Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Time Last Year

I'm getting really excited about the up and coming Melanoma Educational Symposium put on by Melanoma Research Foundation and UNC, Chapel Hill Division of Surgical Oncology.  I figure that must sound a little strange to get charged up by something like that, but since my first diagnosis, I tend to find all things melanoma quite interesting.

There are two reasons I'm feeling the adrenaline pump through my body as I near this event.  First, I am a seeker of knowledge, and love the opportunity to learn new things whenever I can.  Second (and more embarrassingly), I am being given the chance to experience this event differently than I did last year.

So, here's how it went a year ago....

I get to the event, pen and notebook in hand, not really knowing what to expect.  I choose my seat (in the front, of course), surrounded mostly by very old people.  I spot my surgical oncologist (he's running the show) and watch him prepare to start the symposium.  I'm brimming with excitement at this point.

During the presentations, I was writing down everything, listening intently, with my eyes wide open, in total awe of these people presenting.  I know that if I saw my own face during this moment, I'd look like some star-struck girl watching the Academy Awards in the front row.  I was most enthralled by the Dr. Georgina Long from the Melanoma Institute Australia .  She's brilliant, beautiful, articulate.......I could go on and on.

While sitting, listening, and writing, I happened upon a piece of information that was pretty much my admission ticket to a ride I had NO idea about.  I saw these words: Tomorrow is the melanoma symposium for DOCTORS.  FOR DOCTORS!  And with that nugget of info, my mind was rocketed into another dimension (one you might call, Crazy Town!).

No, I am NOT a doctor....well, maybe about as much of a doctor as Doctor Dan the Bandage Man,but at that moment in time, my thoughts went like this:  Dude!  If hearing these doctors speak today is so amazing, just imagine what tomorrow's event will be like. MORE opportunity to learn.  MORE time to hear Dr. Long.  MORE questions to be asked.  Just.....MORE.

Yep, my brain sometimes (often) thinks that if something is good, than much more of it is even better!  As Aristotle said, "All men (and women) by nature desire knowledge."  And for me, that is true.  However, I did not know what I was about to get myself into...with this idea of mine.

Fast forward to the next day...DOCTOR symposium.  I'm here....ready to learn all that the doctors know.  First of all, the looks on some of the faces when I walked in, were far from welcoming.  I saw a mother of one of my son's friends who is a doctor and was presenting...she looked at me puzzled, and said, "I didn't know you were a physician."  I giggled uncomfortably and said, "Oh, I'm not."

Quickly, I began to feel like an I Love Lucy episode, where Lucy gets herself into some crazy situation and right away, begins to notice there may be something wrong with the picture.  

Once the presentations began, I knew I had made a mistake.  The information given was so overwhelming, so scary, so depressing.  I was having such cognitive dissonance over it all, because on the one hand, I wanted to know EVERYTHING...yet on the other hand, I was starting to get queazy and not feel good (a vasovagal response beginning!), knowing that leaving was probably best.  
my notes

I did end up leaving before it ended...well, really, I ended up running out of there, with sweaty palms and a racing heart.  

Knowledge is power, however, there is a fine line between knowing and knowing too much.  For each of us, that line is different.  It's important to locate that balance and make use of it.  

Today, I know that I have a strong need to know, but at the same time, I also know that I don't need to know everything.  Next week, when I attend the MRF Melanoma Symposium, I will savor what is offered to me at the PATIENT session, and will not go near the DOCTOR session....yet another chance to witness personal growth.  Yippeeeee.

"You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough."
~William Blake


  1. Enjoy the information given, and learning is a good thing. Maybe by finding out at the doctors symposium how bad it does get, actually makes you more determind to find warn others about Melanoma. The death of our only daughter aged 15 from Melanoma in 2008 certainly woke us up, but in the long run it also helped get things in perspective so I could warn others about how dangerous it is, how vigilant you must be, and how by speading the word and raising money for the research, that one day someone else will not have to go through what my husband and I did.

    1. Ali! I am so sorry to hear about your daughter! Melanoma is so horrible! Yes, it wakes a person right up...and makes us want to tell everyone what can happen! Thank you for reading and sharing.