The first five minutes of my ride home from the dermatologist’s office on June 15, 2012, I rode in silence. Then I called my husband.
Me: It’s melanoma.Husband: What’s that?Me: Skin cancer. The worst kind.
We sat in silence for a few seconds. Then I told him we would talk more about it when I got home. Next, I called my web searching sister and told her. Mrs. “Internet MD” was shocked at the diagnosis, and before we hung up, she was in tears. It was during that moment I decided I would NOT go home and search the web for information about melanoma. I would wait until I saw the doctors. The last call I made from the car was to my youngest sister, the one who was out by the pool. I wasn’t calling my mom until I knew she was home from work.
At home there wasn’t a lot to be said. I told my husband what the next steps were, handed him the pamphlet, and went back to my office to make some calls. My refusal to research melanoma lasted about five minutes once I sat at my desk. After all, I work from the computer all day long, and I’m a total Google fanatic. So, against my instincts, I searched for ‘melanoma on the neck’. Go ahead. You do a search for it now. What’s the FIRST thing that pops up?
If you didn’t look, this is what I saw.
I clicked on the link and began to read. To say my heart dropped is an understatement.
It felt like every one of my bodily organs was at the bottom of my torso. My body was being smothered from the warm feeling of dread rushing from the back of my neck through my arms and legs all the way to the tips of my fingers and toes. I couldn’t breathe. I looked over and saw the time. My mom was home from work. I pulled myself together to call her. I told her about everything that happened that day. Then I said, “Mama, I want to be as positive and optimistic about this as possible, so I am asking that everyone do the same for me.” That wasn’t an easy thing to ask, considering I am probably the most optimistic person in my family (and that isn’t saying much), but she did it. She stuck with me, as I totally expected her to, but she never cried or expressed any doubts- at least not in front of me. By the end of that phone call, I had utilized every bit of strength I had. I closed my laptop, went into my living room, sat with my kids and watched cartoons.
I watched as much television as possible for the next two weeks. It was the only thing that was able to take my mind off of cancer. And dying.
It was VERY difficult for me to talk about it. I told my closest friends via Facebook. Then I sent a message to a large group of my actual friends that I speak to often. I asked them for their prayers and positive thoughts. I kept them posted with my treatment that way as well. I barely called my sisters or my mom, because I just couldn’t keep my mind off of it, and I didn’t want to talk about it.
It wasn’t until recently that I could even write- I had cancer- much less say it aloud. I always said, “I had a mole removed, and they found melanoma.” My mole had melanoma. Not me. I refused to own it. I couldn’t own it, because my plan was for it not to become a part of me. I wasn’t claiming ownership to anything I damn well planned to get rid of as soon as I could.
The next day, on a Saturday night, I received a call from the MD Anderson clinic. I was so grateful I didn’t have to wait until Monday. They said they would be in touch with an appointment (the call was to basically ensure that I was insured.) I received an email 3 days later. I had an appointment a week later at the MD Anderson Center…in Houston, Texas, Orlando, Fl. My dermatologist’s office had accidentally sent my info to the one in Texas. Half a week had passed and we were at square one all over again.