There are some phrases you are pretty sure you'll never hear. "We've decided to double your salary and your vacation time!" "No, really, you are so much prettier than any of those Baywatch chicks!" "Sure, shorts and flip-flops are fine to wear to work!"
Then there are the phrases you never think about until they happen.
Like "We'll need to do a biopsy."
It is not as if I have never thought about cancer. It has been a factor in my life since my mother was diagnosed when I was a teenager. In recent years though, it has been relegated to a box I check in the "family history" section on doctor's office forms.
Then one day I was driving home from the pool and I looked down at my leg and saw something...odd. A mole I must have looked at a thousand times was suddenly menacing, and the sight of it made my stomach clench and I was inexplicably lightheaded. So I made the call, went and sat in the office under the glare of the flourescent bulbs, and heard that phrase I never thought I would.
It has been a month since then, a month of watching the tiny hole in my leg heal up, of scratching at the scab, and of not thinking about it. Not thinking about medical insurance, deudctibles, copays, and PPOs. Not considering leaves of absence and losing my hair. And never ever pondering coffins and gravesites and my mother crying.
There are some words you never want to hear. Malignant Melanoma are two of them.
Fortunately I didn't. The words I heard were "mild atypia". "slight changes". "precancerous cells".
Two more words: Close Call. I did not realize how scared I was until it was all over. And it may never really be over, given the amount of skin there is on my body, and the number of other things that can go wrong. But I'm not thinking about it.