February 28th. February 28th, 2013. That should be just the last day of the shortest month of the year, but for me that was the day I got a call that I will never forget. I was at work, I had just returned from one of the many bathroom visits (what, I drink a LOT of water) and noticed I had a voice mail. Humm, that name sounds familiar - must be an employee that I‘ve worked with before at one of our clients. An hour later, I have time to listen and help. I listen - it’s not an employee, it’s my dermatologist. Why is HE calling me? Why didn’t his office manager call…why didn’t they just send a letter with the results?
My hands immediately start to sweat. I call back, leave a message with the office manager. No more than 5 minutes later, which absolutely could have only been 2 minutes, I see that name again on my caller ID. Shit. That was fast.
“Hi Amber, it’s Doctor Dermatologist. I heard ’Office Manager’ say your name, by the time I got to her you two had already hung up so I called you right back. Your test results came back and you have Malignant Melanoma, mmmkay? It’s fine, I think we caught it early and you will need to see a surgeon to get more removed and they will probably need to look at some lymph nodes”
Mali….did he just say Malignant?? I go over and over in my head ‘Benign is fine, Benign is fine'. Oh. Wait, did he REALLY just say Malignant? Fuck the Melanoma part, I am completely stuck on Malignant. I immediately call my husband and tell him that I just got a call and "it's" malignant. It. Such a small word, such a large impact to so many things. “It” can be…anything, right? The name of a Stephen King book of a creepy ass clown with sharp teeth comes to mind. Suits “it” well.
I cried to my husband over the fact that IT was malignant. After I got off the phone, I went back to my desk to research what in fact Malignant Melanoma actually is…what IT actually means. I was more worried on the malignant part. That is, until I googled. I immediately became more worried about the Melanoma part than the Malignant part.
I thought that all skin cancer was called “Melanoma”. Melanoma is NOT just skin cancer. There is Basal Cell, Squamous Cell and then there is Melanoma, the ugly step-sister that no one likes. She’s actually quite a bitch. The bitchy step-sister that no one likes. Yes, that’s more like it.
I’ve learned a considerable amount about Melanoma since my diagnosis. Diagnosis is another one of those “it” words. Diagnosis holds power. Diagnosis is certain. Diagnosis is also uncertain. This is the second diagnosis that I’ve had in my life. First one being February 14th, 2007 - diagnosis = ulcerative colitis. My body must like February. I gave the first diagnosis power - my stress. I’m stressed out now, but I can’t give this recent diagnosis power, I wont. I’m bigger and stronger than a little, stupid mole.
At this point when I wrote this, I had scheduled an appointment with a UCI Melanoma Specialist and Surgeon. The three people that I love the most were there with me. They are support. They are family. They are my angels, the ones that will look after me indefinitely.