Monday, December 8, 2008

My 3rd Nipple

Ok, it's not really a third nipple. (Some of you who know me are probably thinking, TMI right about now.) But a mole had been sprouting right in the middle of my chest FOREVER. And because of the forrest that covers my chest––hair, that is, and again I'm hearing, "hey, too much information––it wasn't getting a whole lot of attention. (Now that's funny on a whole lotta levels.)

I had my 3rd nipple removed today. I didn't know it was going to happen, but I had my 6-month check-up for skin cancer. The Doctor took a look and said, "you want this removed?" I asked if it needed to be removed. He took a closer look and said, "yeah, we better get that out." So I'm thinking I'm going to put my clothes back on and come back another day. Wrong.

"You're going to feel a little pinch." Pinch? Pinch my ass––not literally, of course. I came here for a body scan, not a removal––sounds like an old Monty Python routine The Monty Python Channel on YouTube. And what am I going to do with a gown on, my ass hanging out for everyone to see and in a chair that's about a foot or two off the ground. So he sticks me. And he starts to cut my 3rd nipple out. And of course, I can feel it. So he sticks me again with the numbing stuff. And starts to cut again. And I feel it again as he cuts it out. Just when I tell him I can still feel it––I wasn't watching him do it––he says, "we're all done. Sorry about that. But we'll get this to the lab and let you know in 7-10 days if it's cancerous."

That's OK, Doc. I'll just take my 3rd nipple back and we'll pretend this never happened. Yeah, wouldn't that be great. No pain. No worries. No biopsy. Besides, it's a great conversation piece. "Hey, did you know I have 3 nipples?"

But it doesn't work that way. It's better to know what's going on than not know at all. Since I've had skin cancer, every little mark on my body is under suspicion. I feel like I need a full-body-photo-catalog-clearly-marked-map so I can keep my sanity. I feel like I have to stay out of the sun all the time. (Maybe I could become a vampire, seeing as how popular they are these days.) I'll miss my 3rd nipple. We've had a lot of laughs over the years.

I hope I'm laughing when I get the results.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Forgetting cancer

It's sometimes hard to believe that I ever had cancer. Of course, there are many reminders––dry mouth, wacky taste buds and that hole in my stomach. That's a beauty. But it's been over a year since my last treatment. And it seems like it was another lifetime.

Maybe that's a good thing. When you find out you have cancer, it consumes your every moment. The questions are never ending. When will it be gone? Will it spread? What can I do to get it out of my body right now? What is it going to do to my family? When can I be normal? What will normal be like? Is this normal? Why? Why? Why? A thousand times, why?

In trying to fight cancer you constantly try to forget you have it, because you don't WANT to have it. No one does. No one wants you to have cancer. No one knows what it does to you. Lonely? Yes. I felt as if I didn't want other people to be burdened with the knowledge that I had cancer. I didn't want to be treated any differently. I didn't want people to stay in touch with me only because I had cancer. I didn't want my family to know the pain. I didn't want cancer to beat me, no matter what it took to stay alive. I wanted to keep it to myself.

Tomorrow is a check-up, with my skin cancer Doctor. Besides the head & neck cancer team of Doctors and the stomach Doctors, I have a skin cancer Doctor to help me fight any MORE skin cancer that might creep up on my body. Check all the moles, every inch of exposed skin. For some crazy reason, the skin cancer worries me most. And that's a cancer I can actually see! Skin cancer was caused by all those years in the sun. And being a SoCal boy, I love the sun. (It doesn't love me so much). And when I feel the warmth, I just forget everything else. Until my mouth starts to get dry and reminds me I need to find my water bottle.

No, I don't think I'll ever forget cancer. But I hope to have at least one day where I don't think about it at all.