I'm sitting in bed tonight, about to embark on what I hope will be an "excellent adventure" to MDA in a few hours for some guidance on how to beat the beast. Two years ago today I met my surgeon, DJ Winchester. He is the kindest, most skilled surgeon ever, IMO. Of course, we all have our favorites. He saved me from myself. That day in his office two years ago, he took a look at what was on my back. He biopsied it, but in reality there was no need. It was melanoma. No doubt. The only question was whether it had spread. He performed a fine needle aspiration under my right arm. I wanted to kick him in the groin. He said he would get me on the surgery schedule next week. Really? I was really hard to psych myself up to come here...and you want me to wait til next week? He would be right back, he said. When he returned, he asked me if I was free Wednesday, two days away. He would remove the lesion on my back (which was large and would likely require a skin graft to close), then he would probably remove all the lymph nodes under my left arm and check out the ones on the right. There would be dressings, and drains, and pain...but I would get through it, he said.
Before he left me to dress, he asked whether there was anything else I needed or questions I had. I told him that my 50th birthday was a little more than 3 months away. Can you get me there, I asked? He promised me he would. He did, and what a party we had!
A few hours from now, my best friend in the world and I will head down to Houston so that I can see one of the best melanoma docs in the world. After my most recent PET scan, I am most likely looking at surgery to remove another tumor...this time from my colon. The tumor in my brain is necrotic and dying, according to my neuro-oncologist, (Thank you God!) and there was nothing new on my PET scan yesterday. That alone is something to cheer about!
I've spent a lot of time mulling over the last two years in my head. Three days after my first surgery was my sister Claudia's birthday. No way I could go anywhere...so they brought the party to me. My Jimmy, the best husband ever, never left my side. He changed dressings, and emptied drains, sat with me until I fell asleep, and drove me to every follow-up appointment. And then toward the end of August, the Saturday night before I started my yearlong course of Interferon, a whole lot of important people to me partied it up at a local bar because we all knew it would be a long year. It was a rough night, to say the least. I lost a flip flop that night. One of my friends found it, earning me the nickname of Cinderella! A couple of months after that, my family threw me the best 50th birthday party ever! All my friends, old and new, were there, and my family...including my niece Sydney, who I got to meet for the first time. What a night!
There have been way too many doctor appointments to count, far too many scans, lots of sleepless nights, a few biopsies courtesy of my dermatologist, and three surgeries. While I would gladly give up the melanoma, I would never give up what I've learned, the people I've met, and the love I've felt when facing hard times. My family and friends have been there for me no matter what, and so have my new friends...my melahomies, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
More to come from Houston. Love to all.