Friday, February 5, 2010

No nip and tuck

Sorry to disappoint those who thought my looks might be improved by a little nip and tuck, but I skipped the facelift today. I didn’t have surgery to remove the nodule in my left leg, either, which was a good thing since there was no nodule. To give my surgeon something to do, we agreed to remove a small nodule on my upper left arm.

One out of three. Not bad if we were playing baseball.

I was smug over my surgeon’s determined but futile search for the 1-cm nodule in my leg that spontaneously and totally regressed. As in vanished. He probed with his fingers, he checked and rechecked the PET/CT scans, he even called down an ultrasound tech to have a look. Two weeks ago when I was in his office the mass was obviously and ominously present. What happened to it is a happy mystery.

It’s possible that the nodule wasn’t actually melanoma, but some other type of tumor. Whatever it was, it was picked up by PET/CT, meaning it had high metabolic activity, as all cancers do. It’s satisfying to occasionally stump the experts.

As for my face, I made the case that whatever remains of the melanoma left in my cheek after the biopsy a month ago does not appear to have reconsolidated. It might yet, and if it does, the nodule can be removed and I’ll have plastic surgery, as previously planned. If it doesn’t recur, then I will have dodged one surgery at least. Life will be a little easier without major trauma to my face.

That left the arm. The met there clearly needed to come out. Might it too eventually have regressed? Possibly, but that’s asking a lot of my beleaguered immune system. I took only a local anesthetic so I could fully appreciate the drama of being in the OR, and chatted with Dr. V and his resident while they did their wide area excision. The procedure was simple and uneventful. A sliver of the tumor was sent to path, and the rest to Providence Hospital, where it will be kept frozen in the event it’s needed some day to fabricate a customized vaccine for therapy.

All things considered, I got off lightly today. I have a little numbness in my left hand from a nerve that got jangled, but feel no pain and have no sedation to sleep off. My prognosis doesn’t much improve, but I’m back to being in remission again and going about the business of life. I am grateful.


Anonymous said...

Peter, good news that surgery will not mar your good looks. Great news of the mysterious disappearance of the tumor on your leg. Power of prayer? Maybe so. Positive attitude and commitment to fitness and healthy lifestyle? Quite possible. Be well, my friend, and God bless. Nancy

Cam McCandless said...

Good news indeed. When we pray and ask something to be taken away, do we not expect it to happen? Not often. Grateful that you're home and able to enjoy Super Bowl Sunday (do you enjoy Super Bowl Sunday?) with Ellen, whole. Say hi and we'll talk soon. Cam and Stephen

Debbie said...

What a roller coaster. I can't believe your equanimity through all this. "It's great to get back to the business of life." Love that thought and spirit. Cheering you on from the sidelines, Debbie

Caroline said...

Peter: I was catching up on your blog this morning. So much is going on. I wanted to encourage you about the healing powers of Kauii. We had a great vacation there in November. Explore Waimea canyon, snorkel, kayak if you can (we couldn't with Sophie in a cast!), listen to the ocean, enjoy the bird sanctuary and botanical gardens. It is funky and quiet and beautiful. Blessings!