Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More update-y stuff

I sent this e-mail around school, just now:

Hi all,

Thank you, to those who responded to my last message and to those who are silently praying. I can feel this community lifting me up.

After I sent yesterday's e-mail, I got a call from my dermatolologist. He wanted to share some good news: my CT scan was clear, and my bloodwork looks good.

This means that the cancer is not circulating in my system. I won't know until a PET scan 5/16 whether it's escaped into my neck at all (the melanoma is on my left ear)--but I'm not dealing with a potentially systemic monster, anymore.

I see the oncologist today, and expect to know an awful lot more about treatment: what they'll do, and how it will affect me. The head/neck surgeon gave me some of that information yesterday. The first thing they'll do is surgically remove it from my ear (with a margin, leaving me a smaller ear--a friend is already calling me Van Gogh). They'll map me again pre-surgery to see if there are any affected lymph nodes in the area. If none, great--we're just dealing with the ear. If a few, they'll remove those. If it's flooded (extremely unlikely, now)--they'll do what they call a "neck dissection," and remove all the lymph nodes from that side of my neck (and radiate the hell out of me). This is the only circumstance under which I'd need to be admitted; the simple ear surgery is ambulatory.

I expect the oncologist to confirm that I'll be put on interferon for a year, in any event. I don't know when that will start. I'll give myself the shots, weekly. The effects mimic the flu. I'll feel like crap for a year--but I'm alive.

I am not out of the woods, and even after this course of treatment, I'll be monitored for life (which brings up the whole issue of health insurance in this country). Once you've had this, there's a high chance of recurrence. But I got some great news yesterday. I slept last night. There is relief mixed in with the fear and shock, now.

Thank you for walking this path with me. The best thing you can do, collectively, is be yourselves. I'll try to let you know what I need and what I don't. We'll muddle through.



MadPriest said...

Excellent news
The best course of action in this situation is to get them to remove the whole head from just beneath the offending lump in one swift chop. I can't see why you shouldn't be back on your feet in no time.

Professor MadPriest
Newcastle Academy of Dodgy Surgery

I will send my account when my secretary has priced up this consultation.

Kirstin said...

Hahahahahaha! I really needed that laugh.

Thanks, Mad One.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Kirstin, that's good news in the midst of the bad. Thanks be to God.

And, by all means, follow the advice of your English consultant. He may do dodgy surgery, but he knows how to make you laugh. As Art Linkletter from the olden days said, "Laughter is the best medicine".

Jim said...

Great news!

And today a learning experience, Fr. Jon is a slash and burn surgeon!


pj said...

More good news! Boy, were you smart to get this checked out right away.

Hmmm. Traveling to the Newcastle Academy of Dodgy Surgery might not be a bad idea -- National Health, you know. In fact, we should all move in with MadPriest and claim to be his dependents!


susan s. said...

Oh, Kirstin, this is good news indeed! I think it's harder to wait for the scan than anything. But you know, the scan is to verify what you have already found out. This is the way I always look at them....

Interferon sucks, but as you said, it beats the alternative.

Would you like to have sushi next week?

FranIAm said...

Thanks for the update and good news and we shall continue to pray for you to truly be out of the woods and into all good things.

eileen said...

Doing the wiggle dance of happiness for you...

I'll be happy to buck you up while you feel fluey for a year...Cuz in a year, you'll be goods!

Don't listen to that Crazy Ass passing himself off as whatever....Skerry man!

the two auntees said...

We are glad to hear of you good news. The prayers continue.