I have to have regular medical checkups and the 24 hours leading up to them are times when I REALLY wish I wasn’t single.
Nearly five years ago, I had a mole removed and it turned out to be an early-stage malignant melanoma. I was very lucky it was caught so early and didn’t need any nasty treatment – just had a chunk of flesh from around the original mole cut out of my chest (I tell anyone who asks that the scar is from a boob job gone wrong – LOL!). But it REALLY freaked me out. Cancer? At 31? This wasn’t part of the plan!
I’m blessed with an excellent medical plan which connects me with outstanding healthcare providers, who have taken good care of me since. I go for check-ups regularly – to check for any recurrence or spread of the original melanoma (unlikely), but also general skin checks as I’m very fair and in a high risk category for skin cancer.
If you’ve had something similar happen to you, you’ll know the sense of dread that starts creeping in a few days before your checkup. For me, I start getting edgy, a bit snappy and start self-diagnosing all sorts of things (“headache? must be a brain metastasis! oh hang on – maybe it’s because I’ve been sitting hunched up at the computer all day… hmm, ok, that’s more likely…”) The times when this coincides with PMS are doubly exciting – add a dash of paranoia and pinch of patheticness… back away slowly…
The evening before a checkup is the worst – lots of time to think (note to self – schedule dinner with friends next time) and worry and play scenarios over in my head. I try to schedule my appointments as early as possible in the day as (a) I can never eat anything beforehand (tummy to churned up with nerves) and (b) I would go bananas sitting around all day waiting for it.
Today I went to a new dermatologist so that added some extra nervous-sprinkles on the top of my freaked-out sundae. I wonder if all her patients greet her with a shaky, ice-cold handshake? Probably quite a few of them do. But all went well and my scar, skin, lymph nodes and liver are in tip-top condition. Yippee! If you’ve ever had this sort of checkup you will also know the IMMENSE sense of relief (and post-adrenaline spike wobbly feeling) when you get the all-clear. After a good check-up I have an almost uncontrollable urge to go shopping (and I don’t mean for groceries…) – for me that seems to be my default ‘affirming I’m alive and well’ setting. (Champagne comes to mind too.) Today I did limit it to groceries but they did include some chocolate treats.
Anyway, to cut a long story short (bit late now, I know… excuse the ramblings…), it’s when I’m faced with a medical situation that – despite usually being very happily single, feisty and independent – I could really do with a partner to distract, reassure, love, hug, pray for and support me. Fortunately I am blessed to have extremely supportive and close parents and several good friends who I know send positive vibes my way too. I am also religious and knowing that I’m in God’s hands helps me immeasurably. He’s done an excellent job of taking care of me so far 🙂
How do you cope with this sort of thing? Who do you turn to? Or doesn’t it phase you? I’d love to know if anyone feels like I do.
P.S. With any cancer diagnosis, the magic ‘you’re in the clear’ mark is 5 years with no evidence of disease. I am THREE MONTHS AWAY from that and am planning on having a HUGE party to celebrate!
P.P.S. Melanoma is no fun, people. No suntan is worth gambling your life with. Fake it rather and keep away from those rays. See a dermatologist annually (or twice a year if you’re as fair as I am) and keep an eye on your skin and if you see anything changing, go get it checked out. Melanoma is curable if caught early enough; if not, it is usually fatal and is the most dangerous of all skin cancers. This site has some excellent ‘safe sun’ advice. PSA over!