My hypochondria has been pretty bad lately. Every year there are a few solid months where I have at least three life-threatening ailments. Sometimes it’s a heart problem, other times it’s sepsis, one time it was hantavirus. This yeah I have five illnesses so far. All cancers.
It began with a new mole on the side of my toe that I found after a hiking trip with my friends. A month later, my side began to hurt and I assumed it was either liver or pancreatic cancer. That is, until I developed chest congestion and a cough, which obviously led me to believe the cancer had spread to my lungs. And on top of that, I suffered a few headaches here and there, which is typically a strong indication that my brain cancer is flaring up again.
So now, at least until somebody tells me otherwise, four of my vital organs are in a race to see who can kill me first. My skin is no longer one of them.
After I found the new mole, I became obsessed. It was located on the side of my big toe. It was smaller than the width of a pencil eraser, but had no definitive edges and wasn’t very symmetrical. It was a couple different shades of brown. Most importantly, it was a mole I had never seen before.
As any medical website will tell you (and I’ve read all of them), any new mole after the age of 30 should be checked by a doctor.
I’m 28, but I round up.
Also, and I swear I read this, melanoma of the foot is supposedly the most vicious type of melanoma because the friction of every step causes it to spread faster. Apparently skin cancer of the foot doesn’t like to be walked over and has no time for your shit.
Every night after its discovery, instead of curling up with a good book or watching Netflix in bed, I stared at my toe. I really stared at my toe. I stared into the soul of my toe. I “toe inspection and chilled.”
I even took a few pictures. I had a photoshoot with my toe so the next night I could compare it with my toe a day later to see if there were any changes in the color, shape or size of the mole. For awhile, the photo library on my phone was an unhealthy mixture of fond memories and foot.
I thought about calling my dermatologist, but I figured she still hadn’t gotten over the purple patch on my arm that she diagnosed as “you being a dumbass.”
After a month and a half of worry, I took a trip to Massachusetts to work and visit my parents. That was when I told my mom I was being murdered slowly by a sneaky appendage.
“You can’t worry about every stupid thing.” She told me. “Shit is gonna happen. The best we can do is just enjoy the time we have.”
It made me feel better and worse at the same time. Better because she’s my mom and she’s always right. Worse because my version of “living life to the fullest” had been 90 days of nighttime toe porn.
Yet even still, every time my sock came off, I couldn’t help but glance to see the tiny, brown mark of death looking up at me.
That is until one day after a long shower. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, putting my pants on when the toe caught my eye.
The mole had changed.
The skin around it was crusty, flakey, and hard. Like all melanomas of the foot, it spread super fast while I wasn’t looking.
I started to panic. I started to sweat. I began peeling the dry skin away with my fingers to get a better look at the monstrosity.
And it was around this time that I pulled the mole right off of my foot, realized it was a tiny blood blister, tossed it in the trash, walked out of my room, and vowed never to say a word of what happened to anyone ever again.