As I checked out from the dermatology clinic, I sputtered to the secretary, trying to explain my falling tears. The poor secretary probably was discreetly checking the chart to see what in the world was going on. It was a routine appointment. I managed to blurt out that Dr. L was moving. And, Dr. L had gotten me through cancer. And, it wasn’t even skin cancer.
That’s all I could manage to say as I recalled the memories of four years ago when my body began sprouting freckles and moles at an alarming rate. Dr. L listened as I backed up her clinic time and time again, requesting the removal of mole after mole. She explained that all looked fine, but I was worried. I felt something was wrong. She did not minimize my concerns despite multiple benign pathology reports.
Then, yet another lesion, a mole sprouted on my breast seemingly overnight. When I yet once more showed up in clinic, Dr. L pointed out that it appeared absolutely benign. Nonethless, Dr. L let me slow down her clinic once more. Her incredibly pregnant nurse set up for yet another procedure without complaint, although her back must have been aching. I was an add on and the last patient of the day, and it was late. They could so readily have dismissed me and gone home. However, they removed the thing. The pathology eventually came back clean, but nonetheless I think their patience saved my life.
As I put antibiotic on the resultant wound as directed, I felt a minuscule tip of a firm lump brewing deeply directly beneath. That mole proved a “x-marks the spot.” Whether a gift from a guardian angel or as I suspect somehow a product of the pathology immediately below, the lesion revealed my breast cancer. Not long thereafter, a surgeon despite the guidance of a mammogram and my directions, could not find this lump on physical exam due to its elusive position. I never would have found that lump in any other way.
I have told my cancer journey elsewhere, so will spare you. However, suffice to say that as soon as the cancer was removed and chemo begun, I never had another new freckle or mole appear. Not one.
However, I never stopped following up with my dermatologist. She shared her home remedies, nutritional recommendations and some family stories. She was always professional but also warm and kind and treated me like a person as well as a patient. I believe that is also how she saved my life. She bothered to get to know me and consistently listened to my story and did not dismiss it.
I doubt Dr. L knows that she saved my life. I’m not sure I was fully cognizant of this myself until the tears flowed and finally belatedly the gratitude flowed too.