A few months ago I posted the question of what self-care means. It was never intended to be more than just an inquiry for my readers to respond to. Since that day, however, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the term “self-care” and have been trying to figure out what it means for me. It’s been an interesting experiment and has actually fueled a good deal of the writing I’ve done lately. Despite the fact that I was having a bit of a mental health crisis at the time I wrote my original post, I suppose I can be grateful that something good came from it.
If you Google “self-care” you will quickly learn that it means something different for everyone. I haven’t quite figured out all the specifics of my own self-care plan yet, but there is one that I have been unable to avoid: Taking care of my physical health. This one should be a no-brainer, but surprisingly, there are a lot of people who neglect their physical health. Whether it’s for financial reasons, laziness, fear, or lack of awareness, lots of people are guilty of this. I have certainly been guilty of this. Unfortunately, certain things happen sometimes that we simply can’t avoid.
In my early twenties I developed a mole on my back that was questionable. I ignored it for a long time. I mean, it was “just a mole.” I’ve had freckles and moles all over my body since childhood. What was the big deal about one more? About a year after that mole showed up my mother and ex-husband insisted that I get it checked out. They were insistent enough that I eventually went to the doctor, more concerned with getting them off my back rather than the mole. My doctor said it was probably nothing. Just an abnormal mole. He assured me that I was young and likely had nothing to worry about.
He was wrong.
After getting the mole tested we discovered that I had melanoma. (For those who are unfamiliar with it, melanoma is a type of skin cancer.) I was devastated. I was young and in seemingly good health. How could I possibly have some sort of cancer? It turns out that cancer doesn’t always discriminate.
Fortunately, when caught early melanoma can be treated. (When left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body and become fatal.) This was the case for me. There were some traumatic surgical procedures involved, but my dermatologists were able to get rid of it. This was also the case the second time that I had it. In the picture below you can see some of the scars that I’ve collected, thanks to skin cancer.
Obviously, since then I’ve learned that I need to be more pro-active when it comes to my health. Even if something seems like a minor problem, it’s best to get it checked out. You never know what it could be.
The reason I’m posting this is because I’ve been having a difficult week. Not one, but two separate medical issues have popped up recently that I am unable to avoid. I’m not sure how serious either of them are yet, but there are appointments scheduled so that I can get things tested out. I’d like to say that I’ve been handling it well, but, truthfully, I’ve been worried. Everyone is telling me not to panic until I know what’s going on, but that’s a difficult task for me. (Hello, anxiety!) As easy as it would be to just ignore these problems and not worry, I know that that isn’t the best idea.
I hope to have some answers soon and have some peace of mind. For now, I am trying to stay calm. Either way, whatever it is that needs to be done, I am going to take care of it because there is no other choice.
We spent a lot of time talking about “self-care” and what it means for our mental health, but without our physical health we can only put in so much effort.
I’ve got some pretty sweet battle scars, don’t I? 😉