Last week I noticed a black speck on my arm. It was irregularly shaped and it was new. Brand new. Like, I-must-have-gotten-it-while-I-stepped-outside-for-a-second new.
One of my good friends died from melanoma at 30 in November, and I've had four excisions of abnormal tissue in my time. My fair skin, light hair and blue eyes make me a prime candidate for melanoma.
Plus I already had cancer. And this black spot? This black spot was DEFINITELY CANCER.
I hopped online and browsed the Mayo Clinic's website and information on melanoma while taking deep breaths in a paper bag. I set the bag down for a second and looked at my arm again. Yep, definitely cancer.
Later, I noticed the spot was gone. Oh god, I thought. It's burrowed into my skin and is bringing the cancer cells together for a reunion party. (Not possible.)
And then I noticed a smudge where the black spot was.
The black spot was chocolate. 100% cancer-free and 100% delicious.
Why do I torture myself like this, I wondered. I suppose my varied medical history has taught me that my hunches are usually correct, but lately I seemed to be going crazier than usual.
Hearing the words "You have cancer" at 21 permanently shifted my outlook on health. Although I've had lupus and an immune disorder since birth, cancer was confirmation that all my crazy hunches were right. Since the golf ball in my neck turned out to be cancer, what else might be lurking in my body, waiting for the sunlight to hit it just right?
After the Chocolate Smudge Incident of 2013, I resolved to be more positive. The stubbed toe wasn't broken. The sore throat wasn't throat cancer. The stomachache wasn't fatal. I was fine, fine, fine.
Last Saturday, I was carrying some dresses downstairs when I slipped and fell down 10 very steep wooden steps. I landed directly on my face and forearm. My dad found me and demanded we go to the ER. But knowing he's just as much of a hypochondriac as me, I refused. I was bruised and swollen, but I was fine. I didn't want to look like a drug-seeking idiot when my doctors told me I was fine.
A few days passed and my arm was still sore, but I told myself it was a steep fall and I was bound to be bruised for a couple days. I didn't want to look ridiculous going to the doctor for a sore arm. I was tough!
On Thursday night, I couldn't sleep because of my arm. I took some leftover cancer Dialudid and carried on with my day Friday. But something inside me nagged. You should get it checked it out, it said.
So I drove to a nearby urgent care center, with plans to exaggerate my tale so the doctors didn't think I was an attention-seeking ridiculous human with great hair.
The doctor asked me to shake his hand, but I couldn't. He sent me for X-rays and then came into the room and told me I had fractured my forearm.
I gave him a high-five, much to his puzzlement. I explained that I'd gone to doctors before with pains that turned out to be either nothing at all or something big. But this was right in the middle. I'd listened to my gut and my gut was right.
Of course, now I have a broken arm and an orthopedic surgeon appointment and a sling, just at the start of summer. I'm mad, but I'm relieved, because The Death Steps Incident of 2013 taught me that we, as humans, need to trust our gut.
So check those moles, keep an eye on for weird pain, and hold the railing when you go down steps! Trusting your gut just may save your life.