I heard someone recently characterize one's forties as the period of your life when you realize your body has gone completely out of warranty.
I empathize with that because I have now had my first brush with the big C: my dermatologist found a melanoma lesion at my last checkup.
DON'T FREAK OUT. (Yeah, I freaked out. But now I'm zen. The kind of zen a good zinfandel gives you ;-)
As far as cancer diagnoses go, it's about as best case as can be: the lesion is really shallow, with no spread. So the doctor will excise it along with a nice wide DMZ around it, I'll get a skin graft (which will be gross and inconvenient, but I'll take the chunk out of my leg and the scar over the alternative any day), and then I'll get rechecked for new lesions every 6 months from now on. The 5- and 10-year survival rates are 97 and 95%.
But man, when you first hear those words. They just ran on repeat through my brain for days.
I've never felt so betrayed by my physiology and now want to claw at my own skin. JUST. GET. IT. OFF.
To have one's life expectancy put starkly into numbers by a pathology report.
And, like, I really needed this while trying to launch a book, right? *shakes fist at universe*
So here's my PSA to you all out there: if you have a family history of skin cancer, or if you have a large number of moles, ask your doctor to get you an annual referral to a dermatologist. I've been getting annual checkups for over 20 years because of my risk factors. A few years ago, with improvements in digital camera technology, my doctor took high-res images of all my moles, and re-images the ones of concern every so often, so we have a history of their appearance and changes over time, and can note new ones. This year my regular checkup didn't go so well. But it's also why my lesion was caught at Stage 1A.
Checkups work. Don't delay.
Fuck cancer, eh.