Many of you know that the beginning of March usually brings a birthday list of the 34, or whatever age I am becoming, things to do over the course of that aged year. This year it was absent as March came in like a lion for us And knocked us off our feet.
It all started back in February, though if I’m being completely honest further back than that, with a mole. A mole the size of a dime about 2 inches from knee on my left thigh. It was starting to change a bit. It was getting puffier, scaly, it would bleed if I scratched it and when I hid it with a band aide it would leave a mark on the band aide once it came off.
When I was able to get in to see my doctor we made the decision to remove it and took care of it later that week. It was sent to pathology as is the practice now. After a week of not hearing, I put it out of my mind. Then one Friday I got to school and had a lot of missed calls on my cell phone- naturally it was an evening when I should have turned around to get the phone once I realized I had forgotten it. The message simply said that the pathology report came back and that she was sorry and that it was melanoma. To be honest, I didn’t know what that meant. I knew in my heart it wasn’t good but I didn’t really know what it meant. Of course I turned immediately to google (not my best decision I know) discovering that it was a form of skin cancer and not necessarily a good kind. I phoned Nate immediately, crying as I tried to tell him what I had found out, him trying to calm me down as students were entering my room for a rehearsal. I made the decision to keep it to myself until I knew more, as I said I had only been told it was melanoma there was still a lot to find out like what stage it was in and what the next steps where. I didn’t want to worry anyone yet as I only knew what it was and that I was heading for an appointment with a surgeon.
I had my appointment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre on March 7, less than a week after my 35 birthday, hence why there is no list- my mind hasn’t been in a place to put one together quite yet, it’s been a bit occupied. Anyways, I met my surgeon who would be removing more of the infected area and had a once over to make sure there wasn’t any other areas I needed to be concerned with. As the appointment progressed I learned more about the issue. I tried to think back to the last time my upper knee/thigh saw sun – as sun exposure and burns are a leading cause of melanoma. It was being put at a higher stage than I had thought it would be. Walking in I thought it might be a stage II and maybe one of the sub levels, but alas I was greeted with a stage IIIb. I nearly choked on my tongue. The doctor told me though that they couldn’t be 100% sure because of the way the original biopsy was done, which meant a bigger and deeper removal of the infected area and the removal of some lymph nodes for testing. I saw that as some optimism.
I received my call about a week later that the surgery had been scheduled for March 29 with the lymph node mapping on March 28.
My surgery was a week ago. I’ve been at home now since the 29th as it is a day surgery, it amazes me that it can be done in a day. I’ve been resting and recovering and watching a lot of Netflix. The surgery went well and the pain and discomfort have been decreasing every day. Each day without pain medication is a victory for me, especially because it is a day without dizziness. Each day I am able to do more things, like get out of bed, get on and off the couch, go to the bathroom by myself, get something to eat, and be in positions other than being horizontal. Though today I discovered I can’t quite get dressed all by myself yet as I cannot bend down enough to put on my left sock due to where the lymph node incision is.
This has been made easier because of our amazing support system that has come around us and been there for us. Ella has been taken care of and loved by her Mama and Pa (grandparents). We have been cared for by our friends and family with meals lovingly prepared, messages, cards, flowers, phone calls, care packages and visits. People came around us that we weren’t expecting and have been so supportive and caring. Our church has been such a support for us with prayer and meals and phone calls. The love we have been shown by all of these folks is more than I ever imagined, that is the silver lining in all if this, and I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank them enough.
It isn’t over yet. We find out on Thursday if the surgery got it all or if it has spread- the lymph nodes will tell them that. Fear sometimes creeps in and takes hold of me when I think about the possible results. I want it to be finished. I’m praying for it to be finished.