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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Forever Optimistic

So last Wednesday morn I left our country casa for TLC’s suburban home near Dallas. TLC'd learned, a few weeks ago, that a skin cancer on her forehead, near her hairline, needed to be removed by Mohs surgery. We'd never heard of it. Mohs surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic website, is a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. Thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains.

TLC was quite upset when she found out her new dermatologist was recommending she have Mohs on a spot he’d biopsy-ed (not sure this is an actual word...). (She loved him, though. Truly!) I couldn’t blame her. I desperately wished it could be me that had to go through the experience. She’d just done a pregnancy test—that was positive. She was worried about the anesthetic and if, as time went on, it could end up being a worse diagnosis than the doctor’s original, which was basal cell carcinoma. She seemed young to be having this challenge.

She kind of wanted to blame me. I let her be a bit cranky and accusatory. Skin cancer swims in my gene pool. Not her Dad's. (And maybe I hadn't been as dedicated to making sure she used sun screen and hats?) No one in my family has ever been diagnosed with melanoma. But I, of course, had breast cancer twenty-one years ago. The word “cancer” is not one TLC and I like. It was a word that was pretty much only whispered during the first thirty-ish years of my life. I think there were some family members that had it—but it seems that the attitude, back then, was that it might be a form of punishment. It was evil. I suspect people were afraid it was contagious. It simply was not discussed out in the open. Not at my home or family get-togethers. Once I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I became determined to talk about it as much as I could. I thought those of us with cancer should be vocal, honest, and forever optimistic and hopeful. (Apparently, over the past twenty-one years, I’ve sometimes been a little too frank with people about my treatment, etc. Even now, I’ll tell you lots more than you may want to know. I don’t know why. I can’t stop myself. Winky. Wink.)

I was in my late 40s (I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months after I turned 40) when I had two skin cancers removed—one from my lower forehead and one on my neck—near my collarbone. My dermatologist pretty much just dug them out! Consequently, I have two pretty scars/odd-looking spots where those evil things used to reside. I remember I left my job one morning to have a couple of places “burned” off my face and returned three hours later with four bandages on my face and one on my neck. I was very lovely, don’t’chaknow.  When TLC learned her fate, I did my best to convince her Mohs sounded like a great alternative to what I’d experienced all those years ago. Progress can be extremely AMAZING, I said. Embrace scientific advancements, I said. I suspect she wanted to slap me—just a few times. Not hard. Enough to make me stop being so upbeat and optimistic.

The issue with the Mohs surgery was that there was going to be no way to know if she’d be at the specialist’s office for two hours or eight. I took enough clothes to be able to stay six nights without the need to do laundry.

Since she and Her Hubby (HH) had to be at the doctor’s office at 6:45 Thursday morning, I went a day early. We surprised Little Leighton (LL aka Biscuit) at her preschool (she was HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY to see Grammy!) and told her teachers I might be bringing her and picking her up the next week. (They’re hugely cautious about the children and who can pick them up. Thank God.)

As it all turned out, TLC only had to have one initial layer taken! She was back home by 10:00 a.m. with a great big bandage, thirteen stitches, a headache and some annoying burning sensations where the incision was made. HH, Biscuit and I did our best to be FANTASTIC nurses/home health care assistants. TLC was encouraged to stay in bed for a couple of days—in order to keep the swelling to a minimum. In fact, she had to ice the bandaged incision every hour for the first 48 (except during sleep—duh). Then she could cut back as needed. Being pregnant, she’s only able to take Tylenol. She tried hard to be strong and not take any. It was virtually impossible. The first couple of nights weren’t too comfy for her, unfortunately. She did sleep better and “okay” Saturday and Sunday nights.

TLC will admit she has a very low pain threshold. I’d reveal she can be quite weeny-ish and dramatic (and we wonder where Ms. Biscuit gets her flair for exaggeration?). Overall, as with so many other difficult challenges TLC has faced in her thirty-one years, I was beyond proud of her bravery. Her excellent attitude.

I came home late yesterday morn, leaving TLC’s care to HH and LL.  I’ll now leave at 5:30 a.m. manana. For one more night, two more days of assistance/cleaning/caretaking/nanny-ing/pep-talking. TLC will have her stitches out on Thursday and, hopefully, recover fairly quickly. She does have another “spot” that must be checked/biopsy-ed at the end of this month. Near this first one. I pray every night it won’t require Mohs. If it does, it does. She/we can handle it.

TLC and I would encourage all of you to watch for places on your body that don’t look normal. That don’t heal. Have them checked! It’s important. Cancer is a FRIGHTENING word—but it’s not the end of the world. Not like it seems it used to be.

I’ll be back in touch ASAP, Sweet Peas! TLC reassures me she’ll get a post done—soon. Hmmm. I continue to be skeptical. I do want her to share the gender of her second baby with Y'all. She and HH should know by the end of this week or the first of next...YIPPEE!!!

Love and Hugs and Smooch!