Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Update: This morning I had my x-ray on my left tibia to make sure the spot is nothing to worry about. I still haven't found out the results but should get them by tomorrow.  
After that my dad took me out to a delicious lunch, then the procrastination started.  I have a lot of paperwork to fill out for various hospitals and insurance companies, and emails and letters to write.  Its funny that even when I have so much to do and SO much time to do it, things still don't get done and I always seem to have something better to do...facebook creeping and tv seemed to be those better things today.  I did get to visit some people today at work and church which was awesome. 
Once I did decide to start on my list of things I've gotten most everything done.  (I have a good start) :)  
Feeling: I'm feeling very thankful today.  Its easier for me being home than at school where I'm immersed in the things I want to be doing but can't. I am also very thankful for all of the messages, phone calls, and letters I have been getting from people.  They are SO uplifting and I honestly feel incredibly lucky right now.  God has blessed me tremendously with friends and family like you.  
Loving this verse, "They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust in the Lord to care for them." Psalm 112:7 

Monday, August 30, 2010

MRI and PET results/ "See you later" IU

I got the results back today from the MRI and the PET scan.  They did find a "hot spot" on my left lower leg that I will need to get an x-ray on tomorrow.  I have talked to a few people and they all seem positive and say that most hot spots are not anything to worry about so I'm hoping that is the case for me.  I should have the results for that tomorrow.

Yesterday and today I visited people at IU.  It was WONDERFUL to see everyone, but saying goodbye, or "see you later" was one of the hardest things to do.  I guess I'm just sad that I won't be able to experience the same college semester that everyone else will experience.  In all honesty right now I don't think the hardest part of this is the cancer, I don't feel sick and I'm healing up well from the first surgery.  The hardest part now is having to watch other people going to school when I have to be home.

I am so thankful for everyone who has surrounded me with love and support.  I couldn't do this without you.
If you have any suggestions for what I should do at home I would love to hear them! :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Visiting Friends

Today I got to visit lots of friends at IU.  :) Still feeling SO loved and thankful for my friends.  The only problem with seeing everyone at IU is that I am getting more and more sad about leaving.  The longer I'm here the less I want to go.

No new updates today and enjoying the break in doctors appointments.

I'm Radioactive!

This morning I went to get a brain MRI and a full body PET scan.  I was a little nervous because I sometimes get claustrophobic.  Getting these results would let me know whether or not any cancer had spread to any other part of my body.  It is a little scary knowing that there is a possibility that it could, but I was encouraged by my oncologist saying that he "didn't want to get my hopes up, but would be very surprised to see any cancer in these two tests".  Keeping my fingers crossed.  The brain MRI was not as bad as I thought :) I got to wear earphones and goggles that let me watch tv!  It was pretty great and the half hour flew by, though the machine was still VERY noisy.  Before the PET scan was the exciting time where I became radioactive... The lady giving me the injection made sure to tell me that I must be at least two arms length distance away from kids younger than 16 when I left.  I thought that was pretty entertaining. 

After the tests, I came home, went to church and was offered an opportunity to work with the youth group (so excited!), then came back to IU for the weekend.  I'm staying at AGD and am loving it.  Its almost making it harder knowing that I won't be able to stay all semester, but at least I'm getting a chance to see all the girls.  Everyone makes me smile and laugh.  I love it. 

Lastly, I found out from my dad today that there was a prayer line sent from people at his work to people all the way across the country....I was speechless and got tears in my eyes. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26 - Oncology Appointment/ IU loving

