The Basics

Welcome Friends!

September was a whirlwind, and October is going to be just as crazy. Below is the story of what has been happening. Many more details to come.


What happened?

Over the summer, I noticed a mole on my arm had grown and changed color. Several close family and friends noticed too. In September, it decided to start bleeding. The message was loud and clear: Maggie, you need to go get that thing checked.

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On September 9th, I went to a dermatologist. I already knew in my heart that it was going to be melanoma. During the week leading up to this appointment, I had spent most of my evenings researching abnormal moles. The photos of melanoma on each website looked exactly like the spot on my arm.

When the doctor came in the room, she looked at my arm for no more than 2 seconds before saying she needed to get a different doctor. (That can’t be a good sign.) I recognized the doctor that came in next. Her photo was on the dermatologist office’s website, and I remembered that she was the skin cancer expert. (Again, not a good sign.)

She was very candid with me and told me that it was most likely melanoma. After numbing my upper arm, they scooped out all of the skin surrounding that mole in order to perform a biopsy. Three stitches closed it up tight.

Gross!

On September 15, the doctor called me to give me the results. The biopsy confirmed that the spot was melanoma. The pathologists measured it at 2.1mm deep, and it had ulcerated (it had microscopic tears). This put me in the category of Stage 2b. The doctor also informed me that when the edges of the tissue were tested, it showed them that there was more cancer in my arm – the original scoop had not removed it all.

On September 21 I met with a surgeon who helped me understand everything that would come next. He also sent me to the labs for blood work and a chest x-ray. (By the way, every single Community North employee that I met that day was so kind, patient and helpful. Kudos to that hospital for being awesome).

On September 24 I went in for surgery. First stop: the radiology department. My upper arm was injected with blue radioactive dye. After lying down and being moved underneath some ginormous machine, the technician watched the dye move through my arm and into my lymph nodes. She drew some symbols on me with a Sharpie, then sent me back to my room. I found out later that these symbols marked where my lymph nodes were, and showed the surgeon which lymph node should be removed for testing.

After the injection, things moved pretty fast. I was hooked up to my IV and taken to the operating room. The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room. The surgeon had removed a large football-shaped portion of my upper arm. He also had made an incision in my armpit and removed one of my lymph nodes.

I don't remember taking this photo or sending it to my friends, but I did! Clearly in good spirits after surgery!
Wide excision (and blue dye, still showing several days later!)

Recovery was a little rough, but I’m super lucky to have parents that still look after their 31-year-old baby. I spent a long weekend at home with them, and they were amazing. Dad went to the store at least once a day to get everything I wanted or needed, and mom cooked some of my favorites. I’m so grateful for them!

About two weeks later, on October 6th, I heard the results from the sentinel node biopsy. The lymph node came back positive for cancer cells, which means I am now considered to be in Stage 3b. I’m still learning exactly what this means and will post further updates as I figure things out.


What’s next?

October 15 – CT Scan

October 19 – Meeting with the surgeon

October 27 – Surgery #2 to remove more lymph nodes

20 thoughts on “The Basics

  1. You are on super drive in my prayers, Maggie! Big hugs, smiles and love to you. Tha ks for sharing and if you need ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL, please let me know.

  2. Thanks for such a clear and direct report. I love it when people send out the truth and clear report. It keeps people from speculating and guessing what is going on. I will be praying for you and thank you for including me on your blog list.

  3. Oh, Maggie, I hurt for you and your parents. Thank you for sharing. Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers!!

  4. I am so sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I know you probably have a stellar support system in place. Know that you have friends near and far. I will be thinking of you daily, old friend!

  5. Maggie, I have been praying ever since the grapevine sent the news of your diagnosis. I, too, appreciate your well- written, upbeat report of your journey. I hope that I will be able to follow your progress with your next blogs. My prayers continue as you bravely face these new challenges.

  6. As usual your optimism and tell it like it is is so amazing. You are certainly in all of our prayers. Love ya!

  7. Super sorry to hear about all this but thank you for sharing. You’ve got another prayer warrior to add as you continue with this “adventure”.

  8. Hey Maggie,
    We are praying for you EVERY day! We serve a mighty God and He has great plans for you.
    Renee and Tom Daniel. Jeremiah 29:12-13

  9. Wow Maggie! I had not heard this. So scary and disruptive to your life…stupid canceršŸ˜ . I will be praying for you. God will use even this, so continue to let your light shine! Hugs,

  10. Maggie:
    I’ve been thinking about you since I heard the news a couple weeks ago. I’m praying for you, your sweet family and your doctors for comfort, peace, clarity and wisdom as you go through this journey.

    Amy Scher

  11. Maggie,
    I’m sorry you are going through this. You always amaze me with your strength and courage!! I will stay updated on your journey and keep you in my thoughts and prayers!
    God Bless

  12. Oh Maggie. My heart hurts. But of course you’re still smiling in these pictures, cause that’s just like you. Cry when you need to; laugh when you want to. I’m thinking of you and praying over your body, girl!

  13. Maggie-
    You’re a super star! I know how scary all the testing is and how much a positive attitude can help as you navigate your journey. I’m praying for you and your family (your parents are two of my favorite people).

  14. Maggie, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Praying for complete healing.
    Ken and Kathy Seitz

  15. Praying for healing over your body Maggie! Praying for Godly wisdom & direction for your doctors. You are an incredibly strong woman with a big heart and faith! Remember it was once said, that you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you! Fight on! You have a lot of people….and your Heavenly Father behind you. Love ya friend!

  16. Praying for complete healing over your body. You are an incredibly strong woman with a huge heart & faith. Never forget that you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!

  17. We will be praying for you! Prayers DO make a difference! Kay is on her own journey but we know God heals! Believe in Him!!

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