Saturday, April 05, 2008

This is Me. I am Happy.

Very Happy! I have not made much mention of my "Nubbin" lately. It has been the cause of some really bad days for me recently. My initial biopsy results showed atypical cells. My doctor had concerns that I had Lymphoma and sent me for Xrays and blood work. I also had been experiencing back pain that in combination with the other factors, had her quite worried - and she did not mind telling me all about it. She was really upfront with me about what I could be facing. I tend to be a bit of an anxious person on a normal day so this did not sit well with me at all. Well, all of my tests came back normal and after repeated doctor visits, my dermatologist decided to do another biopsy and send it off to Emory. This time I had about 6-8 stitches and was off to Disney World with my family to get my mind off of this whole ordeal. We had a wonderful trip and I will post about that soon. I had my stitches removed the day after we returned home but there were still no biopsy results. Later that week, I got a call from my doctor, saying, "Do you have a minute where we can talk about your biopsy?" The rush of panic shot through me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. Russ had not been feeling well that morning so he was still at home when I got the call. I remember from past biopsies that the nurses would always say, "You want a letter, not a call" regarding any test results. They found more atypical cells, this time specifically T Cells. She had spoken with an oncologist (my head was spinning at this point) who had ordered extensive blood work and a PET scan. A dear friend's daughter has recently had a bout of cancer so I was very familiar with what a PET scan is. The one thing I remember my doctor saying during this call was, "The good news is that it was not totally diagnostic and the bad news is that it was not totally diagnostic." At least there was some good news to hold on to. I went the next day for my blood work and they took vial after vial of blood - I even asked if I would be able to drive home without fainting! They were really sweet about it and told me that they had to call and confirm the orders on one test that they were not entirely familiar with. Then the wait came. My mind drew all sorts of conclusions based on comments, lengths of time between calls from my doctor,....You name it, my mind was working overtime to try and read between the lines. I prayed and talked to God all of the time. I realized that with my busy mom of 5 life, I had gotten away from my daily talks with Him. He is always there for me, walking beside me, and He knows what my day is going to be like before it even starts. I thanked Him for this difficult walk as I knew that He would strengthen me with each step. I felt honored that He thought I could handle this because there were days when I was convinced that I could not. The days passed and still no call from the Hospital to schedule the scan. The oncologist's office called to go over everything with me and to make an appointment to come in for the results. Northside Hospital called to schedule the scan and fortunately they had an evening appointment - I had been so worried about how I would fit several hours at the Hospital into an already bursting schedule. Sam had a follow up appointment with the Craniofacial team and Emma had an appointment with a micro hand surgeon (I will follow up with details soon) and then there are all the carpools and normal activities, our anniversary, my mother's 60th Birthday, know - LIFE! It was overwhelming, but again, God was in the details and I was able to easily fit everything in. Russ took me to the PET scan while my parents watched the kids. I had already talked to my dear friend Laurie who is a doctor and she told me about all of the many possibilities that were out there under the umbrella of Lymphoma. I just had to put my big girl panties on and face this head on! For the scan, they took some blood to check my glucose levels, put in an IV and then gave me a glucose shake to drink. Then I went to the Nuclear Medicine mobile unit outside of the hospital - I had to walk across an opening at the end of a hallway ramp and it looked just like I was getting on an airplane. Joe, the dear sweet (I cannot say enough good things about him) technician who injected the meds into my IV and did my scan was so clever and quick witted and really made me feel at ease. I laid on the scan bed (maybe 8-10 inches wide at the most) and he put my hands above my head in a loop to keep them together. I was in the machine for maybe 20-30 minutes, moving back and forth. I decided to keep my eyes closed so that I was not tempted to look around. You have to stay still during the scan much like an MRI. Right as I was about to go into the machine, my bangs fell into my eyes, but it was in just enough time for Joe to push them to the side - I could not have imagined trying to be still for so long with hair poking into my eyes. When you are still and quiet you start to perseverate on things like that. I had chosen to spend my time in the scan, praying to God, thanking Him for the attributes of my children. It was a precious time for me - focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of my children (and of myself in regard to the way I interact with them) and praising God for His creation of all 5 of my kids. It is something that I need to do more often. My mind was clear off all of my obligations and lists of things to do. I was vulnerable and open and was able to turn my fear into praise. Once it was over, I was starving - no food for 4 hours before the procedure and it had been several hours since I had gotten to the hospital. I was also exhausted - I have had so much on my mind that I had not gotten a good nights sleep and I had been without caffeine all day due to the scan. I did sleep well that night, but woke up with my mind racing the next morning. I was really good at turning it over to God, but I needed to work on not taking it back! Now I had to wait a whole week for my results. My dermatology office called to check in and told me to follow up with them immediately after my oncology appointment. Well, my appointment finally came this past Thursday, April 3rd. The oncologist walked in and the first thing he said was that my scan came back "PERFECT!" and that my blood work did too!! He diagnosed the lesion as Early Stage Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma with no indication of disease outside the skin. Thank you Jesus!! He was precious, truly precious with a great sense of humor and a wonderful demeanor. He explained it all to us and even did a quick exam before he released me back into the care of my dermatologist. He said that he wanted me to have the peace of mind knowing that I was okay. He reminded me of an silver haired Dave Foley (News Radio). We stopped off at my dermatologist (her office is in the same building) to give her the good news. We also discussed my treatment options which include radiation or surgery. The radiation is a commitment of about 10 visits with the potential for side effects and the surgery will leave me with a scar front and center and can possibly take more than one attempt. We also discussed the possibility of a Mohs surgeon, which is the option we have decided upon. It is a very precise surgery that will remove the lesion, formerly known as the nubbin, taking only enough skin to have clear margins and leave me with minimal scarring. With this procedure, only one surgery is needed to get all of the affected skin. I am not looking forward to it, but it is way better than what I could have been facing!! I have not been posting about this as it was happening and only sending out email updates to my closest friends because we had decided not to say anything to the kids until we knew for sure. Both of my oldest boys (and many of their friends) check the blog often so I just wanted to be the one to share my story with them first. Thankfully it has a happy ending!


