I’ll be the first to admit that yes, I do have a tendency to be paranoid and to overreact, and yes, I am by nature a rather sad kind of person. Especially when my kids are concerned. So I have to make the conscious effort to think positive and to seek out the happy moments in life. The hardships I’ve known in life have taught me to always expect the worse and never to be caught unawares. There’s always a plan, and a back-up plan. Failing that, I’ve learned to rely on good old quick thinking and improvisation.
Pessimism has a bad reputation.
We live in an insanely optimistic world, encouraged from all sides to see things positively. Yet I believe more in realism. Making calculated decisions on probability. When I noticed a mole on my daughter’s toe had changed shape, you can imagine my terror and panic. And I immediately made the connection with my own history of melanoma cancer. And I drew the dotted lines even further. My melanoma had started when I was pregnant with Lilly. Or rather, it was at that moment in time, when my inner voice directed my attention to a new mole on the back of my leg. A tiny spot at first. But my gut instincts told me something was wrong.
You see, I could have taken the positive thinking view and thought it all away. My inner voice was just worried with the pregnancy and the precious darling growing inside of me. Yet optimism often leads us to sadness, anger and frustration when the reality of the world cannot meet our expectations. An attitude of pessimism provides a much-needed antidote to this oppressive modern demand to see the glass half-full. And I’m happy I did. I heeded the urgent message that my body was sending me.
I waited till I had given birth to my beautiful daughter before seeing the doctor. Even then, the doctor examined the mole and declared it nothing to be worried about. The strength of the voice came from within me and surprised both the doctor and myself. I boldly stated : “No doctor, you have to take it out. I have a bad feeling about this one.” So he did, more to reassure me than anything else.
Pessimism is not a philosophy of despair.
Rather it is a wise attitude which knows that expecting the worst is the best way to stave off surprise and bitterness. It prepares us for misfortune, reduces the tension of expectations, and helps us encounter disappointment with good humour and grace. Given the fact that I had followed up on my inner voice, my surprise wasn’t enormous when the doctor called me all in a panic to announce that the results were bad, that I was to return immediately home from my vacation and that I was expected in hospital. The surprise wasn’t great, but the shock was. My paranoid fear had become reality and I suddenly saw myself dying and leaving two little babies behind mother-less.
Of course it didn’t come to that. We are now 8 years further down the road and I’m still alive and kicking. More so, I am leading a more healthy and happy life than I ever had before.
Am I overreacting with my daughter’s mole ?
Maybe, I don’t know. But what I do believe is that taking her to the doctor’s and having the mole removed is a sage decision. It might be unnecessary, but it could be a quick cure against inevitable suffering, loss and anxiety. Yet I’ve learned to temper my dramatisation. Meaning I’ve decided we’ll first enjoy the bliss of summer, go swimming and play in the sand down by the beach before going in for the minor operation needed to remove the mole.
However… I did get a good scolding both from my ex-husband ànd from my mother for telling the little girl she might lose her little toe if the mole turns out to be bad. I believed that in preparing her for the worst, I am actually de-dramatising the whole situation. How great will it be if the biopsy turns out okay and we get to cheer “Hurray, Lilly has 10 toes for keeps!” My treasured daughter was quite okay with this scenario too. She said she’d rather lose a toe than become very sick or die. I mean let’s face it, Melanoma is a very dirty and aggressive disease.
What do you think ? Would you remove a mole by precaution ? Would you tell your kids fairy tales to reassure them or do you stick to the truth ? Let me know in the comments below.