So, one of my recent M.R.I’s revealek that the discs in my next are herniated and pinching a nerve that runs down my shoulder and left arm. This causes pain, numbness and decreased mobility. Unfortunately my left arm is already compromised due to my mastectomy and the removal of several lymph nodes. So everything combined has been, well, a real pain in the neck. To try to combat the issue, or at least to try to lessen some of pain, I underwent neck injections last week. The surgeon who gives me my epidural steroid injections in my lower back, also performed the procedure. In an operating room under the guidance of xray machines, my surgeon inserted large needles into the base of my neck, guiding them in between my vertebrae where the nerve is being compromised and injected me with steroids. To say the procedure hurt is an understatement. My anxiety levels were at an all time high as I lay face down on the operating table willing myself not to move. Mind over matter I kept telling myself. No pain, no gain. And any other cliche phrase I could think of to repeat over and over like a motivational mantra. I am not sure how many more times I will have to endure this procedure…only time will tell.
Today, as if my neck isn’t suffering enough, I had a growth removed from my neck, that has been growing at a rapid rate. I was referred to a dermatologist that required me to send pictures of the unsightly blob for him to review. After reviewing, he called and scheduled an appointment to see him in person. I have a family history of skin cancer…yup, lucky me, so I am diligent about monitoring all my moles and freckles. Today, I arrived at the skin clinic which is half dermatology and half plastic surgery. It is run by a husband and wife team and they are what I would deem…perfect specimens. They are flawless. Not a wrinkle, blemish, bump or bulge. I felt like an ugly troll waiting for my examination. I struggle with body image, I always have, especially since undergoing my mastectomy, so waiting in the clinic with staff that looked like super models, I wanted to crawl back under the bridge where we “trolls” live!
Dr. “S” sauntered into the examine room looking no more than 35 and yet he is 62.
“Let me see this ugliness that’s growing behind your ear. Hmm, I don’t think its anything to worry about but it will continue to grow, so I can’t imagine you’d want to leave it. Am I right?”
Yes, he was right. I didn’t want extra real estate forming on the side of neck.
“Can you remove it now?” I asked
“Yes, of course, I’ll freeze you up and slice it off. But you’ll have to pay for the procedure as it’s deemed cosmetic. Of course, if it does turn out to be malignant, you’ll have your fee refunded!”
Wow, there’s a reassurance. A cancer money back guarantee. Super. I agreed to the procedure, and asked if he could take a minute to give me a quick once over; especially my back, as I can’t see what my moles and freckles are doing. I removed my shirt and he got down to business.
“You have a mole here on your right shoulder that I am almost positive is benign however I would like to biopsy it. I will have to cut very deep so you will have a noticeable scar,” he said with a grimace.
I think my idea of noticeable scars and his are very different.
“Scars don’t scare me doctor. It couldn’t possibly be as noticeable as these…” as I lifted my arm to reveal the 17 inch scar that runs from my shoulder blade to breast bone.
“Oh, lord no. Not even close. But I do want to do the biopsy just for peace of mind.”
Was that for my peace of mind or his?????
Before I knew it, I was having more needles put in my neck and then in my shoulder to freeze me up. The procedures didn’t take long at all and before I knew it, I was bandaged up, given a prescription for an antibiotic cream and told they would call me with any news.
I am not going to worry about the biopsies. The doctor was very reassuring and let’s face it, this ain’t my first rodeo. But now, as the freezing is coming out, my body is once again reminding me that its been through a lot. There are days that I struggle with all my ailments and there are days that I DO feel like a failure. But all I can do is take one day at a time. One ailment at a time. One procedure and treatment at a time. And hopefully in time, I will rediscover what my life used to be before cancer started to cramp my style.
#skincancer #breastcancer #cancerawareness #survivor #anxiety #motivationalspeaker #bodyimage
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.