I have been dreading writing this post.
I have so been enjoying writing everyday that I had decided I would keep it up no matter what came my way.
I have missed a few days this month but. . . I had good reason.
When I went for my checkup a week or so after surgery, I went on my own, not expecting results from the biopsy. After all, we had been told it would likely take two weeks.
However, the results were in. And they were not what we had hoped for.
The original site on my stomach came back clean, but the cancer had traveled. It was found in one of my lymph nodes. I was one of the 20%.
So what next?
Melanoma can not be treated by chemotherapy or radiation. These therapies are sometimes used if someone is in the late stages but they are meant to alleviate symptoms, not cure or even necessarily put the cancer into remission. *edit 2016. At my last check up my melanoma doctor told me there is now treatment for melanoma that can actually cure this cancer! It’s new and from the sounds of it, the best protocol isn’t fully funded yet but . . . it’s amazing news for anyone who’s cancer can not be treated with surgery.
Melanoma is treated by surgery. The goal is always to take out as much as possible (within reason of course!) around the cancer site in hopes of catching any stray cells. To keep it from traveling.
So. . . Deep Breath. . .
I will be going for a radical groin dissection and muscle transfer this coming Tuesday at the Misericordia Hospital.
This involves removing all the fat above the area of my groin where the biopsied lymph nodes were removed. They will go down my leg a ways, removing all the other lymph nodes in this cluster, as well as all the fat. That will leave two major arteries (veins??) exposed right under the skin. To protect them, they will detach the top of a long muscle that you use to cross your leg. It will be moved from the outside top of my thigh and reattached it to the top of my groin area, thus covering up the arteries(veins??) and protecting them from harm.
As you can imagine, this is not a very common surgery but I have an amazing surgeon who has been practicing for twenty years and she has done many of them.
Which is very comforting. . . It is a very good thing when all the nurses comment on how thorough your surgeon is. . .
Complications from this surgery are common, both because of it’s location and the fact that my leg will go numb down to my knee. As Dr. Dabbs explained, it might seem great that you don’t feel the pain but neither do you always realize when you have done something you shouldn’t have. (And I have a very hard time sitting still or taking things easy!)
Infections are common.
Redoing stitches at least once is common.
My leg can stay numb with pins and needles or electric shooting pains for up to a year. Sometimes longer.
Lymphodema often occurs. This happens when when the fluid normally dispersed by the lymph nodes can’t find a way out and begins to build up in your leg. If not caught early it can become a lifelong issue.
I’d add a link to that but, foolishly, I went googling at four in the morning the night I learned what was happening and, of course, found a horrifying, worst case scenario picture that kept me awake for the rest of the night.
Thankfully when I called my dear friend Nicole the next morning, she laughed at me (she’s a nurse) and told me I could find pictures just as bad from infected toenails!
Lesson learned. But I am not looking at any more links. . .
I have been told that my surgeon and I will see a lot of each other for about two months. . .
I have decided to do all I can to keep those visits to a minimum.
To that end, I have been thinking through what might cause problems and working out what I hope might be solutions to those problems. . .
My kids have thrown in their two cents, Henry’s family has been wonderful and my sister Lisa came up to add her substantial contribution. . .
My sister Tamara left me with something to occupy my mind. . . something to dream about. . .
Because, for me at least, three quarters of the fun of any event is the planning and the dreaming. And I love to plan and dream!
What if your plans don’t work out the way you thought they might???
You still had the joy of the planning and dreaming!
I am doing more pre blogging with the idea that there will still be posts at least every other day.
I having been posting links this month on many of my friend’s and family’s Facebook walls but that won’t work for a scheduled post, so, if you are interested in coming on this journey with me, just bookmark me, become a follower (although I think that is only helpful if you have a google account or a blog of your own), or Follow by e-mail. (that sends any new posts straight to your email and is one of my favorite ways to follow a blog. ).
I have been asked by several people how they can comment if they do not blog or have a google account. It is very simple. Sign in as anonymous, write your comment and sign your name so everyone knows who’s commenting. Click on ‘Publish your Comment’ and you are done! Commenting from hand held devices doesn’t always work however, so you could always leave a comment on Facebook (I’d be happy to ‘friend’ you) or even e-mail me if you really wanted to. . . firstname.lastname@example.org
So. . .
I will keep blogging and when there is something to share about my journey with cancer I will do it here.
But. . . really. . . it’s more fun to focus on those things that bring joy and remind us of God’s grace and goodness, so the plan is to continue Looking for the Beautiful in the Everyday. . . my blogging theme for this month. And perhaps my theme in the months ahead. . .
I hope you join me.
**And in the spirit of Looking for the Beautiful in the Everyday. . .