Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thanks to Miss Melanoma

So, when there was a chance that my Melanoma was going to be more invasive, I looked for blogs that would give me an indication of what I would be going through. Miss Melanoma's blog gave me information about what to expect if my condition was just slightly worse than it was, and if you read her blogs from 2005 til now, you will be amazed. She is an awesome person, and an inspiration. Thank you for blogging, Miss Melanoma. I really appreciate your spirit.

Why Triathlons are cool.

So, here is a huge reason why doing triathlons are cool. I know that Lance Armstrong is going to return to triathlons in 2011 and is going to be at Kona that year. Me, a below average AGer, can focus this year on general fitness and 70.3 distance races, then next year move into IronMan distances, and there is a possibility that by either qualifying, or winning a spot in the lottery, that I could be racing in the same race as Lance. I went to Augusta in 2009, and was racing in the same race as several professional athletes, and even got to meet a few.
Triathlons are all about personal improvement, but there are not many sports that you can sign up for a race, as just an everyday Joe, and race with the pros. I can not play basketball or baseball with professionals. There is no chance that I could be a basketball or baseball professional. There IS on the other hand a chance that someone could work hard and go from amateur status to professional status in triathlon. I do not necessarily think that I could do it, but there is a chance.
It is also not age specific. Due to the natures of basketball and baseball, once you hit a certain age you are pretty done. Triathlon has age groups to very late ages, and your potential for doing well AG wise actually goes up the older you get.
It is also not boring. You always have something that you need to work on specifically. Then you will have the next thing. Example: Last year I could not swim a full lap of the pool without stopping or floating on my back. I really worked on that, and feel as though I am an adequate swimmer now - meaning I can do 4x500 at www.luckyslakeswim.com and not drown or start having hallucinations. Now that I have that base in swimming, I am focusing on my running - which at this point takes longer than the bike leg for me. Once that is good, then I will have another area that I can focus on to make my overall time better.
Anyway, these are some reasons why triathlons are cool.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Luckiest person at the cancer center.

Well, the waiting is over. That waiting is over. I got the results back, and the lymph nodes which were removed are negative for melanoma. The additional mole which was removed was negative for melanoma, and the margins which were removed were negative for melanoma. All that means that I am cleared and go back into mole-watch mode, and can continue planning the rest of my life.
I got that information on tuesday, and then had an oncologist appointment on thursday at the MD Anderson Cancer center. Even though the melanoma had not metastasized, the doctors wanted me to see an oncologist. This happened last time I tested positive for melanoma, and when I saw the cancer doctor, he said, "Why are you seeing me? You are healthy." This doctor was different because he was amazed that I could grow up in Alaska, not be exposed to much sun, not have any family history of melanoma, and show up in his office. When he found out that I have been diagnosed twice I think his jaw hit the floor. So, essentially, I have been diagnosed with the most deadly form of skin cancer, and have lucked out in having it localized to the skin - twice. As I looked at all the patients in the cancer center, I can't help but feel...lucky? Blessed?
Anyway, this year has definitely been one of the most challenging years for me and my family. I want to clearly delineate this year from the next, and my intent is to celebrate the new year in a way that everyone in the family can clearly see that it is a new year. In addition to the celebration, this is also when I will get my new "January haircut".
I spoke with the surgeon, and she will schedule me for an appointment in the beginning of the year to look at all of the moles on my head, and every January I will shave my head to determine if there is any change in the ones she decides to leave. I expect to have a few taken off initially, just to make sure. I guess I can't be too careful when it comes to that.
I look forward to closing the door on 2009, and having a life-changing (in a positive way) 2010. Planning for a great year is a sure way of having one, right?

Monday, December 14, 2009


I feel like we have been waiting a lot lately. I havent posted on this blog in a while because I have been waiting for something to say. I still don't have much, but i am sitting by myself while everyone is at work or school, and figure I may as well fill you in as to what is happening up to this point. So, last Friday I had my surgery to remove a wider incision around the mole which came up positive for melanoma. it is behind my left ear. I also had a lymph node mapping, which is not as much fun as you would imagine, so they could remove some of my lymph nodes to determine if my cancer has metastasized.
Lymph node mapping is where they stick you with really painful needles of radioactive material, then you lay under a scanner in what starts out as a comfortable position, but what you figure out after 10-20 minutes of holding still, is quite painful. Some people complain that you get a taste in your mouth after the shots, while others have the feeling of wetting themselves. I just had the feeling that someone was jabbing me really hard 4x with a needle full of radioactive material behind my ear, which then decided to bleed and ooze.
Then 20 minutes on my stomach, hands over my head while looking left for the first picture.
Then 10 minutes on my back, hands over my head with a scanner 1mm from the tip of my nose (if you are afraid of enclosed spaces, this would be a nightmare. I on the other hand, was trying not to cough cause I have a slight cold, and a tickle in the back of my throat.)
Then 10 minutes on my back, hands over my head looking right.
Then wait to see if it is ok.
Then 10 minutes on my back hands over my head looking right again.
Then 10 minutes on my back hands over my head looking right again while drawing with some marker thing.

Finally I was done, and we could go over for surgery. Surgery was the same as it ever was. Get in a gown, get your vitals, put on a weird hat. Go to the OR, breathe this..... out. Josy told me when I woke up that when they had shaved to prep for the surgery they found another mole that looked like the original ones they had taken out, and that they made the wider incision, took 3 lymph nodes, and took out the mole that looked like the bad mole. Originally Josy had joked about shaving my head, and the doctor said it was probably a good idea. I have a similar mole behind the other ear, and could very well have more hidden in my hair. Josy has since bought me a stocking cap to keep my head warm - "In case we end up cutting it closer...".
So, after surgery, I came home, and started in on recovery. Weird thing is that I can not use the muscle to make me pee. I know I have to pee, but the muscle will not contract. It takes me 30 minutes to get enough pee out to feel like i should not have to pee any more.
By day 2, I notice that I can not tell if I have to go #2 either. So, not only do I not have to pee, but i have to pee, but I know i have to poo, but i can't tell if I have to poo! This probably does not make much sense, but it does to me. Sunday night I am not able to go (#1 is ok since i have trained myself to spend 10 minutes dribbling enough out to be ok about every 1-2 hours.) so i decided to stop the pain meds. Last pain meds i took was last night at 8. this morning, I could use the bathroom for both types. I really had to go. REALLY. After getting that out of my system, I looked in the mirror at my wound - which i really hadn't seen since the steristrips had come off, and decided I may need to go back on the meds. it looks painful, so, I think i am going to try the meds i had from last time. I think they are lighter duty, but at least i can feel my functions with them.
That catches you up to now. Tomorrow i have the meeting with the surgeon so i can hopefully find out whether the lymph nodes are clear, and whether the other flap of skin is clear. Based on that information, I will see the oncologist on Thursday to find out what-if anything- needs to happen there. I anticipate having some advance notice of tomorrows information today. I imagine that if the other mole comes back as anything but normal, that the doctor will call and ask me to shave my hair close for tomorrow's visit.

Anyway. Now you are up to date. Here are some pics.