On the back of my left leg is a three-inch scar. I can’t see where each of the seven stitches are that pulled my skin back together after the surgeon removed a piece of my leg a year ago.
My skin has been knit together again.
A year ago the phone rang and the nurse from the dermatologist’s office called to tell me the result of the skin biopsy of my mole.
She said, “The mole on the back of your left leg was melanoma in situ.”
She didn’t say the “c” word.
The visit to the skin doctor came in the middle of a personal blackness. I was deep in the dark of depression. My paintings in the basement were black. I had tried to paint in color. I covered over the red and blue and yellow in the canvases with black paint and stabbed the canvases with a steak knife.
I was angry. I hated that we had moved to Pennsylvania. I missed the house we rented on a creek in California. I missed my friends.
My life is divided into two parts, before cancer and after cancer.
Before I found out I had skin cancer, I was depressed. I would stare at the telephone poles at the side of the road when I was driving.
After I found out I had skin cancer, I wanted to live. I stopped staring at the side of the road. I stared at the blue sky, and thanked God for each day.
Life was a gift. I wanted to keep it.
The skin cancer was contained in the outer surface of the skin. It didn’t have a chance to send out cells and establish colonies in other parts of my body.
Skin cancer is deadly. It doesn’t just stay on the surface. If left untreated, skin cancer will spread into the lower layers of the skin and then it will travel to other parts of your body.
Today at 10:00 a.m. I have an appointment with the skin doctor who sliced off the cancerous mole from the back of my leg.
I will stand naked before her as she looks at the moles on my body. The mole she cut off I had found myself. I could see it clearly on the back of my leg.
I remember thinking, “Where did you come from?”
My doctor will be looking at my back. I can’t see my back, she can. I am literally trusted her with my life. I trust her to cut off any moles that are suspicious.
She will be looking for the ABC’s of Naughty Moles.
The American Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you look at your skin once a month for the ABCDE’s of Melanoma. When you look at your skin, look for any new growth, or any changes to existing moles.
Look for the Ugly Duckling. A mole that is not like the rest.
If Glenda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz walked in my front door today and said, “You can move back to California into the house you rented before. You never had skin cancer. BUT. I will take away all of your friends and memories from Pennsylvania. You will be depressed again and you will have to erase all the words and stories you have written since last year.”
I would say, “No thank you Glenda. I have new friends in Pennsylvania, I don’t want to leave them. I won’t erase my memories or my stories. If my stories have helped one person. I wouldn’t erase them.”
I don’t take the day I am given for granted. It took cancer for me to realize life is fragile, and precious. I want to make the most of each day and the life I am given.
Cancer made me realize I only have today. I am writing every day, living boldly and buying blue toilet seats.
Today is always the best day to start. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. ( You can tweet that here.)
Is there something you really want to do? Is there a project you want to start, but you keep waiting for the perfect time?
What do you want to do? Will you start today?
Please let me know in the comments. I would love to chat.
I am participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge at Two Writing Teachers. You can read other stories here, if you would like to.