Melanoma Strikes Back

Maybe I hadn’t done enough research? Maybe I was ignorant and in denial?

Or maybe it was Melanoma’s revenge?

Last week I was comical and said it would not get the best of me. I think the Big M was just having a day of sweet payback. It would not leave easily.

Yes, this is another blog about my Melanoma. Please note that I’m bringing it into the fold and being friendly with this disease now. “My Melanoma”  Very lyrical… it almost sounds pleasant.

I thought I was prepared. Bought a pile of large bandages. (How ridiculous was that?) Cleared my clients for the day. All set for the little procedure. Even had a pleasant walk to the hospital to enjoy the perfect morning.

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Then this lovely young doctor with a British accent told me what he planned to do. I wish I could have seen my face as he drew the lines on my leg where he would be making the three large incisions. To my credit I didn’t try to run away.

Maybe that’s because he started the conversation by reminding me that melanoma can kill.

The next hour was not pleasant. But afterwards, when your leg is still frozen, it’s easy to smile for the camera.

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Since then I’m fully aware when it’s time to pop more pain killers. My leg starts talking to me. “The melanoma’s gone but I’m hurting here.”

This is how I’m going to look for the next two weeks. It’s hard to keep your leg elevated and type.

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On the plus side…

I’m one of the lucky ones because my bandages are visible. People are kind when you look wounded. Out for my walk (limp) last night, passerby’s nodded and gave polite smiles. They might have been thinking, “Are you an idiot!” but I will opt to think that people are nice. Most see someone in distress and react well. We are all basically good.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not really as positive as I seem. I had no idea I would end this journey with three big scars on my leg.

Life isn’t always fair.

But it did make me stop and enjoy the view.

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The Melanoma Word

It’s pretty weird. Once you buy something, or think about something, it seems to be everywhere. Test-drive a red car and you see all the red cars on the road. Buy tartan Converse and everyone’s wearing them.

Get diagnosed with Melanoma and you start to hear the word in too many conversations.

I’m sure it’s just a fluky trick your mind gets to play.

I’ve heard some bad stories in the last month when people didn’t know about my predicament. It’s scary that many were, “His son died of melanoma.” “It was melanoma that killed her, they caught it too late.”

I don’t jump in and say, “Hey, I’ve got the disease and you’re not making me feel great.”

No, mostly I’m just listening.

Of course when I tell someone I have melanoma I always hear, “Oh, no biggie, I/my friend/that famous actor had it and everything was OK.”

However well meaning, it’s the typical response.

I’ve got my surgery booked and this time next week those cancerous cells will be gone.

The last two months have reminded me of 2007 when during a routine mammogram the doctor saw something and our amazing medical system took over. I was booked for surgery and had to wait about the same amount of time as for this cancer scare. During those weeks I ate tubs and tubs of ice cream in an effort to calm my fears. I got fat.

Funny how my weight and the sales at my local Dairy Queen have skyrocketed in the last few weeks. I am so predictable. Clearly I eat when I’m afraid.

Back in 2007 I also decided to say “Fuck You” to cancer. It wasn’t the best timing, in fact it was bad timing, but I was registered to run a half marathon four days after the surgery. Without telling the doctors or race director, I decided that no matter what, I would compete in the race. “Yeah cancer, you don’t get to be the boss of me!” I hauled my fat ass to the start line, checked to see that my stitches were firmly in place and walked those 21 kilometers. I came in last. My time sucked. But I finished. When my doctor found out he was pissed. The race director said he would have banned me.

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Crossing the finish line made me stupidly happy.

“You are not the boss of me.”

So what will I do this time?

I don’t have a race to run.

But I do have a life to live.

Most likely I’ll just start to notice people that have ugly scars on their legs.

And that’s OK.