As the title says this blog is one man’s effort to make sense out of his journey fighting melanoma. I have enjoyed reading some of my fellow melanoma warriors’ blogs and thought it might be an interesting way to share what this journey has been like for me. If you find this interesting great, if not that’s great also. Selfishly this is more about me getting this out and moving on from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor.

Let’s clear up a few things. Yes, I know how to use spell check and no I don’t always use it. I majored in accounting, not english. I have always been a below average writer, which is why I find the therapeutic value of doing this surprising. I think for this blog to make any sense you pretty much have to go to the archive and start from the beginning which is titled “Life Is Good”

I am not a doctor or medial professional of any type. My blog is not endorsed by any medical professional or facility mentioned in it. Every decision I have made about my care was done after careful consultation with my medical team. Decisions I have made were right for me but should not in any instance be considered right for anybody else. I don't recommend taking medical advice from an accountant.

Key West

Key West

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meet The Oncologist

The next few weeks seemed to fly by and a lot was happening, and I was still traveling for work.  My Oncologist is Dr. D. He is a great guy and very patient with me.  I don’t care if I ask him 100 questions he takes his time and is always willing to spend as much time with me as I want and I never feel like he is trying to run me out of his office.  I would go home and Google all these melanoma studies and treatments.  On my next visit I would ask him questions about what I had read and we have had some great discussions and I have always felt he was direct and honest with me about my situation.  On my first visit he scheduled me for my first PET scan and told me that this was very important as it would show if the cancer had spread to any of my body organs.  The worse part of the PET scan is the shot you get beforehand.  The tech who gives you the shot is wearing a led apron and special gloves and a face shield.  The syringe is encased in led to limit the radiation exposure for all involved.  I think it is ironic that the tech dressed in led, takes the syringe encased in led, and shoots this crap into my veins.  Just seems wrong.  They made me sit in a dark room for an hour I think while this stuff worked through my system and then do the PET scan which although boring not much of an event.  A week later I saw Dr. Davidners number on my caller id.  I answered it and immediately knew it was good news.  He sounded really chipper and happy and gave me the good news that there was no sign of cancer having spread to any of my vital organs.  It wasn’t until I got off the phone that I thought of why he sounded so happy.  Here is a guy who has to give people the worse news imaginable every day.  I could tell he enjoyed giving me good news god knows I enjoyed hearing it. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

But Isn’t That A Cancer Doctor?

As I waited for the call from Dr. G on my lab results I must admit I had done a little Google research on melanoma.  What I saw was scary and there was no way I had this disease.  I would feel sick, it would look worse; I would have a family history…..  There was just no way I had cancer, let alone this especially deadly form of it.  This journey has been marked with a lot of moments I will never forget and I imagine most cancer patients can tell you when and where they were when they got the news.  I knew that there was something wrong as soon as I heard Dr. G on the phone.  His playful joking demeanor was gone and he had a sound of concern in his voice.  He gave me the news and my head just started spinning.  The mole had indeed tested positive for Melanoma and it was much thicker than he thought.  It was nearly 4 mm thick, ulcerated, and some other stuff that was all bad news.  He said he had taken the liberty of calling an oncologist for me and discussed my case with him.  He said I needed to call and make an appointment asap.  At this point I said to him “But isn’t that a cancer Dr” as if I still couldn’t process what was happening.  The next thing I did was phone my older sister and I gave her the news.  I was so upset and to be honest terrified.  I still didn’t know much about Melanoma but what I did know was that the results of my lab test indicated that there was a very high chance that cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes and possibly my body organs.  The average life expectancy for a melanoma patient once it spreads to your body organs is about 8 months and it is fatal nearly 100% of the time at that point.  I can still remember hearing my her voice on the other end of the phone as I was losing it.  She kept it together and her voice was so soothing and reassuring.  She told me it was ok to be scared and that it was going to be ok.  She was going to be there for me and we would just take it one Dr appointment at a time.  That is the moment that I will already remember from that day.  Family is everything.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Doctor Visits Begin

Upton returning home I noticed that this mole on my chest was starting to discharge some fluid and seemed to have gotten bigger and darker. I had no idea what melanoma was or looked like but this thing was leaving stains on my undershirts so I figured I needed to do something about it.  I called a local doctor and made an appointment and I just figured he was going to slice this thing off of me and that would be it. I hadn’t seen a Dr. in over 10 years (stupid) so I did not know this guy at all. Before I even got my shirt off his nurse asked me if I had a history of skin cancer in my family.  I told her to my knowledge no and she left.  Dr. M came in and looked at it and asked me the same question.  At this point I am getting a little freaked out but still waiting for him to grab a scalpel and cut this thing off of me so I can go on with my day. Dr. M comes back in and tells me this thing does indeed need to come off but he can’t do it and suggest a plastic surgeon for me to go and see.  Well this is where I got a little lucky.  My older sister once worked for a plastic surgeon in Kansas City so I called her and she got me an appointment to see him.   A week later I went to see Dr. G at about 4:00 on a Thursday afternoon.  At 6:30 the next morning I was checking in at the surgery center to have it removed.  I later found out that he was leaving later that morning for Romania to do some work for a charity and had got me in before his flight.  After removing the mole he tells me the frozen section didn’t look good but it would be sent off to a lab for testing and he would let me know when he returned what they found.  He said not to worry because he felt he got it all and he didn’t think I had anything to worry about.  A quick note about Dr. G.  He is the nicest man.  He got me in before his trip on about 14 hrs notice and called me the day he got back in town with the results from the Pathologist.  He followed my case for some time and still gets updates from my Oncologist.