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Them’s the Breaks

May 2, 2012

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. If you are a Facebook follower you may have also noticed a few posts about cancer and melanoma and lymph nodes and frustration and prayer.

I have written quite a few posts about what is going on but have not posted them for a couple of reasons. First, it made it feel too real and I am really leaning toward the ostrich approach to dealing with this whole mess—head. Buried. Deep. In. Sand. Second, there has just been so much unknown that I didn’t want to post stuff about the big bad potential and then it be out there and then this little spot be just that—a little spot. Third, I don’t want this blog to be a place where I just come to vent, whine, mope, moan. I want to bring solution, opportunity, options, or at very least articulate questions. I have had none of those things in the past month.

But, because things are getting very involved around here and because it is what is going on with me and because I think this may help me to process all of the swirly mess that is my brain right now, I am going to start posting about my melanoma.

So here goes…I have melanoma. I had a new mole last May that I chalked up to a pregnancy granuloma which is completely common and completely normal. I did not think much about it until I started back to work this year and noticed when I cut it shaving that it had gotten significantly raised and wouldn’t stop bleeding. I was still lazy about getting it removed because I was busy with work, the kids, getting into a new groove, I didn’t know a good dermatologist. A whole bunch of crap excuses. Partly, I was afraid. I am a nurse, I am not stupid, and I knew the thing was WRONG!

I work around a lot of nurses with a wide variation of experiences and knowledge. One of them walked up behind me and saw the thing hanging out on the back of my leg and told me to go see a dermatologist. Okay, I said. I know I really need to do that. A couple days later she walked up behind me again. Have you made an appointment? She said. I started to tell her something else in the way of excuse when another co-worker walked up. Look at that thing! The first one said. I have a really great dermatologist, the second one said. She took a mole off my arm that turned out to be a melanoma, she said. I will email you her contact info, she said. Ten minutes later it was in my inbox. Twelve minutes later a voice was coming to me from beyond (beyond the horizon of my cubicle, that is) asking me when my appointment was. I stopped what I was doing, got on the phone and made an appointment for the next week.

On Thursday I went to the dermatologist and had a mole sliced off. On Friday I went to my annual GYN visit. On Sunday, I had my birthday. On Monday, I got a call from the doctor’s office. Not just from the doctor’s office, from the doctor. If you have never gotten a call from the doctor and only from the doctor’s office, you should know there is a significant difference in the information that is relayed. She asked me if I could come into the office today. Nope, I said. Just tell me now. I know what you are going to say. She said it is melanoma and it is aggressive and it needs additional treatment as soon as possible. Did I want to call the oncology surgeon myself or could the office do that for me in hopes that I could get in as soon as possible? Please, by all means call. The sooner the better. I called my husband to tell him what was going on and while I was on the phone with him the doctor’s office called back with a surgical appointment. If you have ever had much dealing with a doctor’s office, you know that expediency is not their particular strong suit. The urgency was frightening.

Chris said head home. I will meet you there.

Words, people. Words are powerful. I am not talking about the sticks and stones school rhyme sort of thing. I am talking about living, breathing things that don’t die and don’t go away and get stuck in the creepy corners of the back of your mind and feed off anything that comes in their path. Words are not nothing. This is a skin cancer, cancer yes, but they slice the thing off, you get a little more vigilant with sunscreen and you move on. Right? Right. Except not always. Enter the words. Words spoken to me years ago, flippantly, with no expectation to do anything other than ease my mind and her discomfort. I hear over and over in my head—People don’t die of cervical cancer anymore, it is hardly worth worrying about. Enter skin cancer—people don’t die of moles. It is hardly worth worrying about. Right? Except my mother was dead in less than two years time. I don’t want to die.

