Sunday, February 9, 2014

Something to share

~Updated~See end of post
Throughout the fall I lamented in my posts about my loss of mojo, about not being able to get into the mood for holiday shopping or holiday decorating.   I generally 'checked-out' for a bit.  Now I will fess up.  Nothing terrible but traumatic all the same.

In September, I had a routine body scan for skin cancer.   In October, I was told the biopsies from my face were positive for basal cell carcinoma (the good kind if there is a good kind).   In November, I meet with two surgeons for their recommendations.   Now at first discussion, everyone will tell you it is no big deal to have skin cancer removed but this will be a little more than the normal surface removal.   The terminology I have learned is something I hope most of you will never have to deal with:   clear margins, Mohs, hospitalization, forehead flap, radiation therapy, chemo-surgery, plastic surgery, reconstruction and follow up reconstruction, short term disability, etc., etc. not to mention the pre-op testing and appointments.

The removal of the skin cancer will involve three days of surgery scheduled for later this month. The first as outpatient and the second with a brief hospital stay followed by 4 to 6 weeks at home out of work.   (What a way to get some time off!) The first surgery will be to remove the bad stuff and the second surgery will be to do reconstructive surgery to my nose.   A third surgery will have to do with the disconnecting the skin grafting from where it is still connected (for blood flow) from its original location.  Gross!  I guess I could say I'm getting a nose job!

The extent of my second and third surgeries will depend on the extent of my first surgery.  I need to figure out how I will stitch while I am home - no glasses for three to four weeks!  I am sure I will have no desire for the first week or ten days.  I have a Dazor floor lamp with magnifier that I will move down from my sewing room when I am ready so I am good!

I have two great surgeons who both tell me 99% cure rate and 99% no recurrence so I am confident and have no fears about the prognosis.  One of the most difficult things was how and when to share this information with my children, co-workers and friends.   I finally told my children at Christmas - I guess I was being a mom and trying to protect them and let them remain in blissful ignorance as long as possible.  Following my last pre-op visit two weeks ago, I let everyone at work know only because coverage needed to be arranged for me while I am out.  My co-workers treated me to a fabulous lunch out this past Friday that had six of the eight officers of the company attending and a few tears shed when my boss wished me heartfelt well wishes and a joke or two about how he/they won't survive without me.

I am not fearful of the surgery nor the final outcome but there will be a period of time in between that I may be in the running for the Bride of Frankenstein!  Both the Physician's Assistant and my Primary Care Doctor have told me I won't be leaving the house for 3 weeks because I won't want to.

This is a bit much to share and I am not sharing for sympathy but rather to URGE you all to get a routine, painless, body scan....especially those of you that are blue eyed and/or blond.  Please take those fifteen minutes for the exam.  I had no visible signs, no moles, no freckles, no growth just a dry spot.  I kept putting if off and now wonder if I had gone earlier if the treatment would be simpler.  I know compared to what some of you have been through, this will be a cake walk.  I am not a vain person but I admit I have been a bit anxious for the recovery phase of this.   I did look up the procedure on the Internet I will admit to more than one day of driving to work with tears rolling down my cheeks.  Most of these fears were dashed at my pre-op visit.  I guess it is fear of the unknown.

There are many of you that I see on a regular basis so based on what I have learned about the recovery phase I needed to prepare you for what it may be.  Of course, this is all worst case scenario because until the first surgery, the extent of the second surgery is unknown, etc.

I know my Internet buddies are the best and I thank you all in advance for your support, well wishes and encouragement.  Please understand if I do not respond to your comments but please know each will touch me.  I am so glad I have had my cruise to prepare for and enjoy as a wonderful diversion pre-surgery.

Updated 2/11/14 - First procedure completed.   Painless and pain free even without the aid of meds.   Just feels like a stuff nose.  Second procedure at 3 p.m. today and start of me out of circulation.

Updated 2/14/14 - Click here.

Update 3/6/14 - Final surgery was completed on 3/4/14.   Once I get the anesthesia out of my system it will be all downhill from there.   Incision from second surgery has healed incredibly.  It gives me an idea of how quickly the incision from the third surgery will heal and I will be back to normal....and then back to work.   boo! hiss!


stitchersanon said...

Well, I gave myself three blogs to read as a treat as I am really busy and I am very, very glad I read yours.

Two years ago I had a cancer diagnosis and I know exactly what you are going through. The worse thing is telling the children because we feel so guilty! How could we as moms put them through that? So it is a very normal reaction and yes I sympathise: it is a whole new world and one I wish no one had to go through.

If you wish to email me to rant/ask questions or anything feel free. Sometimes talking to a stranger can be therapeutic...and I will forget everything thanks to my chemo addled brain, within minutes.

These guys really do know what they are talking about and because you had no signs, it sounds like it has been caught nice and early which makes all the difference. 99 percent success rate is amazing: and yes, you are in for a bit of a rocky road but you will come out the other side.

It may feel like you never will because of constants tests and visits to Drs, but I promise, there is another side to this and you can get back to normal life.

Sending you hugs from rainy Ireland xxxxxxx

Kathy C said...

Wishing you the best of luck with your surgery. I had Mohs surgery on my nose with a skin graft from my check 8 months ago. You can barely see where they did the work. It is amazing what they can do!

Magical Mysterytour said...

If there is anything to take away your stitching mojo then this is it - no wonder you were not feeling in the mood to stitch!

I hope all goes well with the op and that there is only a little to remove so you are back on your feet in no time.


Carol said...

Oh, Robin, I can only imagine how scary this time must be for you... I do hope the procedure goes perfectly and that in that healing period, you'll be able to relax, stitch, and fully regain your strength.

I'm so glad you caught it early and that it was the so-called good kind of skin cancer. Ever since a good friend died of melanoma at age 52, I've been faithful about getting my yearly body scans. Thanks for writing this post--it will surely encourage others to do the same! Best of luck to you...

Catherine said...

Sending prayers and good wishes your way!

Chris said...

I hope that the surgery is successful and we will find you cancer free in a couple of weeks.
Sending prayers your way!

Brigitte said...

All the best of luck to you. I'm sure that everything will go perfectly well and will be thinking of you these coming weeks. Wishing you strength.

Anna van Schurman said...

All best wishes for limited surgery, a speedy recovery and too few days of looking like you need to be locked away from society. Remember your real friends see you with their hearts.

Andrea said...

Wishing you all the very best. It sounds like you are positive so I'm sure everything will go well.

Terri said...

Good luck, hugs, and prayers!

Jeanne said...

I'm sorry to hear this bad news for you Robin but I know in time you're going to be back 100%. It is always scary with any medical procedures. Glad the first step went okay..and yes I'm one of those that needs to get a body scan - very fair, burn easily, and have lots of freckles etc. Hard to tell what is 'good' vs 'bad'. Take care and keep us posted on your recovery!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Oh gosh, what a difficult time for you. I am pleased the prognosis is good and they are going to do something soon. I really hope it all goes well.

I cannot imagine going without my glasses for half a day as I am so shortsighted but I am sure that is the least of your worries. I also hope they give you a nice cute nose when they rebuild it too! Excuse my flippancy but you might as well get something good out of this!
I'm sure thoughts of your cruise will indeed be a welcome distraction during your recovery time.