Storytelling at Work
December 23, 2020
A Story That Might Save Your Life

Ten years ago, Evelyne got a very bad case of Lyme's disease. So bad, in fact, that it turned into spinal meningitis -- a very scary situation that required her to have a port installed in her arm and receive IV antibiotics for 45 days. Not fun. Spooky. And very stressful, to say the least.

In response to her health challenge, I began to think that I also had Lyme's disease -- as many of the symptoms she was experiencing I began to experience, as well. And so I began reading about Lyme's disease, online, and became increasingly convinced I had it.

Two weeks into this saga, I flew to Florida to visit my sister, Phyllis, who was having her own health challenges -- and, during my visit, told her that I thought I had Lyme's disease and asked if she could make an appointment, for me, with her primary physician, which she did immediately.

The next day, in the doctor's office, he ran a series of tests, all of which indicated that I did NOT have Lyme's disease -- a big relief -- "but" he added , "as long as I have you in my office, let me do a more thorough check up."

As he did, he noticed a dark spot on my right thigh -- a spot I had always assumed was a birth mark.

"I don't like the looks of that," he said. "When you get back home, make an appointment with your local dermatologist and have it looked at."

Of course, when I got back home, I didn't, convinced that my sister's physician was overacting and, besides, I KNEW the mark on my thigh was nothing more than a birthmark.

Two weeks passed.

Then, one morning, as I looked in the bathroom mirror, preparing to shave, I noticed two unusual marks over my right eyebrow that I had never seen before.

"Weird," I thought. "What are THOSE?"

Getting increasingly anxious, I decided to make an appointment with a local dermatologist for the following week.

After filling out a bunch of forms in the waiting room, and sitting in the "examination room", alone, in my underwear, 20 minutes longer than I wanted to, in walks the doctor. I tell him about the newfound spots over my eyebrow and he checks them out.

"No big deal," he tells me. "These are benign -- the normal stuff of aging. But as long as you are here, let me take a look at your whole body."

When he saw the "birthmark" on my thigh, his entire demeanor changed. "I don't like the look of this," he said. "I'm going to biopsy it and send it to the lab. We'll know more in a few days."

Four days later I got a phone call from the dermatologist asking me to return to his office the very next day for surgery. The "birthmark" on my thigh, he explained, was a melanoma (skin cancer) and needed to be removed immediately. Not a day to waste.

I didn't sleep well that night.

The surgery took place first thing in morning, him cutting out a chunk of my thigh, bandaging up the wound, and asking me to return in a few days, after he got some more results back from the lab.

Back in his office the following week, he explained, in a very kind voice, that the surgery had gone well and that "my margins" were clear, and he was quite confident that he "got it all", asking me to return every three months for the next year for follow up exams. Then he looked me in the eye and said the following words that I will never forget.

"If you had waited six months to see me, we would be having a very DIFFERENT conversation than we're having right now."

And so dear friends... if YOU have any kind of odd skin growths that have caught your attention recently -- on your face, hands, feet, legs, neck, back, arm, or wherever, please do not just assume they are just birthmarks or liver spots or whatever. Hopefully, that's all they are, and in most cases that's all they will be (five future biopsies I've had all proved to be negative). But there is always a chance that your "birth mark" is a possible death mark unless you get it taken care of.

Please feel free to forward this little story to your friends and family, if you are so inclined. As the old expression goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at December 23, 2020 08:13 AM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.