This is a topic I have been a little oblique about in past blog posts. I have talked about “a little problem with my shoulder” and I have referenced an unexpected problem that caused my gardening season to be cut short.
I think it’s time to talk about what’s really happened and ironically, seeing a post on Martha Stewart’s blog where she showed great machines hauling in her house plants made me think of this.
I am the “great machine” that hauls my 100 or so house plants in and out every year. Granted, I don’t have them in huge concrete urns as Martha does, but I do have some of them in some fairly large pots–and they get larger every year because that’s what happens–plants grow (if any of you happen to meet the Spoiler, you can ask him about hauling in my banana–that’s the only one I didn’t get in before the “incident.”)
In any event, this year, for whatever reason, I chose to bring my 100 or so house plants in ridiculously early–earlier than I have ever done–except for the banana. I ran out of energy and that one got marooned outside and the Spoiler wound up having to bring it in for reasons that will become clear in a moment.
On September 16, I went for what I hoped was going to be a routine dermatology visit. It turned out to be anything but. That same day, they took a chunk out of my shoulder that they sent off to biopsy. But from the response in the room prior to biopsy, I already knew I had cancer–and sure enough, a week later, the call came back that I had melanoma.
So this is the public service portion announcement of the post, folks. We’re gardeners. I hope we all wear sunscreen. I do now but of course I haven’t all my life. And this was a mole that I had had since I was a teenager, perhaps earlier than that. I actually brought to the dermatology group’s attention that it had changed. I found it and saw it first.
So the two take-aways from this post are these: please pay attention to your skin. Something you have had since childhood could suddenly look very different. Don’t ignore it. You literally could save your own life.
And the second take away is that while 99.9% of folks have been wonderful and understanding and caring and thoughtful–almost to the point where I was embarrassed by the outpouring of kindness, prayers and good wishes–there is always that .01% that found my cancer an “inconvenience” to whatever it is that they might have planned.
And while I am not in the habit of making a big deal out of illness–having had migraine and now chronic migraine for the last 50 years, you get over yourself pretty fast–I can tell you that surgery for cancer, followed by a major infection is a pretty big deal. So to those of you who accused me of causing inconvenience: let me tell you, cancer is no party. Just sayin’