Tag Archives: Breslow thickness

Follow up appointment

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Friday 14th June

It is now exactly four weeks since I traveled to Plymouth for the second operation on my foot. Painkillers, dressings, infections, antibiotics, appointments, a scan, compression stockings, crutches, silly foam and Velcro shoe/boot have all been a part of my daily life!

Today I went to see my awesome plastic surgeon consultant at Treliske (he was running over an hour late!), but he still took a considerable amount of time talking to me.

He is really pleased with the way the skin graft is taking on the top of my foot. We discussed all the procedures he had undertaken, and being an 8mm tumour, that means I have Stage 2B melanoma, with a five year survival rate of 70% (good odds, or not?)

For now, I must focus on being as healthy and sunsafe as I can. The recouperation process from two lots of major surgery is still ongoing, taking in physical, mental and emotional recovery.

He is referring me on to his friend/colleague at Exeter for Sentinel lymph node biopsy. (“He’s a good bloke!”) and we talked about what might happen. I’ve a feeling the letter may come through pretty soon, as he dictated the request there and then. He really wants to push me to the front of the queue, bypassing time consuming paper-work.

Also during the consultation he spoke of my talking with an oncologist, but was wary of too many specialists each having their own take on the situation, and advising one course of action without communication with the rest of the team! He told me quite vehemently that I am his patient, and he makes the decisions! (I believe he was making reference to the original Macmillan nurse who gave me conflicting, confusing and wrong information: he seems very possessive about his patients.)

We also talked about our proposed summer holiday, and whether it was likely that we could actually go, bearing in mind his request for SLNB for me. He said if the appointment came through for late July/August then I would be a fool not to accept it. I can always book another holiday, but my health and enjoyment of my life comes first.

I left the hospital feeling quite upbeat; lots of information to take in and process, but I know I am being given the best possible care, and that I am truly being so well looked after.

The Results

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Monday 10th June

The CT Scan results have come back clear. The melanoma has not spread to other body organs.

The big black cloud that has been hanging over me for months has now turned into a fluffy little white cloud.

Not totally out of the woods, as it looks likely I will have the Sentinel lymph node biopsy at Exeter at some stage ~ will know more on Friday when I see the consultant who will refer me. I’ll also have check ups every 3 months. BUT this episode has now passed, and I am so relieved.

Husband and I went to the appointment with hearts beating overtime, pulses racing, and tummy doing flip-flops. We also cried when we went in. Scared, not knowing what to expect, I somehow assumed the worst. All I could think of was the accepted thickness indicator, the fact that my melanoma measured 6mm, and a prognosis of survival being 37 – 50% for staying alive for the next 3 – 5 years. Not good odds at all. Having been told that the scan came back clear was the greatest feeling in the world. The massively heavy weight bearing down on my shoulders had been lifted. I was being given a second chance. Having arrived crying, we also left the appointment in tears; but these were tears of relief, of happiness, of joy.

Son was so happy and elated, too: the best news ever. His partner texted the following:

We are both so relieved. Just get the biopsy done and dusted, for peace of mind, then you can totally move on feeling blessed. Make sure you do learn from this awful experience though. It was a gift so you could fully realise you need to actually start enjoying your lives together now. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Love you very muchly xxxx

Such lovely, tender, thoughtful words.

I still keep my leg elevated, and have it dressed twice a week. I have further appointments coming up. I will not be going back to work soon, and certainly will not be spending a week on the beach with a group of students, learning to surf.

I need to fully recover, to get back to feeling ‘normal’, before going back in the classroom. The nurse told me today that there is no point returning too soon, and undoing all of the healing process.

I feel so amazingly well looked after. Today’s consultant has rearranged her theatre list, and will do the wider excision on my back on Monday, 9am, just because I said I would prefer her to carry out the procedure and no-one else

Positive, positive, positive all the way.

A truly amazing end to the day.

Blessed.

Post-op #2 ~ Day Three ~ Some questions

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Monday 20th May

Been awake since half past three this morning. Thinking, pondering, wondering.

Trying to compose some questions for my next visit to the consultant:

Do I actually “have” cancer?

How do you know if I’ve “got” cancer?

Can it be “seen” via CT or MRI scans?

If the removed melanoma/tumour was 6mm, what stage would that indicate?

What is my survival rate? (37% – 50% for five years? Is this true?)

What happens next?

Should I go on holiday in the summer?

Will my travel insurance have to increase?

What else can I do to change my lifestyle for the better?

New drugs or clinical trials? Ipilimumab?  Vemurafenib?

What about cannabis oil?

Loads of orange and green fruit and veggies?