Last week I had a chunk of my left lower shoulder blade cut out due to melanoma in situ.
Melanoma, the deadly skin cancer. Fortunately “in situ,” while still malignant, is considered stage 0, or noninvasive. The cells are confined to the top layer of skin and have not spread further. With the surgical removal and follow-up screenings, chances of recurrence or spread is considered minimal.
For a self diagnosed worrier, even this was enough to get my brain spiraling for a good twenty-four hours. I vacillated between self-loathing for not being better at keeping my skin covered and safe, nervousness about having the removal surgery and fear about even the smallest chance of spread or recurrence.
Why does it take a crisis for us to do what we know we should have been doing all along?
The greatest threat to ourselves is the “not me” syndrome. There are those who will drive after a few drinks, because others may get in an accident, but “not me.” There are those who may smoke or vape thinking others get lung cancer, but “not me.” There are those who sit in the sun to get color because others may get skin cancer, but “not me.”
I’m not here to judge, because we are all human, all fallible. Without “not me” we would become too paralized by anxiety and fear to function in our daily lives. If it wasn’t for “not me” no one would ever get on a plane, drive on the highway, or leave the house.
I’m sharing my story as one of millions of cautionary tales of what can happen when we take “not me” too far. Don’t let “not me” jeopardize your safety and your life. Take care of this one body you were given.
And if I may preach for one short moment, go get a skin check. Ten minutes in the dermatologist’s office could save your life.