Posted by on March 12, 2019

I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. For the second time.

However, I’m not overly concerned. The first time was some seven or eight years ago. I had had a lump behind my left ear for a number of years. It never changed, so I wasn’t anxious about it. But after a while I thought it might be a good idea to have a doctor look at it.

The surgeon with whom I spoke told me that it was a parotid tumor (a growth on the parotid gland in the neck). He assured me that, due to its position, and the fact that it hadn’t grown after so much time, it was most likely benign. “It probably wouldn’t hurt anything to leave it there, but, if you want to, we can take it out,” he said. I decided that I didn’t really need a useless “passenger” on my body, so I decided to have it removed.

The doctor expressed genuine surprise when the results of the biopsy came back. Because he was so certain that this was going to be routine case of a benign growth, he was taken aback by the positive result. For the next several years I visited a local oncologist a couple of times a year. Thank God, there were never any hints of a return or other related problem.

Then last year (January 2018) I slipped and fell on a patch of ice at the bottom of our deck and broke my leg above the ankle. Gradually, some dark spots emerged. No pain involved, but they were occasionally itchy and weren’t going away. So about a month ago I visited a dermatologist to see what the story was.

The doctor told me that the spots were likely from the healing process after breaking my leg. Either that or age, she said. <Sigh> But then she spotted another mark on my leg that wasn’t dark like the others. In fact, when I had seen it earlier, I thought it looked like ringworm. It was only about the size of a nickel. (My wife, Evelyn, a Registered Nurse, said it wasn’t ringworm, but she didn’t know what it was either.) The doctor was immediately concerned and said she would like to have a sample biopsied.

A few days later the call came with the news that the biopsy had come back positive for squamous cell carcinoma, a fancy name for skin cancer. My understanding is that this type of cancer — the second most common — pretty much hangs around the surface of the skin and so is comparatively easy to remove. Easy, that is, as long as you can tolerate the local anesthetic. Man, does that stuff burn! But once the area is numbed, you can let the doctor do anything she needs to do. In fact, as she dug around and cut this and that and finally sewed up the wound, I was nonchalantly working a crossword puzzle. It took two cuttings, but the doctor is certain she got it all.

I’ll be getting a full-body scan in a few weeks. I’m sure it will come back fine. Not exactly sure how this kind of thing even gets started, but I’ll try to keep living as healthy a lifestyle as possible. That, along with the grace and mercy of God, should keep me going for a while. [Smile]

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