“I went to the dermatologist today for the first time since 2016. A lot has happened since then, which is why the first thing I asked her about was my neck.
After thyroid cancer, surgery, and radiation, I now wear the neck of an 85-year-old chicken. To my questionable delight, she did in fact have a potential solution—a teeny, tiny jar of cream that costs $100. It may or may not work and would be three months before any noticeable improvement.
I folded the paper with the cream info into my purse and decided I would stick with less expensive, more certain options: statement jewelry, high necks, and never looking down on a video conference again.
The reason for my visit was a suspicious mole. This thing has been very suspicious. And became so quite quickly. What was once a smooth, flat, tan-ish spot on the top of my thigh was suddenly a large, misshapen thing that ticked every suspicious box.
It changed in shape.
It changed in color.
It changed in size.
It changed in texture.
It had even become, ahem, kind of scaly. Blech.
I was 100% sure it was a melanoma. I just knew this would be my reoccurrence. I looked at it every day, thinking what treatment for skin cancer would be like. For the three weeks, I waited for this appointment, the worry of skin cancer remaining on my mind.
After we laughed a bit about my chicken neck, she inspected my mole. I sat tense as she shined an ultra-bright light on it. She peered at it through her high-tech magnifying goggles.
‘Totally fine!’ she said with a big smile. ‘That’s a seborrheic keratosis!’
Do you know what a seborrheic keratosis is? It’s basically a condition of aging skin. The skin that develops on an older person. Old-people skin.
Its common name is, ‘senile wart.’
Yes, the truth is, I have been worrying for weeks about a blob of skin that’s essentially lost its mind. I have been stressing about a piece of skin that’s just too old and waxy to know how to behave appropriately. A small patch of skin that aged at warp speed and is now wandering aimlessly on my thigh. I had to prepare myself for the fact that there may be more to come…
So she froze the sucker off.
While the liquid nitrogen was sizzling away my geezer mole and feeling like it was touching the surface of the sun, she began an exam of the rest of my body.
I knew there were no other issues. There are no other suspicious moles on my body. It was only great-grandpa Lucas that brought me here in the first place.
She was about done when she suddenly flashed her light at my neck area. It was as though she had a lightsaber ready to pierce me in the trachea.
‘How long have you had that mole?’
She leaned in for further examination.
I had no idea what she was even talking about. I don’t even have a mole on my neck! She handed me a hand mirror and to my astonishment—remember my chicken neck, the skin is soft and saggy so it gently falls right into a dip in the middle of my clavicle. You could hide an acorn in there.
There it was. Dark brown. Slightly misshapen. A dark black spot right in the center.
As I leaned back onto the exam table and started to feel my heart race from the lidocaine, I realized two things: 1) I really need to see the dermatologist once a year, and 2) we should all worry less.
I spent weeks worrying about something that was actually nothing. I invested a lot of my valuable headspace into what turned out to be just aging skin.
The worry didn’t make anything better. It didn’t change anything. The worry is simply futile stress. I didn’t gain anything valuable from worrying.
I decided that I’m not worrying about this biopsy. I’ve been here before and my fear and worry didn’t change the outcome. It simply made the wait unbearable.
I know sometimes the worry helps us feel in control. As if we go down a scary rabbit hole, somehow we’ll be prepared for a potentially bad outcome. Let me tell you what a boatload of bulls**t that is.
Control is a fallacy. If you think wallowing in a worst-case scenario is productive, I’m here to tell you it’s not.
I worried a ton, and look what happened. What I thought was a new cancer was just a grandpa growth on my thigh. But then something unpredicted and surprising happened. None of my worry made anything better. All it did was take away my peace.
Control isn’t real. But peace is. Don’t sacrifice your real peace for unreal control. It’s not a good return on investment.
Hold on loosely, y’all. Hang in there. xo”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melanie Forstall of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Melanie here:
‘Every time the needle pierced my skin, I stared at the ceiling, trying to stay breathing and conscious. My wait for results was unbearably long. Then, I announced, ‘We’re adopting a piano!’: Cancer patient says, ‘I didn’t have control, but I did have a piano’
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