At 9:01 PM , Blogger kerri said...

Thank God, I am so happy and relieved for you. The wait is so painful, difficult and it wears the spirit.
I am so thrilled you are in great health, congrats.
Hugs to you. :)

At 11:38 PM , Blogger Sophia's Mama said...

Julie we have had you in our prayers and will continue to do so. We are so happy that things have turned out well for you.

We love you
Susan and Riz

At 12:05 AM , Blogger Sam said...

I'm so happy and relieved that everything is okay!!! Thanks for sending me updates. You've been on my mind and in my prayers.

At 9:10 AM , Blogger kris said...

WOW. What a story, I swear I felt like I was reading a memoir and the whole time I was praying for that good news at the end (though your happy face really helped me not get too worried).

I loved how you seized those stressful moments and turned to God. A lesson to all of us.

At 7:11 PM , Blogger LaLa said...

Julie, I used you as a praise today in SS and of course we will continue to keep your family in prayer. Thank you for posting all of this...what a testimony you are living : )

Keep us updated on Emma and Sam...and of course the rest of the family too!

Love you lots,

At 10:34 PM , Blogger jiangxigirls said...

God is so good! You have been and will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for keeping me updated. When will the surgery be?


At 2:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so nice to see your happy face. I got your e-mail during class. As soon as I saw it was from you, I had to read it. I did a happy dance, so the kids asked what was up. I shared with them your great news because they had all been praying for you too. You had 21 little people doing the snoopy dance. I'm glad God was listening to all the prayers.

Love Ya,


At 8:37 PM , Blogger LilyKate's Mom said...

So thankful the story has a happy ending! Will keep you in our prayers.

Susan and Jonathan

At 4:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for you and your family...stay well!



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