Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fingers Crossed

My Friday was split into two distinct sections. The morning, when The Kid and I went to the downtown library and came out with an armload of books and The Kid stepped in the fountain up to his calf and had to squish to the car with his left sneaker full of water and the afternoon, when I found out I have skin cancer.

The bump from my nose that was biopsied is a "superficial basal cell carcinoma". The superficial part makes it sound minor, doesn't it? Like a ding in your fender or the dining room wall – something that could be fixed with a little sandpaper or spackle.

The nurse got to the word carcinoma and I blacked out for a split second – my brain just stopped processing and just like in the movies, I had to ask her to repeat it. Then to spell it out, so I could scribble the words onto my datebook. Afterwards, I kept going back to the kitchen and looking at the penciled words, to be sure of what they really said.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. The nurse repeated this several times as if the fact that it was common would make me feel better. The subtype, superficial, is the least common subtype. So, I have the least common subtype of the most common type of skin cancer.

It is highly treatable, especially when it is caught early and I have to believe we did catch this on the early side, despite the fact that I cancelled and rescheduled my appointment with the dermatologist FOUR times.

I've been waiting for this particular shoe to drop for the last ten years. I have very fair skin. I spent a large portion of my youth and childhood basically frying my skin in the hopes of getting a tan. I wanted, with all of my teenage heart, to be tan and blonde as the Stacey sisters across the street. Most of you have seen my hair, the blonde wasn't happening. But I thought if I just burned and peeled often enough, one summer day I would wake up with that beautiful toast colored skin I dreamed of.

I'm undergoing a six week course of topical chemotherapy which will turn the tiny spot on my nose to a nasty ulcerated looking lesion. When the lesion heals, maybe the cancer will be gone.

I am a believer and an optimist. I believe this course of chemo can work for me. I am also doing everything else in my power to ramp up my immune system and help my body fight off the cells that turned my life upside down yesterday.

I have always been straight with The Kid about sunscreen and why we use it, yet I have not used the word "cancer" when explaining all this to him. It's too loaded and some nasty kid on the playground will tell him I'm going to die and I cannot let that happen. We've talked about damaged skin cells and how my nose is going to look a lot worse before it looks better. As a parent, I hope I can teach him that seemingly innocent decisions, getting a tan, or smoking a cigarette or two can have serious, grown up consequences further down the road.

I keep thinking of all those summer afternoons on the beach, frying in the sun when I would have much rather been inside reading a book.

My fingers are crossed. If you want, you can cross yours for me too.


  1. Hi Girl. Rather than crossing my fingers for "luck", I am seeing you as the strong mom and wonderful writer you are. Holding that image of you. :) You are too vital for this lesion to hold you up for long. You got too much to DO, Laura!

    Those Stacey girls -- I've seen them buying cigarettes at the 7-11.
    Kind of brown and wrinkly and dyed blond frizzed hair. Your beauty ages well. :) That red hair and pale freckled skin is so lovely. Nyah, nyah, Stacey sisters!

    My daughter, Meredith, is so pale that her doctor, a young woman from India, is always so worried about her, sure that she is sick!

    The Kid will take his cues from you, not the kids on the playground. If you are centered and calm, he will be fine. You are a good mom to him. You will be fine.

    Holding you in the Light,


  2. Laura, that is just exactly what I needed to hear tonight - thank you.

    I spent a lot of today researching the immune system and how best to stimulate it. You wouldn't happen to have a nice pumpkin bread recipe now would you?

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend and thanks again for being such a friendly voice in my time of need.


    Pumpkin bread. (With measurements in metric, too.)

    Much love and positive energy, all the way from Portland, Ore. to you. I am a believer and optimist, too.

  4. Laura,
    I hate to hear the news, but I love your attitude.
    I'll be offering up prayers and positive energy and what ever else you'd like.
    Hang in there Girlfriend.

  5. Thanks, Minnie. I'll take it all.

    I hope things are going okay over your way - I know you've had some turmoil of your own.

  6. Stay strong, Laura! I know you will beat this skin cancer and be stronger for the experience. I'll hold you in the light, too.

  7. my thoughts are with you i am a 16 year old with cancer is not as treatable though!

  8. Thanks, Kaylee. I know that there are other types of skin cancer that are not as easily treated. Maybe the best we can do is tell our story and hope that people will listen and be smart and wear sunscreen. My thoughts are with you too.

    And thank you, Professor J. I'll take all the light I can get!

  9. Well mine is bone cancer a luittle different ;)

  10. Honey, I've got every that I can possibly crossed, crossed! I don't know what to say--it's fine line, being supportive without belittling the condition or inflating your fears--so I'll say this--I'm thinking of you, and sending all the positive vibes I can muster!

  11. all that I can cross, I'm crossing! Your attitude will really help :-)

    i'm in the same boat as you...fair, lots of time in the sun.

  12. Thanks, Karen. I swear I can feel all the positive energy coming my way.

    Thanks, Michele.

    Thank you, Janet.

    I'll take all the crossed fingers and good thoughts and prayers I can get.

    And I surely have the most thoughtful and kind readers in all the internet!

  13. Oh, honey, you are in my most positive thoughts and meditations. You really are. I love the word common and treatable, especially in this case. xxxoooxx