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November 9, 1984

Treat Yourself, Right?

JAMA. 1984;252(18):2541. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350180013007

The lump above my clavicle burst upon my consciousness like popcorn over a gas flame, suddenly full size. Yet, at a centimeter, it clearly had taken more than a couple of days to arrive at its present dimension. An area of my body that previously received very little attention, being in need of neither daily dental flossing nor shaving, quickly became the focus of my conscious and unconscious stroking. Each day I would pause in conversation as I silently wondered how my lump was doing, or I would find the fingertips of my right hand floating gently over the area. Was it larger? Was it movable? Attached to the skin?

The possibilities list was, of course, headed by the ominous. It became impossible to forget the discovery of a close friend's lymphoma during a yearly employee chest roentgenogram, while simultaneously forgetting how all medical students are successively afflicted by whatever