I thought I might give this blog thing a try. I think it's a nice way to tell my story as we go & a way for family & friends to stay in the loop as events occur. The event prompting this blog is my diagnosis last September of Metastatic Malignant Melanoma. I share a lot on Facebook but some of my very dear friends & family are not on Facebook. I hope that this turns out to be an account of my journey in life and not just an account of the Melanoma in my life.
This time last summer I was noticing discomfort in my left side while just sitting & watching T.V. After ignoring it for a while I decided it wasn't going to go away on it's own. Primary Dr. sent me for a CT scan & before I even returned home after the appointment she was calling me on my cell phone. I knew that wasn't a good sign. She said that I have a large mass on my left side near my adrenal gland. So, off to a surgeon I went. I could tell this wasn't anything good because the surgeon & his two residents stared at my scans, speechless for quite a while. With both of my parents having died from cancer this happening in my life wasn't too much of a shocker. I had had uterine cancer about seven years earlier. That time I was pretty scared because my twins were only three years old & my daughter was ten & my oldest son was thirteen. That cancer was contained to my uterus, so getting a complete hysterectomy took care of it. Big sigh of relief.
So this time my 6cm tumor was in the soft tissue near the adrenal gland. Surgery was scheduled for a couple of weeks later. It turned out to be a very long surgery and left me with about a 12" scar under my left breast. I was in ICU for several days. On day three post-op the surgeon came in and just sort of blurted out that he had received the path report and that I have malignant melanoma. I said okay and he didn't say too much more after that. I had to let that sink in, then I called my family to come for moral support. I was there alone when I got the news because it was about 7:00 A.M.
After being released from the hospital I scrambled to get everything together to go to M.D. Anderson, world renowned cancer center here in Houston. I was scanned from head to toe and searched repeatedly to try to find the primary site of this Melanoma. No primary site has ever been found. I, along with all of my doctors, find this very frustrating. I was declared Stage IV because the Melanoma had become internal. On initial scans (my PET scan) I had five suspicious areas for Melanoma, or hot spots. Four of the areas have since been cleared of suspicion and only a couple of small nodules in my lungs were left. Those had not grown any on my scans 3 months ago. So, my current treatment is no treatment, other than getting scanned every 3 months. This lack of treatment for cancer really scared me at first. No chemo, nothing to slow it down? My oncologist, Dr. Kim, has assured us that this is the protocol for now. So we watch & wait. I have learned through research & other's experiences that this is how it goes. The outward appearance of someone (me) with Stage IV Melanoma can really fool you. I do not act or appear sick & in reality that is the case. Unfortunately I have this monster inside me that can rear it's ugly head at any time.
So now I am trying to learn how to process this information & learn how to live life to the fullest, knowing that things can change very quickly. I feel like I do this pretty well. I think about Melanoma all of the time but I am trying to train myself to just breathe & live. I have a very deep & strong faith in God. So, of course it's easier for me to give God the burden that I can't carry alone. It's absolutely what sees me through.
I am not one to be a sun bather or tanner, not by a long shot. So it is pretty crazy that I have this cancer. The fact that we never found a primary even made me angry. But if I have to find a silver lining, it is the fact that I had no evidence of disease on last scans and that I have a very real reminder every single day to love completely and deeply. That is actually a gift.
Because of some recent dizzy spells I will have a brain MRI this Wednesday. I hope to report to you that it was nothing, when next I blog!