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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Like rain on your wedding day

Last week I found a suspicious mole on my side, which I knew was malignant. What else could it be? Everything's going swimmingly; therefore, I am dying. That's logic. Or is it irony?

Scott and I were watching television when I found it. I don't know why I was feeling myself up. Clearly the television wasn't entertainment enough. I had developed this scabby, crusty thing on my side a few months ago, and then I forgot about it--if only she had taken care of it when it was first discovered, she might have had a chance--and there I was on the couch and I revisited the mole and it was significantly larger and crustier. "Holy crap, I'm dying," I told Scott. "Look."

He looked. "I'm sure you're not dying," he said.

"How do you know I'm not dying? Do you have a medical degree? Can you positively tell me this isn't cancer? Don't lie to a dying woman."

"If you're so worried," he suggested, "go see a dermatologist."

I knew he would say that. We've been married ten years, and he's become so predictable, with his calmness and his rationality. It's unbearable. But it was 9 p.m., and I needed answers. I needed answers right then and there.

"The Internet!" I cried. "The Internet will provide reassurance!"

"Alice, do not," Scott commanded. "No. Don't. No google. This will not end well."

I opened my laptop.

"Stop it. Close the laptop. This is just going to scare you. Stop."

"You don't understand. This time the Internet will provide useful information. I am sure of it."

"No. The Internet will only give you lies and panic. Stop."

But I googled, people. I googled the shit out of this mole. Scott feebly protested but I kept it up—I googled "crusty mole" and "mole that peels" and "mole that's suddenly larger and also I just moved and I'm almost 40 and never had a skin check and my name is Alice Bradley please tell me I'm not dying." I googled and I googled and I googled some more.

And the Internet told me that I was almost certainly nearing death. It was too late for me. I was not long for this world.

"I guarantee you're fine," Scott kept saying.

How does he know? the Internet asked. He's just trying to shut you up so he can go back to watching his show. Which, by the way, is nearing cancellation. I can tell you all about that, if you just google. Stick with me, you poor dying creature. I know everything.

"You must marry again," I wept all over Scott's shoulder. "Promise me."

"Oh my god, you are so insane," he answered.

He's going to regret saying that when he knows the truth. The truth that I have shared with you. There is no space/time on the Internet. I know all and see all.

I went to sleep that night knowing that I might not wake up the next day, but then I did, which was nice. I made an appointment with a dermatologist because I'm crazy but not that crazy. The bottom line is that I am whiter than anyone, and I should have started having my skin checked years ago. And now she would go for her skin check, only to discover that it was Too Late.

Only it wasn't too late. The dermatologist looked at the mole and declared that it was nothing, or rather that it was something but an insignificant something, some kind of keratosis something-or-other.

"I hate to tell you how to do your job," I told him, "but if you'll just google this, I think you'll see that it's quite serious indeed."

Then he started bragging about his experience and his medical degrees, I don't know, I wasn't listening. It was sinking in: I wasn't going to die after all? What? Scott didn't have to marry again?

"So you're telling me I don't have cancer?" I said, and he said that's right, you're fine, but come in every six months because you're crazy-pale and your family history is etc. and also SPF whatever everyday and broad-brimmed hats blar de blar.

And when I ran outside to call Scott to tell him he didn't need to look for a potential wife I was mowed down by an out-of-control delivery truck carrying a shipment of high-SPF sunscreen.

Well, no, I wasn't. But if I had, that would have been irony.

Reader Comments (75)

OMG, so funny--because this is so TRUE. I am constantly worrying over something-or-other, constantly Googling and finding out I am dead already and just don't know it yet, then I haul my lifeless corpse to the doctor to find out that, eh, it's nothing. And THEN I have to resurrect myself and explain to my husband that he can't have my life insurance money just yet.

SUCH a painful cycle. But I am glad that we will still have you here to entertain us, 'cause this is some good stuff! :D
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara
OMG Hyacinth, I had a vet that used to say that EVERY time we took my Malamute in for the tiniest thing, "Well, it could be a tumor, but we will check for these other things first and if we don't find anything, then it might be a tumor." It scared the bejeezus out of me the first few times until I learned that was their party line. Kind of a "just in case this goes really bad" kind of thing.

And my general comment is this. You know what doesn't help? The show 'Mystery Diagnosis'!!! I watch that and think I MUST have something for which I'm going to go to 25 different doctors before they figure it out. I always look up whatever ailment they end up deducing the person has, just to check out the symptoms to see if I have it! Yikes!!
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlionemom
I really appreciate your blog because you somehow find a way to make something that is serious, funny, but without taking away the serious message you may ultimately be trying to get out there.

My brother died of malignant melanoma when was 38 - eight months from diagnosis to death - and it scares the shit out of me. Thank you for going to the doctor to get your mole checked. And thanks for getting message out there. And thanks for being able to find the humor in all things.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel E.
Holy shit, woman. You are too, too, TOO funny! Shoulda called me. I've had one of those things forEVER! And I've been getting body checks forEVER--being that I actually did have skin cancer way back in '95! And here I am!

"I went to sleep that night knowing that I might not wake up the next day, but then I did, which was nice."


Just about every part of this entry on your blog was hilarious beyond belief, and I laughed so hard I cried--which is so nice every now and then. But the above was definitely funniest--at least for me!
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendyPinNJ
Whew, close call! So glad it was nothing.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarb
My husband had one of those that I was convinced was cancerous. He was all calm and I was trying to figure out how to bring up the kids alone. Not that I have a morbid imagination; I just like to pretend I do, late at night. But his got cleared too. Twice, by two different doctors (one was a friend who obliged me by looking at it. We live in Africa where life is more casual).Yeah, I still worry about it.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteredj
Ha, I was just reading an article about this today... "cyberchondria" is the new Brangelina apparently.

