Friday, May 30, 2014

One Year Ago Today...

I've been meaning to write this story on my blog for the past year. But it's a difficult topic and while my story is pretty tame, it was still an experience I'll never forget.

April of 2013 was like a whirlwind of emotions for me. I was planning my wedding and there was just so much to do! The flowers turned out wrong, my dress alterations turned out wrong, everything was stressing me out and I had so much to do! I had multiple appointments in a week with the cake place, the venue, etc. So when it came time to make my first appointment with a gynecologist to get on birth control, it was just another appointment and another thing to check off my to-do list.

I went into the appointment with my mom by my side (yes I was 22 but it was my first time, it's not like she held my hand or anything (also, if any boys are reading this just remember that this is a story about the gynecologist, try not to freak out when I say weird things)). The doctor was incredibly nice. I wasn't nervous or anxious or anything. I was completely calm and thinking, "just put me on birth control and let me go home".

...But as she was doing the exam she found a mole. A dark, large, irregular mole.

 She told me it was probably fine but she wanted to do a biopsy to make sure. So I made an appointment to visit again a few days later. I began feeling my stress level increase. I had all these wedding things to deal with while also working practically full-time and now in the back of my mind I was thinking about this mole.

I went in for the appointment and she ended up removing most of the mole and getting it sent in to be tested. She made me feel at ease about the whole thing so I was able to relax a bit more. Also, it was the first time I've ever gotten stitches and that made me feel kind of cool, but it was pretty much in the worst place ever so working in a daycare later that day was not fun. Also having your lady parts numbed is the weirdest thing in the world, just FYI.

Only two days passed and I was woken up to phone call from a nurse. She spoke very quickly and began to explain that they had made an appointment for me with a dermatologist to remove the area around where the mole was because they had found traces of melanoma.

I remember my heart just stopping when I heard it. All I could hear going through my mind was "CANCER! CANCER! CANCER!" I couldn't find it in me to cry I just was in shock, just sitting there wondering what was going to happen. Would it ruin my wedding and my marriage to Chris? Would I have issues with cancer the rest of my life? And of course, would my life be cut shorter than I wanted?

After the phone call I immediately knelt down and said a prayer. I don't remember everything that was said but I know I mainly asked for peace. I wanted to be calm. I knew it could potentially be something horrible, but I simply wanted to remain calm.

After my prayer I called Chris (at the time we were living two hours from each other). I think I may have teared up during the phone call because I was about to marry this man and I didn't want anything ruining our perfect life together. I could hear how worried Chris was over the phone and it made me more upset knowing he was stressing out about me. We agreed to stay calm and think positively. I wanted so badly for him to be there so he could hold me and tell me everything would be okay, but I had to put on my big girl pants and get to work.

I called my mom while getting ready and told her the news. She was able to stay calm and keep me calm as well (she's amazing). She made arrangements to come to the next appointment with me because she wanted to be around to make sure everything would turn out okay, and I honestly wanted her there as well.

Time came for the next appointment with a dermatologist. He looked over the mole and looked over the notes from the lab. He then proceeded to tell me that he was too uncomfortable removing that much area in that certain place (because ladies, let's be honest, the skin in weird down there). He made some phone calls and made another appointment for me with another dermatologist, one with a bit more experience. Honestly I was grateful that this doctor told me upfront he was uncomfortable with it instead of just trying to do it. But this only meant more doctors looking at my hoo-ha.

When the time came for my next appointment there was only one week left until my wedding. I was so incredibly stressed out and concerned about this issue. It was all I could think about and I was so worried all the time.

My mom and I went in to the doctors and he looked over the area said he could do this was comfortable with it and said we could get it done in a week. My mom and I exchanged looks and he immediately called us out on it. We explained to him that my wedding was next week. He laughed and said I could get it done after the honeymoon because, ahem, of where it was.

With that information my mom and I asked him more about the mole. This was the first time a doctor didn't stress me out about it. He said that he wasn't worried about it spreading at all in that time. He said I would be completely fine and that the initial biopsy had removed most of it, they simply wanted to remove the surrounding area to protect me and my health.

I honestly breathed a sigh of relief and wondered why none of the other doctors had said this before. I had been stressing out for no reason! Well, a little bit of reason, but I didn't need to let it control my life.

After that appointment I was able to get married and forget all about my mole. I enjoyed my honeymoon and my new married life with Chris.

The time came for the procedure and Chris and I drove down from Logan to get it done. As I was lying in the chair my whole body was shaking with nerves. Besides the previous biopsy, I've never had any medical procedures in my life and I could help from being a little scared. Chris comforted me the best he could but when my body starts shaking like that I can't stop it (it happens when I donate plasma too).

The procedure went by fine. I only felt little pricks and the weirdness of them stitching me back up (seriously, stitches are so weird and just imagine getting them down there, weirdest feeling ever). Everything was fine again. Chris and I even went to the zoo after a nap (but the numbness wore off and I actually found myself in a lot of pain walking around the zoo, sadness).

Which leads us to this day. One year ago today I picked up my phone to find a voicemail. I opened it up and listened as the doctored pronounced me clean and clear. I had no more traces of melanoma.

Having gone through this I have to be protective of my skin now, because it's likely to come back, but I've been able to move on from this and mostly forget about it. But whenever I think back on it I'm so grateful for the doctors, my mom, my neighbor who knew and said she was praying for me, my wonderful husband, and the experience that helped change my perspective on things.

Cancer is still one of my biggest fears. I had an aunt die of cancer, I know so many people who have been affected by it, and it's seriously the devil, it's the absolute worst thing out there. But I think now I'm more protective of myself. I notice when I get new moles (and Chris freaks out, it's kind of cute) and I'm definitely more cautious in the sun. I think the experience taught me to never hold back. To keep moving forward and follow your dreams. You'll always hit bumps in the roads but sometimes they aren't nearly as big as you think they are, and you can't let them stop you.

Keep moving forward. Keep moving towards the ultimate goal of living your life to the fullest. 

That is what my cancer scare taught me. I really am grateful for the experience and for the changes it made in me and I'm truly grateful for one year ago today.

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