I want to take a minute to talk about the C word. No, not that one. Cancer. It affects way too many people that we know and love. It is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. Why am I bringing it up? I'll tell you.
Two weeks ago, I went to the dermatologist to have a routine check up. I haven't been in a few years and I wanted to go while my current insurance plan will still pay for it. (I switch plans on December 1 and it will not be covered.) I waited almost a year for this appointment. I wanted the doctor to look at some suspicious moles/freckles. I had one particular mole on my left breast that has grown over the past few years and had undefined borders. She was immediately concerned by it and cut it off for a biopsy. The place she removed was about the size of a dime. She told me it would be a week or so before she had the results. The day before my 26th birthday, I got the call. The nurse on the other end of the line told me that the biopsy showed that I had very severe atypia. Very severe? Doesn't that seem redundant? I questioned what that meant and I was told that that meant that the mole was becoming cancer and that I needed to have it removed before it reached that point, and I needed it removed as soon as possible. They had not gotten clear margins and would need to go back and remove part of my breast to make sure that we were in the clear. It would be a minor surgery that would require stitches. Well, today is that day. My appointment is in an hour and I'm not going to lie, I am nervous. This isn't my first rodeo with the C word. My cervix thought it would be really cool to grow severely atypical cells my senior year in college. I had to have multiple procedures to nip it in the bud. Trust me, colposcopy is never a word you want to hear your doctor say. (Well, it is in the sense that it is helpful, but it is most certainly not pleasant. It involves liquid nitrogen, scissors, and your cervix. I'll let you just picture that for a moment.) I was finally in the clear, but it was a close call. In the 3 months between my two procedures, I had progressed from moderate to severe atypical cells.
I have been lucky in both instances for early detection of these abnormalities. I am very grateful for this. Two cancer scares before you turn 26 is not ideal. (I also had a lump removed from my right breast in 2008, but it turned out to just be scar tissue.) I urge every one of you to keep regular appointments with your physicians. Take note of your moles/freckles/lumps/bumps and alert your doctor when they change. You can never be too careful. Today, I will add another scar to my body, but it's worth it.
Stay classy and stay healthy,