Dodging bullets

    Sorry to have fallen off the face of the earth. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and not necessarily in a good way. I’ve been busy dodging bullets. Allow me to explain...

    I grew up in Boulder, Colo., and spent most weekend of my childhood hiking in the mountains or noodling around among the grass, chokecherry bushes and prickly pear cactus while my dad bouldered or practiced rappeling. It was a great way to grow up, and I learned to love the mountains. Imagine waking every morning to the scent of ponderosa pine and seeing the Flatirons (above) every day of your life.

    Back then, no one talked about sunscreen, and I got sunburned — a lot. I had a permanent sunburn on my nose as a child, and I got two blistering sunburns. In fact, I seem to remember being sunburned a lot.

    When I was 35 I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on my face. It was kind of a surprise because I figured old people got skin cancer.

    Since then I’ve gone to the dermatologist twice a year for exams to check for skin cancer. Having one kind puts one at higher risk of getting something serious, and I don’t want that to happen.

    My last exam was on Dec. 21. The derm took a couple of biopsies, one of which was of concern to her and one of which I asked her to remove because I thought the mole was growing. She said she expected them to come back as nothing. That was reassuring.

    Christmas came and went. New Year's passed. I hadn’t heard anything, so I thought I was in the clear.

    Then the dermatologist called to say that the mole I had thought was growing had come back as a serious and rare form of pre-cancer, something she’d never actually seen before. I read about it online, which only upset me more. (Note to self: Never seek medical information online.)

    Since then, I’ve had surgery to excise what was left of the mole and all the surrounding tissue. The biopsy results came back Thursday, and the good news is that they got all of it.

    The not-great news is that now I have to have additional tests to make sure there are no more of these on me. If there are, I’ll have to have each and every one excised and go through this again. Not really on my list of things I want to do.

    On the other hand, I’m very glad this was caught before the prefix ”pre-” no longer applied. I’m very glad I’ve taken the time to go in for these checkups. If I had let this go, things could have been ugly.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but when something like this happens, I lose any desire to do anything but curl up and sleep. I lost my writing mojo and couldn’t even read while I was waiting this out. I’ve watched a lot of Star Trek, but I haven’t finished the proposal for Natalie’s book yet. I hope to be back in the swing soon.

    The moral to this story: Wear sunscreen!

    And don’t hesitate to tell your doctor exactly what you want her to do. If I hadn’t insisted my derm biopsy that mole, it would still be on me now, growing. The thought gives me shivers.

    I had lots of fun ideas for 2010 for my blog, so let’s hope I’m back to being my busy self soon.

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