Sunday, September 8, 2013

In which I do not die of cancer (or, My beautiful toes!)

A few months ago I noticed a small dark dot on my left big toe.  It was right before the trip to Vietnam and I didn't think anything more of it, other than to wonder whether the Vietnamese would judge me for wearing sandals with an ugly toe.

Before:  ominous dark spot
But last week, when I was at my parents' place in Reno, my podiatrist father saw the dot and instantly expressed concern.  Essentially, dots like this could be melanoma.  "And if it is," he said, "you'll lose the toe.  If not more."  Woah.  It's one thing to wear sandals with an ugly toe; it's another thing altogether to wear sandals with no toe at all.  This was getting serious.

So, with my future summer footwear options at stake, I visited a podiatrist in Boise who had been recommended by a friend of Dad's.  He looked at the toe and agreed that it was worth taking a closer look -- and by "closer look" he meant "punching through the nail to see if the discoloration continued into the flesh below and, if so, sending a sample of that flesh to the lab for a biopsy."  Fun!

The good news is that we didn't end up doing any punching or biopsying.  The pre-punching shaving of the nail revealed that the discoloration was only in the nail, and that the flesh below was perfectly healthy.  No need to do anything more.  So now I have a hole in my nail, instead of a dot, and my future prospects for summer sandal-wearing look bright.  Whew!

After:  all clear!
So, for those of you who are counting, this brings my tally of potential-cancer-scares-with-happy-endings to a grand total of two. 

The first instance, you may recall, was back in college when I was performing in Westminster College's production of Spinning Into Butter (and yes, those are photos of me!).  I had been cast as the play's only character who was a person of color, and the director had asked me to get a dark tan and curl my hair -- you, know, so I'd look more ethnic (which, btw, wasn't awkward at all for a play critiquing the way white people expect minorities to look and act the way whites think minorities should look and act).  One day I woke up and saw a dark spot the size of a dime in the middle of my forehead and was instantly convinced that I'd caught cancer from all the tanning.  In a panic, I started the most effective cancer treatment method I could think of:  I grabbed some of that apricot pit exfoliating face wash and started scrubbing as hard as I could.  It hurt like hell and brought me to my senses.  The dark spot was not cancer, it was just a curling-iron burn I'd gotten the night before while curling my hair for dress rehearsal.  Relieved, I put the exfoliator down and stuck a note on the bottle to remind myself not to exfoliate for cancer again until the burn had healed. 


Mary said...

Sigh of relief!

Anonymous said...

So glad it turned out to be nothing to worry about. Toe-ectomies can be so disruptive. Lady

Freya said...

I am so glad I just read this.. one appeared on my big toe just like this. I can't find any clarity on the internet other than for cancer. I can finish my homework in peace and visit the doctor tomorrow.