I’ve never had something rock me like that phone call in September 2009.
It felt like someone reached through the phone and punched me in the stomach. I froze and felt like I could throw up.
My life up to this point had been pretty smooth. How could this be happening? I’m young, reasonably active and health conscious. Of course I liked beer, barbeques and other not so healthy things but for the most part I took care of myself.
My mind went into overdrive.
I remember trying to figure out what melanoma was. Oh right, it’s skin cancer. Okay, that’s not so bad, I thought. Instantly I googled melanoma and found that it is extremely treatable if caught early.
Had I caught it early? What’s “early”?
I knew that I had been ignoring it for quite some time, thinking that it was just an ugly mole. So stupid. If only I knew then what I know now. As I read further I learned that if detected late, melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers with very few treatment options.
Holy sh*t. Where did I stand? Did I catch it early or was it too late?
My mind raced and started concocting a series of devastating scenarios. I would never meet my first born. Lynne would be a single mom. I’d lose my hair. I had watched my brother go through chemotherapy. Was that what was in store for me? My mind went into overdrive and hasn’t stopped for the past four and a half years.
When I finally mustered up enough courage to call the dermatologist back he informed me that the mole was definitely melanoma and was slightly deeper than they like to see. I would now need more diagnostic work done to determine just how bad it was.
I remember hanging up the phone and looking at Lynne and wanting her to hug me.
Take this away. This is not fair. This was not in our plans. My baby girl is on her way and I need to be focusing on that. Why do I have to deal with this bullshit?
Looking back, I can now say that my intuition had been telling me for quite some time that the mole on my back was something more serious. I thought about it a lot , but I think deep down I was afraid to face what it might be.
I watched my brother Colin battle cancer and it terrified me. He was so strong. Could I be that strong? He was always stronger than and protective of me throughout my childhood. He still is to this day. Could I live up to his strength and courage?
I was scared.
My life from this moment would never be the same. And so this journey began.
Recounting these life changing events is very difficult but at the same time I find reflecting upon them to be very healing.
Intuition has become a big part of my healing journey. I am learning to use it for every decision I make along this path. Going against my intuition has created a great deal of shame and guilt—however, I have come to realize that that I am doing the best with what I have.
I am also much gentler with myself and accept that I will make mistakes along this journey.
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Apprentice Editor: Bronwyn Petry/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photos: Adrian Bercea, Pixoto/elephant media archives