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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

More Surgery and Spreading The Joy Around

Like most families mine has not been free from the touch of cancer.  My mother has lost 5 sisters to breast cancer and I have always supported cancer charities when I could as a result.  Having to call my brother and other sister with this news was difficult, calling my mother and father was hell.  I just felt like I was spreading my misery to other people.  Everybody was very supportive and said all the right things but I know my news was concerning and I had most likely scared everybody and caused them stress they really didn’t need.  Surgery day came and this time the NG had some additional company.  Not only was my sister there, but my mom and dad had come up for the night before and went to the hospital the morning of my surgery.  I really don’t have a lot of memories of that day.  I guess it’s the anesthesia but I have almost no memory of the time before surgery and again my first memory after surgery is seeing the NGs smiling face as I was trying to figure out where the hell I was and what had happened to me.  I remember the family coming back to see me post surgery and then I remember being wheeled back out to car for the ride home.  That’s pretty much it until the next day.  Post surgery Dr. M went out to talk to the family and gave them the low down and answered a bunch of questions from my folks.  He was very patient with them and answered all their questions.  He always had a med student with him and I hope that she paid attention to his bedside manner.  He is a brilliant man and by all accounts one of the top surgeons in the city, but what I will always remember is how willing he was to talk to me and answer my questions.  The next morning me and the NG  both got a big shock when we went to change the dressing under my arm.  I had a drain which I expected but when the NG removed the dressing she gasped audibly and I could see a look of shock on her face.  Now when a RN who has worked the ER for most of her career gasps you have done something.  Nobody had warned that after surgery I would have a hole where my armpit used to be.  By a hole I mean a piece of flesh was gone about the size of a grapefruit.  It wasn’t that big a deal but it would have been nice to have been warned.  The recovery from this surgery was a little slow and still to this day you could drive a fork into my armpit and I wouldn’t feel it.  The hole has filled in a little but it will never be 100%.  A week later I got the fateful call about lab results and this time it was great news.  All the nodes tested negative for melanoma and I was as best they could tell cancer free at this point.  People have asked me if I am sorry I had that surgery done and the answer is absolutely not.  As cancer patients we can only make decisions about our treatment and care based on what we know at the time.  There are no do over’s in this battle.  It was the only way I would know if the cancer was all gone and if I had to do it again I would make the same choice.  Luckily for me the NG had a good friend who was a physical therapist and she gave me some exercises to do that would help my arm recover.  Two weeks post surgery I had my drain removed and about a month post surgery I had about 80% of my range of motion back in my arm.  I have another nasty scar from the battle but other than that have healed up nicely.  I have to wear a compression sleeve on my left arm when I fly and have to always be on the lookout for Lymphedema but so far no real issues.  My left arm is off limits for shots, IVs, and blood pressure test.  I think I am supposed to avoid hot tubs as well which is going to be difficult.  Most melanoma patients have had this or a similar procedure done.  I consider myself lucky that it wasn’t my neck or groin area and extremely fortunate that the only cancer I had was microscopic and only in one lymph node.  My best wishes to everybody who received much worse results to this test than I. I know how lucky I am.  This battle is never really over as I am learning.