Posted by: cg00n | March 8, 2012

Melanoma is Forever

The stitches are out, the pathology report is in.  All six excisions (for seven lumps) were positive.  Furthermore, three of them had “active margins” which means they will have to cut some more out to get rid of the remaining Bad Stuff.  In addition I have two new lumps.  From this point of view it could have been a much happier day.

I’ll be going to the melanoma clinic in about two weeks and will probably get this lot sorted out but it is really beginning to look like the limb perfusion has run its course.  At the beginning of next month I’ll be seeing Dr. G and it seems likely that he will propose a second perfusion.  If things proceed the way they did last time around the operation will probably happen in mid to late April.

Now the good news.

First, except for a few seconds right after the doctor gave me the news, I haven’t panicked.  I’ve been feeling tense for some weeks now but my mindfulness practice has taken care of almost all the worry.  Only a couple of times have I resorted to extra Clonazepam and then only in small doses.  I consider this Real Progress.  In addition I noticed a bad habit while I was driving home.  Back in January I commented on the “Mommy, kiss it better” feeling.  Today I caught part of my mind trying to get me to say “I’m scared” but instead of playing along I realized that this really is just a habitual response.  It will take a little longer to stop doing this to myself altogether but I think I’m getting there.

Second, assuming that the melanoma is still confined to my leg (and I have every reason to believe this to be the case), I have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the coming 2-3 months because I’ve been there and done that.   The hospital stay is likely to be shorter than it was last time because there should be no need for skin grafts.  I’m also hoping it won’t result in as much discomfort because they won’t have to shift a muscle sheath around.  We have a much better handle on how to feed me (given all my food intolerances) so I am less likely to be starving by the time I go home again.  I’m not at all looking forward to the ordeal but I am much better prepared now.

Meanwhile I continue on my mindfulness path.   Apparently Dr. W.R of New Brunswick has been recommending my musings to some of her clients because

It is an outstanding real-life example of how to use mindfulness to cope with anxiety. It’s good because it is so clearly written, has lots of humor, shows realistic coping (rather than a perfection than no real person can attain), and reflects the experiences of an actual person.

Thank you for that!  I especially liked the “actual person” bit:  it’s good to be recognised as such.  P and I have just signed up for a two-day workshop on Making Friends with Death which I hope will improve my State of Being even further.  This probably sounds like a very gloomy way to proceed but our feeling is that the sooner we get this sorted out the happier we will be for the rest of our lives.  In collusion with my meditation instructor I have been practicing a contemplation of death for some weeks now.  I fear it a lot less now that I did a year or two ago.  Do any of you think about this stuff?  I’d be interested to know.

News Roundup

In the obituaries section I regret to announce the death of Mr. I. van Seters of Alberta.  There is a brief announcement from his parents on his blog.  He did pretty much everything possible to beat his melanoma and succeeded beyond all expectations, an inspiration to the rest of us.

In other news:

Finally, in the black humour section, here’s a good one:

Yes, well, that’s quite enough for now.  As always, may you all be happy, safe, healthy and at peace.



  1. Shall I start watching auctions again? It sounds as if you will be needing to stock up a bit.

    As to your “actual person” status–as inspirational to many as the Stoic Patient/Disabled Person is, living next to one is quite annoying. You’re not a peer-reviewed study, filled with graphs and statistics: you are an actual human being with strengths and flaws, ups and downs, good days and rotten ones. Sharing that reality is much more inspiritational and comforting in the long run of living with something.

    I have an acquaintance who makes non-ferrous ritual tools for sale to Pagans, Heathens, and Druids (and any other polytheistic spiritual path which used them), who always has a table at the conference I attend over the “Presidents Day” holiday weekend each year. I asked him how he was, and he said, “Not bad, considering.” I *looked at him* and said, “Considering?”. He’d had a major heart attack, some months back, and was trying to learn to live with some different habits. After three clueless-about-human-nature physicians, he was introduced to a fourth who, instead of giving him doom&gloom if he didn’t stop several habits cold turkey rightthisinstant, suggested he pull back off the cigs one a month until he wasn’t smoking any more, use oils instead of butter, shift this a bit, shift that a bit–reasonable things most of us could manage. I am really good at recycling/passing along, reducing disposables/one-use items, reusing things instead of getting disposables *when appropriate and possible*–but it happened in stages, not all at once. At first it was just collecting soda cans to sell–and finding out that you get a better price for 50lbs than for ten trips of 5lbs. Then it was more recycling when we moved to Santa Cruz, in order to avoid dragging things down the curving hill of a driveway every week. I learned about reuse clearinghouses, thrift store donations, what elementary school teachers love to get, and other “repurposing”…but the accumulation of waste-stream reduction activities in this house developed over years, not one month.

    Your concentration on mindfulness, other meditation, research on melanoma and other cancers, ability to handle bad news and to stave off worse by being vigilant–those also took years, rather than some Ethereal Being (some watery tart?) suddenly descending, and changing you topsy turvy. As your Math profs likely said, Show your work. The eggs a silkworm lays will never spin their cocoon were the instructions not in their DNA–but your readers and others don’t have that advantage, so your words and your examples, and those others who read this blog, all learn how to cope with something as life-changing as melanoma because of your blog…I think I tripped over my thoughtstream in there. I hope you get what I’m trying to say, at an hour when I should really stop typing.

    Some good news on my end: While Kurt is apparently having a cold once every 3-4 weeks this year (stress & not enough rest), in early December my endocrinologist said, “And you’ve had your flu shot, right?”

    I shook my head no. I explained that I can’t remember the last time I had the flu, maybe one cold a year, and mostly just deal with seasonal allergies. I *may* have had this year’s cold already, and for a change it took less than a week, instead of the usual three or more. I think when Arthur, who is now 18, was growing his own immune system, I was getting a recharge on mine, right along with him, cough for cough.

    I am also dancing more confidently (as well as better) since the muscles in my legs arrived at the new balance, after my bone spur removal. Now to work on balance in general. I just can’t seem to manage the Hindu statue balancing act these days–a sword balanced on one hand, while the opposite foot is raised making infinity signs above the floor…

  2. Here’s hoping the leg perfusion works as well the second time and it is another two years before you see any lumps or bumps of an ominous nature. Medical science has come far on the road to treating melanoma. Missing you out West. Calgary has B-, P- and A-shaped holes – of course only those of us who knew you likely notice 😉

  3. I’m very sorry to read you will need more treatment. We do what we must fir those who love us. I’m interested in where you went for your mindfulness retreat. I’m in PEI. I followed Ian’s blog as well and although I suspected it was brought to tears by the news. My daughter and husband lost their dear friend (39) two weeks ago and recent diagnoses in my community has me fragile. But we ‘press on’ . Good wishes for a successful treatment.

  4. I’ve never been especially good at saying the right words, but know that you remain in my thoughts and I hope this ends up being yet another pothole on a still long road.

  5. Thanks to all for your good wishes! I am not feeling very wonderful about all this but, as Lynn said, I ‘press on’ regardless. My coping strategies are improving all the time and now that I’m drinking dandelion root tea my future health is all but assured 🙂

  6. Okay, I chuckeld at the Dandelion tea. I haven’t bought mine yet. Yet I have a strong sense that the war against melanoma will be won by breakthroughs from unconventional trials. Perhaps because conventional treatment can create creating holding patterns for varied amoutns of time but no cure. So lets raise our glass to dandelion tea and rejoice with whatever precentage may be cured.

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