Surreal—that’s the only word that defines the early morning phone call from my mother on August 18, 2012. “I’m calling you with some news about your brother—he was just diagnosed with a malignant melanoma.” Just for weeks earlier, I learned of my acceptance to ABC’s trip to Nepal where I would serve as one of a group of caregivers to 19 cancer survivors. I had been gathering prayer flags from friends in my life who were fighting cancer to accompany me on this journey. I realized I would be taking one more flag.
As details were revealed about his cancer there was reason for optimism. His dermatologist found the spot on his skin early, just six days before his 60th birthday. It was melanoma in situ, meaning it could be removed by cutting it out with enough additional area to provide clear margins; with that, the cancer is gone.
But my brother says once you’ve heard the delivery of the word ‘cancer,’ it never leaves your consciousness. It changes how he feels about each moment of each day.