Today, I go to the UCSF dermatology department to check out this itchy spot on my left breast, the one that’s been there for more than two months, the one the oncology NP wants me to check out, just to be safe.
All week leading up to this appointment, I feel an overwhelming sense of foreboding and anxiety. I find myself so freaked that I fall off the “no drinks during the week” wagon and have a cognac nightcap once or twice just to stop the spiraling panic so that I can sink into sleep’s oblivion. Earlier in the week, I think that I’m just stressing about the usual things: career, kids, the fact that there’s never an excess of money.
Then last night, I get honest. I am scared, scared, SCARED of metastasis. I’m just feeling that life is getting back to normal, just beginning to feel strong again, just finding a new work rhythm. I’m terrified that this little spot, this probably insignificant little spot may be a skin melanoma something that will suck me back into the exhausting, scary halls of Cancerland.
Late last night, talking to my husband Pete about it, the fear feels huge. It is a cold thing. Perhaps because I’ve allowed myself to relax in the last few month, I feel this fear more sharply than I felt it while in active treatment. Pete hugs me and tells me. “It’s OK, go get a small cognac, or you’ll never get to sleep.” Drat that all those sleeping pills I had during chemo are gone.
I oversleep and cycle like a maniac to the dermatologist’s office. He’s very tall, and handsome. He looks at my spot and feels it. Then he puts on magnifying glasses and looks at it more closely. “Don’t worry,” he says. “It’s a lentigo.”
Apparently, that’s a fancy name for a big freckle. It can get irritated and stay around for a while. I can opt to have it frozen off with liquid nitrogen or I can do nothing.
Thanks, I say, I’ve had enough unpleasant medical procedures for a lifetime. I’ll skip the liquid nitrogen. It’s not like I’m going to be posing for Playboy with my lumpectomy-ed left breast. The freckle can stay as long as it’s not cancer.
As I cycle home, the sun seems brighter, the spring flowers more beautiful, the bird song more melodic. Big exhale.