Tag Archives: Melanoma

Remission 12th anniversary

Photography by Miriam Hurdle

I was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cancer in July 2008. None of the doctors who treated me had seen it. It started with stage I or II but turned into stage IV within a few months. I completed the year-long bio-chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation on August 1, 2009. Today marks the 12th anniversary of remission. I’m thankful to be alive, enjoy my family and have the joy to watch the grandchildren grow. I have been writing about my cancer journey since 2016. The distance from the event allows me to have reflection and a proper perspective. It will be a part of my legacy to pass on to the generations to come. This was a one-day-at-a-time journey of faith, hope, and strength. It was a journey cheered and supported by family and friends.

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of my remission, I wanted to share an excerpt with you. The working title of my legacy is The Winding Road, and I’m working on the tagline.

Chapter 2

The hysterectomy surgery was on July 31st, 2008. I wanted to rest for two or three weeks after the surgery before returning to work when the new school year began. 

My husband, Lynton, drove me to St. Jude Medical Center which was 3 miles from home. He stayed with me until the hospital attendant transported me to the surgery room. After the attendant and nurses lifted me onto the surgical table, the anesthesiologist called my name and introduced himself to me and said Dr. Gray was on the way. Before I smiled at him, the blackness came upon me. 

I woke up in the hospital room in the afternoon. There was no pain in the abdomen. Perhaps the anesthesia was not worn off yet. Lynton came with a bouquet almost the same time I woke up. He stayed with me until dinner time and said he would call me early in the morning. It was a relief that the fibroids I had for years were out for good.

At 10:00 p.m., Dr. Gray came to the room and greeted me with a smile. I returned a grin with apprehension because no doctors would visit patients late at night unless there was an emergency. He sat down by the bed. “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology result with you.”

My puzzling grew but nodded and kept smiling.

“The pathology result shows that the vaginal mass was melanoma. I’ve never seen it before, not in vagina, so I did some research. The research shows that melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive and dangerous cancer.”

He detected the perplex on my face, and said, “It looks like it’s in stage I or II, the beginning stage and the cancer has not spread into other parts of the body yet.”

I wanted to ask questions, but my mind went blank. What questions could I ask? The moisture saturated my eyes.

“I have lined up the referrals for you to see the specialists for treatments. Call my cell phone if you have questions. I’ll start my vacation tomorrow.” He handed me a note with his phone number. It seemed like he did a lot of homework that afternoon.

“But you’ll be on vacation,” I said, still tried to find words.

“That’s what a cell phone is for.” he smiled. “I’m glad God put you in my care.”

His visit transported me to the thickest fog in the dark.

~ ~ ~

The next day, I still had no pain after the anesthesia was worn off.

Lynton called me around 9:00 a.m. to let me know he was coming to see me later that day. He told me his dad passed away, and he was on the phone with his siblings. His dad had been in Loma Linda ICU since last Wednesday with a heart-attack and a kidney infection. The infection went into the blood and his condition went downhill. After the infection was gone, he was on dialysis to give the kidney a break to see if it could be reversed. Lynton and I went to see him last Wednesday. He was unconscious when we got there. The entire family of twelve people were there talking to each other about the latest progress. Lynton’s dad heard our voices and opened his eyes. We went close to his bedside to hold his hands and spoke to him. His eyes sparked a little and then went back to unconsciousness. That was the last time I saw his dad.

“Would you ask your family to schedule the funeral service after I get home from the hospital? I want to be there.”

“Don’t worry. My family will consider that when they plan for the funeral service. I’m on my way to the hospital to see you.”

When he arrived, I gave him the news. He faced me with the brooding look and said he would research on melanoma as soon as he got home.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse came in to check on me.

“I’m feeling very well with no pain. Can I go home today?”

“The attending doctor is not here yet. Let me check your incision and change the dressing. I’ll let the doctor know of your condition. He has to authorize the discharge.”

The doctor came in an hour later. After checking my progress, he authorized the discharge.

“Thank you, doctor,” I said to him while my mind spun at a record speed, miles into the search engine, chasing the meaning of melanoma.

.

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UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – Part 3

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner

It is my privilege to take part in this anthology with other 19 authors writing on difficult experiences in our life.

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An excerpt of my contribution

Miriam Hurdle – Stage IV Melanoma – Q&A: 11 to 15
Read more

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – Part 2

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner

It is my privilege to take part in this anthology with other 19 authors writing on difficult experiences in our life.

 

51QiluVI-ML

Blurb:

The following authors and bloggers kindly answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more! Read more

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – Part 1

UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner

It is my privilege to take part in this anthology with other 19 authors writing on difficult experiences in our life.

 

Blurb:

The following authors and bloggers kindly answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more!

All proceeds will go to Cancer Research.

