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You Need Thick Skin At This Table

, , , , , | Friendly | May 3, 2019

(I’m at a banquet with my mom, seated next to a husband and wife my parents’ age that I know, but not very well. I’m a biology professor and I’m pretty sure they’re aware of that. I’m wearing a sleeveless dress and I have a large mole that my dermatologist is not concerned about, so I haven’t had it removed.)

Woman: “Oh, you need to get that taken care of.”

Me: “What?”

Woman: “That mole. That’s cancer.”

Me: “No, actually, it’s okay. My dermatologist says it’s fine. I could have it removed if it bothers me, but I haven’t gotten around to it.”

Woman: “Nope, that’s cancer.”

Man: “You know, our daughter’s husband had a mole just like that. He didn’t even know it was there! It was on his back. Our daughter didn’t even notice it! But one day he got out of the shower and she said, ‘Hey, what’s that?’ And he got it checked. And you know what? The doctor sat down and said, ‘You have six months to live.’ It looked just like yours.”

Me: “No, really, I’ve had it looked at; it’s not cancerous.”

Woman: “You probably have six months to live, too.”

Man: “When the doctor finally looked at it, it had met… med… What’s the word? When it spreads?”

Me: “Metastasized?”

Man: “Yeah, that. He was a goner. It was everywhere. Lungs, brain. Everywhere.”

Me: “Yeah, skin cancer’s weird like that; it has its places it goes.”

Woman: “Do you know about cancer?”

Me: “Um, a little? We just covered it in my intro cell bio class last week. I use breast cancer as an example.”

Woman: “Are you going to apply to med school?”

Me: *completely taken aback* “No? I mean, I thought about it years ago, after I started my PhD, because it would have made more financial sense to get an MD/PhD at the time, but those programs are hard to get into. And really, I didn’t want to pursue an MD; I wanted a PhD.”

Woman: “But think of all you could do! You should apply to med school.”

Me: “No, really, I’m happy with my PhD. I like my job.”

Woman: “You should apply to med school.”

Me: *later, to my mom* “Why did you make me sit next to them?!”

(For the record, I was probably going to get that mole removed next summer, but now I don’t want to, just out of spite!)

This story is part of our Mole Day roundup!

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