The “C” Word – Is it Cancer?

Written by Jennifer On September - 15 - 2011 6 Comments

Let me start off by saying that I really debated whether I would blog about this.  For the most part I’ve kept this private and in the family and I felt it was ‘too private’ to share on my public blog.  Ultimately I made the decision to share because it might help someone going through the same thing.

Today I’m going to talk about The “C” Word.  The word no one ever wants to hear — CANCER.

Is there any worse word?

My story stars one day when I accidentally found a mole in a very private area.  A hard to see area so I’ve never noticed this mole before.  It looked unlike any other I’ve ever seen on my body.  I’m a fair complected person without many moles and freckles so when I saw this rather large brown spot I was immediately frightened and started thinking the worst – skin cancer.

Chart on what skin cancer looks like

Chart on what skin cancer looks like

I will note at this part that as I feverishly searched the web trying to disprove that it was melanoma that I found out that similar moles may be benign, but then turn into cancer later.  Either way it was looking like this mole was going to have to go.  I only mention this because when you find a weird mole everything on the web seems to lead to that it is cancer, and they don’t really mention that it can also NOT be cancer.  Basically, if you have a suspicious spot, get it checked out but don’t freak out like I did (if possible).

At the earliest appointment I could get I saw my doctor, who I knew wouldn’t be able to help me, BUT they make you get a referral to a dermatologist partly for money and partly to torture you, I think.  The doctor said that I would have to see a dermatologist (I was shocked, ha), gave me a referral, and said she couldn’t ‘know for sure’ without tests, but it was ‘worrying’ enough to send me to the next step, although she figured it was ‘probably nothing’.  I made my next appointment.

I showed up at the dermatologist, early in the morning, and the office was just too darn fancy.  This was going to cost a ton.  I had my 10 pages of new patient forms at the ready (most of which were about how you had to PAY UP FRONT) and my medical insurance card which felt as useful as a discount at Red Lobster.  I worried about what they would say, that I would not find anything out yet again until later, and about a ‘new’ doctor.  My loving husband was there for support having gone to both doctor’s appointments because he knew how upset I was over this whole thing.  I have to mention that because it meant a lot to me, and he is a man among men to deal with my crazy sometimes.

I got into the office and being that my mole is in a sensitive area I had to strip from the waist down and wear one of their lovely paper blankets for cover.  Did I mention it was freezing? It was, and for proof I offer that the doctor herself called it ‘The Meat Locker”.  I had to wait an agonizing 30 minutes – half dressed and suddenly having to go to the bathroom – for the doctor to show up.

When she finally did show up she looked at it and explained that it might be a melanoma, to which I tried to fight back tears.  Then she said that she’d just cut the thing off to be ”on the safe side” and look at it under a microscope.  If it turned out to be anything bad I would come in and they’d scoop out some more skin, otherwise I was just to let it heal normally.  They didn’t really give me a choice in the matter, not that I would have refused.

They left to go get their scalpels or whatever, and the payment lady came in.  I’ve seriously never seen such an office organized  at getting your money, but then again they did have VERY nice decor.  They told me that my insurance wouldn’t cover any of it and that it was going to be $800.  At this point they seemed to think I might back out at the cost so they started telling me how dangerous it was to leave it there as it is either cancerous or pre-cancerous, an annoying word for anything that someday MIGHT be cancer.

So now I’m crying in earnest because we cannot afford that now, and because I feel like I’m being selfish getting this done when the money can go to so many other things.

Needless to say I decide to do it. $300 up front and $100 a week until it is paid off.  They numb the area and when it is numb it takes about 6 seconds to do the ‘surgery’.  (which is good because I’ve been half-naked for about an hour and really have to go to the bathroom!) They put a little round band-aid and gave me instructions on how to clean it.  They told me that they will call me in a week to tell me if it’s cancer.

I made an appointment to come back in 2 weeks so they can see how it is healing.  I am not sure if I will break that appointment because it’s another $140.  That’s just me being truthful to you, the audience. They doctor thinks I’m coming at this point, and I don’t know for sure, either.  No word yet on whether it’s cancer or not, sure hope it’s not because I can’t afford more ‘surgery’!

That might sound like a rant about the medical profession, and to a certain extent maybe it is, but really it wasn’t that bad.  I think it should have been cheaper, but the process isn’t as bad or as scary as you would think.  It has changed me because now I know I am mortal.  I really know that it can happen to me.  Even if it comes back and nothing is wrong I will never forget the feeling of when I knew I could die.  I am not going to preach to you about how you should check your spots twice a year or whatnot because I found mine on accident.  Maybe you should.  I do think, however that if you do find yourself in a position where you have to get a spot checked, you will be prepared with the knowledge of what happens, and although it is scary (and expensive), you can get through it!

 

 

 

 

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