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