I received an email today, via my contact form. I receive email from this site so infrequently that each one is still a surprise. Especially the ones from completely random strangers.
Yet, completely random or not, you can still have a tie to that stranger.
R emailed me with this note:
I ran across your blog. I too have had a BCC removed from my scalp. I'm 34 and the thing that everyone kept saying is "you're so young". I guess if you're not over 60 you shouldn't have it:) My regular doctor said that a lot of people my age probably have it, but don't recognize it or don't have it checked because it doesn't look like a mole!
I'm somewhat surprised at how much her email brought back to me about the basal cell carcinoma I had removed from next to my right eye. I remembered being surprised at the phone call from my doctor, in as much as I thought she was removing a wart from the side of my face. I remembered Emily commenting, "Oh, you'll be fine!" and wondering was this the hubris of youth or the voice of reason talking? I remembered wearing that stupid lacrosse facemask so that I could play ultimate, that one saving constant in my life for these last fifteen years, the constant I'm in danger of losing.
I don't do much differently now than I did before. I wear sunscreen all the time. I get my vitamin D from my belly, standing outside during the morning shower, but not my face, not if I can help it.
But, I still go out in the sun. Kinda a must for ultimate, eh?
I remember back at Amerigon, Jef's step-mother had just died of breast cancer. He asked all of the women around to have their breasts checked, save another guy from the anguish of watching a woman he loves die from that awful disease. I often think the same when I'm out in the sun, at a tournament, going for a walk. I want those around me to wear the sunscreen stuff, even if it's annoying, and feels funny, and needs to be washed off later, because isn't that little effort in return for not dying from the outside in?
When I responded to R, I mentioned to her that the question I kept being asked, over and over again, was, "How did you know?" "How did you know it was cancer?" "How did you know to have it checked?"
I didn't know.
Two or three years before I went in to have that wart removed from next to my eye BECAUSE IT BOTHERED ME, I read a little snippet in one of my health magazines about a newsreporter who had a mole removed on her face, but by the time the "mole," which wasn't a mole but rather some skin cancer lump, removed, she had a 3mm x 30mm gash in the side of her face. I tore out that article, with the thought I needed to have something checked. I don't remember now if it was the bump next to my eye or some bump on my shoulders. I just know I tore out that article and it's somewhere in the thrice damned crap crap and more crap in this house.
I'm sure Martha will find it tomorrow.
I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, I knew the wart next to my eye was something bad, and that I should have it looked at.
In reality, it annoyed me. It was hard. It hurt when I pressed on it. I couldn't pick it off.
I had it removed because it bothered me. Same reason I had braces again at 29: because one out-of-place tooth bothered me. No one else could see the tooth. But it bothered me.
That stupid spot bothered me so I had it removed.
And saved other parts of my face.
It's not like you can even see the scar unless you 1. know what to look for, and 2. have good light.
I wonder how many times someone has found something particularly frightening, because it bothered her? Isn't it just easier to ignore the problem? Imagine it's not there. Pretend everything is going along just swimmingly, hoping that no one and nothing (especially that problem lingering) actually sees there's a problem and, SHOCK, addresses it?
Yeah, I don't want to make that doctor's appointment either.
Tell you what. I'll make mine, if you make yours. Deal?