Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Consultation and Jumbled Thoughts

My mind is racing today and I'm finding it difficult to rest right now even though Lily is napping. I thought it would be best to just write it all out here and hopefully feel some relief.

Yesterday was my first trip to MD Anderson as a patient. I've been to the big, famous cancer hospital twice before with two different friends who were receiving treatment for breast cancer, but this was my first time to go for me. I can say from experience that, every time you go there, it's a memorable and a sobering experience.

I want to start by saying this: I know that I'm going to be okay. I don't wish to sound remotely melodramatic about this melanoma diagnosis. I know that, while it is a very serious and potentially fatal disease, I'm fortunate that mine was found early and can be treated successfully with surgery. I have friends and family members who have fought different types of cancer -- some who have survived and some who have not. Knowing that my chances of even undergoing any type of chemotherapy or radiation in this case are between slim and none, I would never compare this experience of mine to any of those life-threatening ones.

It is a scary thing, however, to face cancer of any kind growing in or on your body. And scarier still, for me, is the fact that I'm already in the riskier stages of pregnancy. I was reassured yesterday by no fewer than three doctors that they will take the utmost care of me and my baby, and I believe that they will do just that. I know that, even without the skin cancer diagnosis, I would be feeling just as nervous about simply being 7.5 weeks pregnant right now.

I didn't get as many questions answered yesterday as I'd hoped, because for some reason my pathology slides had not arrived. This was disappointing because the doctor wasn't able to review them and decide on exactly what my treatment will be and when. I do know that I'll be having surgery, and my doctor was pretty sure that he wants to wait until I'm in my second trimester to do it. He said that, especially considering my history with first trimester miscarriage, he wants to go the safest route. That means it will probably be at least 6 more weeks. I hate to have to wait, but obviously I trust his opinion (he is the best melanoma surgeon in the country, after all!) and I'm willing to do whatever is best for the health of the baby. So, at the least, I'll have the skin around the area of the mole removed to make sure they get all of the cancer. At the most, I'll have that surgery plus a procedure to test the lymph nodes around the site. We don't know if that part will be necessary until he can review the slides, so I'm waiting to hear back from them on that and to get the date scheduled. And I met with more than one doctor who reassured me that there will be someone from maternal fetal medicine who will monitor the baby before and after the surgery and make sure everything is okay.

I know that I'm in good hands and will receive excellent care. But I'm being perfectly honest with you when I tell you that I'm stressed. Really stressed. It's unnerving, to say the least, to spend the day talking to doctors about cancer and surgery and pregnancy all at once. It felt like an out-of-body experience when I signed a consent form to participate in a research study about cancer and pregnancy. It was one of those I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this kinds of feelings. All the while, though, I couldn't help but think of people (a few I know and so many that I don't) who have sat in rooms like those and heard much, much scarier things. Several years ago I had a dear friend who learned toward the end of her pregnancy with her third child that she was facing leukemia. I still think about her all the time, and how brave she was and what her struggle must have felt like as she fought for her life with three young children at home. That sweet friend is in heaven now but she is often in my thoughts.

I'm grateful that that isn't the road I'm on right now. And although it's so hard to imagine, I know that my God would see me through a trial such as that one just as He did my friend, who took the time to call and encourage me about recurrent miscarriage even as she fought leukemia. Actually, I feel very very weak when I think about people as strong as she was.

Even though it feels scary, I know that this is going to be okay. I'm not saying that I know for sure that everything will go exactly the way I want it to and be perfect. I don't know that. But I know that, whatever happens, the Lord will take care of me. Perhaps you don't believe the same way that I do, but I have complete faith and trust in my God. I've been through miscarriage before and I know that if it happens again He will see me through. I've been through surgery before, too, and I know I won't be alone when it happens again.

Although I feel uncertain and shaky right now, I'm keeping my eyes on Him because it's all I know to do. The words to this Bebo Norman song have been playing in my head and comforting me today. Thought I'd leave you with the chorus:

I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You


Anonymous said...

I am glad you are going to be okay. With your dramatic post it seems you are feeling sorry for yourself. I wish you could enjoy all that you have, and be thankful for it.

Stacey said...

Sorry you took it that way, anon. As stated in the post and repeatedly on this blog, I'm very thankful for all that I have. We all face difficult days, which aren't made lighter by discouraging remarks from those who choose to remain hidden. This blog is where I share all sorts of feelings, so it would only make sense that they won't always be happy-go-lucky.