The internet is indeed a source of woe. My (at the time) 21-yr-old boyfriend once convinced himself he had prostate cancer and yeah, was clearly going to die.

And as many before me have said, you're way nicer than me. My instructions are "never remarry. rend your clothes in agony and wail your way to my grave, lie down upon it and kiss the sweet earth beneath which I lie, then dramatically whip a dram of poison from your pocket, remove the cork with your teeth and spit it on the ground contemptuously, then chug the poison, silently sobbing a prayer that gentle death shall reunite us."

but that's me.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermfk
you are freakin' awesome. i now don't feel nearly so foolish for telling my doctor that i was sure i had wrist cancer, and wanting to know how long i had left. clearly a pain anywhere is obviously a sign of tumors and impending death. duh.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTorrie
LOL! I'm with your husband, google is the devil with regards to health. I think I almost died from pink eye that way once.
Ha! I thought my co-worker was the only one who thought she had wrist cancer. Awesome.

I like to tell people I am dying when I have a cold. I figure it wards off Death if he thinks I'm expecting him.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDM
Did anyone catch your clever title? Google is dangerous & all knowing... I am constantly searching for the answer to my baby's skin issues although it's been diagnosed by a doctor. She's only been a REAL doctor for a decade... what does she know?
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Football Wife
Hello. Are you me??
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterR
LOL. All future cases of Googlitis can be cured by a large glass of red wine. (Works for me!)

This post of yours TOTALLY reminds me of one of my favorite books: A spot of bother by Mark Haddon. It's about a guy who finds a skin spot and is convinced he's dying but is too polite to mention it to his family (who are consumed with their own issues). It's HYSTERICAL.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterla cubana gringa
I almost fainted one time after googling images of DIAPER RASH.

There are some SERIOUSLY. HIDEOUSLY. AWFUL diaper rashes. No joke.
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe New Girl
Good for you getting it checked out so fast.It took me years to get my crusty mole to the dermatologist. He only looked at it for a second and then he laughed at me.

I am still wondering whether to trust him. It's been a year. Maybe time for a second opinion?
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSophie, Inzaburbs
Too freakin funny!! I love the ending...getting hit with an SPF sunscreen delivery truck. Hilarious. Seriously though I am glad to hear that all is well and you can now continue living your obviously normal life. Have a great week. fiance has skin cancer AND HE"S FREAKING 19 YEARS OLD!i told him to get checked cos of the MONSTER 3/4 inch mole on his back, and the cancer ended up being some little tiny mole on his he got 35 internal and 18 external stitches to get the baby cancer out.i think im his hero for making him go haha.cos it is a super aggressive style of cancer, but cos they got it so early, he'll be okay.

good on you to get checked.

when i got checked, the dermatologist told me i needed to go in the sun MORE ???
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrenee
Oh my! What a wonderful post! You're so talented for a dying woman!
March 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa C
To Google or not to Google? Yeppppp (pronouncing the p's). Scott is wise, but...

Glad you're not dying!
on a day when all seemed bleak (we had to sell my husbands beloved motorbike, the emotional turmoil has been unreal) your brush with death brings perspective.

and one hell of a good laugh.

March 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbea
Aaaaaah the power of the Google! I love Google... you can learn so much from it and yet, sometimes maybe too much.

Keep up googling!

March 17, 2009 | Unregistered
I can't tell you how many times I've Googled myself to a melanoma death. I'm glad to hear you're still with us!
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramanda
My sister was always convinced that she was dying when we were little (and this was pre-Google, even). She would announce, "Lookit! I think I have ankle cancer!" And we would roll our eyes and explain that the bump had always been there, it was a bone, and plus there is no ankle cancer. Fortunately she's grown out of that as the internet has come along to scare the bejeezus out of us at the slightest provocation.

I'm still nervous after my 11-month-old developed a bloody nose so, like any slightly insane person, I googled "baby bloody nose" and was summarily informed that she has leukemia. Turns out she had a cold and had been ramming her finger up there. But you never know!

Thanks for the entertainment and the reminder that I'm not alone in my neurotic googling.
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKendra
When I went to the emergency room almost 3 yrs ago because of appendicitis, I gave the emergency room nurse my symptoms and I said something like "Dr. Google says it appears to be appendicitis." He responded, "Dr. Who??" and then after I started to explain, didn't even get a smirk out of him.
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranita
First off, just have to say that both this post and the comments gave me my laughs for the day. Excellent.

Now I don't want to be negative or imply that the crusty mole is anything but something totally benign and not worthy of losing sleep over - because that is surely the case - BUT... I am also super pale and have to to wary of the big bad sun. I have had a basal cell carcinoma (cancer - yes; life threatening - NO, but it does need to be removed or it keeps getting bigger) removed from the same spot on my face 4 times. This all started many moons ago as an occasionally crusty red spot that would also occasionally bleed ever so slightly. Despite having had removals 3 times already, when I asked my dermatologist about the crusty red spot that had appeared yet again, she said it was just a keratosis (the kind caused by the sun) and not to worry about it. Three months later I went back and said I don't buy it, it's getting bigger. A teeny tiny biopsy later and Surprise! Cancer is back. I wanted to hit her. Anyway, I went to another city to have a different procedure to get the dang thing removed once and for all and the doctor there was just as appalled as I that my dermatologist ignored my history and wasn't even treating the keratosis, which supposedly she should have. Not sure how.

All that unnecessary information to say - I would request that a crusty actinic (sun-related) keratosis (assuming that is actually what you have, since I would never have described mine as a mole) be biopsied. Or at least treated somehow since they can turn into other things. But I'm sure it's nothing. Seriously. ;)
March 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersparkyd

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