Not to say they don’t know me; they know me best. My family and close friends are upfront and honest with me about my faults and shortcomings. Similarly, they are my biggest praisers. I’m surprisingly a very private person; for as much as I reveal, I keep much much more to myself. Plus, I take my friendships and other relationships very seriously; I hold many things sacred. No one close to me has ever said something offensive that didn’t hold some truth. But I think that no one can ever really understand your core.
I went home to Dad’s house and we both immediately had a drink. We sat down at the table; it was time to think of a strategic plan of attack. He was examining the pathology report, furiously researching on the iPad. (Even brilliant doctors have more to learn when it comes to basic things in other fields.)
The very first thing I had to do was call my mother. She was in Maine on a conducting sabbatical with very limited time and very limited cell service, so I was surprised she picked up. As soon as she heard the word “Cancer,” we were in trouble. I handed the phone to Dad; he knew how to explain everything. I actually didn’t even listen to what the doctor had said in my state of shock. And I didn’t want to hear her cry.
He talked to her and calmed her down a bit. Marian came home, and we continued talking about what to do. M and Dad discussed the plastic surgeons in their building. Marian decided that I should go with one of the guys because he was a bit better; plus, this Dr. B owed her a favor for something she helped him out with in the surgery center. She called the main line, and the lady at the front desk said they couldn’t see me for two weeks, and that would only be for a consultation. Not good enough for these adults.
No worries. Marian had him on her cell. She shot him a text, I got bumped to his next available surgery slot, which was a week and a half later, but before I was slated to start my new job—yes, these things always happen at the wrong time.
All was good. I went home and slept. I woke up crying. I got over it. I went to work and was feeling normal again until my cell started blowing up. “When can you get off work today?” It was my father. “He said he can do the surgery at 5.”
I hadn’t even had 24 hours to process everything, but who wants to process this kind of thing anyway? “I’ll be there,” I said.
I went to Dr. B’s, and he drew those purple marks around the amount he would have to remove. This would involve taking out a decent chunk of my ear. He would definitely have to do a skin graft, taking it from my chest, because my skin was too young to stretch. The problem was my inner ear and the complications with removing that. Dr. B took several pictures and said that he wanted to discuss this with his plastic surgeon friends. This was not going to be a lift and stretch and sew in-office procedure. No surgery today, and it would be much worse when it did happen. For all I knew, I would be deformed and not be able to hear.
I told Dad I didn’t want surgery. He wanted to go out to dinner, but I just wanted to stop talking about this. I went home.
The next morning, Dad called again. “I have another idea.” And this was still only the beginning.
To be continued…
On Father’s Day, after playing golf with the fam, we were at Dad’s for dinner and Marian was immediately concerned that I get the spot on my face checked. Marian was very persistent, and this is why I very, very reluctantly (because I no longer had health insurance at the time) went to the doctor—for the first of what would be many times.
The last derm I saw (two summers ago) didn’t even think said spot was worthy of biopsing, so I didn’t give it another thought. Her Park Avenue building rent should be worth something on top of all of her education. A precise example of why I don’t trust anyone, especially doctors other than my father, who is indisputably brilliant. He was suspicious, but hadn’t really noticed until Marian pointed it out, and after that night she was constantly contacting me about making the appointment to get it checked.
The dermatologist in D and M’s building (and a fairly good one), again, thought it was nothing, but since that was
my their main reason for me going, he biopsied it after a full body check.
A week later, I was scheduled to get the stitch out and the pathology results, but I almost skipped the appointment, because my dad could remove the stitch on my own time (so I wouldn’t have to miss work) and it was nothing, right? Well, my father said to keep the appt.
He walked in with me (and thank God he did). The assistant took out the stitch. My father asked her if the pathology report came in. A long pause later, she said, “Yes. The doctor will come in to talk to you about that.”
F**k. That was when I knew something was wrong (which I guess my father was pretty much sure of anyway).
I always called it my cancer, I knew it was something for some time, but I didn’t care since no one in the derm field seemed to think it was worth more than beyond a spot (there was one other doc before these two, when this really was just a spot). Why should I have better intuition about my own body than what people who study years in their respective fields tell me about my body?
It made perfect sense in my mind when I heard it was Melanoma…yet I was still in a state of shock, because this was the third dermatologist to say it was most likely nothing. I was beyond relaxed about it at that point.
Good thing Dad was there because I mentally checked out. Besides, he speaks “medical” and could read all of the reports and explain everything to me later, scientifically and extensively, yet in terms I could understand. As he did, and did, and did in the flurry of craziness that ensued after.
To be continued…
I want to thank my huge, 100(?)-member family and my close friends for all of your outpouring of love and support. Since my email and voicemail accounts have been overwhelmed, I haven’t been able to get back to all of you individually. I’m a pretty private person and don’t like to blow things up, but since Rindy spread the word without my consent, here is the full story: