You know I'm a hypochondriac. What you don't know is that I only tend to believe I have a disease when I don't actually have one. The moment there really is a serious medical concern, I'm like, "Nah. I'm immune to that. I'm fiiiiiiiiine."
For example, I was sure I had leukemia in 2009, and in fact read half of a book on it so I could best understand how to cope with the inevitable diagnosis. Two months later I was taken ill while everyone around me was incapacitated from Swine Flu. When my friends insisted that I also had Swine Flu, I repeatedly assured them that I was immune to this.
It wasn't until my friend Annette picked me up off of the floor where she found me in the hallway of BYU Law School and took me to the doctor that the diagnosis was confirmed. What proceeded, then, was the most dramatic Christmas of my life, including fainting spells, a broken hand, emergency surgery, and law school finals while under the influence of drugs that doctors promised me were legal.
And so it was no surprise when I disregarded Brianne's screaming with a dismissing hand wave, despite the obvious merit in her concerns.
She stopped me when I walked by, and noticed this on my chin:
Here. It seems like you want a close up.
I know. It doesn't look like much. I agree. It didn't seem like a big deal. But Brianne disagreed. And to be fair, it looked a little worse in person.
Brianne: How long have you had that?
Eli: I don't know. A while.
Brianne: It's bleeding right now. It looks weird.
Eli: Meh. A little abnormal growth on the skin never hurt anyone.
Brianne: I think it's cancer.
This caught me off guard. Because Brianne is not a hypochondriac. In fact, Brianne regularly talks me off the ledge when I drop onto the ground near her desk and whimper that I have "giardia" or "black lung" or "yeast infection" or any other number of things I've claimed in the last week.
But I knew she had to be wrong about this. Yes, I'm Irish. Yes, I get sunburned walking through a well-lit room. Yes CNN has already pre-written my obituary, listing the cause of death as skin cancer.
But this was just a blemish. An odd one that wasn't going away as quickly as normal. But a blemish, nonetheless.
Eli: What are you doing?
Brianne: I'm making an appointment for you to see a dermatologist.
Eli: That is totally unnecessary--
Brianne: Yes, hello. My name is Brianne Fallis and my boss needs to see a dermatologist as soon as possible. Excuse me? Two weeks? No, that will not do. He needs to be seen today. I can send him at 1:30.
Eli: I can't go at 1:30! I have--
Brianne: Your work appointment is going to be rescheduled as soon as I get off this call. Now stop interrupting me! Ma'am, are you still there? Ok. Great. He will be there at 1:30. Goodbye.
Eli: Can I give you a list of other service providers to call for me?
At 1:30, I showed up at the doctor's office, feeling sheepish, and convinced that I was visiting a specialist for a singular zit consultation.
Dr.: What brings you in today?
Eli: My fear of my assistant, mostly. But also this thing on my face. I feel silly even wasting your time with it.
Dr.: Let's have a looksy.
Eli: I'm sure it's nothing. I think she just wanted to get me out of the office because I've been getting on her nerves recently and--
Dr.: This looks like cancer to me.
Eli: Say what now?
Eli: Charles In Charge?
Dr.: I feel like we are getting further away now.
Eli: This can't be cancer. I'm actually immune to cancer.
Dr.: Well, you aren't. And in fact, looking at your skin, you are probably more susceptible than most people.
The doctor told me that he needed to do some tests to confirm, and then he assured me that this appeared to be treatable and shouldn't be anything to be concerned about.
And weirdly I was not all that freaked out about it. In the last couple of months I've had some surprising health issues creep up that have made the end of 2016 a very rough time. I won't get into the details of that now, but suffice it to say, the drama is alive and well in my life at the moment.
And so, considering all of the context, having a doctor look me in the eyes and assert that he believed I had cancer barely caused any kind of reaction in me, even before the assurances that things would be ok.
The doctor told me that it was a good thing that I acted "promptly" and got this checked out, informing me that many people wait weeks or months before getting these types of things checked out. And sometimes they wait until it's too late or, at least, a much bigger deal than it would have been had they been more vigilant.
The test confirmed the doctor's original suspicion. They did various painful things to my face, which caused me to wear a band-aide on my chin for the next few days. I had a trial that night, but it was night court so the face bandage actually helped me fit in better than usual.
The next time I saw Brianne I invaded her personal space with a very uncomfortable hug.
She's been telling people she saved my life.
This isn't the first time.
Also, for all my fair-skinned Strangers out there, learn from my experience. Don't wait to get these things checked out. The Q of C has taken it upon itself to create this PSA for you:
~It Just Gets Stranger