Amazing Life said...

Oh dear, disregard anon's comment. Alot of bloggers are getting strange comments these days.

Your peace is evident even in the storm! Our family loves you and praying for you and ALL of your special intentions! xoxo

Renovation Girl said...

Ugh on anon's comments! You wouldn't be human if you didn't hear the word cancer and freak out. When I had my molar pregnancy and subsequent possible cancer from it (only a 20% chance), I stocked both freezers with meals in case I kicked the bucket. All I could think about was my baby not getting good meals. Crazy, but it was my way of dealing. You let out what you need to-if you can't do it here, where can you do it? When you have two little ones depending on you, it is only natural for you to worry. That being said, I hope all goes smoothly. It sounds like you are in good hands-your dr's and His.

Jenn said...

I'm so sorry that "anon"'s comment was the first one and so negative. What person would not be affected by news of this sort on its own, much less with the addition of carrying a baby. You did not sound like you were feeling sorry for yourself. Knowing you on a personal basis, I know that's not how you are. Anyway, I applaud you for your great courage and faith and every single post is always a testimony of God and His goodness and His love. You always give glory to our Most High God in the good times and the bad and that is so rare these days. You and Chuck hang in there. I am definitely praying and believing for all to be well and I truly believe this. This is just another testing of your faith, which you will "pass with flying colors". Love you!

Kate said...

I wonder why they feel such a need to wait another 6 weeks? I'd think (depending on the location of the melanoma), that you could potentially have the surgery with just a nerve block or regional technique and avoid a general anesthetic altogether. They could either do some sort of brachial plexus block or potentially a Bier block. Maybe ask to have an anesthetic consultation to see what your options are given the pregnancy. In reality, the meds used for anesthesia are all safe for the baby. Sure it's nice to avoid surgery if possible in the first trimester, but as long as Mum's blood pressure and oxygenation are good, baby should be fine. And I'd think the sooner you get the melanoma resected, the better.
See what the anesthesiologists and Ob/Gyns have to say about the timing of things. You might be surprised.
Good luck!

Connie said...

Oh boy! Trying to remain calm and not say anything really ugly right now...
You are an amazing person. It is extremely normal for you to be feeling exactly the way that you are. Please do not let someone's ignorant comments bother you. It's extremely sad that some people let Satan use them to tear others down. Don't let them win! Keep pressing on my sweet girl! You have touched so many lives with your honesty and genuineness. The ones who know you well know your heart. Love you, Stace! XOXO

Ro-bear said...

Hey Stace-- thanks for sharing where you are. We'll definitely add your stress level specifically to our prayers for you, the baby, and the melanoma. Love you!

Rachel said...

Many many prayers to you sweet Stacey!

Rachel said...

Oh, okay WOW I just read that first comment and I normally don't do this but it made me SO ANGRY. This is your blog and your thoughts and feelings----what you are feeling. Not one person in this world has been in your shoes and do not have the right to tell you to just be "thankful for what you have" OF COURSE you are thankful. You have only expressed that feeling 10000000 times! You have also been through SO MUCH heartache and not only are you in the scary is this pregnancy going to be real or not stage, but to be diagnosed and have to be treated for cancer at the same time? That is scary. Stacey, I had comments made to me like that after losing two babies. I remember thinking, of course I am thankful for the one I have, I thank got EVERY DAY for fulfilling that longing. That does not mean I am not allowed to grieve for what is lost or be scared watiting to find out if the baby I am carrying is viable or not. I love ya girl and support every single word you say.

Jo said...

I'm really sorry to be negative but I am so angry at Anon's post. I think what you described in your post Stacey is a feeling of nervousness which I think you are more than entitled to feel. Regardless of the fact that cancer is never a nice thing to have any sort of involvement with - no matter how big or small that involvement may be - you are also in the early stages of your pregnancy after just an emotional history with your previous pregnancies. Even if you were not going through this situation with the skin cancer, I am sure you would be feeling nervous about your pregnancy anyway. I think you are an amazing person Stacey and a great inspiration to me. I don't at all think you are over dramamtic or ungrateful - quite the opposite actually. I am thinking of you and hope the melanoma is all resolved soon. xo Jo