Today was a pretty long and stressful day. It began with a brain MRI at Moffitt, which was not as bad as I had remembered it to be. If you've never had one, they can be quite unnerving--especially if you are even the least bit claustrophic. The worst part of it this time was that I suddenly experienced a tickle in my throat, but I could not freakin' cough and risk moving my head! If I did, we would have to start that part all over again and I just wanted it over with. Somehow I managed to keep it together and get through it.
For most of the day, I had been pretty positive. I prayed fervently, and spoke affirmatively that "there is no cancer in my brain!" However, once the time came to get the results, I was feeling anxious. The nurse checked my vitals and my heart rate was 121, which lead him to ask, "are you ok?" Uhm, no. No, I'm not. I recently learned I have cancer and I'm about to find out if it has spread even further into my brain. No, I'm not ok. I didn't say this out loud, because he was actually very nice, but I sure thought it.
Next, we met with my new Oncologist, whom was very informative and to the point. All business and I'm totally cool with that. Let's get this cancer fighting show on the road already! By the grace of God, there is NO cancer in my brain!!! I can honestly say that before today's episodes of praying like a monk and yelling to the universe that cancer is not in my brain, I was scared. Melanoma often finds it way to the brain and because the lymph node on the side of my neck has been enlarged for 3 weeks now, all I could imagine was that the cancer was spreading upward. Maybe it was. But not anymore. Game on.
Lastly, the doctor wanted to biopsy the swollen lymph node on the side of my neck to confirm if it contained cancer cells and to obtain a sample for BRAF testing. I've had biopsies in the past but never a fine needle biopsy of the neck. Let's just say it wasn't pleasant the first time she stuck the needle in and wiggled it all around to obtain tissue samples. And it certainly sucked the second go round as well. She let me see the tissue samples floating around after the biopsy. Dark brown/black tissue--so creepy! The lymph node cells tested positive for melanoma, but I was anticipating such a result. Now, we have to wait for the molecular testing to see if the cancer cells contain a BRAF mutation. If so, it is more aggressive and an additional treatment option then becomes available. I'm still not sure if it's better to be BRAF + or not. Once we get those results, we go with either Plan A or Plan B--both of which are a form of immunotherapy. Stay tuned.
My official melanoma diagnosis is Stage IV M1b (the worst possible score is Stage IV M1d). While my diagnosis is still very serious, I'm not afraid anymore. I know God is with me every step of the way and that I will be healed. This will not beat me! I will only come out a stronger, better human, with a grateful heart and new perspective on life. Hallelujah for more good news today!! So very thankful for the continued prayers from all of you--He's listening and one was answered today.
Side note, we chose Moffitt because they are #8 nationwide, they've been on top of things with my case since day one, and also because their logo (see below) reminds me of the Transformers. Every time I see it, it makes me feel like the super warrior that I am.
Love & Sunblock