Every Year is a Bonus Round
Written by: Katrina Crites
Sometime in October of 2007, I was told by my oncologist that I likely wouldn’t live to be 40. It was a fascinating statement because while I very recently had a chunk of skin removed due to cancer, at that moment, I was cancer free.
I was 30 years old at that appointment and I had my two year old son with me in the exam room when the doc broke this news. While Daniel in no way understood what was happening, I most certainly knew what that statement meant for him. It meant by the time he was 12, he wouldn’t have a mother. And that was eye opening.
I was diagnosed with melanoma in October of 2007 and again in December of 2008. I’ve had a large handful of precancerous moles since then, most recently just this past August. My mission in life, my absolute life goal, was to prove that guy wrong.
For the first year, I went to the dermatologist every three months. Then I graduated to every six months and after being in the clear for some amount of time, I’ve been going once per year. Any new or weird mole was cut off and sent to the lab and I sat on the edge of my seat, sweating profusely for the 7-10 business days it takes to get lab results back.
I can’t even guess how much money I’ve given to the dermatologist over the years. Money well spent, though. That woman has kept me alive.
I’ve stayed inside, sought out the shade when outdoors, and put on more sunscreen (and therefore reeked of artificial coconut) than you can fathom. I’ve been obedient in watching moles, taking pictures and measurements and asking my husband “hey, has this always been here?” or “does this one look weird?”
But back to that oncologist.
For the past year or so, I’ve spent quite a bit of time mentally working up a letter to him explaining how I not only think he’s a giant schmuck, but also thanking him for angering me so much that I was nothing less than militant about my skin.
I even bought a card.
It says “A little thanks” on the outside and is blank on the inside. Blank so I had enough room to tell him exactly what his 10 year prediction has done to my life. To be fair, some of it is good, but there’s bitterness not far under the surface. Bitter that some guy with no bedside manner would have the nerve to tell a woman with her young child in the room that she’s gonna die.
After many nights lying awake, thinking up brilliant points to include in the card, I had my card mentally written, all I had to do was to put pen to paper. My words were perfect.
I called the cancer center where he worked to get the correct mailing address to his office.
He retired. Figures.
I think it’s fitting, in a way. I’ve been harboring this anger, this bitterness and this weight on my shoulders for ten years. And while I’ve been imagining the weight will be lifted when I would have mailed off this card explaining to this guy why his words resonated so strongly with me, I have no choice but to just let it go.
September 27, 2017 is my 40th birthday.
I’ve proven him wrong.
And every year I get from here on out is still, and always will be, a bonus round.