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Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Post First Surgery:
Goal: 1. Remove more skin around the original cancer spot on Walter's arm
2. Locate and remove the lymph nodes that connect to the original cancer spot
a. To see if the cancer spread to the nodes

Our Surgen Dr. Harmon was able to detect and remove three lymph nodes under my left arm. He also removed the rest of the tissue around the original tumor. Luckily for me, Dr Harmon was able to pull my skin together on my arm to avoid an open wound or worse yet a skin graft.

Initially on the operating table they sliced each node and found no cancer. However, after further testing(days later) in the labs they found 3mm of cancer on one node.

ByFeb 16th, we had to prepare ourselves for more surgery to remove the remainder of nodes in Walter's armpit while removing the tissue around the original nodes where cancer was found. We had a day to schedule all scans (to look for cancer in all of Walter's vital organs etc).

Walter: I was crushed. I was honestly hanging my hat on the results being negative. I honestly don't remember the rest of the day Tuesday. I was in quite a fog and hoping that maybe the information was wrong and it wasn't going to be cancer. Michele had a difficult time that day as well. We called my parents and they came back over that night to help us through the next few days.

Wednesday Feb 17th:
I went to go to my PET/CT scan and the machine ended up breaking down. Talk about playing with your emotions. Why would the machine break down, maybe this is a sign and I don't have to go through this anymore. So onto my post op/pre op appointment with Dr. Harmon. He said my scar was healing great and explained what I could expect for this next surgery. I still could not believe I was dealing with this issue. The labs did come back and confirm the cancer in one node. Since I was not in the mode to prolong this, I decided to go ahead with the surgery.

That night I finally broke down. I just couldn't deal with this anymore. Why was this happening and then guilt, there are others who are worse off than me and I should just suck this up and deal with it. I have become closer to God through this experience and the only way I survived the various tests etc. was through prayer. God helped me get through this process along with everyone's prayers. So thank you all again for praying for me and my family.

Thursday Feb 18th:
Second surgery. I had my final scans that morning and that afternoon I went in one more time. Dr. Harmon was able to see my nodes, which is not usually the case, so he did not have to remove as much as he thought he would. I have a drain inplace now and when I get to a certain level I can get it removed. All the scans came back negative so that is great news.

Since Friday morning I have been just sitting around and recovering from the second surgery. It is taking longer than I was hoping, but I have to keep telling myself it is ok to relax and let others help me. I have been able to finally write this down and put it out there for people to see and read. Each day is getting a little easier to handle and deal with the news and my recovery.

We had a group from our church come over on Sunday Feb 21st and do a prayer session. I have never been a part of something like that before and it was really cool. I am not one to be the center of attention or outword in my faith, but this experience is slowly changing me for the better.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers and I will post some more information in the next couple of days.

What's Next: Interferon Treatment (starting March 22) We will post more later on this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Journey

In a Nutshell:
Friday, Feb 5--Found out that Walter had Cancer
Monday, Feb 8--Saw Oncologist
Tuesday, Feb 9--Saw Surgeon
Wednesday, Feb 10--1st Surgery to create margins around original cancer & locate central lymph nodes (ended up being 3 in his armpit)
Thursday, Feb 11--had to wait for official labs to come back on central lymph nodes (details in next post)

Detailed Description Below:

On Friday the 5th Michele received a call from our primary care doctor's nurse, Julie.  She said, "Walter needs to come in today and you need to come with him"  We knew that couldn't be good news.  Ten days previously Walter had an old scar removed.  Just to be safe our Dr. (Dr. Bacon) sent it off for testing even though it didn't look like anything we should be concerned about.  Later that afternoon we received the news that is was the C word.  That's right, those three words you never want to hear from your Dr, "you have cancer.  Well I was told I have Melanoma.  Dr. Bacon and Julie (his nurse) were wonderful through this initial part of the process.  They had already arranged an appointment with an oncologist (Dr. Johnston) for that following Monday.  Even though God was amazing to help us get in quickly, that weekend was a little rough for all of us.  I felt in total shock that weekend, and it seemed like I would wake up from this dream anytime. 

That following Monday we met with Dr. Johnston.  She was great at giving us all the information we needed to get through the next couple of steps in the process.  So we started to rule out that I had stage 3 Melanoma...it could be merely stage 2.  Once again God is good because he acted quickly and helped us get into the surgeon's office that following day.  Tuesday we got into see the surgeon.  Dr. Harmon explained what he was going to do.  He was amazing at putting my mind at ease.  I had never gone through surgery before and he could tell I was a little up tight.  God again was smiling on us and the very next day there was a cancellation and we were on for surgery.     


This entire time, God brought amazing medical personnel into our lives.  All of the people at each of the offices surrounded us with kindness and hope.  We had to take Caleb with us and he was the light of the show at each office. 

Surgery Day:
I was pretty nervous, but with God's help I was able to make it through the day and Michele thought I looked cute in the gown and blue cap.  (and no, no cameras allowed so no pics)  The surgery went very well.  Dr. Harmon was able to remove the rest of the skin around the original tumor and he was able to close the area without using a skin graft or keeping the area open and having it close over time.  God was good again.  The skin is tight and I wear a sling, but I could not be happier with that outcome.  Dr. Harmon was then able to get three lymph nodes out of my left arm pit and the initial scan in the operating room showed no signs of cancer, so I was closed up and we had to wait for the results from the lab. 

The entire time our family and friends have been truly amazing to us.  We could feel your prayers, we loved you kindness and willingness to help in any way we needed it.  God has been an amazing force during this entire process.  Without him we would be truly lost. 

Well this will do it for my first official post.  I will update in awhile what happened after surgery and what the labs had to say.  Love you all and God Bless.