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  • I sat before the doctor, awaiting the results of my skin biopsy. My bored 4-year old tugged at my shirt, asking how long we would be. My 10-month old squirmed out of my arms and onto the floor, crawling straight for the powerpoint. I cursed my husband in my head, wondering what could be so important that he would miss helping me out at such an important appointment.

    And then the doctor said the word.

    Melanoma.

    Mel-a-no-ma.

    One of the most rare of skin cancers, only 2.6 % of skin cancers in my part of the world. But accountable for 70% of skin cancer deaths.

    The tears started to roll and I quickly lost all sense of pride about crying in front of an almost-stranger.

    But the news got a little better.

    Of all the different kinds of melanoma, mine is probably the best one to get, if you have to get one. It's a superficial skin cancer, confined to the first layer of skin in most cases. It's not one that commonly spreads to other parts of the body and it's been caught early.

    My treatment will be surgical. The doctor will take the freckle, plus a 5mm margin around it. They may also take a section of skin nearby to 'patch' it up. In the end, I will most likely have zero skin cancer left, just a really tough-looking scar down the left side of my cheek.

    When I'm down, I dwell on how 'unfair' it is to have a melanoma when I've always been so careful with my skin. Never sun-baked, I don't go outside in the middle of the day, I wear sunscreen regularly and a hat. I'm terrified of the surgery, which will be done under local anaesthetic, and more specifically, the feeling of my skin and flesh being cut away. On my face.

    But in the up moments, I feel enormously grateful it's not worse. It's not fatal. I feel grateful that I live in a country where I can get good medical care without private health insurance, for free. I feel grateful that I had the good sense to start having my fair skin checked annually, and that it was detected early.

    I'm sure I will continue to swing between these two extremes over the coming months. But for now, for this very moment while I sit here, I feel that it's all going to be okay.
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