Thursday, 20 August 2015

Cancer is a Bitch 4 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I'm starting to wonder if I will have any bits left ?  

Three weeks ago I had minor surgery ; after I saw my Oncology (Breast and Sarcoma) specialist in Sydney 2 months ago and he recommended I have a suspicious lesion (mole) removed.
Right after I sat down - he wiggled his finger at me and said 
"Come here, I want to look at that lesion on your face".

I had a sinking feeling the last two months , he would be right.
He was.

Though this time he said to see a local surgeon for removal just in case it was something to worry about. They were well acquainted with each other - Dr Z worked under him.

Fortunately, I was able to see Dr Z  quickly due a cancelled appointment , or whatever, the balls fell into the lucky slots. Private health insurance paid off and surgery was booked at his earliest convenience - Monday fortnight 27th July.

One week after surgery I went back to see his Nurse to have some stitches removed from my face and arm. I asked the receptionist if I needed an appointment to see Dr Z. She said 'he was fully booked and he could call me with the results over the phone'.

A few days later I got a phone call  from a different receptionist to give me an appointment date.
My heart started beating faster and faster. I was lost for words.

I knew her (She had Breast cancer too and I'd met her in an exercise group);  I still couldn't ask her, why ?
I explained that I couldn't make that appointment as it was while we were on holidays.She said "Hang on, I'll check ... Thursday 20th " - the day after we got back from Cairns.

Fast forward to today. No beating around the bush.
He said Unfortunately, it wasn't what he expected... I don't do things simply do I !
I've heard those words x 3 too many times.
Cancer is an almightly bitch.

The Good  

  • I'm grateful my Sydney surgeon was so vigilant and observant , besides being a Breast Cancer , and Sarcoma surgeon - he is Melanoma specialist too. He casually joked about me and his three specialities.
  • He is a Surgical Oncologist who specializes in melanoma would review my situation especially if there were any questions about the pathology or anything. Dr Z did offer if I wanted to go back to see him.
  •  The last 2 weeks have been overwhelming, on so many levels. I didn't let it stop me cramming as much fun as I could into our holiday.
  •  Monday, I am having a Hysterectomy , oh the joy. Top of my rocking chair worry list. I had bloods for cross match and hold today too. Freaking out is an understatement.
  •  DR Z is going to try to co-ordinate with Dr G to do a wide local excision (cut out more around the margin) while I'm already on the cutting table. No promises. They have the same operating day and time, at the same private hospital - it's a good starting point. Fingers crossed
  • I still have 1-2 glasses or wine in the bottle.

  • I won a mono pod (selfie stick) and a remote - what fun I'll have with this, wish I'd had it on our holiday.
  • A renewed focus on getting more out of life is what I crave.To enjoy the simple things more and to clear the way for a calmer less stressful routine ...

The Bad

  • While it is only Melanoma in situ. it's still a serious concern for my future, to me. 
  •  Yes, a wide excision (on my left cheek) and monitoring would be the only treatment. Complete skin checks every year, for the rest of my life.
  •  I only have 1-2 glasses or wine in the bottle and it's not enough.

The Ugly 
  • A bigger scar  to add to my impressive collection.
  • My glass of 1-2 glasses of wine, will only be only half full.
  •  As I explained my medical history to Dr G (the Gyno) , he asked leading questions - it was like he was questioning my 'overall prognosis' (even before this Melanoma insitu sh*+) and why ? leading questions, as to why I would bother putting myself through more surgery ... if there was no point.  
  • Awkward ; as it was , I quickly said I was currently well and active , having no reason not to follow my other Drs recommendations because I still had plenty of life left in me yet. I didn't say it quite like that though.

I'm reminded about this quote :
What if I allow myself to put the outcome in God’s hands and just live intensely in the present, absorbing and embracing life as it happens? Emilie Lemmons (RIP)
I was humbled and inspired by Emilie's words on redefining joy.In a season of comfort and while dying she taught so much. Early in her 'blogging cancer' journey she wrote ...

If there is a bright side to any of this, it's that the unimportant, superficial things in our lives have suddenly fallen away, and we are intensely focused on what remains truly important, which is each other, our family, and making the most of the time we have together now. Emilie Lemmons
The message I will take away is life is far too precious and we should ....just live intensely in the present, absorbing and embracing life as it happens. I'll let the superficial things in life go and stop sweating the small stuff. In the end will they matter.

Emilie's story reminds me of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture.

Lastly,  though I will not spend my life worrying about it (every minute of the day), I will always be on the look out for it from now on. I shouldn't have been so ignorant.

Mostly, that's going to mean being extra vigilant about skin protection and watching my current and numerous moles for change, and watching for new ones.

Carpe Diem ... Today and always I will be thankful beyond measure and vow to seize every day that I can to live well, laugh often, & love with all of my heart !