Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week 2

Fear is sneaky.

It comes in unexpected places.

Like, the book that I have been on the waiting list for at the library for months, only to finally receive and realize that it's about a mother with cancer, who I'm getting the impression will die.

Or the episode of The Closer two weeks ago--which Justin and I sat down to watch eager for some relief after finding out that the diagnosis was in fact skin cancer, only to realize that a major sub-story in that particular episode was Brenda's father being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

It's in writing my monthly Letter to Lizzy, and the brief thought that appeared out of nowhere, "I wonder if I started doing these because I would die when Lizzy is young. I wonder if these will be the only thing she remembers me by."

Or, it's in having a stomach ache, and wondering if I ate something that didn't agree with me, or if the cancer is just more advanced than they knew.

The trouble is, that once that fear is can be hard to banish. But sometime last week, I decided that my fear is just not going to encroach on the joy that this time of year brings. I just will not allow myself to linger on it. Thankfully, I can usually count on sleep to help, and to feel calm when I wake. Immersing myself in fiction also helps. Consequently, I'm doing a lot more sleeping and reading than cleaning house or making dinner lately. Our house is a disaster, but the trade-off (my mental health) has been well worth it.

Also, last week, my dermatologist spent over a half an hour on the phone, answering every question and concern that I had. Thank GOD for her. I remember finishing the conversation with her, and just feeling confident and at peace...but how quickly that confidence can be shaken! Even later that same day, I found myself worrying and doubting again. I wrote my questions and her answers down while we were speaking, but I'm the type of person that learns by writing. So, I'm going to type up some of my questions and her answers here, just so that the knowledge can sink even further into my bones and my soul. Also, I hope it will answer some of the questions that have been asked by all of you!

Me: As far as going to Portland for the surgery, was it just that the local doctor doesn't handle this type of skin cancer and/or that the hospital there was just more familiar with it? Not necessarily that it is a bad type of cancer, but just that it needed to be addressed quickly?
Dr: A little of both--the local doctor couldn't get you in until March, and it just can't wait that long. Also, the local doctor wanted you to have the procedure in Portland because DFSP is sometimes an iceberg--it can be bigger than you might think initially. I've actually seen cases of huge DFSP tumors quite often because I trained at Mayo Clinic, and sometimes it can be no big deal, but you never know for sure until you get in there.

Me: Is there any reason to worry or suspect that I may have more of these DFSP's elsewhere?
Dr: No. These come singly. I've never seen a case with more than one at once. Occasionally, they may come back right where they were, but not in groupings.

Me: Because of the small size, is it your guess that it was caught early?
Dr: What I could feel felt small. What I cut out felt about the size of a lima bean. I didn't feel more beneath that that seemed like DFSP, but it can occasionally send out tendrils, and the cancer cells were close to the edges of what I cut out, which is why we need to do the Moh's procedure, to make sure it is all gone.

Me: Are there any follow-ups to make sure that the clear margins were achieved with the Moh's procedure?
Dr: You'll come back every 4-6 months for several years. I have had a patient who had a recurrence of DFSP--she I could both feel it right away in her skin exam. You can usually see or feel recurrences. Moh's procedure gives the best protection against recurrence.

Me: So just to confirm, the prognosis is good?
Dr: Yes, as long as it is taken care of quickly.

Me: Before we found out about the DFSP, we had been talking about possibly having more kids. That's off the table for now, but would you be able to let us know when that's something that we could start discussing again?
Dr: As far as I'm concerned, you could be trying now. I don't think there would be any reason to worry if you became pregnant--it wouldn't affect your treatment, and the DFSP wouldn't affect a pregnancy.

The pregnancy talk is still tabled for the moment--I would just feel better waiting for now. At least until Portland is done. But, my doctor's comments that she would have no problem okaying us to start trying is helpful to me in putting this all into context. She must really consider the prognosis to be good if she was ready to okay trying to conceive.

Thank you guys so much for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement. It means so much.


  1. All I can say is that it sounds like you have an amazing doctor, and I'm praying for you - for your health, and for your mind to be put at ease at some point.

  2. Not only do you have an amazing doctor, I think you're worried more because it's you (duh, Sar) and she seems to think this is a normal problem that should be easily taken care of, no problem. I know it is hard, but try to have faith with her!

    Praying for y'all!


  3. Still thinking and praying for you. Fear is a sneaky thing but I trust you'll work through it.

    From our perspective, everything seems like it's going to be okay :) Just know we're all rooting for you!

  4. I've been praying for you often Meredith. 

    Fear is a trick of the enemy. His only leverage is deception - its all he's got. He knows we have authority through our Savior and he knows his only access to that power is to lie to us and scare us into not using it. Remember who you are in Christ. You are blessed, beloved, you have power, you have authority, and you have Jesus' perfect faith. You are mighty and the enemy cannot touch you. When you begin to doubt, tell the spirit of fear and doubt to leave you, claim what we know, that no weapon formed against us will prosper, and that we have been given a spirit of power, love, and sound mind. Combat every thought of doubt with a verse of truth!!

    Praying for God's perfect peace to surround you!

  5. I think your doctor sounds fabulous and I'm glad you got your questions answered. Hate that fear keeps sneaking up on you, but I totally know the feeling. You are going to get through this just fine, lady!!

  6. I'm so sorry to hear you've been going through this, Meredith. So many thoughts and prayers are with you. What a scary time. Just take it all a day at a time. It can be easy to jump into what ifs. Know you have great care and many people that love and support you. Hugs!

  7. Oh, I'm sure I would be a ball of nerves and bad thoughts. I think that's only expected! I really hope that everything goes smoothly and you can start TTC very soon! I'm sorry you're even having to go through this.

  8. it reminded me my own memories.

  9. friend,
    i relate on so many levels to what you've shared.
    and those thoughts ... those dark, sneaky thoughts that creep in ... can i share a little story?
    thanksgiving 2009 was right in the middle of when i was going thru a dark physical/emotional funk ... unexplained physical stuff prompting deep worry. vicious cycle. so we go to my grandma's for thanksgiving and as we leave, i have this crystal clear thought: this will be my last thanksgiving at grandma's. i just "knew" it and i was scared. i couldn't shake it.
    well, long story short ... i've celebrated 2 more thanksgivings at grandma's! and admittedly, on our drive over in 2010, i thought ... shoot, something is going to happen (remembering my dark dread thought). nothing did. i was fine. i AM fine.
    i share that to say that you are not alone in having those creeping, dark thoughts ... AND ... they are powerless!
    victory, my friend. HE has victory for us!!
    galations 5:1 freedom!

  10. Still praying for you... double time on the fear because it seems like the rest is all handled.


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