Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Melanoma Story

So there's a reason that I haven't written in awhile. A good one...I promise. I guess it's not really like the other reasons. It all goes back to February...I'm guessing...maybe longer if you go back that far. I was in zumba class with a co-worker and before class, a lady came up to me and at first I thought she was going to mention something about the shirt I was wearing. I was wearing some Westerwear (Westerville Christian Church wear) and thought for sure she was going to say that her son or daughter played in our church basketball league. What she said had my mouth about hit the floor. Not at first, of course, but once I was gone and in my car I was floored. What she told me was that she was a dermatologist and that I should really have the spot on my leg checked out. She asked if I had it long, which I did...or maybe, so I thought. You see, to be honest, I'm not sure when the spot formed. I thought I was little but as my family go back thru pictures, the spot isn't any where to be found. I told her that I had someone look at it and everything checked out OK. She smiled and said that I really needed to get in. As my friend and I later laughed at the encounter it really got me thinking. I couldn't remember who actually looked at the spot...was it my OBGYN...was it my family doctor? I couldn't remember.

I thought about it for a few weeks and then holding my breath and praying one day, I dialed the phone number to the dermatologist to make an appointment.

About 4 weeks later (it seemed like eternity) I walked thru the doors of the dermatologist with my mom to find out exactly what I had. Everyone was very nice and wanted to know all about my history and I proceeded to tell them. The doctor then came in and wanted to know all the same information that I had already told the three other people but this time around it seemed so much more important. I don't know why offices do would think they would communicate about stuff like that! Why does one have to tell the same story 4 times! Back to the story...The whole time she had this concerned look on her face that didn't give me warm fuzzies. After detailing my life history, she said that it didn't look good and that they needed to take it off that day. To my surprise my mouth said "let's do it" but my brain was thinking something entirely different. Basically, that's when I started to feel a little nervous about what I had. During the biopsy and after, my doctor talked in dept about melanoma and what to expect. She didn't even give me any inclinations that it was anything other than melanoma. Sure enough, after the biopsy, I walked out of the room to the billing department carrying my chart. In the doctors notes, she wrote "rule out Malignant Melanoma". There is black and diagnoses.

That weekend was grueling and took eternity. Nate nor I really wanted to talk about anything really long term. Everything just seemed so bleak. Saturday night at church, Nate even went up to pray and asked if I wanted to go. I, thinking he was praying for a cousin, went with him. When he proceeded to pray for me, I lost it. Up until then, I hadn't talked to God about my situation. I felt like if I actually prayed about something then it would actually happen. I certainly didn't want this to be happening to me. I didn't want this to be real. I wanted to wake up from the dream and continue on living my life. All weekend we just felt like we were walking on egg shells. I hated that feeling.

Monday eventually came but every call that came thru on my phone had my heart beating faster and faster. Which call is it going to be to give me the bad news? How bad is it going to be? It came and so did the news. I wish that I had someone there asking the questions and giving me the news face to face because I basically forgot every word that the doctor said other than "malignant melanoma". She asked which doctor I wanted to use and if I had any questions to which I responded, "I don't know." I just didn't know what to to feel...what to do next.

My doctor told me that she was referring me to a doctor at The James and that they would send me paper work about my upcoming appointment. When she said "The James" my heart just about stopped. Only people with cancer go there...looks like I'm one of those people now. I just couldn't comprehend what was going on. The one good thing that the doctor said was that she thought they caught it early enough. Even today, I'm holding on to that and hoping this is the end of it.

After changing doctors so I could get in just a tad earlier, I started to feel more at peace with things. I knew I was in good hands being at The James and the one thing that kept me going was knowing that I had a vacation scheduled. I thought that if I could have this surgery scheduled early enough so I'd be in tip top shape to head to Chicago I'd be great. I really laid all of this in God's hands and said "Have your way."

The day finally came for my consult with my surgeon and I was a little a good way. It didn't hit me though until we arrived at the OSU campus and I saw The James. Tears flooded my eyes and I willed it to not be happening. A gal from church who recently passed away came to mind and I prayed that the same wouldn't happen to me. Prayed, in faith, asking God to see me thru this. We sat in the waiting room surrounded by cancer patients, both new and and some with no know the ones. They finally called me back and I went thru the same Q & A as what I did at the dermatologist's office. Thru the course of the day, I was evaluated by 10 people, all with different responsibilities. I received two full body checks, got my blood drawn, xray, and EKG. My doctor was great and explained things to Nate and I in ways that we would understand. She was young...she was kind...she was understanding. All things I prayed for. We found out that the surgery was going to be more than just taking a little more off of my leg. It was going to be very extensive. I am to be in surgery for 3 hours and the incision is to be 8-1o inches. I'm going to have a few lymph nodes removed to see if there are caner cells present and to hopefully cause me from having the melanoma to reoccur. If the area on the back of my leg is too tight, they're going to need to do a skin graft on my back. This is the thing that I've been praying most about. If they do the graft, I'll most likely be on my stomach for 1-3 weeks recovering. If I don't need the graft I can at least be laying on both my back and stomach and the recovery won't be as hard.

Overwhelmed is one word to describe how I felt. I walked out not knowing what really happened to me. The words and pictures were all so foreign to me but at the same time so understandable.

Between now and then, a lot has transpired. I continue to have great peace about things. My doctor is amazing and we've talked a couple times on a project we've got in the works. That's another blog post that's going to be coming. I'm working, along side of The James, on a project that will definitely bring awareness to sun protection and hopefully prevent more people from getting melanoma. It's amazing how things are coming together!

I've got a great team of family and friends who are there to help me after surgery. I'm defiantly going to need them. It's going to be a long haul but God's got me on this course for a reason. If He brings me to it, He'll see me thru it! Stay tuned for how things develop on my journey. Last thing...May is melanoma awareness me a favor...rather do yourself a favor. Get in to your dermatologist and get your skin checked. Also, buy you and your family some good sunscreen. Protect yourself and your family. Cancer kills!

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