I suppose when you hear those words “You have cancer”; your immediate reaction is to become paranoid that you’re going to die. And when I got the call from the dermatologist letting me know I had Melanoma, I immediately had that same reaction. The thoughts that race through your mind are intense and the world changes in an instant. It was June 9th and we were driving to meet some family for a couple days near Avila Beach on the Central California coast. I had gone to the Dermatologist on that Monday (June 5th) and had a suspicion mole biopsied just to make sure it was ok. Well, it wasn’t.
Let me back up a bit and explain. I had this mole on top of the Big Toe of my Right foot for years. I noticed in late December or early January that the mole seemed to begin changing colors somewhat. It was always a two-tone shade of brown, however the colors were diffusing a bit, so I began to watch it closer and by mid February I decided to go have it checked by a dermatologist. Upon my visit with a Dermatologist in late February, he looked closely at it and even used his special glasses to assess the mole. He stated that it was a common mole (Naevus) and not to worry but if it changes further then let him know. I trusted his evaluation and went on my way.
Spring forward about 2 months later when my wife found out she had a Basal Cell carcinoma removed that I began to really scrutinize the mole on my toe, so I took a picture of it towards the end of April. By that time it had begun to get a little raised center to it, so I was watching it closely. By the end of May I realized that the center of it had grown a bit so I then decided to go to the doctor again, but this time I would see the Dermatologist that my wife had seen.
Fortunately I did make that decision, because upon her seeing the mole, she immediately decided to biopsy it. At that time I wasn't all that concerned, until I got that infamous call a few days later informing me that I had Melanoma. Yes….CANCER!!!
Many things have occurred since that call on June 5th. A man’s mindset changes instantly when he gets that “C-word” call and the first thing I recognized was that “time” is not on our side. None of us! We move through our days, weeks, months, and years assuming that we have all this “time” to do things. Well, we don’t and unfortunately it takes something of this magnitude to awake you from the slumber. Shortly thereafter, I also realized that those things we get stressed out and consumed with on a daily basis are generally very trivial in nature.
After the initial shock of the diagnosis, I began to think how I may be able to turn this negative life event into a positive outcome. I pretty quickly decided that I would not cower down and hide it, but rather open myself up to the world and share it openly with complete transparency. I therefore began a series of videos that I posted on my FaceBook page in hopes that I could help others understand that these traumatic events in life are real for everyone, regardless of age, race, sex, financial status, etc. It comes at us when we least expect it and does not discriminate in the least bit.
As I navigate the process of dealing with Melanoma (AKA Cancer), I’m beginning to realize this potentially has given me a great gift. It has reminded me that we don’t get to live forever and the only time we have is “right now.” I feel I’ve been chosen to share my ordeal with as many people as possible so that others my be able to avoid getting that call.
The silver lining in this to date is that by me sharing my story openly, there have been numerous people who have either seen a Dermatologist or have appointments to see one. There have even been a few that have had areas removed that were pre-cancerous.
As I work through this life-challenge, I will continue to share my experience with the process so I may help others work through theirs. So perhaps this Cancer thing is a gift. At least that is how I chose to view it for myself. It has given me the present of presence, and I am humbled by this opportunity.