I was traumatized yesterday. I went to the derma and she biopsied 3-lesions off my face, saying they are most likely basal cell cancer. I was scared. I am scared. I don’t want my face to be deformed. I decided to drive back home and be depressed all day. I told my colleagues at work I have nausea, which was true. I felt nauseated by fear. My wife, an integrative health practitioner, isn’t scared of my surgeries or scars, and is in the proactive stage, “we will take all of these by lifestyle changes – supplements, homeopathic remedies, and a strict protocol for skin cancers.” I love her for that.
I said to myself, “you got this, you are strong, and so what, you will have scars on your face, but at least you are not dying. Perhaps it’s now the time to complete that fucking memoir you’ve been slacking off on? If anything needs to be done, isn’t the time NOW?” People say these types of things to people like me, people who forget life is a gift and to make sure we do what we are supposed to do while alive. I’m so dramatic.
Skin cancers appear everywhere on my body, showing up over the years in all of their permutations: Basal, squamous, and the scariest one, melanoma. When asked by dermatologists, “where did you grow up?” I say Argentina, adding, “We spent summers on the beach.” And then I keep adding, “I moved to Israel at 13, and more summers at the beach there.” I know what they want to hear. The thing is that I don’t like the sun much, never did. I probably spent days playing in it, in the Atlantic Ocean in the southern hemisphere, and the Mediterranean in the Middle East. But I don’t enjoy hot rays on my body. You will always find me on a beach chair under the shade reading a book. That’s just me.
My skin cancers have more to do with my inherited genetic makeup – cancer. My Hungarian mother, and grandmother, both had gorgeous skin, not one wrinkle, no skin lesions of any kind, not even a mole, or a suspicious growth. My mother died wrinkle-less, at 76, from metastatic breast cancer. My grandmother died at 84, also wrinkle-less, from gallbladder cancer. Both had smooth, silky skin. My sister, 2 years my senior, died young of metastatic breast cancer. My brother suffered from Thyroid cancer.
My father’s back was like mine, a field of moles of every size, kind, and color. There was a large red one I couldn’t keep my eyes off. I used to have a red one too on my left breast. I had it lasered off. If my father had lived to be an older man, he most likely would’ve suffered from skin cancers. Perhaps he did before he took his own life at 59. I don’t know. I’m 58 now, a year younger than he was. And I’m still here, so I better finish my memoir.
By Paul DeLong
On February 20, 2023
Your writing is vibrant, cosmopolitan in the best sense, and with great development of human interest. Yes, for your sake, I hope that memoir grows on and out of you faster than anything else! <3 Paul
By Gabriela Bohm
On February 21, 2023
Thank you so much, very appreciated, Paul. Your comment made my day!