Biopsies and Prescience: Cutting Cancer

What is it about September and cancer diagnosis for me?

I got a breast cancer diagnosis in September 2011 – and this September it’s skin cancer.

A couple of weeks ago, my dermatologist and his assistant both said the place above my elbow was a basal cell carcinoma.

The tech scraped it out and sent it off for biopsy.

I didn’t worry too much about having basal cell carcinoma, because cancer ON my body is way better than cancer IN it.

The dermatologist’s message a few days later about the biopsy was a surprise, though.

He said it was a squamous cell carcinoma, and I’ll need to go back so he can cut it off and sew it up.

That was not the message I expected! I thought it was already taken care of. Done.

Instead, though, I have to go back and have more cutting.

But, once again, cancer ON my body is better than cancer IN it. Even if it’s a notch worse skin cancer (squamous rather than basal) than the doc and tech thought.

That’s why we have biopsies and send them off to be checked under a microscope. Because eyeballing isn’t always accurate.

I’m set for the cutting in a couple of weeks.

Cutting out cancer.

Interestingly, back in May I did an exercise from The Artist’s Rule: nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom by Christine Valters Painter. An exercise in which I cut out pictures and words from magazines, images and words that either drew me to them or made me feel some fear. I put these images and words on three cards and randomly taped three questions to the scrambled, face-down cards, questions I’d already written out.

This was one of the three cards which randomly matched my question with my images and words. With this question: What is my path?


The “cutting cancer” caused my chest to tighten with some fear, so I chose it.

And I realized a few days ago, when I was writing an email about the skin cancer diagnosis and the dermatologist’s saying he’d cut it out – I realized I’d chosen words very similar to that a few months ago.

I’d been wondering what that meant, hoping it didn’t mean more cancer.

But it did.

But NOT big cancer like breast cancer.

“Just” cancer on my skin.

I feel a bit of fear, but not a lot. I’m more concerned with the pain that comes with cutting skin and stitching it up. And then healing the wound.

But, hey, I made it through two rounds of chemo, a lumpectomy and node-removal, plus radiation. So a little skin surgery should be a piece of cake in comparison. Right?

I’m grateful that this cancerous place can be cut off. And that biopsies are more accurate than visual diagnoses.

My sister and some friends have had squamous places cut off and have done fine. So my fears are assuaged quite a bit.

But I do wonder at how I sensed my future.

How did I know this cancer cutting was coming? And to choose those words? And actually have a magazine with those words in it?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

And I also wonder why the chick wasn’t a kitten or three . . .  because there are three kittens on my porch right now!

Maybe there’s a part of us out ahead, in the future, exploring a path?

I don’t know.

But I’m fascinated when prescience slips in.

And I’m enjoying the kittens in the Now.



Do I really ever have either of those?

It’s all about the Now, isn’t it?

The Now. . .  and kittens.


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