The 40th Birthday Present I Didn’t Expect

DSCN9291I didn’t know if I should have a party to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday as at this age I find myself wondering if I should be sad at the fact I am getting older and am no longer in my 20’s and feeling like I am invincible. I have accomplished a lot, even though it feels like it has passed in the blink of an eye. It was the voices of my friends in my head encouraging me to have a party and the queries from my husband asking me if people turning 40 celebrate their birthdays.

It was not long after this I found myself using Facebook to send out the invitations to my 40th birthday party. Right now I never knew how glad I would feel that I decided to celebrate such a wonderful achievement with my friends. For some people in the world they never even get to see such an age.

It was only a couple of weeks after my birthday party that I finally remembered to ask my doctor about a mole on my arm. It had suddenly become so irritable and annoying as it would get caught on my clothes and sometimes bleed and cause me pain. I had previously enquired about it 2 years ago to a different doctor who was of the opinion it was ok. Already back then though, I had noticed it growing and changing.

This current and new doctor of mine gave me a referral to book me into a skin clinic to have it looked at and hopefully removed. I booked myself in and to my surprise I was given an appointment in a couple of days, not like two weeks waiting time that you often expect from a specialists clinic.

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It was not like one of the nicest places to walk into, yes the staff were friendly and nice but it was the huge signs on the wall declaring that they are a skin cancer clinic, which pretty much scared the crap out of me. I can barely remember my thoughts when walking in there because they were completely somewhere else by the time I walked out of there. After waiting a while and seeing doctors and patients move from one room to another very discreetly, I was called in.

He was a lovely doctor and got straight down to checking out the mole I was concerned about. He used his special microscopic camera to take a close up picture of the ugly looking suspect. I heard a bit of a concerning ‘hmmmm’ and I turned to look at the blown up picture on his computer screen. ‘That looks pretty gross to me’, I exclaimed. Feeling quite disgusted by what was protruding from my arm.

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He looked quite concerned and told me he thought it looked quite suspect. I noticed he seemed a bit panicked and there was an urgency in his voice, all I could think was at least act a little calmer so I don’t worry about it. I would not be leaving the clinic until it had been removed that day. So I waited patiently for the other doctor on site to fit me in to have it cut out. I was relieved to finally be having it removed but I was also left with the worry of waiting for test results on the removed lesion.

I had to wait a whole week for the results and I kept telling myself that the results would come back fine as I have previously had a mole removed from my back when I was very young and it was nothing.

But when I rang that morning and waited for the doctors return call, I felt like I had been hit in the face with a brick. ‘The results are as I suspected, it is a melanoma’. ‘I want you to come to see me today!’ He demanded. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. Even though he was fully booked he fit me in to see him at the end of the day.

He explained to me in great detail the results and what would happen next. I would be needing more skin around the area removed and possibly a lymph node removed as a preventative measure. Hopefully removing any melanoma if it had spread.

So my next visit was to the Melanoma clinic at the Alfred hospital, only a few days later where I found out in even more detail about my particular Melanoma. I spoke to several medical professionals and I must have asked a hundred questions. I found out a lot of information, had blood tests and was booked into hospital for my operation.

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It was all very daunting and somewhat scary. I believe it is more the unknown that frightens the most. I had a pre op. scan to find the lymph node which would be removed and I was first operation in the morning. I hardly slept during the night just waiting for it to be over and done with. It amazes me how one second you know your breathing in gas from a mask and thinking I don’t even feel sleepy and then the next second the nurses are waking you up saying its all done. All I could feel was relief, I so glad it was over! And I didn’t remember or feel a thing.

So today I sit here writing this with my left hand as it was just a few days ago that I had the surgery completed on my right arm. Tomorrow I will go to the plastics outpatient clinic to have my wounds looked at and redressed. Also after that will be my visit to the Melanoma clinic where I will find out the results from my biopsy.

I am trying to remain positive and am hopeful of some relieving news. This is certainly not how I expected to be spending my 40th year. Though by now maybe I should be used to it, having spent most of my life feeling unwell as a thyroid sufferer.

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