by Rebecca D. Hamburger

A mole appeared on my back a few years ago, in my early twenties. I cannot be sure exactly when as it is only visualized by mirror and neck contortion.

Drawing by Rebecca Hamburger

It has been evaluated numerous times by a trusted dermatologist as a benign melanocytic nevus, and I was advised to keep a watchful eye on it. The anxiety which surrounds this decidedly harmless lesion, exaggerated in the painting, morphs into a physical symbol of all the other anxieties in my life. The green hills of jealousy toward others’ achievements as I navigate medical school, the flowery pattern symbolizing the positivity and happiness which I often mask myself with in public, with patients, colleagues, and friends. The dark growth is only revealed when I peel away my masks and facades, ultimately a sign of vulnerability.


Author bio: Rebecca D. Hamburger is a writer, artist, and medical student at Central Michigan University. She holds a BA in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley. Her work involves both professional and personal interests ranging from maternal health, opioid use disorder, and mental illness. She can be found on twitter @RBurgMed.

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