I’m quick to open anything that comes in the mail from our insurance company. Yesterday I got a flyer that said on the outside “Is that a spring in your step?” and I thought, well yes it is, I’ve had a great day, but how would they know?
“It’s springtime! That means new flowers are in bloom. But something else even bigger may be sprouting. Join the future moms club…”
Somehow based on my recent medical bills they think I’m expecting. Was it the radiology scans? The trips to Vanderbilt oncology? My medication? I just had to laugh. I cannot fathom how a computer program could deduce this one. Do NOT send baby booties. Our #3 might need a new fish. “Psycho” made a suicidal leap out of his bowl this morning and isn’t too perky but that is the full extent of our expected family additions.
My blood work yesterday was “great” according to my oncologist. My liver function is back to normal, I’ve gained back the ten pounds I lost and he says I am looking more like myself. WITHOUT my nice long hair, I added. In fact, I’m feeling so well compared to the side effects I’ve had on this treatment that he accused me – “You ARE still taking the drug AREN’T YOU?” Yes, of course I am. Many people have asked how long I have to take it. On average, Zelboraf works for seven months and then the melanoma will mutate and figure out a way to grow in spite of it. There are people who’ve been on it 20 months, 2 years, or longer, but they are a rarity. For now, I keep taking it. I have scans again at the end of the month and an appointment right after Labor Day so we’ll know what’s going on with my cancer and hopefully Zelboraf won’t fail me. For today, I am rejoicing and thankful to feel wonderful and guide my children through another day, another week, another school year.
I also had my one year follow-up with my orthopedic surgeon. My hip looks great and it’s the least of my worries according to him. In case you need reminding, I had a tumor removed from my pelvis. They sliced through my right cheek, scooped out bone the size of a golf ball, filled it with bone cement, and added a plate and five screws to hold the entire thing together. I’ll never forget waking up and being asked right away if I could move my right foot. They were so relieved that I could. I’m glad to have that behind me – scary stuff. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; melanoma isn’t just skin cancer.
It wasn’t just skin cancer when Dad was diagnosed with two brain tumors, and less than 6 weeks later we were signing his DNR and holding his hands while they disconnected his life support. Did you know they pour ice water in a person’s ear to try to get a reaction as a last test to prove that he is brain-dead? It was a blessing that he didn’t suffer long although it would’ve frustrated him to know he was leaving us without any helpful advice or last instructions. He had a great life, he did everything he wanted to do, and we will always miss him.
It wasn’t just skin cancer when I was diagnosed with a tumor growing inside my lymph nodes, or my pelvis, or my right ventricle – blocking the flow of blood through my heart. Apparently heart tumors are common in melanoma patients; it’s just usually not fatal, and is often found during the autopsy. I guess that makes me a lucky girl. That’s a procedure I’m hoping to avoid for a long time.
This year we are working again with the Melanoma Research Foundation on the second annual Music City Miles for Melanoma, on October 6th. I’ve added links on the blog page just below the big MRF logo if you can join us walking or running or if you can help support this great cause. After 13 years, two new drugs were approved for melanoma last year. Zelboraf, which I am taking, is one of them. Only half of melanoma patients have the specific genetic mutation targeted by the drug. That means the other half can’t even try it.
Last week two more melanoma drugs were submitted to the FDA for approval. Like Zelboraf, one of these is genetic-mutation specific, so half of patients will never have a chance of benefiting. None of these drugs is a cure. All of these drugs extend a patient’s life on average in terms of MONTHS. More needs to be done. Please help us spread the word about melanoma and provide funding for research.
I am very thankful for everyone who continues to pray for my health and for strength for my family. Clearly, prayer is working! I will be busy with the kids and trying to stay out of doctor’s offices for the next few weeks. I will update everyone after Labor Day unless something comes up before then. Hopefully, nothing will.
It is not far from my mind that every day is a glorious gift. Peace to you all,