2nd round of results are in …

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Cancer sucks. 

Alright so I was probably celebrating a cancer free diagnosis early.

I recognized the missed call phone number and my heart sank.

I’m not sure why I wasn’t waiting for a call this time. Maybe I was just so sure it was gone I didn’t think they would even need to call.

It took me by surprise.

I carefully dialed the number and was transferred to a nurse. It seemed like forever in silence waiting on hold.

card-melanoma-cancer-awareness
Melanoma Awareness 

I had no idea I was holding my breath until she said the pathology results came back as a scar. All clear for the original Melanoma! I let out a dramatic breath and smiled as big as I probably ever have. I thanked her for her time and said something about it being great news.

It is great news.

The best news.

It almost makes the pain and bruising a forgotten memory. Almost.

Next step: Stitch removal!

All clear! (woop! woop!)

 

Melanoma got it’s ass kicked today and I’ve got 28 stitches to prove it. 

I am home from my 2nd out patient surgery to remove melanoma, the deadly skin cancer from my shoulder. 

It’s been a day so far. 

My anxiety has been out of control, waiting for this last round of flesh removal. Nightmares and mood swings and desperate conversations better saved for when you aren’t fresh out of a cancer diagnosis have been my reality for the last 2 weeks. 

First thing this morning my first round of stitches were removed and the area around the initial incision was removed … just to be safe. 

The doctor was amazing, literally the best of the best and he made me feel totally at ease after the initial honesty session. 

Our talk went something like this:

“This looks like it healed up really well. I didn’t think I would see you back in here, I didn’t want to tell you when you were here but I was sure we would have to send you out.” 

He looks me straight in the eyes and continues this heart to heart …

“I was sure you would need a lymph node check, and that means injecting a dye around the area and doing exploratory surgery. That would mean a lot of scarring. I wanted to spare you an initial large one.”

So … he thought for sure it had grown to a stage of disaster and wanted to spare me the fear and extra pain of a larger, deeper incision.  

He didn’t want to scare me by telling me when he removed the spot … the spot he thought for sure would be sending me straight to the cancer specialist. He didn’t want to tell me right away.

At this point I’m glad he didn’t. I was already a mess. I can’t imagine if he had told me honestly what he thought in the beginning.

I don’t care about the pain or the scar. I care about being prepped for possible death.

My belly flopped like a fish out of water. I started to see spots and tried desperately to breath deeply and stay calm, at least on the outside. 

He had me hop onto the medical table and began the round of local anesthetic. This was painful in itself, a freshly unstiched incision surrounded by stinging injections. Once complete I took position face down into the pillow and waited for the final procedure to be over. 

I could feel the tugging and dabbing, I could smell the cauterization and hear the slight sound of sizzle next to my face. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time.

 The doctor joked about how many stitches I wanted, he said he aimed to please. We laughed when I admitted I wanted enough to look super bad ass … he said it would be no problem 10 on the underside and 18 on the top. 

28 stitches. 

All mine in honor of my battle. I’ll take them. So much better than any alternative. 

I have a chest x-ray, stick removal and a date in 3 months for a body check in my future. 

He said he wouldn’t try to tell me to stay out of the sun but that I should be careful and always wear sunscreen. My diagnosis make it very likely I will need to have other spots removed. 

Today though all I need to do is be still. The pain is incredible. It’s a mix of burning and deep throbbing if I move my arm at all. I want to sleep but I’m terrified I’ll hurt myself. 

I think I’ll take advantage of this prescription and let it all sort itself out.

 

… and the results are in.

card-melanoma-cancer-awarenessIt has now been 6 days of torture.

Myself, my wife and our dear friends have all been waiting patiently and sometimes impatiently for the results of my biopsy. I had been given an initial diagnosis of melanoma, the deadly skin cancer who isn’t usually content to just hang out on the top layers of skin.

Today I learned that the initial diagnosis was correct, melanoma. That wasn’t much for new news but I would have been ecstatic had they been wrong. No such luck.

Here is the good part:  I need only go back for one more in-office surgery and then  I can buy myself a cancer survivor T-Shirt as a souvenir.

I can wear it to cover the ginormous scar I will be sporting. A battle wound from an ordeal which I survived.

In a week from today I will be back under the knife followed by a couple days of Netflix to watch while I recover.

I should  have plenty of time to write about  prevention, diagnosis and the importance of self-care. Plenty of time to thank people for reaching out with love and support and the strength to be brave while I waited.

I was super lucky and I am extremely grateful for early enough detection.

I made myself think of what a stage 4 diagnosis could mean.

I made myself face the fact that I could die

I made promises I probably won’t keep if I could just get a pass on this one thing.

  • I promised to stay out of the sun. I love the sun. I will promise now not to abuse my skin in the sun.
  • I promised to take better care of myself. I like to be lazy and I love wings and beer. I will still partake in shenanigans but I will go to the gym more regularly. Uhh … as soon as my stitches are out.
  • I promised to be kinder. I am trying really hard with this. First step? Mocking people in my head instead of out loud. I have faith in me I can minimize my facial expressions soon.

 

My scar may be visible but at least there are no thought bubbles over my head.

I think that’s the real gift here. You are welcome.

 

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