Irony, irony, all is irony.
I've always been told that I have the loveliest skin. "You're 74? No! Your skin is like someone in her 50s!" "What is your beauty regimen to get such beautiful skin? Please. I have to know!" "Your skin! It's so smooth!"
Yeah? Well then, how come I found out last month (although the original prognosis was benign) that I have a small b.c.c. that has to be microsurgically removed?
Now, in this case, b.c.c. does not stand for blind carbon copy (an e-mail term) or back cover copy (one of the many promotional copywriting projects that I do for book authors). No. In this case, b.c.c. stands for basal cell carcinoma. It's the most common skin cancer, and I have a small b.c.c. on the side of my nose.
Well, I found out that this b.c.c. can probably be traced way back to my 20s, when I used to lie out in the sun and get sunburned. If detected early (which this was), the prognosis is excellent. In fact, my doctor (a young woman who trained at Harvard and Johns Hopkins -- that's about as good as it gets) told me that this is minor, it does not mean that I have cancer (I have skin cancer), she is absolutely confident that she will get it all in my June 20 appointment, and that this whole episode will soon be in the past. I'm grateful that, so far, this is a minor situation.
I would love to believe her. I like her. I am going to believe her.
Still...I am skeptical about doctors, since in early 1992, my late husband was told by doctors at Stanford Medical that he was "healthy as a horse," and by November 1992, another doctor (horrible man, a surgeon with an icy-cold stare) told me that my husband had Stage 4 colon cancer that had migrated to the liver and had four months to live. So...pardon me if I am HUGELY skeptical about anything any doctor says, no matter how much I may personally like her, or him.
So, on June 20, I will join five other patients in my local dermatology clinic. All of us will be there for something called Mohs Micrographic Surgery, which, by all accounts, is the most thorough yet noninvasive surgery around, with the highest cure rate.
I've talked with many friends and acquaintances in the last couple of weeks about this whole b.c.c. thing. Everyone seems to know someone who has had a b.c.c removed, without any further complications. I'm going to believe that, after June 20, I will be in that group.
In the meantime, I told my doctor that I'm rather fond of my nose, since it's been part of me for 74 years, so I hope there will be minor damage to it. She assured me that she will make an appointment for me with a plastic surgeon she knows the next day, if I need that. In the meantime, I'll take one last look at my nose the way it is now. And know that beauty is only skin deep.