One year ago.
The day before my fourth wedding anniversary. The day AFTER the General Election from hell. The day I got THE CALL.
The call that changed the world. The call that left me bawling and shaking in the hallway outside my classroom during 1st Period like a blubbering mess (I’m sure the security camera footage was riveting).
That was the day I was diagnosed with CANCER. Shitty, crappy C-A-N-C-E-R. Melanoma it was. My stomach sank. The world stopped. I couldn’t catch my breath.
That mole that I had insisted the nurse practitioner at my dermatologist’s office remove was supposed to look “perfectly normal.” I should have had a full body skin check and moles mapped. She could remove that mole next time. I should just come back. But, I had insisted it be removed. I was pushy and brash about it, actually. It needed to be gone from my arm.
The truth is that my sweet toddler daughter kept poking at a raised mole on the back of my right arm. She called it “Mommy’s owie.” I mean she had really poked and picked at it. It had bled. I just wanted it removed, so she would stop.
Its pathology was supposed to come back in a 3-4 days. It had taken 14. Something wasn’t right. Then came the call in the middle of my 1st Period class.
“Hi, Cheryl, it’s Ruth. I hope you’re doing well today. So, um, I’m so sorry to have to call and tell you this….Uh….Your mole…Well…You see, gosh I hate to say this…..It’s Melanoma. I’m so sorry.”
WHAT THE FUCK? It was supposed to be normal. FUCK, FUCK, FUCK.
“That’s the really bad kind, right?”
“Yes,” she affirmed.
I started to cry. Cry, bawl, sob. In the hallway, outside my classroom. In the hallway. IN. THE. HALLWAY.
Through sobs, somehow, I’d managed to take the name and phone number of the surgical oncologist I needed to call. I don’t know how I did it.
I don’t know how I did anything that day. That entire day was surreal. Hazy.
I cried pretty much all day. I cried for nearly a month. Through a surgery, a holiday, a set of unbearable circumstances. Then, one day about a month later: GOOD NEWS.
I got the best news: No Evidence of Disease.