The dark clouds have gathered overnight, filling the sky with a thick, brooding, coal-black skin that cloaks it from the apex to the horizon. Impenetrable. Threatening. Ominous.
Which perfectly reflects my mood as I brace myself for my second skin cancer check up at the Rose Centre at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. The three months since my last skin cancer check have shot by. I’ve become quite good at putting to the back of my mind my worries and apprehension, but, last night, I could feel that feeling of unmitigated dread well up from deep inside to overcome me.
I couldn’t sleep. Not a wink. Questions whirled around my head that I could never answer, grinding away at my soul. Would they find a lump? How big would it be? Would that mean chemo or radiotherapy, or both? And could I survive them?
Waiting for the Inevitable?
At least, this time I know what to expect. But the waiting is torture – I’d much rather get it over with one way or the other. That waiting plays Russian roulette with your nerves. Once again, my daughter has come along with me clutching her lucky charm – her little, lucky Buddha. She insisted, even though I’d rather she didn’t come in case it’s bad news. As I’m called into an upstairs consulting room, she thrusts her charm into my hand and orders me to hold it tight. Which I do.
New Skin Cancer Doctor
I’m met by a new doctor I’ve never met before, an hirsute Italian gentleman who, once again, is perfectly pleasant. Like last time, he asks me a barrage of probing questions. How do I feel? Notice anything different? Felt any lumps or witnessed any strange marks on my left arm?
Then I strip to the waist and he, well, cops a feel!
He examines my amputated finger and instructs me to move it as best I can. It looks as good as can be expected and I definitely have a wider range of movement than before. My finger also doesn’t feel as stiff or as swollen as before either.
He proceeds to take a close look up and down my left arm and shoulder, searching for abnormalities. Finally, he presses hard into my flesh, especially under my left armpit, exploring for hidden lumps and bumps.
After he has made his way up my arm to my armpit, he turns to his notes on his computer screen and begins to methodically type. At the same time, he quietly states that he couldn’t feel anything to worry about. Then, before I know it, I’m standing in front of the receptionist booking my next appointment in three months time.
I immediately tell my daughter the good news – another 3 month reprieve. She holds back her tears and hugs me and we head off to the bus stop and go home.
I feel my anxieties, worries and fears wash away with the light drizzle that’s now falling all around us. They can be resolutely parked in the corners of my mind until November at least, when I will have to go through the whole miserable torment once again. This skin cancer ‘surveillance’ stretches out in front of me like a series of deep grooves marking time on a prison cell wall, gouged by a lifer with nothing better to do.
But I can enjoy the moment. I’m OK for now and life goes on…