The past two days have been a whirlwind. I will tell you about them, probably in way more detail than you care to know about, but it is therapeutic to write about it. Thanks for contributing to my therapy-again:)
Just when it starts getting “boring” around here, I FIND A LUMP.
Under my arm. A lymph node.
It felt very familiar, just like the one that was positive.
I found it Tuesday night, I was home alone. Todd and the kids were at Bible Club. I’m laying around, watching American Idol. For some reason, I decide to check under my arm for lumps, as I have been advised to do–just not too often. It had been awhile.
When my fingers rolled over an almond-sized lump, I froze, and a pit in my stomach formed instantly. I couldn’t believe it. I looked up and said “No, God. Please no.”
Things were just starting to feel normal. My hair is getting long. My body feels strong. My emotions leveling out. I was getting my groove back–proof? That very day I got honked at by a convertible full of college age boys!:) Usually that would annoy me, but this time it brought a satisfied grin to my face and I thought, “uh-huh, proof I am not sick and bald anymore! They must like my newly grown eyelashes!” 🙂
I kept feeling the lump. “Am I really feeling what I am feeling?” I started to cry. I felt alone. I wanted my husband.
When he got home, I told him. The word “no” escaped quickly and forcefully from his lips, the volume of his voice louder than normal. His face fell, his eyes deepened into concern for me. We sat and stared at each other,as thunder rolled outside. It was too “de-ja-vu”, too familiar, this pit in my stomach, our eyes finding comfort in the others, the storm outside and in. It was just like the first time I told him of this crushing cancer news. When life as we knew it, came crashing, along with the thunder that night in August.
I woke up the next morning, tears rolled before eyes opened.
I didn’t want to face the day. I wanted the lump to go away. Maybe it did overnight. I feel, and it announced it’s reality, and brought back the pit in my stomach, along with nausea. I tell my husband I don’t want to get up. He said, “I know.” We both wiped my face and I willed myself up to greet my 3 blessings, do their hair, make their lunches. They bounce around their morning routine in ignorant bliss.
They leave for school at 8:50. I wait until 9:00 to make the call, it is when the doctor’s office opens.
They cannot get me in until Thursday at 3. Waiting even one day seemed like an eternity. I hear His quiet voice, “I will be with you”
I am upset. Tears come so easily. I call a few of my loves, but stop because it makes me cry, which makes them cry. My mom hears my tears and says, “I will be right there.”
As I wait, I get pen and paper and listen. I say, “God, I want to hear you” I write down what comes to mind. It settles me, dries up the flow of tears.
My mom arrives at my door with a hug and ingredients to make Sloppy Joes. She arrives in time to go to my plastic surgeon appointment with me, to remove some stubborn suture knots.
Dr. Hinze notices my deflated-ness right away. He asks the reason. He is sad to hear it. He cares deeply for me, and expresses it each time I come, in a beautiful and professional way. He makes me laugh and charms my mom. He removed my sutures and the momentary pain distracts me from my thoughts. His nurse reassures, says to let them know if there is anything they can do, call them anytime.
I walk out of that office with my chin up, held up by Dr. Hinze and his nurse and my mom. Their care makes such a difference, I wonder if they know the power of that care?
My mom and I do lunch. I am feeling happy, at peace, no tears. I know my text to family and the prayers it bring contributes to this.
We come home. I am overwhelmed by the mess of my house. My cleaning help comes on Thursday, but the mess has to be picked up so she CAN clean. I express to my mom I need help. She starts in on my kitchen, and her Sloppy Joes. I tackle the other rooms, surprised by my energy and motivation. Thankful.
Wednesday night I am at peace, happy and thankful. I enjoy dinner and my family. God is good!
Today I wake up, my 3:00 appointment changed to 8:00 a.m. God’s perfect timing. He knows the desires of my heart — that my kids don’t have to see me go through procedures, or be shuffled everywhere, all the time while I am gone. He moved my appointment time, He did this to make time for the biopsy to be done TODAY, instead of next week when my kids are out of school. You have heard me say this many times. He is with me every step of the way. He has proved this to me over and over and over. He is good.
My mom and her man shows up at my early morning appointment, despite the hour drive. She walks in and my heart instantly feels full and thankful.
Doctor Midathada is in India until mid-June. I see a nurse practitioner instead. I am greeted by name by the familiar faces at Nebraska Hematology and Oncology, all happy to see me again, but with a look of concern of why I am there.
