I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes.

Christmastime is up on us again. Or at least the holiday season. I mean we're nowhere near December 1 just yet. Still I've watched Love, Actually, at least 5 or 6 times already.

It's been a crazy six weeks - as evidenced my my huge lack in posting. So much overwhelming stuff has happened, it's just taken me a while to get my head around everything enough to actually write about it.

Last time I posted I was looking forward to Fall and Halloween and all the great stuff that goes with it. Then four days later I visited my dermatologist to have an ugly-ass mole on my leg looked at and preferably removed. My dermatologist looked at it, agreed it needed to come off, took it off, then sent it off to be picked apart and analyzed.

Two weeks later, just as we were getting home from our Halloweentime Disneyland trip, I received another call to inform me that the mole came back as skin cancer. A superficial melanoma to be exact. The good news (if you can extract any good news from a melanoma diagnosis) was the fact that it was superficial and very thin. The doctor was sure she got it all, but was referring me to a cutaneous oncologist and a dermatological surgeon to be sure. So I spent the next couple days not eating, the subsequent weeks eating not much at all, but also getting all sorts of appointments scheduled to get this thing taken care of ASAP.

In between all this we had Halloween, which was fabulous, and a very much-needed trip to Texas for a scrapbooking retreat. I was also offered a permanent position with one of the companies I had been doing some work for, two days after my diagnosis, which was a very much-needed break. Each of those things were major factors in getting me through the next three weeks until my additional appointments, and resulting wide-area local excision (read: under local anesthesia they took out a larger chunk of my leg to get the tumor out).

My visit with my cutaneous oncologist was reassuring and worrisome at the same time. Reassuring because he feels that everything looks OK from an oncologist's perspective and therefore I have a very good prognosis. Worrisome because it freaks me out that I had to see an oncologist. Plus the fact that he told me all he sees all day long are skin cancer cases. In fact, most of the building I visited to see the doctor were clinics that specialized in treating various forms of cancer. That and there's a higher chance I'll get another one of these damned things.

On my way to the elevator I passed by radiation therapy. Both days I was in the building the waiting area was jam. packed. People waiting to get their radiation treatment. Old people. Young people. Black people. White people. People from all walks of life. It was really scary just how many people are being treated for one form of cancer or another. In fact, that building was HOPPING with people. Sad and scary all at the same time.

The surgery went fine. My dermatological surgeon was AWESOME. Both he, the resident working with him, and the nurse were wonderful. They also were very positive about my case based on everything they had seen - lab results, examination, etc. When it was all said and done, I went home minus a half-dollar sized chunk of my leg, semi-stitched (couldn't totally stitch because the skin in the area is so tight anyway) and with instructions and dressing supplies to start me out. The skin that was removed was marked and sent off to another lab to be sure my ugly little friend didn't invade the area and invite a bunch more of it's ugly little friends to take up residence as well.

In the meantime I had plenty to keep my mind off everything to some extent. Learning the new client that was a big part of the new job. Getting paperwork and such taken care of to start said new job. Continuing to keep my already assigned clients happy. Plus making final arrangements for a trip to the office for a couple days of training, orientation, and getting to know my new co-workers at the main office. While I was there the nurse called with my biopsy results - NORMAL. No further cutting necessary, just follow-up doctor's appointments. THAT I can handle. Of course I celebrated with a fine Gingerbread Latte and a fab Vietnamese dinner.

I know darn well that while I am out of the woods, I am by no means off the hook. Right now I am paranoid to let any sunlight touch me. As if I'm a vampire that will turn to ash should I be touched by the sun's rays. Realistically, I need to be sure I wear sunscreen. And cover up. And try not to be outside when it's the most intense. No more tanning. Just fake ones. I shall be orange and I shall wear that orange like a badge of honor. I now throw hexes at tanning salons for I know my love of those damned tanning beds (paired with my own stupidity) is what got me here.

While my skin is olive and does have the ability to tan, most of the time it's a fair shade of olive. And based on what I've been told about my ancestors on my dad's side of the family, while the vast majority of them hail from Spain, they were very fair skinned, with several redheads thrown into the mix. Pair that with the fact that I'm also about 1/3 Irish... Which translates to my stupid pale ass had little to no business hanging out in a tanning salon, much less even thinking about going to the beach or pool and not being fanatical about sunscreen.

Despite all this, and my becoming the unwitting ambassador for SPF, I have such a huge sense of calm this holiday season.

While many I know eschew the fact that it starts earlier and earlier each year, this year in particular, I am glad that the holidays are upon us. And while I may have grumbled that Macy's had their freaking decorations up a good week before Halloween, I'm glad to see the festive lights and other holiday decor. I'm even listening to Christmas music every now and then. Particularly Feliz Navidad. And my new favorite this year, The Coventry Carol. Very haunting, thanks to the vocal stylings of Alison Moyet, yet so perfect at twilight.

Our local easy-listening station started up sometime last week. I happened to catch it last Wednesday on my way to the airport and listened for a while. Then I found a sister station on my business trip and listened for a bit on my way to the airport on Friday. Apparently XM has had their holiday channels active since November 1, but I just found them on Monday and have listened while working all week.

We also went out on our yearly insanity shopping trip - i.e. hitting whichever store had the one cool thing at like 5am. This year we scored a 52" Vizio LCD HDTV (NOT my idea but whatever). Now I can get that monstrosity called the 55" projection HDTV out of my house. That and the Guitar Hero II bundle w/guitar were the big scores this year. I must say I was rather disappointed in the selection (or lack thereof) this year. We usually spend Friday and Saturday back and forth to Michael's and Jo-Ann because of the coupons and Turkey Bucks, but not this year. This year was the crapola year. God bless the crappy economy.

Now the countdown to my trip home to SoCal begins. We're spending Christmas with my aunt and cousins and I cannot wait. Yes, that means palm trees decked out in twinkle lights, boats all decked out in the harbor, and banners with snowflakes flanking the palm tree-lined streets. I'm cool with that. I don't have to have a white Christmas. I'm cool just singing about it while the waves crash just outside.

While normally I dread the craziness and the feeling that we have to be 10 different places at once, this year I am looking forward to it

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