It’s past 10 am on a Thursday. I’m writing this blog post in bed.
Acceptable or unacceptable?
On any typical Thursday my answer would be unacceptable. Not allowed, missy!
However, I awoke this morning with stitches and pain emanating from my lower left calf. I softly adjusted my position and gave myself permission to take it easy. This shift minimized the pressure on the troublesome limb — the one that was the focus of a three-hour Mohs surgery yesterday.
The stitches will be in for two weeks. All that will be left of the basal cell skin cancer will be a jagged “s” or “z” shaped scar. The mark will remind me I was lucky to find the skin cancer early — before it had a chance to do real damage. I discovered it by a fluke. I was in to see the dermatologist for what I thought was a problematic mole on my ear. The mole turned out to be nothing, but once there the doctor asked about a pencil-eraser-sized area hidden from my view. I could only see it afterwards by contorting.
“If this doesn’t go away in a few weeks, come back and we’ll biopsy it,” she advised.
It didn’t go away and it got itchy. I went back. The biopsy determined it was basal cell cancer, the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. (Do yourself a favor — learn more and get regular skin checks).
Out of my normal routine this week and surrounded by reporting on Robin Williams’ death as well as reading the latest in fertility procedure coverage (stranger than usual due to the surrogacy scandal in Thailand), I’ve had more than the usual time to reflect on society’s response to certain topics.
Acceptable or Not?
Skin cancer – socially acceptable
Mental health issues – socially unacceptable
Infertility – socially unacceptable
As scary as it is to get a skin cancer diagnosis, I can now say definitively that it’s easier to have a socially acceptable condition than a socially unacceptable one.
Among my reading this week: Fellow blogger Nicole writes passionately about her experience with depression and BBC actress Maxine Peak explains why she is no longer staying silent about her infertility experience, noting:
“I think women can feel ashamed, like they’ve failed or like they’re not a woman somehow if they don’t have kids, and that’s wrong. It shocks me that in this day and age motherhood still often defines a woman.”
Many of us know whereof she speaks. It is not easy to be a woman without children in today’s society. Fortunately, we’re finding new ways to engage and express our varied talents and contributions. Accordingly, we’re beginning to see more open discussion and some change in what’s socially acceptable. If you missed it, check out Jody Day’s brilliant post, Things I Wish I’d Known at 40.
Together we are redefining womanhood outside of the motherhood default. No woman should have to explain why she is not a mother.
You can share your wisdom
On the subject of mental health, fellow writer Miriam Zoll alerted me that the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology has opened for review and comment fertility staff guidelines: Routine psychosocial care in infertility and medically assisted reproduction – A guide for fertility staff. As current or former patients and health care providers for women and men facing challenges conceiving, your input would be most valuable. Please take some time to share your thoughts on this link.