This is where I spent most of yesterday—NYU Cancer Center. I got there 15 minutes early, as directed, and met the big guy in the waiting room. The first thing you notice as you walk in is that the front desk isn't called "reception" or "patient information," they call it the concierge desk. So I checked in with the concierge, who ushered me into another room for a brief interview with someone who got all my insurance info and ID. I'd been fast-tracked in (which scared the crap of out me, but also made things move along), so it only took about five minutes. The woman gave me a few sheets of paper and I headed up to the fourth floor to meet my brand, spankin' new oncologist, Dr. Karen Hiotis.
But first, we had to wait. The waiting room was comfortable, but after ten minutes, I was sweating and shaking. I know some people might argue me on this point, but I'm not particularly paranoid by nature. However, a week of hearing two different stories from two different doctors, reading up on melanoma (bad idea), and just generally not knowing what the fuck was going on had made me nuts. I will spare you my various horrific fantasies, which were only made worse sitting in a waiting room, surrounded by women in wigs and headscarves. On one hand I felt like a fraud because I just had a shitty little cancer on my ankle, and on the other I was terrified that I was looking at my future.
Cancer has surrounded me for as long as I remember. Most of my grandparents died of it. My mom died of it when she was 54. My uncle was only 40, but he died looking like he was 80. Two ex-boyfriends died of it, though another one is doing quite well after a long battle. So why wouldn't I get it?
After a half hour of white-knuckle waiting, the nurse called my name. I jumped up and ran over. She told me the doctor couldn't see me yet because the dermatologist hadn't faxed over my file. I was like one of those animated angry characters with steam blowing out of my ears. I got on the phone with the dermatologist's receptionist and hissed, "I am at my first visit to the ONCOLOGIST, because I've just been diagnosed with motherfucking CANCER. I need you to PLEASE fax the file IMMEDIATELY."
What the fuck? I'd been on the phone with them the day before and they'd assured me it was done!
So after another half hour spent having a silent psychotic meltdown, the doctor received the file and was finally ready to see me. She was very smiley and not in a pity-party way, which went a long way towards reassuring me we weren't standing at death's door. We sat down and she started speaking medicalese, so I pulled out my list of questions. The doctor assured me it was a stage one cancer, which is highly treatable. The reason it had taken so long to get the final results was because it was an unusual case, but not in a terrible way. Just in a weird way. (Figures.) So they had to send it to a couple labs to get everyone's opinion. Consensus says I'll live. Phew!
Even hearing the good news, I was spazzing out a little, so Spyro took my list of questions and began writing down her answers. BTW, Spyro has been a champ throughout this whole ordeal. I would've been totally screwed without him.
The doctor described the surgery and said once they carved that bitch outta me and sent it out for further testing, assuming it's all good (which she seemed positive it would be), I just need to see the dermatologist every three months and her every six months. I nearly passed out from relief.
While being sliced and diced isn't normally something you'd look forward to (unless you're getting big fake ta-tas installed), I cannot wait until Tuesday. It'll be like Christmas in July. After the doctor did another exam (nothing else even vaguely suspicious!), I had a chest x-ray, blood drawn—I'm good to go. Tuesday I go into NYU Medical Center and get that bitch excised. I go home the same day and hopefully I'll be back to normal by Wednesday.
Not to get all emo-tarded, but the one bright side of all this has been discovering how many fucking awesome people I have in my life. Obviously, the usual suspects went above and beyond, but so many others (some I barely know and others I don't know at all!) reached out and offered support, encouragement, or just a little empathy and kindness. Between that and the positive prognosis, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.