This past November, I had a mole removed on the lower left part of my back that turned out to be Melanoma. I was quickly referred to a medical Oncologist, Dr. Keith Amos, at the University of North Carolina cancer center. On New Year’s Eve, I had surgery to remove the remainder of the Melanoma on my back and a lymph node located under my left armpit.
The mole ended up being a lot deeper than expected during surgery and when all was said and done, measured 5 mm which is considered thick. A week after surgery we also found out that there were small clusters of Melanoma cells that had spread to that lymph node that was removed. At this point, we knew that I had at least stage 3.
In the following weeks, I had a PET scan and an MRI to ensure that the cancer had not spread to any of my major organs. Waiting for those results were in fact the longest days, hours, minutes of our entire lives. Everything in those tests came back clean, except for a small area that lit up on the PET scan on my right side.
On January 25, I had a lymph node dissection done on my left side to remove the remainder of the lymph nodes in that same area. Dr. Amos explained that it could be anywhere between 20-30 lymph nodes. When I came out of surgery, to my surprise, I had the dissection done on both my left and right side. During surgery, Dr. Amos made a small incision under my right armpit as well to ensure that none of those lymph nodes had cancer in it. He noticed a lymph node, that was black in color, took it out, had it tested right away, and learned that was indeed cancerous.
The drains were in for 2 weeks, they were taken out on Feb. 9, and immediately after, I met with my medical oncologist to discuss treatment, Dr. Dillon. By far, the heaviest part of this entire process for both me and Mary was the conversation we had with him in that 60 minute time frame. We learned that my cancer was stage 3c, it has a 70-80 percent chance of reoccurring the next 5 years, and that I was going to be starting interferon treatment very soon.
I will undergo interferon treatment for an entire year starting on the Feb. 22. The first month will be 5 days a week at UNC. The treatment sessions will each be an hour long and be given through a port. The next 11 months I will be giving myself the treatment 3 times a week with quick injection. More than likely, I’m going to feel like I have a bad case of the flu during treatment. Obviously, the first month is going to be the most intense. Biologically, my body is going to go through a lot during this stretch, and it’ll probably be physically draining after a while.
James 1:2-4 says, “2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Obviously, not a trial I planned nor wanted to ever go through, but I’m fortunate enough to know that God the creator has an even better plan for my life here on earth, no matter how long that may be. This blog is truly not to bring more attention to myself, but ultimately to proclaim the name of Christ and how He uses situations like these to reveal His grace and His greatness. I hope to use this as an avenue to share, not only my battle with cancer, but how the Lord is growing and strengthening me during this trial.