Well, one week ago tomorrow morning, the oral surgeon told me that at the age of 49, the white spot he removed from the bottom of my tongue was cancer.
Luckily, it was only on the surface, and they got all of it when he did the biopsy. I do not have to do chemo or radation at this point, but as he said, "I will now become your best friend for the next 5 years" LOL. I will have to see him every 3 months for 3 years and then every 6 months for the next 2 years. He said the chance of recurrance isn't hugely high- but we will have my regular doc, the oral surgeon, and my dentist checking constantly just in case.
I feel extremely lucky that it wasn't worse, and that surgery was able to remove it all right away. In fact the surgery was for a biopsy, so I didn't even know it was cancer until AFTER it was removed.
Telling my parents and my children was the hardest thing, but they all handled it exceptionally well and were very supportive. With any luck at all, in 5 years this will have been a narrow escape, and nothing more.
I'm sure everyone reading this is thinking "was she a smoker?" and the answer is yes- yes I was. I feel REALLY stupid now, for ever having thought it wouldn't happen to me. I feel stupid for not having listened to the people who tried to convince me to quit. I feel especially stupid having had to tell my children that I had a scary disease that I brought on myself by being STUPID.
But the good news is... I haven't had a regular cig since the day the doc said "cancer".
I've been using an e-cig to keep me from smoking, and it's working well. Both my regular doc and the oral surgeon recommended it, and I'm a real "ritual" smoker, so I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a try. There have been a few adjustments to make, but after a week I'm getting used to it and it's finally beginning to feel good enough that I rarely crave a real one anymore. I will admit that I had some cranky moments, but overall it's kept me from being miserable and from climbing the walls as I am quitting smoking.
I've tried to explain it to others this way: it's like someone took away my best friend, and replaced her with a robot that looks and acts like her- but just isn't the same. That doesn't mean that I want my old friend back, it just means I have to get used to the new one until I am Ok to give her up completely too. (both docs told me that I am OK to use the e-cig as long as I need to to stay off the regular ones).
So...am I a cautionary tale? You bet. Am I lucky as hell to have escaped something worse? Hell yes. Have I finally FINALLY learned my lesson about smoking? Holy crap did I ever. Am I committed to never making that mistake ever again? 100%.
It's some good news, wrapped in some bad news. And I'm ok with that.