February 11, 2015

Lessons from a Freckle: The Potency of Paying Attention.


“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer and wish we didn’t.” ~ Erica Jong

8 a.m., 2010. I’m standing in my my bathroom getting ready for the day.

Pulling my hair into a ponytail, I notice a large freckle that seemingly appeared out of nowhere overnight. I called out to my husband to take a look. But even before he said, “You should get that checked,” I knew two things:

1. The freckle-mole was one of concern.

2. I would ignore it and the voice inside my head telling me it was problematic, indefinitely.

Fast forward to 2013, a sunny day in March. I’m at a friend’s Easter Brunch, my hair in a ponytail once again, because I was in a three-year hair rut.

Suddenly, I feel a grip on my arm.

It squeezes me with an intensity that could either instill panic or make the room go into slow motion. It did both, but I wasn’t yet sure why.

I turned to find a physician’s assistant friend of mine examining the mole on my neck. Even before she spoke, I knew what was coming. She asked me about it—How long had it been there? Had I gotten it checked? Did I know it held all of the ABCDE’s of Melanoma? (Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving).

It was all very Terms of Endearment, Debra Winger/Shirley MacLaine, but she was just confirming what I already knew—something was wrong and it needed to be addressed. Even then, along side the voice inside me I heard back in 2010, I just kept hearing the word “cancer,” and still I did nothing about it.

Another year went by, and it was only at the next Easter in 2014 that I finally went to the dermatologist.

Now, if you’ve ever had a skin exam at the dermatologist you know the following:

1. You’ve got to get naked.

2. You’re examined in ways I’m sure your significant other hasn’t even seen—let alone with the enhancement of the dermascope (a handy device that helps detect melanoma).

During the exam, the Doc went over and over all the freckles and moles on my Irish/Italian skin landscape and over and over again he headed northward to my neck, fascinated by this pesky little mole that sat there—an island in and of itself. Each and every time he went back up to that mole my intuition whispered “cancer,” and still my mind tried to talk me out of it.

Once the skin exam was complete, my doctor asked me to come back in two hours so that he could biopsy the mole. I answered, “Oh I couldn’t possibly. I’ll need to come back another day.”

It was then that he looked me in the eye and said, “I’ll have to insist.”

It was the place where intuition and fact collided.

I knew then that I was headed into a battle that I didn’t choose. A battle that I put off. A battle that I avoided because of fear and denial.

The point of this post is not to talk to you about Stage 3 Melanoma cancer, which I went on to be diagnosed with. It’s also not to talk about how Melanoma is one of the most common cancers for people 18-39 years old, or how the incidents of Melanoma diagnosis have risen 800 percent in women and 400 percent in men since 1970.

Nope. Not here to talk about any of that.

The message I want to leave you with is the potency of paying attention.

Listening to our intuition provides us with information that can propel us forward, save our life, make us money, save us money, guide us toward relationships, help us fall in love, forgive a foe, make a friend and most importantly, teach us how to trust ourselves.

Because when we trust ourselves, we learn to move forward in our lives with clarity and purpose.

We stop looking outside of ourselves for the answers.

We give the finger to fear and we take action.

The results are limitless and we can see past the racing thoughts of doubt and confusion and begin to make choices that make sense.

My situation may be one that is on the extreme side, but it’s a great example of how, if I had just listened to, trusted and followed that little voice inside of me four years ago I would have avoided battling a major illness. Did I learn a ton from this experience? You bet your a** I did. But still, listening and taking action in the beginning would have served me well.

So I ask you this: Where in your life is your intuition nagging at you? What are you choosing to ignore? How are you treating that voice inside of you? Do you treat it like getting advice from a friend where you’re yeah-yeah-yeah-ing it and then ignoring it anyway?

Intuition is easy to listen to when it’s something that you like, but it’s not the same when it’s something you don’t want to know about—something that you want to avoid.

Today I ask you to take a few moments and stop ignoring the intuition that you don’t like. Stop having an argument with that inner knowing and do what it tells you.

Follow it even when it goes all Al Gore on you and tells you an inconvenient truth.

It might just save your life.



Author: Licia Morelli

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Emily/Flickr

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