What did I tell you, way back in early July, about us? Ben and I are hapless, plain and simple. Bad luck. :)
Soooo, when we arrived here in Bend at the end of December, Ben was getting ready to take a shower, and I saw this mole on his shoulder. Now, Ben is a very moley person ("Moley, moley, moley..." What movie?), so I try to keep my eye on him. I've had some suspicious-looking moles removed in the past, but upon biopsy, none of them ended up being cancerous. My dermy wanted to play it safe, and I support that line of thinking.
So anyways, when I saw this mole, I said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ben, you have a mole on your shoulder, and it's new, and it's scary-looking." He was like, "Pshaw [does anyone ever really say that?? I've read it in books, and it makes me laugh so hard.]. No big deal. I have moles."
"Babe, but this is brand new. Like, developed in the last four months brand new. And big. And black. And asymmetrical. Need I go on? You need to get it checked out."
I finally talked him into going to get it looked at. The following photo isn't his mole (we were idiots and forgot to take a picture of it), but it's what it looked like. Flush with the skin. It was blacker than this one. Asymmetrical:
So he went in, the doc agreed it didn't look good, and they cut it out and biopsied it. Malignant Melinoma. "The scary kind of skin cancer," as my sister puts it. So Ben had to go back in last week and they had to dig more tissue out of his shoulder, all around where the mole had been. It's a pretty big incision:
Joking, joking. I'm not like that. :)
But yeah, the doc said that, given another year without having checked this mole out, Ben would have been at stage 4 and fighting for his life. Unbelievable. And really scary. I'm so, so grateful that we caught it and that he's going to be okay.
The poor man's incision got infected a couple of days after the Large Chunk of Flesh Removal. He went in again and got on antibiotics and powerful pain pills. He was really hurting. And I'm not going to even tell you how gross it was looking. Not going to even go there. I gagged. I will say that. I've had to be kind of his wound-dresser, since it's in a place he can't directly see. It's gross.
Today is the first day that he's been able to say that he feels a teeny, tiny bit better. Phew.
So yeah, we dodged yet another bullet. I'm grateful. So grateful. Ben goes in this week for some kind of skin scan (that's fun to say) to make sure there aren't any more scary things going on. They've visually checked all moles, and they seem to be fine, but they aren't taking any chances. Which is good.
This is a weird line of thinking, but Sadie has been working on a project about The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Who was never called Molly in her whole life, BTDubs. She was named Margaret and called Margaret. Anywho, Margaret lived in the late 19th/early 20th century, right? Her parents had both been widowed, then met, married, and had her. It reminded me of how often people used to die early back then. I mean, my own great-grandma died at age 33 of some kind of infection on her cheek. I'm always amazed at people from the past who were able to live past, say, 60 years old. Like ole' Molly Brown. She survived the sinking of a ship in arctic waters! She later escaped this horrible hotel fire that killed hundreds of people!
And as I've thought about that, I've thought of what my family's fate would have been if we were living in the early 1900's. Micah and Gage would have both died at birth (neither was breathing when they came out of me and they both needed to be suctioned and resuscitated). And then Dylan and Sadie would have been orphaned. It's just crazy.
And it kind of bugs me.
That I wouldn't have lived past age 60. That I would have died so early on. I know. Weird line of thinking. But there you have it.
Kar's Cancer Update:
1. I go to ten billion appointments every week. And have to do ten billion pages of paperwork and bills related to the ten billion appointments. I swear it's a full-time job.
2. The hospital where I get radiation offers free Raiki, acupuncture, and massage to its patients. So far, I've had one Raiki healing, and it was extremely relaxing. I fell asleep. I liked it.
3. I have 2 1/2 weeks left of radiation left. That's it! My armpit and the area underneath it, on my side, is the most tender. I mainly look like I have a rash/sunburn that is shaped like a large square over that portion of my body. My armpit is beginning to look a little leathery. You can see a little of the redness here:
4. I had my second herceptin IV last week. Still zero side effects on that. Can I tell you how grateful I am for that? So, 2 out of 17 done.
5. I have occupational and physical therapy on my armpit twice a week. She's been working on the scar tissue from my lymphadenectomy, range of motion, things like that. We're keeping our eyes out for any signs of lymphedema. So far, so good.
6. I've been jogging and hiking! I go a few times a week. I would have never, ever thought in a billion years that I would feel this good again. The weather has been unseasonably warm, and frankly, I'm loving it. It feels so good to be outside, surrounded everywhere by junipers. I love it here.
7. Still some bladder issues. I went to a urologist last week. They did some tests and examinations, and he said that it was one of the chemo drugs in my cocktail - Cytoxin - that can have lasting bad side effects on your bladder. He prescribed me a temporary medicine to help my bladder Simma Down-a. He says that, in time, my bladder will heal and be happy again. It's crazy that my last chemo was two months ago, and my body is still experiencing side-effects from it. Nuts.
8. I found out that my radiologist is a lesbo. Who knew? Not me. My gay-dar is horrible. She has a partner and a toddler. Just interesting information. It doesn't change how I feel about her as my doc. Other fun facts: she thinks that I am hilarious and that I look like Charlize Theron. Seriously not sure where she sees that comparison... But I'll take it! It's funny how much you learn about people when you see them for 20 minutes every single day. One of the techs is from Bosnia. She immigrated to Germany during the Bosnian war/conflict thingey, and then immigrated here. She really loves going to concerts. She has a crush on the lead singer of Train. Another tech is engaged. Another one has a really whiney voice, but she doesn't ever whine. Does that make sense? Another one gets deep tissue massages to help with her plantar fasciitis. Swears by it. I'm slowly starting to learn their names. Chemo brain is still a big deal. They're nice folks, and when all of this is over, I'll genuinely miss them.
Kay, I have to gooooo! Off to more appointments! Check your loved ones' moles! CONSTANT VIGILANCE! :)