It’s amazing to me how many good things, and how much love, have come out of the worst thing that will ever happen to me. This guy Erik who knew Clark from around town asked Jennifer at the memorial service how he could best honor Clark. J told him to get his moles checked, because no one really thinks they’re going to get skin cancer — melanoma’s not so well-publicized. No one realizes that melanoma’s a different kind of cancer, one that can’t really ever be cured with traditional chemo and radiation treatments. One of my favorite doctors from Georgetown, Dr. Taylor, described it as “a bear.” It mauled Clark, and took over his entire body in less than two years.
I’ll post what Erik’s shared via Facebook, a story for which I am very grateful:
7:50 AM, I am staring at the computer screen that sits on my desk at work. An ugly cubicle surrounds two sides of me. Behind me a dreary fall day presses it’s foot against my neck. I think nothing of it; it just hangs around like a wet sweatshirt from my shoulders. It is damp and depressing. The phone rings. It’s not a number I recognized. Not one that I have stored in this idiot device. But it’s a local number. I pick it up.
“Erik, this is Dr. Murrow.”
“I wanted to call you about that mole I biopsyed last month,” he starts.
“Okay,” I interrupt. The nerves hit immediately. Last go around I got a call from the desk clerk.
“The mole was pre-cancerous. I’d like you to see…” he continues, but it all trails off in my head. Somehow I successfully write down the name of the doctor he wants me to see for a follow up. I call that office and make an appointment.
None of this would have happened if it weren’t for, well for a lot of things. I had the mole on my left leg for my entire life. As a child I looked at the odd, brown colored anomaly with curiosity. A certain amount of vain animosity existed in regards to the blemish that broke up the otherwise perfect skin. I never thought much of it at all in my life. Ever. Then Clark Sabine died.
At his memorial service, I was in tears. I hadn’t cried with this amount of grief in my life. Even my own Grandfather’s funeral didn’t affect me like this. Through a stream of tears I spoke with Clark’s sister about him, and how he touched me. In our awkward, unfortunate conversation she requested, that in Clark’s memory I go see a dermatologist for a routine check up. Clark had died of skin cancer. It’s not a very sexy cancer. It doesn’t have a PR campaign or a ribbon or a walkathon. No one on TV dies of skin cancer. You just don’t think about that shit.
Had it not been for that conversation, through wine and tears, had it not been from the urging from my friend to make sure the doctor looked at the mole on my leg, had it not been for seeing Bald Rapunzel in a garage, where I met Bonnie, who later played in Motorcycle Wars with Clark, who I had a few great conversations with over beers here and there, would I have even thought about that mole or the possibility of skin cancer.
I got lucky. Very very very lucky. I am not the most observant person. I don’t know at what point, if any I would have even recognized that the mole I’ve had my whole life was getting bigger. Chances are it would have been too late. This scares me more then anything. It’s not a cancerous mole yet and my leg will be cut up a little bit and I will go from there, most likely with nothing more then a scar and an annual check up. I’m not worried about what will happen. I’m just really frightened about what could have happened. It’s not the normal kind of anxiety I am used to. Dodging the bullet can be just as intense as getting hit by it.
Since Clark passed in June, it’s been a different kind of life for me. It doesn’t quite seem that way on the surface sometimes, but I assure you that it is. I made more then one promise that day in the ballroom, where his closest friends, his dearest family and a whole lot of people who he knew and touched gathered in memory. I made a promise to do something as mundane and ordinary as go to a Doctor. But I also made a promise to really love the shit out of this life, to do the things I wanted to do, to always plant the seed, tend to the garden, pull out the weeds as they expose themselves and if the crop doesn’t yield anything, plow that land and plant the seed again.
I’m not normally the sentimental type. I don’t really believe in fate. I feel, in the face of all this realization, that this is all just coincidence. I am by no means trying to belittle Clark’s existence on this planet by any means in saying that. It obviously had a bigger impact on me then I would have ever expected. But these are just the kind of things that happen to people all the time. I’m not special, just completely fucking lucky. We are in the midst of a crucial time in American history in terms of health and health care. I am so skeptical of so much of modern medicine, modern diet, modern health care, but please do what you can to take care of yourselves. Listen to your loved ones. Go to the doctor, get the diagnosis at least. There are many ways things can be treated and your body can be healed, but if you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you can’t begin to fight it.