A Thank-You to the Doctor Who Saved Me
Last updated: March 2022
I turned around and my kids were grown. I looked over my shoulder and their toys were gone. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, my son and daughter were making their own way in the world. Every day hasn’t been easy, but I have been fortunate enough to see them. Things could have turned out very differently had it not been for the care shown to me by my family doctor in 2007.
That spring, my kids were four and five years old, and I was thirty three and walking around with melanoma on my arm.
My biopsy and and melanoma diagnosis
When I walked into my local clinic to have the mole on my upper arm checked, I had no way of predicting what the following days would bring. At that stage in my life, I had never heard of the ABCDEs of melanoma and didn’t see the small horseshoe-shaped mole on my arm for what it was, but someone else did, and he did so immediately. My doctor took one look at it and said, “Yeah, that’s coming off there.” The next few days happened in a whirlwind. I remember where I was standing in my kitchen when his office called to tell me the biopsy showed melanoma. I remember scrambling for a pen to write with and scratching down the name of a dermatologist and the date for surgery.
That one, short sentence made all the difference in the rest of my life. A single decision by a physician changed the future for my kids. As easily as he sat down on the stool in front of me, he could have said, “Ah, it’s nothing to worry about.” Likewise, he could have said, “Let’s keep an eye on it.” He didn’t. A split-second decision redirected the course of all our lives. Had that melanoma been allowed to remain in place, I most certainly ran the risk of it spreading. From there, I shudder to think how our lives may have been affected.
My life could've been so different
When I think of how far I have come since that March afternoon in 2007, it takes my breath away. I changed my habits regarding tanning and started using sunscreen diligently. I advocate for sun-safe practices and share my skin cancer experiences with others. Having that melanoma removed when I did helped line up all of these changes in my life. Were it not for my doctor’s dedication, my children could easily be telling another story about me.
A long-overdue thank-you
I don’t know that I have ever thanked my doctor properly for moving so quickly to biopsy the mole on my arm. In fact, I am quite sure my surprise at the time overpowered my ability to think clearly enough to show my appreciation. Years passed; years he gave me back, I might add.
There’s no time, however, like the present
Thank you, Dr. Nicol. Thank you for doing what many other doctors may not have done. Thank you for treating me the way you would treat your own family members. Thank you, most of all, for giving me the opportunity to watch my children grow up. I know exactly how fortunate I am and how different the path of my life could have been. You are the reason I am here today.
It’s 2022. My children are 20 and 21 years old, and I am 48 with a scar where melanoma used to be. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Who would you thank, if you could, for changing the course of your life?
Do you sunscreen in the fall?