I change into the familiar, bleach-scented gown, and wait. The nurse practitioner immediately feels what I do. She says, wait here while I find a Doctor. I feel disappointed, I wanted her to say, “Oh that? That is just scar tissue.” No such luck.
An unfamiliar doctor comes in, all businesslike but very capable. He reviews and familiarizes himself with my case within 5 minutes, very thoroughly. I was impressed. He feels the lump. He talks about what a biopsy entails. He said depending on what type of patient I am, we could sit on it and see if it gets bigger, or get it biopsied so we can just know. He seemed pleased when I told him I am not a “wait and see” kinda girl anymore. That got me in too much trouble, I have learned to be aggressive, cancer’s aggressiveness gives me no choice. I now meet it head on. Bring on the biopsy!
The nurse comes in and said “can you believe I can get you in for the procedure today?” I smiled and thought “yes, God does these things for me.”
As my mom walks me out, I feel a tinge of nervousness.
My last punch biopsy was a horrible experience, because I was not numb enough. It was the worse pain I have ever experienced, and after this year, and a kidney stone in the past, I know pain.
I had plans to spend the day with my Carma. We originally planned a trip to Nebraska City Lied Lodge, to spend the day with the sun, our journals and Bibles. A day of quiet to prepare us for a loud, fun summer full of kids!! My joke is that I am never planning a trip again. Every time I do, it gets interrupted by cancer’s drama. I couldn’t believe it was happening again, this has happened at least 5 times in the last 9 months!!
Carma spent this beautiful, sunny day, sitting in a cold, dark, ultrasound room with me. I loved being with her, she is always calming and strong. I know she will fight for me to receive the best care, not that she ever has to at St. Elizabeth…I have been very happy there. My nightmare biopsy experience was at another hospital.
We walked into St. Elizabeth, and stopped quickly to hug and visit my neighbor and oncology nurse, Jay. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, HE IS THE BEST. He is a steady comfort to me, he has made it clear that if I ever need him, he is there. Literally, right next door.
I got checked in.
I got another plastic bracelet with my name and birthday to add to my collection.
I got a great idea–I may make an art piece with them when all is said and done.
I was called and taken back to the room, Carma and a few butterflies in my stomach accompanied me.
My technician was sweet and calming.
As I put on another bleach-scented gown, I hear my Carma going to bat for me about the importance of the area getting plenty of lidocaine 🙂
The Doctor took some time to get to know my story. He reassured me that I would be numb. I liked him right away.
The node kept playing hide and seek with us. It showed up so distinct, then would dart away. Doctor had to chase it around with his long, steel punch instrument, I felt some discomfort, but no pain until the last 2 punches. Every time he took a punch, the loud click on the instrument made me want to shudder, due to the memories it brought back. I felt like squirming away from him and running for the door, but my job was to stay completely still, so I did, except for the quiver in my stomach. Carma was at my feet and held me in prayer, asking God to hurry up and get it over with. The last 2 were painful, but nothing compared to the first time. The first time I shook for over an hour from the trauma of it all. This one was so much easier! I was drinking a Carmelicious within 10 minutes-I justified the cost and sugar, I thought I “deserved” it after the last 2 days. Yes, sometimes I pull the cancer card:)
I am now home, typing with an icepack under my arm. It stings and is sore, but I am so happy it is done. Did I say that God is good?:) He is.
We will have test results by Monday or Tuesday.
I have no idea what we will do if it is positive. There will be options to choose from. Surgery and Radiation being some of them. Honestly, if it is positive, I am contemplating taking all my records to M.D. Anderson, the best of the best cancer care hospital in the U.S. and having their experts advise me.
One thing the doctor said to me what “Amy, if this is positive, it is not like it is cancer showing up in your liver or bones, which would be a more complicated thing. This is in an area where we already know there was cancer at one time, so even though it is a nuisance, we deal with it, and don’t expect it to affect the outcome of what we hope your survival time to be.
This calmed me and made some sense, but, measurable cancer in my body is not something I want and feels a bit more than just a “nuisance.” At the same time, I get how many things there are to praise God for, so many things that could be, that are not. I hold on to these things, and will list them out for you all soon, to share with you just how GOOD God has been to me:)
Love to you all. MUCH, much, love.