One week ago I left Virginia filled with anxiety for the surgery, fear for the pain and the pathology report, and clinging to hope that things were going to turn around for me.
Now, one week later, I leave New York with 5 new scars, little strength in my arms, but I am leaving with a peace of mind that to our knowledge--and we took extreme steps to find out--there is no melanoma in my body.
I will never forget Dr. Glinda walking into Suite 7 at the hospital with a stack of papers. My appointment was to remove the drains; however, I had the slight suspicion when her office called to ask me to come in that the pathology report had returned. "It is not finalized yet, it is fresh off the press, but everything was clear." "Yeah, I had to read it twice before I believed it, too."
I do not mean to sound like a debbie downer, but I did believe at least a few nodes would come back positive. Look at my track history...Do you blame me for assuming that? I have a feeling that even though Dr. Glinda told me she did not see anything suspicious, she was still as shocked as I was to have the "all clear" report.
She said to me, "You know your other oncologist told you not to do this surgery...and all of your nodes came back negative..."
I interrupted, "But I have a peace of mind."
I thank Dr. Glinda for that. When I first met with her, she did not pressure me one way or another. She gave me my options, she listed the risks, but she understood that at 23 my life was in shambles. Melanoma completely consumes me. To have a peace of mind, well...there is no price for that.
Dr. Glinda complimented me on the way that I have handled this. She said I have handled it with grace and poise. That means a lot to me. At times I know some of my questions were probably ridiculous, but I have to know everything I can about this unpredictable disease. Being the kind, amazing doctor that she is, Dr. Glinda hugged me as we were leaving. It was not that fake, "you did good" hug. It was the "Thank God this was the outcome."
Like I have said before, I feel very thankful to have her on my side.
The realization of the "all clear" report did not start to hit me until I called Mr. Spots in the lobby of the hospital. It started to feel real. Then when I got in touch with my Dad a few minutes later, I completely fell apart. "Daddy, all of my nodes were clear." He hesitated. "What?" "All of my nodes came back clear." He screamed, "Already? ALL of your nodes were clear? Praise God." And the tears started... on both ends.
So, here we are, one week later, and I am packing up my stuff to head back to truly heal in Virginia with the peace of mind I have been praying for since January. I know that I have a long fight ahead of me, serious decisions to make, but right now, in this very moment, I am going to enjoy the relief.
Going back to my obsession with The Wizard of Oz, there is no place like home.