I touch myself, carefully running three fingers through every crevice on my body once then I repeat. I allow a smile to creep across my lips as I feel nothing but smooth, warm flesh on the second pass. Every nook is familiar to me since I examine myself often.
I navigate every cranny from my armpit up to neck. I slide over to jawline and follow it, up the side of my head and behind my ear. Seconds later, I stop as my fingers start to tremble. I found it, hiding in plain sight.
There’s a pea shaped lump tucked behind each ear, pressing against the bones. They hovered just a couple inches above the scar masking the incision from my third lymph node dissection. The crucial part of my immune system was removed a year prior after it was suspected to be cancerous.
I hadn’t even thought about Lymphoma until three years prior when the first grossly oversized lymph node was found protruding on the right side of my neck. Several dissections, and a host of immunosuppressant and tumor shrinking drugs later, I thought all my problem lymph nodes were gone. Yet, I couldn’t help scanning my body visually and with my hands, looking for a rogue lymph node waiting to threaten my life. Today I found it.
I located the penny sized ball before my doctors. It was discovered this time before it could cause me to lose weight, run a fever and have sweat at night again. I tracked it down prior to hearing the dreaded words that a biopsy is unavoidable. Instead of being proud of myself for making the discovery, all I could do was wonder if I’d made my discovery soon enough.
It didn’t take my long to realize that I, for once, have the upper hand. I’d caught a potential threat early enough to chart a course for my future health; that’s progress and I’ll take it.
About the Author:
Nika C. Beamon is a veteran TV Newswriter/Producer. She is the author of the memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House (2014) and three other books.