“You have melanoma.”
Those were the words I heard from my doctor back in July 2005. I had previously been treated for basal cell carcinoma, which is a slow-growing skin cancer, on my back. That treatment consisted of applying a cream to the affected area every day for six months – and that cream HURT. It always felt like a bee stinging my back…but it worked…after six months, I had been declared cured of the basal cell.
So imagine my shock when the doctor gave me this ominous diagnosis at a later follow-up visit. He then went on to say, “I’ll send it to the lab to see what stage it is – but I can tell from just looking, that it’s beyond Stage I. We’re probably looking at least Stage II…”
I was speechless…I was supposed to leave for a mission trip to Guatemala the next day. I eventually managed to sputter that out, asking the doctor, “What do I do? Do I go? Should I cancel my trip?”
The doctor said that it would take several days for the lab to process the specimen, so his advice was to go…have a good time…because there was “nothing” I could do in the meantime. He said we’d deal with whatever we had to deal with when I got back in 10 days.
I left the office in a state of shock…and then made two calls – one to Hubby, the second to my mother – sobbing into the telephone….Scared, helpless, apprehensive.
I decided to go on to Guatemala – perhaps spending time with the people & children there would take my mind off my health issues – and it did, for the most part. Most days, I was too busy to even eat, let alone dwell on what I was facing when I got back to the States. Nights, however, gave me all-too-much time to ruminate on the future.
Although the doctor had said that there was nothing I could do until I returned, I realized he was wrong. There WAS something I could do – and that was to pray.
I prayed. A lot. My prayers weren’t asking for healing…but rather, I asked for strength and courage to face whatever it was I would be dealing with upon my return. I knew, that with God by my side, I could handle whatever was thrown at me. I prayed for God’s presence so that I would go through treatment with dignity.
I returned from Guatemala late Sunday night; the first thing Monday morning, my telephone rang – and it was my doctor.
“You’re not going to believe this,“ he began...”I sent the specimen off to the lab as at LEAST Stage II – and it came back totally clean. It’s not melanoma. It’s nothing.”
I tried to absorb this, wanting to believe it, but hesitant…and so I asked, “Are you sure the lab didn’t make a mistake?”
The doctor replied, “That’s what I thought, too – so I had them retest it. No mistake. You’re fine. I don’t know how to explain it; I’ve never seen anything like that in all of my years of practice.”
I knew how to explain it. It was the power of prayer.
And so today’s photo challenge was to take a photo of some place you went today. Well, I visited the dermatologist...so I took a photo of the office I visited this morning.
It’s a ritual for me – every six months, I go in for skin cancer checks. It’s just something I have to do for the rest of my life.
Today’s visit was a mixed bag – I had three suspicious moles removed, including one on my neck that the doctor said is “probable basal cell”. I have a cool bandaid on my neck for the next 24 hours – I’ve told my daughter that I was bit by Edward Cullen (and if you’re not a Twilight fan, you’ll have no idea what that means…so for you non-Twilight fans, think Dracula - only young and hot.) I'll find out the lab results in a week or two...here's hoping they turn out okay.
I encourage everyone to have regular visits with a dermatologist – you just never know.