It was weeks later when she was returning home from a grueling session at the gym that she remembered she had to make a cursory call to her doctor to check on the biopsy result for a tiny boil on her hand which just wouldn’t go. She had got it removed the previous week and the doctor had advised biopsy on it as is the normal procedure here. As she dialed in she was already thinking of getting home, showering and getting down to completing the TNA report she was working on for a client.
The lady on the phone put her on hold as she went to check on the results. Couple of minutes later, she returned to the line and candidly said, “Yes Ma’am, I have your results here; you have skin cancer!” The car almost swerved off the road!Of course she went on to say that it’s non-malignant called 'basal cell carcinoma' (a medical term for topical skin cancer caused by over exposure to the sun) that it does not spread, it’s very commonly found in the United States and certainly not life threatening. Of course she didn’t hear much of anything else after she had distinctly heard the taboo word - CANCER!
What followed in the coming weeks were speculations and assumptions, fear and worry! She began examining her body for any signs of other upcoming boils or cysts. The sun became her enemy and she resented having to go out in the day. In short; major stress! A small surgical procedure was required to scoop out the infected flesh. A date was set for the same. With each passing day her anxiety grew into a fearful monster.
Until a day before her friend casually gave her an option to look at it differently. He said, "I have a tattoo that I wish I could get rid of; just think of it as removing a tattoo gone wrong.” All of a sudden the word 'tattoo' didn’t have the same feelings attached to it as the taboo word did. It seemed palatable. More manageable!
All the way to the clinic she kept repeating the words in her head, “just a tattoo, just a tattoo”…the surgery was over even before she knew it.
As easy as that...what was all that fuss about?!
Notes from my desk: Sometimes certain words have a certain impact on us and leave us with feelings of anger, sadness, fear, hurt or guilt. This is because over the years we as humans have evolved to believe that x means y!
Being fit means being slim for most of us or being successful automatically means being wealthy to many. Similarly cancer equals to fatal eventualities or to some even death. We’ve just brought ourselves up to believe so. The meanings we draw depend on the words we use. Putting a positive spin on certain words can change its meaning and with it our responses and behaviors.
Reframing then is a sure shot step towards success. Changing the frame of an experience can have a major influence on how you perceive, interpret and react to that experience. I reframed my challenge to call it a tattoo that I just had to get rid of. And with the internal shift in emotions, my fear was replaced with strength and the chaos within with a more mature calm. I no longer have my tattoo. Just three stitches bearing the mark of what was… I chose to call it my smiley face, believe you me, it looks just like one! J