Still Hopeful

I received the call on Tuesday about the biopsy but I needed time to absorb, process, and recover before writing.  It was positive for melanoma, which was not a shocker.  However, the “in my face” part is that cancer extended out to the margins of the extra skin he removed from around the tumor.  I knew that it had metastasized and the doctors suspected cancer cells were spread from the area of the original tumor through the groin area, BUT, I still wanted to believe the radiation could kill them.  

I know your thoughts at this point are to suggest to me to have more surgery, go out of state to a specialist, try “X”,  “Y”, and “Z” as all these possible options have fleeted through my brain too.  You can go crazy pondering it so much, and yet you are no farther ahead.  I pray about each possible treatment and step and that is what guides me.  My next appointment is September 17th.  Trust me when I say I have peace at this time and there are reasons why I am comfortable with waiting.

Over the past couple of days, I have been rehashing the whole radiation experience.  Why did I need to go through that when it was not successful?  Then I remember all the other cancer survivors I met, the daily meetings with the chaplain, and the fun times with friends while staying at Hope Lodge.  Those are the good parts!  Another good memory while staying at the lodge is when I participated in the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program, in which you are given makeup and taught how to use it. There were two women in the class who have Stage 4 cancer and both women were predicted to have passed away by now.  Yet, they were joyful and fully participating in life despite permanent physical changes.  We laughed so much in that two hour span, and I am glad for that experience.    The bottom line is that you can’t waste time wishing to redo the past.  You can only go forward.  Since I slept 12 hours last night, today is looking like a pretty good day.  I plan to embrace it!  Just Pamela


A long-winded post (with little information)

Yesterday I had peace about the surgery, despite the fact that there is healing and changes that occur with each one. The drive to the hospital, however, was another story. The torrential rains with poor visibility and hydroplaning were nerve-racking (to me, not Richard).  I told Richard that I had more fear about making it there in one piece than the surgery itself.

Once again, I had wonderful nursing care.  I say this every time but I mean it as I am grateful each time. Many years ago, I was hospitalized and had four surgeries in 5 days.  I was in a helpless and vulnerable state, and I had a less than pleasant nurse for surgery number 3.  I had so much anger and bitterness directed towards her way after I left the hospital.  I had to ask the Lord to help me forgive her as it was not healthy for me to hang onto those feelings. The nursing care can make or break your experience.

I asked three friends specifically to pray that the nurse would get the IV inserted easily the FIRST time.  This has not been the case the last three times I have had one inserted.  It seems like a “little” prayer but it is what I needed. I am not making this up when I am saying it went beautifully and I barely knew she even did it.  She was extremely caring for all the pre-op tasks. 

There was an incident that took me by surprise..  When the nurse was ready to lock up my bag of clothes, she asked if I had anything else, like a wig, to put in the bag.  What?!? Hey, my hair is the real deal. Granted I did wash it that morning so it was slightly fluffy and frizzy. I just replied “no”.  However, when I got home I was examining my hair in the mirror every which way. I should have told her “you can’t get these dark roots with a wig”, but I am not quick-witted like that.  I usually think of my retorts way after the fact. I am going to believe it is a new standard question all patients are asked.   Anyway, she is forgiven because of her exceptional IV-inserting ability!

The waiting room was packed yesterday, which meant that the private consultation rooms to discuss the surgery results with family members were quite busy.  One doctor spoke to a family member in the waiting room and I heard EVERY word.  I made sure to let Dr. Brader know that I didn’t want my “business” (although I didn’t use that tactful of a word) discussed openly like that.  Richard tells me after the surgery Dr. Brader took him to the tiny vending machine room to explain my surgery as the consultation rooms were full, and they both smirked at each other upon arriving there.  I know they think I am wacked-out but a little privacy can go a long way in feeling more human! It is a good reminder for all of us who work with people in the health and educational settings, and I plan to be extra vigilant about the confidentiality of information as I return to school on where and with whom I discuss student’s progress, etc. 

I wish I could inform you more about Dr. Brader and Richard’s discussion.  Richard has many lovable qualities but understanding and remembering medical information is not one of them.  He does recall that the biopsy results should be ready by Monday and that Dr. Brader did not feel it was cancerous (?)/ concerning(?).  Hmmmm.  I am so interested to know what the biopsy will say.  All three doctors who assessed this nodule in the past week were confused as to its origins.  It has been present since May and felt to me exactly like the three tumors  which were removed in April. That area received increased radiation yet it remained the same size throughout treatment.  I guess I will know soon enough.  

I would like to milk this surgery on the home-front to get waited on by my family.  The reality is that I live with guys and it just isn’t going to happen. That is why I cleaned my house and made freezer meals ahead of time. Now I can just kick back without any guilt.  Well, at least until Tuesday when school starts. Yay!

Surgery Again (such a repetitive title!)

After three doctor visits in the last week, the final decision is to remove the tiny tumor that has been present since May.  It is unknown if it is active cancer or not as it has stayed the same size throughout radiation and is too small to show up on a PET scan. So tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. I will have outpatient surgery to have it removed.  It is a simple surgery like the last one, and this time I believe it.  I am thankful I am able to have it done quickly so that I can start school next week.  Richard commented yesterday that it will be good when I am back to school. He knows it is good for me mentally to be busy and, of course, it is a job that I love.  That is priceless in itself. 

Regardless of how well I may be doing, depression / anxiety creeps back as the doctor appointments near. I found this prayer that really helped me the other day and I am going to share it.  Maybe someone else needs to hear it as well. The last sentence says it all!  Just Pamela