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2003-11-26 | 6:15 p.m.

I just talked to Bambi and she told me about my sister's visit to the doctor yesterday. I had to laugh halfway through because it was one of those moments when I felt Absolute Kinship with my sister. We don't always see things the same way, to say the least, but then again there are times when we see things exactly precisely undeniably the same.

My sister has had this thing on her arm for a couple of weeks. It kept getting bigger. It was nasty. It was scabrous. Everyone told her to go to a dermatologist, but she has Medi-Cal and hardly anybody takes that. It's always a hassle. But one day the damn thing practically doubled its size in a day. Finally, she went to the emergency room and got a referral to a dermatologist. Same people I went to a few weeks ago.

The doctor said, "It's cancer."

Diane blanches at the word. He tells her they should cut it out.

"Aren't you going to biopsy it?" she asks.

"Well, I can do a biopsy, and we can wait a week, and then you can come back and we can cut it out."

"Oh. Okay," Diane says.

The office staff has to chase down the surgeon, who has already left for the day and is in the parking lot. She comes back in and cuts off Diane's thing.

"Are you sure you're going deep enough?" Diane asks.

"Well, I think so. I don't want to leave you with a big scar," says the surgeon.

But Diane doesn't care about a scar. She wants the cancer out of there, damn it!

"Just get it out," Diane says.

This is the part where I completely understood. I have this friend who had breast cancer recently. When she was facing her mastectomy, she told me she didn't like the idea of losing her breast, that she was going to miss it, and she was also very concerned that losing it would upset her husband. I sort of understood, and I know that other breast cancer patients feel the same way. But I couldn't really relate at all. I had to tell myself that I might feel the same if it were actually happening to me. But empathizing with her, imagining it happening to me, all I could think was, just cut it off! Cut them both off! Sew my neck to my belly button if you have to, but just get the cancer out! I want to live!

If it happens to me, then I'll really know. But until the day I'm actually diagnosed with cancer, I'm staunchly in the cut-it-all-out camp.

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