On Marathon Monday, I had an 11:30 appointment with a dermatologist. A few weeks ago, I had noticed a tiny mark on my arm that was an odd blackish-blue color. Given my all-to-close relationship with cancer, and the fact that I often seem to fall into very small percentages, I figured I should get it checked out.
Just as I felt going into my mammogram (in the very same building), I went into this appointment confident that nothing was wrong. I was just being extra careful and the doctor would take a quick peek at my arm before he would tell me that it was nothing. But that’s not what he said. Instead, he wanted to biopsy this tiny mark. I joked with him that the whole biopsy thing made me kind of nervous. “My last biopsy in this place didn’t go so well,” I told him.
“Oh, why? What happened?” he responded.
“Ah, I had cancer,” I laughed back. He didn’t think it was funny, and he was probably right.
So the doctor numbed up the spot and dug a little hole into my arm. He kept asking me if I was OK as he poked me. Trust me, I told him, This is nothing. Then I worried that I had insulted him.
When he was done, he told me that he would call me in two to five days with the results. I asked the doctor what we would do if this turned out to be cancer. He said it would be treatable. I had heard that line before, down one floor, in the radiology department. But I wasn't even worried about skin cancer. I was worried about something worse.
When I got home around 12:30 and told Brian about the biopsy, I think he shrunk a few inches right in front of my eyes. I’m sure it’s fine, I told him. He said it was unlikely that it was cancer. But inside, I was terrified and I could tell that Brian was, too. I wondered if this was it – this was the first small sign that the Herceptin hadn’t been able to block the HER2 protein from killing me. Then came the bombings. I never wanted all of Boston to join me in my uncertainty and my fear of death, but all of the sudden, it felt like they had.
This morning, the dermatologist called to tell me that I do not have skin cancer. It was a benign mole known as a “blue mole” or something weird like that, and it’s all gone now. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders, at least, on the cancer front. I think my Mom and Brian felt the same way, too (I hadn’t burdened anyone else with this adventure). My Mom cried when I interrupted her in a meeting to tell her the good news and when I got home from work tonight, Brian looked a few inches taller.