Bright, blinding white walls with florescent light bouncing off them surround me like a cold chill. I feel the only way a 17 year old girl possibly can during an impromptu visit to a sterile and agonizingly slow doctor’s office. Bored out of my mind.
I ponder the irritating truth of doctor office visits in my mind as the clock tic tocs pass my imaginary appointment time.
“Why does the staff trick you into thinking that because you’re being called back into this room, out of the waiting room, that you’re going to be seen on time?” I mutter to my dad, the center of my teen angst and mastermind behind this inconvenient appointment.
“I planned to go to the beach today Dad, you totally destroyed my plans,” I state.
“Are you even listening to me?!” I add, my voice rising as my very short tolerance is peaked.
My dad ignores me. He isn’t listening. He is a precautious man and he currently can’t be pulled from the hamster wheel of worry going on in his mind about his one and only child.
My dad sits quietly in the corner of the patient room with his brow furrowed and his head in his hands. His dark hair is disheveled and his pants are dirty from a morning of working outside. He remains silent but lets out an exhausted sigh as if to push the concern out physically from within him.
He looks small to me in this moment. A typically domineering man at six foot two, he seems to have shrunk under the weight of his thoughts. I don’t ask him what is wrong. He is annoying me today, like most other days before this particular one. From my spot on the tissue paper lined examination bed, I dramatically roll my eyes at him and go back to picking at the blue nail polish coming off my thumb nail.
We are at the doctors on this particular day because last week we were on a glamourous cruise ship, floating in the sun across the Atlantic Ocean when my dad noticed a small black mole on my left forearm during breakfast. His worrisome mind kicked into high gear as he aggressively asked me when this mole popped up. I didn’t have an exact answer for him, although I did remember noticing its very inky black color a few months earlier.
My dad’s mind instantly jumped to skin cancer, a faraway island that my own young, careless and carefree mind couldn’t wash ashore on. A few years earlier my mother, then 40, found out she had skin cancer and my dad had since paid very close attention to the size and shape of moles he saw on us. He didn’t like what he was seeing. The day after we returned home, he strong armed us into the doctors, refusing to let a booked schedule stop him.
Twenty minutes after our appointment time, the Doctor lightly knocked and slowly opened the door. He timidly smiled in the way that people do when they know they’ve kept you waiting. “Finally,” I thought, picturing myself actually leaving this dreaded appointment and running off to the beach, like I had planned, with my friends on this sunny and unusually warm, late April day.
“I don’t think we need to remove this,” the doctor’s voice boomed, cracking through my salty daydream.
I was instantly brought back into reality as I watched the exchange between my father and the now, suddenly confident, doctor.
My dad looked at him firmly, ready to do battle on my behalf, “you will remove this,” he said, as if it was a real and true fact.
A few stern exchanges later, my dad informed the Doctor he was not willingly leaving the office until this mole was removed from my arm and the Doctor exhaustedly conceded. 5 minutes later he mole was removed. 15 minutes later I was driving away, windows down, already calling my best friend to hurriedly get my afternoon started.
Ten years later, the feeling that overcomes me when I think about that appointment is ultimately that I felt nothing. The innocence of my own mind wasn’t able to probe into the chance that this one, hour long, inconvenient and chilly doctor’s appointment would change my life forever. Yet, ultimately, it did just that.
Two days later I got the call that I needed to go back immediately to the doctor. The results of my biopsy came back. “Melanoma,” the doctor whispered through the phone.