Yesterday (9/24) was my first appointment at Arizona Cancer Center since my Malignant Melanoma diagnosis last Wednesday. Right away, Danny and I were completely impressed with the center. It's a new facility with pretty landscaping outside. The lobby is huge and lovely with a player piano (a three year old was "helping" play when we first walked in. We started at check in and were warmly welcomed and given a pager that looked like the discs you are given when waiting at a restaurant. It had a readout on it that instructed us where to go when it vibrated. We had just a minute to sit down and notice the book lending libraries when the pager alerted us it was time to go to registration. We were greeted at the door of the registration room and got all signed in with health insurance. Thank you Lord for our health insurance! We then were walked to my doctor's office, on the way we got a mini tour of the facility. There is a Sunstone rescource center for support groups, nutrition, and massage information, a lab on site, free WiFi available, computers for visitor use, a library and a cafe where you can get a free drink and snack each time you are there for an appointment. I had new patient paperwork to fill out, then we were taken back to wait for Dr Warneke. Highlights of our wait were changing into a highly fashionable hospital gown and then figuring out I needed to go into the hallway to pee. I HATE that! Two surgical residents came and looked at my back, asked some questions and left. Dr. Warneke came in a bit later. He was warm and kind. He looked at the spot on my lower back "formerly known as my mole" and did some probing of my lymph nodes. He explained that the size of my melanoma was intermediate, which means we didn't catch it early, but we didn't catch it late, either. There is about a 20% chance that the melanoma has spread to my lymph nodes. But, it is highly curable at this point. I will be having surgery this coming Friday (October 2.) They will remove a large oval of skin around the melanoma to make sure there is a "clear border" of healthy cells around what they remove. The oval will be about 4" x 3". They assure me that everyone has plenty of back skin to compensate for this hole they're making. Lucky me will have a scar on my back to match my c-section scar on my front! They will also be injecting a dye around the mole before surgery and doing a scan to see which lymph nodes drain the area around my mole. Dr Warneke will remove the first lymph node the dye reaches and it will be sent to pathology to test for cancer cells. The pathology results should be available sometime on Thursday October 8th. If the lymph node is clear, I will see a dermatologist ever 3 months for the next 2 years. If the lymph node shows signs of cancer, I will be put on a medicine called Interferon which suppresses the melanoma. It isn't chemo, but it has it's "fair share of side effects." Dr. Warneke said it feels like you have the flu for a year. We then met with the nurse coordinator who gave us more information about post op care and melanoma treatment. She even called me this morning to check on me and ask if I had questions! I had some lab work drawn and was given orders for a chest x-ray.
Danny and I left feeling well taken care of and very hopeful. I'm sure it was in large part due to the incredible prayer coverage we had from our friends. I am at peace about the future. Thank you for the incredible support we've been given.