Tag Archives: skin cancer

Having Good Cancer

I studied the painting on the wall of the cold exam room. A jazz musician playing a shiny saxophone. I’d seen it before, but never gave it much attention. Today, though, I needed my thoughts to be focused on something other than my reason for being there.

My mind flashed back to a day nine years ago. I sat in the same room, paying no attention to the artwork. Probably planning the rest of my afternoon. Not knowing what would come next.

That day, when the doctor entered the room with a serious face, I didn’t notice. When she sat across from me, I thought nothing of it. Not until she spoke the word “cancer” did I have the faintest idea there was anything wrong.

“But this is the good kind of cancer,” she said in response to my shocked expression. I had no concept of good or bad at that moment. All I heard was “cancer.”

She said a few things I don’t remember. The words “surgeon” and “pathology” were the only ones that stuck. Her assistant would call me with more details. I figured I would ask questions then.

I just wanted to leave.

In the stillness of my car I cried. “Good cancer,” she said. I’ll focus on that. She didn’t have a sense of urgency getting me to the surgeon. That was another good sign. I’ve heard stories of people being sent straight to the hospital. I was going to wait for a phone call. I tried to convince myself that it really was “good.”

I don’t remember how long I sat there. My husband was out of town, so I picked up the phone and called one of my nurse friends. She repeated what the doctor said, that it was the good kind of cancer, and that I was going to be OK. But isn’t that what anyone would say to a sobbing friend?

My mind raced through so many different scenarios. What would happen to my four-year old son if I died before he grew up? He didn’t yet know what cancer was, so he wouldn’t understand what was happening. But at ten and thirteen, my other boys would. I would have to hold myself together, even though what I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and cry.

“Please, God, let this be a mistake,” was the first stage of processing the news. But my conscience intervened. “Lisha, people get cancer diagnoses every day. Why should you be spared?”

“Then please, God, don’t let it be bad. No chemo, no disfiguring scars on my face.” My conscience again piped in. “Lisha, people have to go through chemo every day. Why should you be different? As for scars, vanity has no place here. This is about your life.”

I hung my head a little lower.

“Then God, just please don’t let me die. I want to grow old. I want to grow old with my husband, watching our sons grow up, playing with the grandchildren I dream about.”

Waiting.

Waiting.

I decided at that moment that I would not ask God for terms. I would pray to grow old. An old woman with scars to tell her tale.

My mind returned to the present as I heard footsteps approaching. I had time for one quick prayer before the doctor entered the room to deliver the results of yet another biopsy.

No terms this time. No conditions. Just please, God, let me grow old.

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Have you been diagnosed with a “Good Cancer?” I’d like to hear from you. 

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I’m in the company of some fabulous writers and bloggers over at Yeah Write this week. Click on over see for yourself!

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Finding my lost perspective.

Perspective (noun): a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I was worried. I don’t usually worry about doctor’s appointments, because there’s usually nothing to worry about. But I just had a gloomy feeling about this one, and I was stressing.

I’ve had a couple of skin cancers, and recently had two spots removed from my back. One of them wasn’t healing right, and had a black spot in the middle. A black spot just like the one on the poster in the exam room, 1 – 2 millimeters from the previous biopsy. So I made an appointment and waited.

(Spoiler alert: I am fine. This is not a reveal.)

As I was getting ready (and looking for a little sympathy), I posted a vague status on my Facebook page about being nervous. As I hoped, friends hopped on it immediately with words of encouragement, and I felt better.

One of the replies was from my friend M. He had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, too. The one where he went to his oncologist to find out what kind of medications he can take for the duration of his incurable, inoperable cancer. So he can function and feel better and make memories with his wife and young son. And he got what he considered good news. He’s going to try another type of chemo, with the hope of slowing down or shrinking the tumor, buying more time. Which he called “a very, VERY good thing.”

I couldn’t help but compare his good news to my bad news. And I felt a little ashamed that I had lost my perspective.

Later in the day my friend L started a dialogue about gratitude. She shared a story about a friend who is bearing a difficult load, and that her “silly, everyday problems” are trivial compared to her friend’s.

Relative importance. Perspective.

Then later in the day I read the blog of a Missouri pastor, who shared a couple of stories about perspective. I’ll share with you a bit of the last one, a story about a man visiting a dying family member.

His brother-in-law requested a wet cloth for his lips. Then he said, “We start off wanting $1,000,000. Over time, that keeps getting pared down until all we want is a little water on our lips.” 

There it is. Perspective. Things are as big a deal as we make them. No bigger.

Source: thecareerblog.wordpress.com

It’s not about what happens to us. It’s about how we choose to respond to what happens to us. And my “problems” (dare I even call them that??) are nothing. Not parenting a child with the learning disabilities, not having a spot cut off of my back, not caring for my MIL.

Because the worst thing that will happen to me today is better than the best thing that will happen to someone else. And I’m not going to forget that any time soon. 

How do you keep things in perspective? Or do you? Or should you?