And so begins my struggle. My battle. For my mind and my body—my life. I will fill in more details with all of the interim fun and exciting experiences—it gets really snarky with certified letters from fired doctors and super nice people who just keeping cropping up in our path, but here is the current state of affairs:

(In the form of a list, cause some things will never change)
1. I have a moderately aggressive form of melanoma that I have had removed.
2. I have had the initial lymph node biopsy and it has come back positive for melanoma
3. I have a suspicious 1.2 centimeter nodule in my lung that due to my positive lymph nodes has become more than mildly suspicious
4. The location of my mole excision (just above my Achilles tendon) has required a plastic surgery intervention and on follow up is only “moderately pleasing” due to some necrotic tissue.
5. I am, even this very moment, being scheduled for a full body PET scan and MRI of my brain. I will not be making jokes about proof that it is really there
6. It appears that I will be having a lung wedge resection and a radical lymph node resection in the next several weeks when I have had a little more recovery time from the initial surgery
7. Chemotherapy is in my future. Standard of care (more on that later) is a year of Interferon therapy.
8. There are some clinical trials going on that I am eligible for that may somewhat alter the above course or not. It is too early to tell.
9. Beach week is 52 days away, come hell or high water.

Them’s the breaks folks.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Angela Altman permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:07 pm

    Oh, Mareeka! I WILL be praying for you! Fight, girl – fight like a girl!

  2. May 2, 2012 9:42 pm

    I just saw this blog. I am praying for complete healing for your body. In the sweet name of Jesus. Love you. Psalm 118:17

  3. Jeanne permalink
    May 2, 2012 10:23 pm

    I love you!!!

  4. Hannah permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:18 am

    Long live beach week!

  5. Shelley permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:47 am

    I feel even farther away than ever – which I guess technically we are – but Mareeka, I am sending you a very big, tight, bear hug sweet girl! We love you and will do everything in our power to help you any way; while constantly working with Him for you in every way, every day. I LOVE YOU!!!

  6. Mary permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:09 am

    I promise to pray…and not just say I will. Heart heavy for you. My hope high for you!

  7. Patty Parish permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:46 am

    I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) Praying for the peace of God to fill you and the healing power of Jesus to completely touch you – body, mind and soul! May complete healing being your portion Mareeka!

  8. Stacey Rowe permalink
    May 3, 2012 3:49 am

    I just read this and I am so sorry to hear that you’re going through so much. Please know that you and Chris will be in my prayers. If there is anything more that I can do, please let me know. You are one of the strongest women I’ve ever known-if anyone can give this monster a run for its money-it’s you! Stay strong and positive. I love you ❤

  9. May 3, 2012 11:05 am

    I just read your blog. I am not sure how to keep getting it but I will get some one to help me. I want to know everything so that I can pray for you. God has gifted you to write and I expect to see you a published writer. I promise I will be praying every day. You and Hanna were among our favorite kids. I will never forget how kind you were to Frank. You made him happy. Hang in there and know that I am on your side in this battle.

  10. Treasa Beane permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:15 pm

    I am praying for you !!! The Lord has plan’s for you so keep fighting!! Jeremiah 29:11

  11. May 3, 2012 3:03 pm

    Mareeka, You are in my thoughts and prayers. You are an amazing strong young woman and thanks for sharing. god bless you, Chris, and your children.

  12. Debbie Metcalf permalink
    May 3, 2012 9:25 pm

    Mareeka, I’m just gonna say it; damn Cancer!!! Jim and I are at MD Anderson and his recovery is going good……no further evidence of cancer. We have and continue to pray for you. I wish you the best of luck dealing with this monster and please know that we are cheering for you. It’s not supposed to be this way is it. Father above, you know the struggles Mareeka is facing and you already know what the outcome is going to be. In the name of Jesus, I ask for your divine intervention. In His name I pray, Amen.

  13. Cynthia Williams permalink
    May 4, 2012 1:26 am

    Mareeka, I had no clue that all this was going on. I am saying prayers right now! Very serious when I say, let me know how I can help. I, along with your other CHS friends, can bring meals to hubby and kids and can babysit if needed. Just let us know. You need to use your support systems now and don’t be shy about asking! You are way too strong for all this and will beat it! Lots of love going your way!

  14. Jennifer permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:04 pm

    Praying for you everyday!!!

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