Well Hello There Little Skin Cancer Cells

I recently saw a primary care physician (PCP) here in CA, even though I had seen my MN PCP back in September, because I was hoping she could prescribe me meds while I wait for a psychiatry appointment. Although that didn’t work out, I left her office with instructions to make three additional medical visits.

One was to get blood drawn to determine if my liver, kidney, lipids (cholesterol), and glucose were normal due to the, hopefully, impending medication that could have an adverse affect on my organs and due to a strong genetic history of diabetes. These all turned out normal (yay!).

Another was to be with someone in psychiatry at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) in hopes that they would have a faster turn-around time than Stanford so I could get on some meds while continuing to wait for an appointment at Stanford. She said I should call PAMF psychiatry if I did not hear from them by that Thursday, May 8. I, of course, did not hear from them, but since I was in New York that weekend I called them on Tuesday, May 13 and was greeted by a recording that told me to leave a message, that I would hear back from them after seven business days and if that was not soon enough I should call someone else. Well, that was the gist of it anyway. As of today, seventeen business days later, I have not heard from them.

The last was to see a dermatologist about a bump on my nose that I had had for a couple of months, originally thinking it was simply a pimple, but that did not seem to want to go away. I agreed because it’s better to be safe than sorry, but was really not concerned. The dermatologist did not seem very concerned neither, but decided to take it off because she really couldn’t say for sure that it was benign just by looking at it.

So I succumbed to the tiny needle filled with local anesthetic and the promise of a little pink scar on my left nostril and went on with my day without much of a thought about it besides the amusement I felt watching people try to ignore the bandage on my nose while I was shopping. The thought of skin cancer did weigh slightly on the back of my mind (enough to make me start wearing sunblock) as I knew it was a small possibility, but even the dermatologist said that it would be rare at my age so I didn’t lose any sleep over it until she called with my biopsy results.

My thirtieth birthday is coming up in July and I’m going to usher it in properly: in anticipation of popping a healthy dose of tranquilizers and my first cancer surgery. Most people probably feel they’ve finally reached adulthood when they get their first “real” job, when they buy their first home, get married, or have a kid. Not me, no sir! My wake up call came in the form of realizing it’s time I start taking care of myself.

Youthfulness is wonderful in the way it allows us to abuse our bodies and still feel great most of the time. We can stay up until 4am eating cookies and chips, smoke the occasional cigarette that we bum off someone in the bar because the brand doesn’t matter yet, dance until the blisters on our heels burst and bleed, and ignore that nagging feeling of spontaneous illogical dread because we’re so drunk there’s a haze around the neon signs and everything we say is brilliant.

One brilliant thing about real adulthood that makes up for the loss of that exuberant youth is that I am in control. No more being told that I have to decide what I want to do with my life before college, graduation, or [insert arbitrary deadline here]. No more guilt for not “working up to my potential”. No more waiting around for someone else to help me. Finally, I have some hope of overcoming the depression, anxiety, worry, fear, pain in my head, pain in my joints, pain in my stomach, sleepless nights, exhaustion, confusion, frustration, anger, apperception, escapism, self-loathing and the constant feelings of inferiority. And I get to do it my way.

What’s a little cancer when I’m already beating all that? Bring it on.

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6 thoughts on “Well Hello There Little Skin Cancer Cells

  1. Oh Katie.. i’m so sorry. just thank goodness you went to the dermatologist when you did! luckily, when these skin cancers are caught early, they are easily cured with surgery with low risk of recurrence.

    i think you know that i do cancer research. let me know via e-mail or phone or whatever if you need any help going through some of the literature.

  2. Cheers to adulthood. Cheers to getting help and getting better! Have you set up the surgery appt yet? (I wasn’t quite sure if the date was scheduled already.)

    I’m peeved that no one’s gotten back to you about a psych…how sucky can a system be? You know I’m here for you, if you wanna vent, take a stroll, share “shit” over coffee, etc.

    Many hugs, hang in there, one day at a time.

  3. I’m glad you’re able to stay positive in the face of all this. It’s always hard to believe when this kind of thing happens to people our age. It was quite a shock when Lisa had to go through it, but thankfully, like yours, hers was discovered in time and she was able to get through it. I’m sure you will do the same! Take care.

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