Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Skin cancer sucks...but it could be worse

It all started with an ugly mole, just above my ankle. I hated everything about the mole. The color, the shape, the texture and every time I shaved my legs I hated it just a little bit more. I had decided that I was going to get the thing removed and luckily I had a physical coming up. So when the Doctor asked, "is their anything that you are worried about?" I showed him the mole and asked if it could be removed, and the appointment was set for a couple weeks later.

10/24//2012 - Wednesday - I should of known from the start that it wasn't a normal mole. That day I was having him remove 4 moles. 4 shots of a local anesthesia to numb my skin and man did it hurt when he numbed "the mole." Looking back little red flags are all over place. After he removed all 4 moles my Doctor told me that he was going to send them to be tested. Normal stuff. He said I should be hearing from them sometime next week about the results.

10/26/2012 - Friday - My phone rang and I knew it was bad news. It was the doctors office and it had only been TWO DAYS!! My Doctors nurse told me that my results had come back showing that I had some abnormalities. That is not a good word. She wanted me in the Doctors office first thing Monday morning. I could not believe she was actually going to make me wait 3 days to hear what my abnormalities were. I mean at the very least she could of just called Monday morning and spared my weekend.

10/29/2012 - Monday - Somehow we made it through the weekend. You know that saying, "just try to think of something else" yeah that doesn't actually work. Sean and I arrived at the doctors office bright and early. Sean had read some stuff about skin cancer over the weekend. I couldn't. Sean told me that we were hoping to hear the word Basal skin cancer, not Melanoma. But as luck would have it, the doctor reported, almost immediately, that my test results showed a Melanoma skin cancer. He felt that we had caught it very early. He explained that if your Melanoma is 2 mm deep it will have likely entered your lymph system. Bad news. When he removed my mole he went 0.4 mm deep and the results showed that the very bottom layer of tissue was clean of cancer. Good news. It wasn't deep. He told me a lot of other stuff that day as well. Like to call all my siblings and have them make appointments to go in and get any sketchy moles removed, because we have the same skin type, meaning they are more susceptible. Now I get to throw that on my brothers and sister. Then he referred me on to a surgical oncologist at IMC. So as soon as we were in the car I was making calls to get an appointment set up as quickly as possible. I wanted to know exactly what we were dealing with as soon as possible. Well they couldn't see us for one week. Seriously. They really didn't want me to get any sleep.

11/5/2012 - Monday - Sean and I met with Dr. Hyngstrom a surgical oncologist at IMC's Melanoma Center. He did a full body scan, looking at all of my other moles. He asked about my "tanning history." Not much to report. I haven't had any bad sun burns and in all honesty I went to a tanning bed 4 times in the last ten years. When I was a teen, well that is another story, but the mole has only been around for 2-3 years so he wasn't concerned about that. He explained that some people just have a skin type that is more susceptible to the harmful rays and I guess that would be me. Then we talked more in depth about my test results. He declared my Melanoma to be a type 1A. VERY GOOD NEWS. He told us that what he wanted to do was to go in and remove more tissue around "the site" and also test my lymph nodes to make sure they are free of the cancer. An hour later we had thoroughly talked through every question we could think of.   Kind of boring stuff, so I won't bore you with it. We had set the surgery date and now all I could do was wait some more :(

Even the scab was ugly. 

11/20/2012 - Tuesday - Before I went in for surgery Dr. Hyngstrom wanted me to get a "Lymph mapping" done. So Tuesday morning I found myself in a chair getting 4 shots, around the site, of some radioactive tracer stuff that felt like liquid fire. (Sean was hoping I would turn into a SUPER-HERO). Not fun. Then came the big X-ray machine. We could watch the tracer as it moved up my leg through my lymph system. Then they marked where the tracer stopped, showing the doctor where to cut me up the next day.

11/21/2012 - The big day was finally here. After filling out my medical history for the millionth time, and putting on my scrubs and compression socks I was trying not to be nervous. But then they pulled out the needle for the IV and reality set in. I tried to think of the positive. One surgery and this could all be done. Please let it be done. They prep me, ask the same medical history questions a million more times, send Sean to the waiting room and cart me into the OR.  I am so glad that all I had to do was sleep. Poor Sean. We were told that I would be in the OR for about 2 hours. It was 4 hours. To follow the drainage path of the lymph system they had shot me full of blue dye, and well the blue dye (along with the X-rays from the day before) showed that some of the drainage spots were behind my abdominal wall. Yep they had to cut through my abs; my rock hard abs! ;) So it took a little longer that expected. After I woke up and got over a severe bout of nausea they released me and sent me home, with very specific instructions. I cannot lift anything over ten pounds for a few weeks, like say, Emmett. That is gonna be interesting.

11/25/2012 - The recovery hasn't been horrible. Kind of like my C-section. Emmett still doesn't understand why I can't pick him up. I have tried to sit down and let others do everything for me, but it is so much easier said than done.

 Jack likes to refer to the incision on my leg as moms "Frankenstein Owie."( FYI the reason he stitched it up this way was in case the pathology report showed that we need to go in for more tissue.) And no, I will not show you the incision he made for the lymph removal on my "upper thigh," that would just be embarrassing :)

11/27/2012 - Early Tuesday Morning (1 AM) - so now here I sit, can't sleep, due to the waiting for this round of pathology reports. Hoping that they show I am cancer free, and all I will have to do is visit a dermatologist and my oncologist on a very frequent basis for the rest of my life. I am also feeling very blessed for the massive support that I have been receiving through my family and friends, through their fasting, prayers and words of encouragement. I  feel very blessed that if this surgery did get it all, and that is it, then I had it easy. So much easier than so many others.

To summarize: Melanoma skin cancer, Stage 1A, I hurt like crazy because of my Frankenstein Owie, good news so far.

Oh and I NEVER want to hear of any of you going to a tanning bed!!! It's just not worth it!!!

My next appointment is Thursday the 29th. I will update you with the results as soon as I get them!!


Claire said...

Sarah I am so sorry you have to go through this. It makes my stomach turn. I hope you hear good news on thursday...please let us all know. We love you and are praying for you!

Martha said...

Sarah you are so BRAVE! You are handling all of this like a champ. I wish I could be in Utah to help you with the day to day tasks. I promise I will never tan again and go check out moles. Yikes. I will be hoping and praying that you will be cancer free and on the recovery. I love you and miss your whole family, I hope we can all get together around Christmas.

Jer, Er and kids said...

Sarah you are definitely in our thoughts and prayers...I hope Thursday brings good news! I am sorry you have had to go through all this what a rough couple months! Take care and we are only a few minutes away if you need anything!

molly said...

Sarah, we love you and are praying for you! Sorry about all the waiting and lack of sleep. Like Martha said, I wish I lived closer to help you out!

Minhvan Brimhall said...

Oh my sweet friend, this really stinks. Our love and prayers are with you and your cute family. You know where to find me if you need a listening ear or a babysitter. Hoping for the best on Thursday!

Corie Hawks said...

I promise I will never get a tan again! You handled this all beautifully and I appreciate you being so open about your experience so we can understand what you went through. Good luck with all your follow-ups! We love you!