Tom, “You have cancer.”
When you find out you have cancer everything changes. There’s an expression, “you could have heard a pin drop,” not something people normally experience but something which describes those surreal moments in life. But on the day the doctor told me, “you have cancer, I swear you could have heard a pin drop. And when you find out you have cancer the pin which drops is more like the pin of a hand-grenade.
Defining moments are the times in our lives where time stands still, and one of my defining moments occurred when I was told I had cancer!
Your defining moment might have been when finally got your diploma, or it could have been the day you said “I Do”, or it maybe it was the day you held your first born child. These life changing moments become defining when the world as we know it is forever changed and our life takes on a new trajectory.
You Have Cancer Moment
Such was the case for me on December 12, 2009 when phone call led to a defining moment for my life. I was leaving a shopping mall after doing some Christmas shopping when I noticed I had a missed a call and there was a voice mail. I recognized the number as it was from a doctor who had recently done a biopsy for me and figured the call was a formality with news there was nothing to be concerned about. Unfortunately the message received was not what I expected as my doctor called, rather than her PA, with instructions to call her as soon as I possible.
I’ve taken many a road trip in my life. During my senior year of high school, a group of us headed to Daytona Beach during Spring Break to celebrate our upcoming graduation. In college, there were many trips around the Southeast following the Georgia Bulldog football team. And after graduation, a group of us would road trip once a year to a new golf mecca for our annual golf outing.
Cancer Trip to Seattle
No, my traveling to Seattle is not a pilgrimage to the home of Starbucks to pursue the art of making the perfect Skinny Vanilla Latte. Actually, the purpose of the trip is to gain clarity and consult with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the University of Washington. I have a rare form of skin cancer called Merkel Cell Carcinoma. There are less than 1500 cases of merkel cell cancer per year so the diagnosis is rare and there is no defined treatment protocol like you would have with breast cancer or prostate cancer. Merkel is most prevalent in people over the age of 65 and most of the treatment options are based on a less aggressive approach due to their age. So in my situation, being only 45 with the merkel cell cancer now having metastasized, it seemed like a good time for to travel to where the research was being done.
Let me start out with a quick cancer update my sister Molly prepared a few days ago that I never had a chance to share. Keep reading after her update to see what went on this weekend and will be going on tomorrow.
Thought it was time for a cancer update on Tom. He got back the results today – out of the 25 or so lymph nodes that were taken out two showed Merkel Cell cancer – one was 6 centimeters and the other was over 5….which is considered quite large.
So what do we do next?
We spoke with several medical oncologists and found one we feel can handle this type of cancer. Because this cancer is so rare and doesn’t look like other cancers Tom’s received very different advice from three different oncologists on what the next step should be. Some say to do chemo and radiation and another says to only do radiation.
So first Tom has to heal for the next 5 weeks from the surgery before he can start treatment and he’s currently battling an infection so that needs to be taken care of.