This morning I had an appointment with my oncologist.  He is much less intimidating than my surgeon, so its easier to ask him questions.  Thank goodness!  He suggested for my family's sake that it would be important to get a second opinion of another surgeon and pathologist.  We were informed that it was most likely going to be the same prognosis, but we are getting it more so there is no more doubt about the surgery and treatment. We decided to give make the surgery for the 14th of September so that we can get the second opinion before the surgery.  The oncologist also explained that even if the rest of the lymph nodes they take out during the surgery come out negative, I will still need to get the interferon treatment.  (Good thing I already decided no school this semester) The interferon treatment, if I am correct, will be administered through an IV every day for about an hour for 30 days then self injections three times a week for a year.  The symptoms of this are flu like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, and fatigue.  After the month treatment I will be monitored about every 3 months to check for cancer then get an MRI and PET scan every 6 months to check for more cancer.  After 2 years there is a much higher percentage about 80-90% chance that I will not have any recurring cancer. WOOHOO! :)

After that appointment I got to go to IU to see my AGD sisters and friends from my dorm last year, TB4! The weather in Bloomington was perfect.   I cannot even begin to explain how much love I feel from everyone at IU.  The hugs, smiles, and jokes are EXACTLY what I need.  Thank you all.

August 25 - Unexpected

August 25th I had another appointment with my surgeon for a follow up on the first surgeries and to answer some lingering questions.  At this appointment my family and I were faced with an unexpected reality: that there was no question this was melanoma and had spread to my lymph node.  The surgeon made it very clear that I needed surgery sooner than later.  He seemed to think that I would be able to get the surgery and get back to school, uncomfortable for a while, but I could do it.  After he left the nurse had a very conflicting view that I would need a much longer recovery time and possibly more treatment called interferon after the surgery that would limit me further.  

The problem with all of this school wise was that I have a scholarship that can only be used if I am enrolled as a full time student. I also have to keep a high GPA to get into graduate school for Speech Pathology.  If I had to get the interferon treatment the symptoms and time commitment would not permit me to be taking a full load of classes and do well in them. If I dropped classes later than September 3 I would loose the scholarship for that semester. 

This was probably the worst day out of them all.  At this point I was SO determined I would be at school I couldn't get my head around the possibility of not.  I had a plan; to take 6 classes, some of which I was afraid I couldn't get into next semester, to study hard and complain about it, to train for a sprint triathlon, to lead a small group of middle school girls, to live with my AGD sisters, to watch the leaves change colors on campus, to go on dates at 4th street restaurants, to order Pizza X breadsticks, to be a college student.  I planned all of these things and in one moment they were swept away out from under me.  I like to be in control, I always have, so taking this step of letting go would take a lot of convincing.  
Because the risk of loosing scholarships and feeling miserable at school, I spoke with my parents, doctor, youth leaders, a best friend, and God. I made the decision to let go of my "what ifs", my "planned semester", and trust that maybe school wasn't the plan for me for this semester. 

There were many tears shed that car ride home but once I made that final decision, things started coming together.  There was relief and hope that I could have an opportunity to do things wouldn't be possible if I was in school.  The cancer was still a constant cloud hanging over me, but I could have the peace that I would have a stress free recovery and time to rest if I was going to end up needing the interferon treatment.

Inhale....One decision made....Exhale


This Unplanned Semester began a little early for me.  It started at the beginning of this summer when I noticed a mole on my back that began changing shape, size, was itching, and hurt to touch it.  
I went to the dermatologist about a month ago to get it checked out and got it removed. My dermatologist thought it was nothing. However, it ended up coming back as an abnormal spitz nevus cellular structure, which is not dangerous, but is very close to the cellular structure of melanoma. They needed to take more out to be sure it was not melanoma. I had the surgery Tuesday August 17th to remove a large portion of the skin on my back and a cluster of three lymph nodes in my armpit to see if anything had spread. We were hoping for the lymph nodes to come back negative as well as a clear margin on my back. 

I got the results back August 23 and they were not quite what I hoped for. One of the lymph nodes tested positive for melanoma.

The doctors wanted to do another surgery on my underarm to remove all of the lymph nodes under my left armpit which would take about 4-6 weeks of healing time with a drain to remove the fluid.
My mom had been researching and found that some people with abnormal spitz nevus do test positive for melanoma in the lymph nodes without it being cancer.
We tried to get a second opinion to make sure that I needed the surgery.