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To the People Who Think My Cancer Didn't 'Count'

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Editor's Note

Editor’s note: This post contains graphic post-operative photos.

“This is like real cancer. I mean, I know you had your thing, but this is not an easy fix like yours was.”

Quick and easy fix? I had a chunk of my face removed.

Hi. I’m Natalie. I had melanoma — aka deadly skin cancer — on my face. But apparently that doesn’t count as cancer.

I went through the trauma of a phone call from a doctor telling me I had melanoma. I went through surgery and had a chunk of my face removed. I met with an oncologist. When I fill out health forms I have to list that I had cancer. Every six months I need to have my entire body checked for suspicious spots. I have to regularly check my lymph nodes for lumps.

But for some reason to some of the people around me, my cancer doesn’t count. There are no words to express how much that hurts, how much it belittles what I went through.

I know I didn’t go through chemo, thank God. I agree whole-heartedly that chemo is much worse than what I went through, but I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss what I did go through. It was horrifying and painful.

I’m good at putting on a happy face and smiling through the pain. I am not married, I don’t have children and I live alone. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time of my cancer, so I came home to an empty house after I found out I had melanoma. I also went home to an empty house after my surgery. It was a tough time for me.

“Oh, but it was just skin cancer, right?”  I’ve heard people say that in conversation and it makes me feel like my cancer doesn’t count.

Just skin cancer? Just melanoma? I want people to do their research, because skin cancer is no joke.

Please, please, do not discredit another person’s pain or dismiss another’s person’s cancer.

Cancer sucks… even if it was just an “easy fix” of having my face cut up.

Photo credit: Natalie Trout

Originally published: February 5, 2019
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