My Day at Memorial Sloan Kettering

It’s 8:37 a.m. and I’m sitting in an out-of-the way waiting room in Dermatology (in the 53rd Street outpatient center). I arrived at 8 a.m. for an 8:15 appointment and I’ve already had the first layer of skin taken off my nose as part of the Mohs procedure necessary to get the basal carcinoma off my schnoz. Now I wait while they see how much cancer is in the layer they took off. If it’s still there, they go again. It took all of fifteen minutes, 10 of which was waiting for the local anesthesia to kick in.

8:53 a.m. By the way, the waiting room has decent coffee, crackers, cookies, free candy and, obviously, wireless. Also, the nurse assisting the doc is named Ann Marie and she has an authentic ‘Tank you’ Irish accent. The other two patients in the waiting room have matching robes and bandages on various parts of their body. We’re the lucky ones. When I came here for processing (mmmmm, Processed Wheaton) last month, the very first person I saw in the registration waiting room had one of those talk boxes necessary after throat cancer.

9:40 a.m. Round one, all quadrants came back positive, so just finished round two. Apparently, even when they only take millimeter-thin slices off your nose, it still bleeds like a sumbitch. So they cauterize. Nothing like the smell of burned noseflesh in the morning!

10:10 a.m. Doc just pulled me aside to tell me that she’s 33 weeks pregnant and due to an increase in some sort of pressure she has to make a quick trip to the pediatrician. She’s leaving me in the hands of a colleague and her capable team and she’ll be back later. She’s supposedly the best Mohs person in the country, so I’m inclined to trust her. If you absolutely, positively have to have skin cancer, MSKCC is the place to be. It’s brimming with competence and civility — two things in short supply at many New York City healthcare providers.

11:30 Second round seems to have done the trick. They told me I’m cancer free and took a photo. It looks pretty bad. Then again, slicing off bits of your face and burning it will do that to a guy. Luckily, I’ve got a 1:00 appointment with plastics. Hopefully they don’t graft skin from my ass. As my mom said, then I’d have a hairy nose.

11:50 Holy crap. They just took my lunch order in the waiting room. That’s right, MSKCC feeds you while you’re waiting around.

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4 thoughts on “My Day at Memorial Sloan Kettering

  1. As a fellow BCC survivor…I, too, am embarrassed to tell a “real” cancer survivor (like my stepmother, a 7.5 yr breast-cancer survivor) I had cancer. Still–good for you for still listening to your mom and getting it checked out. Now don’t forget to keep the follow-up skin checks for the next couple of years.

  2. It’s things like waiting room sammiches that are leading us to the inevitable health care system implosion.

    When you get to plastics, ask for the Depardieu.

    Good luck!

  3. How did you not cut and paste my little ode to you? Please, it was better than the lunch order, we both know it.

    I hope you’re up and sniffing around in no time.

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