“Have you noticed any changes?”
“No, it’s been there for, I dunno, like 6 years.”
“But have you noticed any changes?”
Over the past few months, there have been significant changes in my personal life. One of them, as you may have noticed, is that I’ve been blogging significantly less (has it really been two months since my last post???). On one hand, it means there hasn’t been a lot going on in my mastectomy/recovery world. One the other hand, the posting of a new blog probably means there is …..
Post-mastectomy, I developed quite a few raised scars. Always on the quest to look at things with humor, I’ve referred to my raised drainage scars as “the infinity scars” because of their connected, oval shapes — much like an infinity sign on the side of my body. And, they have been incredibly itchy for what feels like, well, infinity. I’ve used vitamin E, silicone, and then just massaging them at night. If you’ve ever sat near me for more than an hour, you have likely seen me bending my left arm at a 45 degree angle and scratching my side like a baby chimp.
The other scars haven’t bothered me as much, but they are certainly a nuisance. At the outer edges of my breasts, the ends of my scars are also raised. They hurt less because I still don’t have any nerve feelings on my chest, but they hurt “just enough” to bother me at the end of a long day.
At my last surgical check up, I asked my doctor what could be done, and she recommended a fantastic doctor who could laser them. I set up the appointment and thankfully, due to a cancellation in her schedule, got in within a week.
Now, side step for a moment ….
For the past six years, beginning when I was pregnant with my second child, I developed a dark spot on the left side of my face, just below my eye. It’s not cute, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s fairly light — but noticeable — and has changed in color and size over the years. One day, my office mate, who is a melanoma survivor, pulled me aside.
“Liza, I know this seems weird for me to say, but I’d really like for you to get that spot checked out. I’ve noticed it changing over the years and, well, I’d rather you be safe than sorry.”
Suddenly, this cute sunspot, a momento of my pregnancy, became a source of worry.
Back to the original story ….
“Just put on this robe, opens in the front, and the doctor will be ready in just a minute.”
Now, I’ve been in a lot of doctor’s offices: “Just a minute” usually means I can answer a dozen emails on my smart phone, read about Sexy New Secrets in a fashion magazine I would never actually buy for myself, and fit in a quick power nap. So, I was leisurely folding my shirt on the chair by the door.
“Oh! I’m so sorry! Would you like me to come back when you have the robe on?” said the surprised doctor.
“Doc, I’ve had three children, a mastectomy and my gall bladder removed. I’m quite sure there isn’t an inch of my body that someone hasn’t already seen already. Come on in.”
We exchanged introductory words, and the doctor sat across from me. As I was describing the scars, the infinity sign, the itching and the rope like pattern along the edges of my breasts, the doctor interrupted me. “I have to stop you. I know that you’re here for your scars, but we need to talk about that spot on your breast.”
“You mean the spot on my face?”
“No, this large, dark, irregular shaped mole right here. Have you noticed any changes?”
And, with that, without discussing my scars — the original reason why I was there — the doctor had already booked my procedure to have the mole removed. “I just don’t like that. I don’t like that mole at all. It’s just very classic,”
“Classic, what?” It was my turn to interrupt.
“We need to have that removed, Liza. Immediately.”
I had prepared myself for the snapping pain of laser or sharp pinch of steroid injections. Prepared myself for the relief of itching. Ready to say goodbye to the Baby Chimp that I turn into a few times every day trying.
I was reminded of the last time I went into a doctor’s office thinking we were going in for one thing and left with another. We thought we were going in for a “lazy eye” and we left with a cancer diagnosis for my 2-year old daughter.
I’m used to this kind of thing.
“You’ll need to rest for a few days after this. You won’t be able to lift anything heavy. You won’t be able to do household chores for a few days. You won’t be able to lift your arm above above your waist for a few days. You’ll have a 3-inch scar on your breast…. I mean, another scar on your breast.”
“I’m used to that,” I said.
The irony is not lost on me.
“So, let me get this straight, doc. I went and had a double mastectomy in order to prevent my risk of breast cancer. And, now what you’re telling me is that I may have a cancerous mole on my breast?”
“Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, okay?”
Some things just never change.
Peace, love and progress,