It started with a black blob on my shin which looked like a dead fly. I took little notice until it began developing wings at which point I hauled myself to a dermatologist. 'This looks ominous,' she said, 'we need to do immediate tests.'
When the tests came back, it was confirmed I had a growth which if left untreated, could have killed me in a year. The news didn't thrill me but I wasn't unduly perturbed since statistics tell us one in every two is at risk of experiencing some form of cancer during their lives. The question is how do we handle it when the fickle finger of fate points in our direction?
Last week, on the day of my op, my daughter (Nina) came with me to lend support. Her support was what turned the experience into a laugh filled day. However, to let you in on the joke, I need to describe my relationship with her. Most who know us say Nina is more like my mother while I play 'delinquent teenager'. Her time is spent pointing a finger telling me to behave.
And sympathy? What's that? Recently I said, 'I really, really want to buy that but it's so expensive.'
'Then perhaps you should think about getting a job,' she sniffed.
No respect whatsoever for the fact I'm 70, that this is supposed to be my gap year and my priority is supposedly finding a partner. Not that Nina thinks much of my chances, due to my 'differences.' Two of these include my 'Hare Krishna Hippie' persona. HKH loves comforting strangers (even those who'd rather be left in peace) and always remarks on the beauty in someone's eyes or the cute pom-pom hat they're wearing. I drive Nina nuts with my love spreading (although secretly I know she admires HKH). 'Diva Large' she takes in her stride, normally with crossed arms.
We'd been waiting in the operating room for twenty minutes when a nurse came in and asked if I'd like a glass of water or a cup of tea. 'Tea would be lovely,' I purred. 'But not from the machine because that's disgusting.' The nurse offered to make fresh tea in the staffroom. 'Ooh, and could you add half a teaspoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of milk,' I smiled beguilingly. Don't suppose you have almond milk?'
Scowling, Nina nudged the nurse out of the door, 'she'll have whatever you're making.'
Hovering like a black crow in the background (Nina wears black a lot), she listened intently as the doctor outlined the op procedure. 'So will I have a big scar?', I asked.
'It will look like a shark took a chunk out of your leg.' The doctor smiled kindly while the word 'chunk' reverberated in my head. Was he talking chunkette or CHUNK?
'Hmm, could you elaborate on the size of the shark so I can visualize its...'
'Stop talking about sharks,' Nina snapped. 'Lie back quietly and let the doctor get on with his work'
Nina was sent out but every twenty minutes, her big blue eyes peered around the door, her fist held in thumbs up sign as she mouthed 'You're being very brave. Well done.'
When the op was over, the doctor asked me to look at the changed shape of my leg to reach acceptance with it.
I managed through my HKH and Diva Large personas. While HKH banged a tambourine chanting, 'Let us rise up and be thankful, for at least if we got sick we didn't die, so let's be thankful for what we have,' Diva Large watched mesmerized as the nurse wrapped my leg with bandage that looked like human skin. Thus Diva worked out that when we wanted to wear a short dress, all we had to do was stuff the shark's mouth shut with gauze and contour the leg with human bandage.
Where would I be without those two eh?
Today I make light of an illness which takes lives but however serious something is, we have two ways of looking at it. One is as though it's a comedy. The other as though it's a tragedy. Fact is fact, we can't change that but we can choose our attitude towards it.