Wednesday, August 20

A kind, nice cancer

It was just a mole.

It had been there for as long as I could remember, nestled in the hollow of my lower back, minding its own business.

But then, it started to change. About 3 years ago. It started growing. It had always been pink, still was.

It started to give me trouble and I thought it was because of it's location. Right in a place where it interfered with fashion. Waistlines of pants and smack in the middle of belt highway. Sometimes it would bleed.

I never worried.

At the doctor, as an afterthought, I had him look at it. It didn't look like cancer, but if I was worried, he would refer me to a dermatologist.

I declined.

Months went by.

One day, A coworker had a look and said 'That doesn't look good, I would have it checked'.

For some reason, his words scared me. I saw my doctor. I got a referral. I waited for them to schedule an appointment.

Months went by.

The letter came and I had an appointment on June 30 at 2pm.

I went to the doctor, he looked at it and said, 'This is NOT cancer, I am 99.9 percent sure! BUT, I will take it to confirm that my instinct is correct and to give you peace of mind'.

Within 10 minutes a full square inch was missing from my lower back and I left with 4 stitches holding the square together.

A month went by.

A letter came last week.

My husband read the letter to me over the phone and in a nutshell it said 'The recent biopsy of the mole showed that it was cancer. Basal Cell Carcinoma'.

In that moment, my heart started pounding and fear began to inch in. Then my husband read the next line:

'This is a kind, nice cancer and we consider you cured'.

A kind, nice cancer.

In those moments all I could think about was the EVIL, VICIOUS cancer that chewed my dear father up and spit him out and left him to die a horrible death less than 2 years ago. The UGLY, MEAN cancer that ravaged my friend Kat's dad and killed him last week. The RUTHLESS cancer that took my grandmother when my mom was only 5 years old. The cancer that so many of my friends have fought against for their very LIVES and have won.

Yet, I had the KIND, NICE cancer.
If ever there were an oxymoron, this was it.

It was sobering and it was terrifying to hear the word 'cancer'.
I googled 'Basal Cell Carcinoma', to verify that it was indeed a kind cancer and to ease my fears of imminent death. I found the Wikipedia page and began to read. It is the most common form of skin cancer and is usually due to a high cumulative exposure to UV light via sunlight.
I am not a tanner. Never have been.

But when I read this: 'As with squamous cell carcinoma, the incidence of basal cell carcinoma rises sharply with immunosuppression', recognition rang loud and clear.


Can I say for sure that diabetes gave me cancer??


I do know that the mole began to change shortly after my diagnosis of diabetes 3 years ago.
I do know that since I was diagnosed with diabetes, I spend more time sick than I do well. I am NOT a sick person. Never have been.

Until Diabetes.

There is strong research that links high blood sugar (mismanaged or unmanaged diabetes) to development of cancer. Like this one that followed 1.29 MILLION South Koreans. The results? Sobering.

Researchers analyzed data on 1.29 million South Korean men and women ages 30 to 95 who received health insurance from a group that covers government employees, teachers and their families. Participants were followed for up to 10 years starting in 1992.
About 5 percent of the participants had diabetes. A total of 26,473 participants died of cancer during the follow-up.
Participants with diabetes were roughly 30 percent more likely than those without to develop and die from cancer. The highest risks were for cancer of the pancreas, the organ that produces blood sugar-regulating insulin. Diabetes involves inadequate production or use of insulin.

Again, was my cancer caused by diabetes?

I don't know.

But I do know that it has scared me enough to finally take drastic steps to get it under control. To take RESPONSIBILITY for my disease. To finally acknowledge that it is as serious as my Long QT Syndrome, if not more so.

It comes down to this:

So many people cannot control whether or not they do get cancer, but if there is even a REMOTE chance that I can PREVENT it...

Shouldn't I???


Jen Yu said...

yes, hon. hell yes. you know as well as i do that people come out of the woodwork to tell you to eat this, don't eat that, stand on your head, do the hokey pokey - all these things will prevent cancer (okay folks, guess what - i HAVE cancer so please shut up now). but if you know there is a substantially increased risk because of your condition, then yes - please do manage it. manage it because i want you around for a long time, so i can enjoy your posts and one day see that beautiful smile. yes, please. xxoo

Shell said...

Wow - Yes you should - good idea to keep yourself healthy any way possible.
I enjoy your posts. Keep up the great work and keep us informed.

amylia said...

holy schnikes! i never heard of such a oxy moron indeed. while i'm not happy to hear you had cancer, i'm happy to hear it is the kind, "nice" kind.

amazing what diabetes and wack immune systems can do!!!

be well!

Katie said...

I grew up in the Florida Keys, so I've had a lot of sun exposure. A couple of years ago I had a BCC right smack in the middle of my forehead. I began referring to it as my third eye. That really amused the dermatologist and plastic surgeon ;) Now, when people ask about the scar, I tell them I had my third eye removed :)

Katie said...
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