Relay for Life 2013 Speech
As Anthony Delmonte once said, “Cancer is never a face until it affects you or someone you know”. Cancer became a face to me on November 14, 2011. A day I will never forget. On November 14, 2011, I was diagnosed with a rare type of skin cancer on my scalp. Keep in mind that this was NOT caused by being in the sun for too long. I have never been to a tanning booth, either. The whole thing started on October 5, 2011. I had an appointment with the dermatologist to discuss my dandruff. I had also been noticing a bump on my scalp that had been there, oh, I don’t know, about 5-ish years? 3 pediatricians had told me it was nothing to worry about, and naturally I had believed them. I figured that as long as I was at the dermatologist anyway, I might as well show it to her. During the appointment, she gave me the option of having it biopsied because it looked red, which concerned her. I thought about it for a few minutes and then reluctantly agreed to go ahead with the procedure.
Getting the biopsy was terrible. I had to receive shots of local anesthesia in my head. On top of that, I had to deal with the constant worry of it harrowing and shocking test results.
The next day, on 11/14/11, we got the phone call from the dermatologist that simply said, “You have cancer. You’re going to need more surgery. I’m sorry”. Naturally, I broke down in tears. I didn’t even know what the true definition of cancer was, but nonetheless, it was staring me in the face. I could run from it, but I couldn’t hide from it.
The next few weeks were a huge blur. We must have seen three or four doctors. During that time, I had to get an MRI of my head to see how big the cancer was. Luckily, it was only the size of an eraser. Eventually, we decided on going to experts at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. That’s when things started moving really quickly.
I ended up having two surgeries- one to take out the cancer and a skin graft operation to close the huge wound from the first surgery. The wound would never close by itself due to how big it was, so the doctors took a piece of skin from my leg and put it on my scalp. I’ll get back to that part in just a few moments. In the meantime, I first want to talk about how bad the first surgery was.
I was awake and numb for the first surgery, which lasted for about 5 hours. During the surgery, the surgeon took a little bit of skin off and checked for cancer