Thanks to:
Alienora Browning
Sally Cronin
Dorinda Duclos
Scarlett Flame
Bernard Foong
Darlene Foster
Janet Gogerty
Debbie Harris
Lucy V. Hay
Miriam Hurdle
Phil Huston
Pamela Jessen
Joe
D.G Kaye
Lynda McKinney Lambert
Jaye Marie
Clive Pilcher
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Beem Weeks

An excerpt of my contribution

Miriam Hurdle – Stage IV Melanoma – Q&A: 1 to 5

 

  1. How did you find out your cancer?

During my annual physical checkup in the summer of 2008, my family doctor said the fibroid in my uterus grew three inches from 1986 to 2007 but grew four additional inches within the previous year. He referred me to the gynecologist. The gynecologist Dr. G confirmed the news and recommended a hysterectomy. He performed the hysterectomy on July 31, 2008. At 10:00 p.m. on August 1, Dr. G came to my hospital room to inform me I had melanoma cancer in the uterus and invaded the female organ.

  1. What stage was it in the first discovery?

Dr. G said melanoma is an aggressive cancer but mine was stage I or stage II which meant cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes.

  1. What was your initial reaction?

I was thankful the pathology detected the cancer at an early stage and had the hysterectomy done timely. Dr. G ordered tests and referred me to Dr. P, an oncologist. I was not scared or alarmed.

  1. Did you research on melanoma cancer? What did you find out?

I found out that melanoma is an aggressive type of cancer that usually shows up as a pigmented growth on the skin. However, less common types may be found in any organ or part of the body with melanin-containing cells (melanocytes).  Melanocytes are cells in the body that make melanin, the substance that gives skin pigment or color. They are in many places throughout the body, including lymph nodes, bone, lung, liver, spleen, kidneys, eye, and brain, not just the skin. Considerable numbers of melanocytes are in the digestive and urogenital tracts and mucous glands. The non-skin melanomas also are called noncutaneous melanomas which are aggressive, metastatic and difficult to treat. Non-skin melanomas are not known to be caused by sun damage, exposure to ultraviolet rays, family history or moles.

  1. What kind of treatment did the doctor recommend?

When I met with the Dr. P, he said he had not dealt with melanoma and referred me to the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center for surgery. I trusted the doctors would take care of the cancer.

To be continued……

~

Available on

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

 

 

 

April 5 Flash Fiction Challenge – Don’t Blame the Sun

April 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a silly sun story. Up north, “sun silly” is the energetic and playful response to returning sunlight. It could also be an April Fool’s jest, a silly story, or a reaction to spring fever. Be silly and write playfully! Go where the prompt leads.

Don’t Blame the Sun

“It’s the sun’s fault when people get melanoma, the visible kind, Erica.”

“Why do people choose to sunbathe long hours just to get tan? Don’t they know that they ask for cancer?”

“Are you saying people don’t get skin cancer if the sun hides behind the clouds?”

“I didn’t say that, Joyce. The ray is powerful that it penetrates through thick clouds.”

“I get it. You’re saying the sun is at fault to impose cancer on people even when the clouds try to protect them, right?”

Hey, look, don’t blame me, just wear suntan lotion wherever you are, okay!

~

Charli Mills, Carrot Ranch: April 5 Flash Fiction – Don’t Blame the Sun

New Normal

This is a reblog of the post I did a year ago. I updated the first line of the post.

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This month marks the 8th anniversary of Remission from my cancer!!

What was my normal schedule and activities all my life until 2008?

Getting up before 6:00 a.m.

Rushing to get on the road to go to work

Multitasking on the job and loving it

Keeping up with cooking dinner and other chores

Keeping up with all the family and social activities

Traveling one to three trips a year

What happened from summer 2008 to summer 2009?

Melanoma Cancer

Six months of chemotherapy

Four surgeries

Five weeks of radiation

What is my new normal?

Thank God for retirement, or else I would not be able to do the following:

Deal with the side effect of chemotherapy – lymphedema on the legs

Unable to fall asleep until the numbness and tingling of my legs subside

Time to get up would have to depend on the time I fall asleep the night before

Running errands is as big a job as climbing mountains

Making two to three stops are manageable, the fourth one has to wait for another day

Elevating my legs and resting is a daily route, whereas years ago I considered it as wasting time

Exercise is a necessity, not a luxury

Priority is the key to manage my schedule

Something for my spiritual, physical, mental life, and make time to be a blessing to others

No promise is made to do everything and I don’t feel guilty if I can’t do it

God bless my being, even when I can’t measure up with my doing!

