So even though I’m still exclusively nursing my precious Peony, I went ahead and got my period last month anyway (bummer!). Along with my first cycle in 14 months came a few pimples (double bummer!). And in addition to a couple of pimples, I got a really big spot under my eye that just wouldn’t go away.
“Oh, I got one of those about six months after my daughter was born,” a friend mentioned casually. “It was inconclusive, but the dermatologist thought it was probably a basal cell carcinoma.”
It was a Sunday afternoon, which meant I spent the next 18 or so hours until I could make a dermatologist appointment imagining my girls growing up with a mother because I was dying of skin cancer.
I Googled whether skin cancer could look like a pimple (answer: YES). I thought about the years I spent in the sun when I was younger slathering myself in baby oil and then dealing with the sun poisoning aftermath. I thought about how I was going to impart to my husband how he should handle things like our daughters’ first periods, you know, assuming he didn’t move on and marry some woman after my death who couldn’t possibly love my kids as much as me and might not know to explain to them never to depend on the paid dispensers in public bathrooms to supple hygiene products, because (a) the machines are always empty, (b) when they’re not empty, they’re broken, and (c) the stuff in those machines has to be so ancient and moldy, because who relies on a machine for a tampon?
It was a rough 18 hours, and even rougher when I was informed the next morning that I’d have to wait another eight days for an appointment.
Today was the eighth day, and my appointment was this morning. As it turns out, the growth was a benign cyst, which means I will live to see another day. (Of course had it been a basal cell carcinoma it wouldn’t have been a death sentence, but slow-growing cancer or not, it still feels like a huge relief to hear the B word — benign — instead of the C word.)
I feel like some kind of Jim Carrey movie character who just rid himself of the mysterious affliction that rendered him a flailing idiot for 90 minutes, and spent the final 30 minutes of the film doing everything the right way.
I’m so fortunate to have my health for me, sure, but mostly for my kids. I get to watch my girls grow up! I get to be their mom! It’s a gift I’ve never taken for granted, but one I’m super-conscious of today. It’s one of those things that I’ve never lost sight of, but occasionally I forget that as a parent, taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of my kids. Because if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be around to care for them — and they’re what’s most important. I mean, I can just imagine my husband (or his bitchy second wife) trying to explain to them how to insert a tampon, and it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
So here’s to being around to take care of my kids for a long, long time. And teaching them the ins and outs of the feminine hygiene world so they are my husband are spared the agony and the humor. Cheers, and pass the sunscreen, please.
Photo credit: iStock