Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm Back!

I have been known to give this advice:  Someone can only make you feel guilty if you let them.  Right?  So, this guilt laying heavy on me must be self-imposed. During the first few months of my blogging hiatus, a few people asked me about the lapse in posts.  And, maybe I felt a little guilty.  But, eventually they stopped asking.  Blue Eyed Bride advised "don't blog if you don't want to."  So, I didn't.  After all, there was plenty to do with moving back to Muncie, developing new clients, continuing with existing clients (many out-of-state), making time to see my children and grandchildren in South Carolina and Colorado, traveling with the man of my dreams as time permitted...  You get the idea.  Just like the demands on your time.

Plus, I found myself explaining, "I have to be inspired to write and not just write for the sake of having a blog post." As with many life-bloggers, you think:  Who really cares about what's going on in my life, anyway?

But, in the last few days I have had a time of remembering why I started writing this blog in the first place.  I had MELANOMA.  And, as I searched for information on survivors (please, I prayed, let there be some survivors), I didn't find much personal information.  So, I began to share my experience with my brand of cancer, hoping that it might encourage someone.  And, if you've ever had an event in your life that focuses the interest of your family and friends on YOU, you'll understand that it's a way to provide an update to those who might care.

Eventually, I wandered off into some other topics because I was clear of melanoma and my quarterly scans were all good. My check-ups lengthened to every four months.  So, the writing became less of a passion and more of an obligation... so I stopped.

Then, low and behold, in April I felt a tiny bb-sized lump in my inside left thigh.  Not the leg of my original melanoma site.  On the other side of my body!  We watched it for a couple of weeks, and I decided that it might be getting larger, so my doctors did an ultrasound and needle biopsy and, there it was.  Back.  Melafriekingnoma!  Since it chose to take a journey from the original site, my doctors called it "metastatic."  I chose to not call it that since the PET scan and brain MRI revealed that the rest of my body was clear.  I prefer to call it a new occurrence.

You say potato, I say patahto.  Whatever.  It was still melanoma, and it had to come out.  It did on June 2.  Quite simple compared to the first one in 2010.  Outpatient, local anesthesia, smaller incision --  about five inches and down to the muscle.  As my surgeon at IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis was closing the incision, I asked if there might be a crater in my leg since he took so much.  He kindly replied, "God blessed you and me with a little extra fat, so I'll just move a little over into the hole."  See, I knew it would come in handy.  I can think of some of my friends who would be in serious crater territory due to a severe lack of filler material.

Warning:  This is about to get graphic.  But, since you asked:

I know.  Sorry, but this is a medical update and you need to know this.  The incision is healing nicely after adding some antibiotics at end of week one when it looked a little angry.  The inside thigh is a tough place to heal; can't keep a bandage on it because when you walk it slips down around your ankle.  Add that I'm allergic to adhesive, and it just doesn't work very well.  But, it's coming along.  I'll see my oncologist in July for a discussion of the latest poisons they want to put in my body which aren't effective and just make you sick.  More on that as it happens.

So, you see, I had to write.  I was inspired.  The cancer came back and I had to let you know.  And, I had to issue a public "Thank you from the bottom of heart" to all of you who were on your knees praying for those PET scan and MRI results. Everyone from my family and close friends to casual friends and the minister at my church who anointed me with oil two days after I knew the biopsy results. Thank you to my doctors for putting up with my unending conversations on medical books we share and my skeptical reaction to new melanoma drugs. (Want some light reading?  Try "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" and "Commotion In the Blood: Life, Death and the Immune System")  I am humbled by their knowledge and passion and care they provide. Thank you to Alli, my oncology RN, who prayed before she opened the PET scan results and rushed to call me so we could high-five on the phone.  I'm so blessed and undeserving to have such loving, caring people in my life.

I feel an obligation to tell my story and share my journey.  I'm sharing it with others who are on the journey - -  my cousin Kerry, my client Dale, my friends Jim and Dave, the countless others I see when I enter the cancer center.  I'm sharing it for those who might unexpectedly find themselves on this journey.  If my experience encourages or helps or just provides information, then I am rewarded.

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will not be shaken.  Psalm 62:5-6