How Her Cancer Saved His Life

Darcie and Dean Mullins met in high school and soon became best friends and soul mates. After she completed her nursing degree, they married. Over the next fifteen years they birthed and raised four girls. Then the unthinkable happened. While re-tying a scarf around her neck, Darcie happened to feel a hard new lump on her neck. When it didn't recede over the next several weeks, she became concerned enough to consult me. As an RN, Darcie was worried about cancer---specifically, lymphoma.

When her lymph node excision confirmed a virulent form of lymphoma, Darcie was devastated. As the mother of four children ages four to fifteen and a part-time RN, how would her family survive without her?

She and Dean resolved to fight and to win.

After three rounds of chemotherapy, Darcie's long, beautiful hair began to thin and then fall out in droves. Soon, only irregular clumps stuck out from her scalp like a butchered wig. Even a ball cap no longer disguised her massive hair loss.

Darcie brushed away her tears and made an appointment to have her head shaved. She'd have to resort to a wig.

While not a vain woman, Darcie's luxurious auburn tresses had always ranked as her one crowning beauty. The thought of baldness and wigs sunk her into an emotional cesspool. Would her husband be repulsed by a bald, pallid wife? Would she ever feel good (instead of nauseated and exhausted) again? Would she even survive? What would become of her girls?

An hour before her salon appointment, Dean discovered Darcie sobbing unconsolably in the bedroom.  He had never seen her so broken."Look at me. I'm so ugly. How could you possibly find me attractive?" she eked out. "I look like a freak."

He pulled her into his arms and tried to re-assure her, but he felt so powerless. Other than taking on most of her "motherly" home duties and praying, what more could he do to prove his love and support? Then it dawned on him---he'd keep his head shaved, as long as she was bald. Since he had always been blessed with a headful of thick black hair, he understood her feelings of loss as he watched his curly locks hit the floor. I just won't look at myself in the mirror, he told himself.

As soon as he jumped up from the salon chair to pay the bill, his wife's eyes bulged in horror and she began fingering his scalp. "Dean? How long has this huge black mole been on your scalp?"

Since he'd always had a full head of hair, he had no idea. But with the irregular border and ominous black color, Darcie knew enough to be worried. She insisted on scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist.

You guessed it. The biopsy confirmed melanoma, and as luck would have it, the melanoma had been picked up in the nick of time!

Had Darcie not developed lymphoma, Dean never would have shaved his head, and had Dean not shaved his head to offer commaraderie to his wife, his melanoma would not have been discovered until it was fatal.

I'm happy to report that both Darcie and Dean are alive and well eight years after their harrowing double dose of cancer. Darcie likes to tease, "My lymphoma saved his life."