~

Contribution to Debbie’s Forgiving Fridays

SoCS July 29, 2017

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: ‘limb.’ Use it any way you’d like. Enjoy!” – Lind G. Hill

After my bio-chemotherapy, surgeries, and radiation for six months in 2009, it took care of the stage IV Melanoma cancer. A whole chunk of lymph nodes was removed to get rid of the shrunk tumors. It left me with no fluid circulation on my left leg. The fluid from the left leg goes up until it hits the wall in the left hip area with the missing lymph nodes that were supposed to circulate the fluid to my upper body. So the gravity draws to fluid back to my left leg.

The problem would be solved if I could walk upside down, or stay on the Inversion Table most of the day. There are routine exercises I do to promote the circulation, and massage to manually push the fluid to the upper body. Elevating my legs above the heart level would also be helpful. All these have to be done daily. If I get lazy for a few days, my left leg would get so puffy and get so much pressure that would keep me up all night long.

Hot weather doesn’t help at all. The previous week was so hot. The pressure of the fluid in my left leg actually burst through a tiny pore and kept dripping for half an hour.

I’m grateful for my survival of a stage IV cancer. The side effect I’m still suffering is nothing compared to a life I enjoy. The love life I have with my husband and the strong bonding with my daughter and son-in-law give me joy for my living. They are my motivation to live with the Strength from Above.

~

SoCS July 29, 2017 – Limb

God’s Healing Power – 9 Gratitude links

 

Haiku

Fore’er remember

Surviving melanoma

By God’s healing pow’r

~     ~     ~

My Melanoma treatment experiences are written in the following posts:

Gratitude Moment #1

Gratitude Moments #2

Gratitude Moments #3

Gratitude Moments #4

Gratitude Moments #5

Gratitude Moments #6

Gratitude Moments #7

Gratitude Moments #8

Gratitude Moments #9

~

Daily Prompt: Survive

52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7

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This is the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7 at Haddon Musings

I had written eight posts about my melanoma treatment. I need to write one more to complete my story. I emerge it as part of my Thankfulness. So this week I am thankful for going through the journey of cancer treatment and have been in remission for almost eight years.

August 13, 2009

My bio-chemotherapy came to the end. I just needed a couple more procedures done before the completion of treatment.

When I had my first cancer surgery in October 2008, the surgeon removed all the cancerous tissues except one cancerous lymph node. He sent me back to my primary health care provider and oncologist for chemotherapy. Due to the lack of communication, the referral didn’t get any attention until two months later. I went to the oncologist’s office, sat in the waiting room, demanded for attention. Finally a case caretaker came to talk with me. I cried and complained, saying that my last surgeon requested chemotherapy within four months before the cancer entered my brain, and it had been two months already.

The next day she called the case management office. The supervisor of the office took over my case. She made all the arrangement of tastings and obtained the authorization of referral to a melanoma specialist.

By the time I started my first cycle of treatment in January 2009, the cancer in one lymph node on the right hip area had invaded the whole set of inguinal nodes on the left. So the cancer went from stage II to stage IV.

I went through two cycles of bio-chemo and one surgery and two more cycles of bio-chemo. At the end of June 2009, I completed four cycles of in-patient treatments and one surgery. By this time, the first cancerous lymph node had shrunk into a dead tumor. Dr. O’Day, the melanoma specialist, and the surgeon agreed that it was a good idea to have one more surgery to remove the dead tumor. I had the second surgery done in early July, 2009. The surgeon removed one larger tumor plus 15 smaller dead tumors.

The final procedure was the radiation. Dr. O’Day ordered two sets of radiation. The first set was five days a week for four weeks in the pelvic area. The second set was once a week for four weeks. I met with the radiologist. She aligned me with the radiation machine, marked the tattoo on my body so that each radiation would be done in the same position. She further explained to me the side effect and the possible damage of the radiation. My husband is a radiology technician. He discussed the situation with Dr. O’day. Dr. O’Day decided that the damage would have outweighed the benefit. Therefore he cancelled the first set of radiation. I only needed to do the second set. I started the second week of July and completed it in the first week of August 2009.

Before I entered this journey, I didn’t know where it would have taken me. I only knew that if God didn’t say He was done with me, I had no right to decide to quit. I had to take the chances presented to me and trust him to guide me through. All I could do was to take one day at a time. There were so many nights that I didn’t have any sleep because the chemo drugs burning continuously. My body was so hot and the skin was so sensitive. Knowing that I didn’t have to go to work the next day helped to reduce my anxiousness. Throughout my treatment, my family and friends were my greatest support.

I do believe there is a reason for every season, and for every suffering. With God’s help, I could look beyond the suffering, even when I was right in the middle of it. In the end, I was able to count the suffering as my blessing.

Post note: The highlighted links are linked to the previous 8 posts. I continue to suffer lymphedema (swelling) on left leg, and nerve damage on both legs resulting in tingling and poor circulation.

 

Please share your thankfulness by participating at Haddon Musings

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