The fear of Cancer

My dad recently urged me to have a suspicious spot on my nose checked out for skin cancer. I had the spot for several years and had it checked out long ago by a dermatologist in Canada who assured me it was a blood vessel directly underneath the skin – not cancer. In retrospect, I should have probably questioned the doctor more because he offered to treat it for me with a laser, paid for privately with an approximate cost of $6000. No, thank you, the poor me said as this would have equaled years worth of savings.

After promising my parents would pay for any expenses relating to the doctor visit(s), I made an appointment with a dermatologist in Germany for two days later. This was at the end of January.

The dermatologist assessed my spot and said that I indeed have basal cell carcinoma on my nose. The cancer is in a prominent spot that would require surgery which would take several weeks if performed in that practice and would leave a large scar on my face. Due to my age, 28, the doctor therefore made an appointment at the university hospital in the city to take a biopsy and discuss further steps.

I was in and out of that office within 20 minutes and don’t remember much from there. I was planning on going running afterwards but felt this horrible weight on my chest, I had to pull into a mall parking lot and compose myself. Then, I called some friends in Canada (in the middle of the night) and completely broke down bawling. In the middle of a shopping mall. A lot of feelings and thoughts were crossing my mind: What if my nose has to be amputated? What if I have a huge scar and will look like a monster? What about the pain? I don’t want to stay in a hospital for 3 days, again. What if I can’t start my work contract for the dream job that I always wanted?

So let’s review some of these fears:

  1. I’m in good and professional hands here in Germany and already have a second opinion appointment booked for tomorrow. That’s the beauty of this medical system, you can book an appointment with a different medical professional and get a second opinion. My brother found this medical clinic that specialized in basal cell carcinoma and plastic surgery, I could be in and out within a day.
  2. Any scarring that will occur will help me look more distinctive and for anything else there is always plastic surgery. If I do end up with scars, it is what it is. I am a fighter and can tell an interesting story. Maybe I can remind people to take better care of their skin.
  3. Pain is temporary. Pain killers don’t work well on me, so I will have to suffer through the pain for a few days. So be it. I have had my appendix removed when I was a teenager, it cannot be worse than that experience.
  4. There are different therapy options including light therapy but it may depend on the type, location and size of cancer. Again, this is the beauty of second opinions.
  5. I have given up on finding a place for myself and decided to find a roommate in Glasgow instead. It will be easier to find, cheaper and less hassle. Or at least so I hope. As soon as I am done with the medical procedures here I will fly to Glasgow and stay in an Airbnb until I can find a flatmate to live with.

What this experience is also teaching me is:

  1. What is really important to me:

Travelling: If I look back at my life, I’d rather have experienced the world than possess expensive items.

Friends: I do have some amazing friends in Canada still who have been so supportive throughout the last couple of weeks. I’m hoping to meet such amazing people in Glasgow because I feel like Glaswegians (I had to google what you call people from Glasgow, oops) are some of the kindest Scots out there.

Goals: I do want to run more marathons and reach 100 marathons by the time I am 35. After this year I will only have 95 to go. It may be an ambitious goal but running is a true passion of mine and I want to set an ambitious goal to work towards.

Lifestyle: I am wearing sunscreen every day now. I have never done this before unless I knew I would be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time e.g. on the boat, hiking, running. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and I am going to treat it with the respect and care it deserves.

On that note I have also decided that I am going to make a conscious effort to follow a vegan diet because it has been shown to reduce cancer and increase overall health. In no way, shape or form am I intending on labelling myself a full fleshed vegan, however, I do want to be more aware of how I fuel my body.

 

The biopsy was taken a couple of days after the initial appointment and I am seeing the doctor later today to discuss the results from the biopsy. While I was being stitched up the doctor was about 90% sure that it was skin cancer based on my skin’s elasticity, however, the biopsy will be able to tell whether or not it’s cancer with 100% certainty.

That is all I have to share with you for now. I am getting the biopsy results back this afternoon and will decide what steps to take next.

Questions of the day:

  1. Have you ever had a health scare?
  2. Do you use sunscreen every day?

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