgery for cancer, things are great!! How about you? ............. we ate lunch in the car everyday.
I did tell a few people. That didn't work out so well. They hear "skin cancer", which turns to "just skin cancer" in their head. And so, like many other melanoma sufferers, I needed to defend my cancer, as "real cancer", not the fake kind. I realized how little people know. They really don't know how dangerous it can be. People Die from skin cancer, my Uncle Died from skin cancer you know. But whatever, I will just stop talking about it then. I really don't want pity anyway. I don't enjoy attention, and the last 9 months after Dad died, I got plenty of attention and pity, I don't want to burden anyone with my miserable life. So nevermind. I'm fine. I'm fine (Inside I am falling apart, but for you, to keep your lives happier, I am fine, I don't have the energy to defend my cancer anyway )
Half a year passed and I finally felt able to share my cancer with others. Some of you may have gotten my Melanoma/ Sunscreen awareness email. The sense of "shame" of having cancer had passed and the need to advocate took over. All the things I had discovered about the kinds of ingredients to look for in a sunscreen needed to be shared. I needed people to know how to keep themselves and their children safe. The