A few weeks ago, I was at the beach, soaking up the sun, loving life when a spider bit me on the leg. I didn’t see it bite me, but I knew. It swelled up and looked like a blistery burn. I’m a big believer that the sun and ocean heals all so I tried to angle my leg so the sun would fire its rays directly into the wound. A few days later it looked sort of like a little bubble so I laid in the pool with my leg up in the air. I soon realized my sun therapy wasn’t working, so I poked the little bubble with a pin. I don’t recommend this.
I showed my husband, who said,
“That’s not a spider bite, and I think you should stay out of the sun.”
“Dammit,” I said.
“What do we have here?” my dermatologist asked me.
“Spider bite,” I said, definitively.
“It looks like it has a tiny pin hole in it,” she said.
“Weird,” I said.
“Well, it’s probably nothing, but let’s biopsy it,” she said, “Oh, and stay out of the sun.”
“Dammit,” I mumbled.
About ten days later I got a phone call saying the biopsy came back, “And there are cells.”
“Cells? You mean bad cells?” I asked.
“It’s nothing to worry about, they’re squamous cells. But you’ll have to come back so we can remove a little more skin.”
I hung up the phone and looked at my leg. My leg had always been there for me, but suddenly it had turned dark and evil. It had turned squamous.
I needed to calm down so I went to the beach and called my husband.
“Hi,” I sighed.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Nothing. I’m just at the beach.”
“Why’d you call me then?”
“Just to say hi.”
“Well you sound terrible. Something must have happened.”
“I’m pretty sure I have lung cancer.”
“It started with my leg. The dermatologist called. I have squamous.”
“Wow. That sounds sort of bad.”
“It’s not bad. The dermatologist said it’s not bad! But still. I know this is just the beginning. I think we should start traveling more. And I need breast reduction. I don’t want to die buxom. And we need to explore other cultures, and eat more fiber, and I want to have another baby….”
“Okay, perhaps not another baby, but we should at least get a treadmill and maybe we could talk Kim into having a baby.”
“She’s still in school.”
“I want a baby!”
“Hold on, I’m looking up squamous,” he said.
Another long pause.
“You’re going to live,” he said calmly, “But you should stay out of the sun.”
“Dammit,” I said.
“I’m serious, Steph. Are you wearing sunscreen at least?”
“Of course,” I said, fumbling around to see if there was any three-year-old Coppertone left in the bottom of my bag.
I spent the rest of the day researching skin cancer.
I’m not going to die, but as it turns out, I really need to get out of the sun.