Occult Invasion

For the past several years, I had a 2 ¼-inch blue, crenellated outline of a square on my left trapezius muscle. Like any rational person, I surmised it was an alien tracking implant, embedded as I slumbered by some inquisitive, perhaps nefarious, extraterrestrial.

But it turns out it was something more pedestrian and sinister: a malignant melanoma “in situ, with appendageal involvement.” The appendage in question was a hair follicle, and don’t think I wasn’t pondering the absurdity of potentially being done in by my hairy back.

However, thanks be to God and dermatologist Christine Kannler, M.D., as well as her excellent treatment team possessed of an exquisite propensity for laughing at my jokes, the loathsome thing came out. Now I’m left with the scar from a shoulder full of about 30 topical and subcutaneous stitches and an occasional wasp-sting-like pain, a thorn in my flesh, as St. Paul put it, “the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”

And I have received confirmation that she removed it all, no sign of “occult invasion.” In the span of a month, I went from benighted country boy to cancer patient to cancer survivor.

I know I am luckier than many: I have good health insurance and my cancer was treatable with an in-office, hourlong surgery a 20-minute drive from home.

Today was a good day, as will be all the others that follow.