Thursday, December 23, 2010

Update: Part 2

A little late, perhaps, but for those of you who do not already know, I wish to share some good news! I have received the lab results back following my surgery, and all is now well and clear, as I have been deemed “cancer-free!”

There will be steps to follow such as monitoring to make sure if it does resurface, we can again catch it early. However, since I am leaving South Africa soon and this will be an ongoing process, I have decided this will wait until I return to the USA in March.

Thank you to all for the love, support, encouragement and prayers! I’m calling this an early Christmas gift. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Today is a public holiday here in South Africa, which to me sounds like an invitation to just “be.” I've had lots of necessary time to rest lately, and now I think my body is transitioning from needing this rest into just really liking the rest and extra sleep, even if I don't need it.

But today, I don’t mind.

So as I write this (on my iPod), I'm lying on my bed with all the windows around me open. Light music is playing in the background. Fresh, cool air is pouring in: I wonder if it's going to rain? If not today then likely tomorrow. I look up and see purple: my mosquito net is untidily swept behind me, not serving it's purpose, of course, but then again on a carefree day like today, who cares?

There is work I could or probably should be doing, but instead, I am doing this: "work" I believe to be good for my soul. It's been a hectic couple of weeks and it's nice to have peace, quiet and rest amidst a day when I'm finally feeling alright. I'm now only waiting on peace of mind that I hope will come with lab results on Monday. ... But that's not today. For today, or at least for this morning, I'm on holiday…

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It has been a while since I’ve updated, and much has happened.

I would like to begin where my last post left off: I am thankful for the many people who read my posts here, and (whether they read them or not) for the countless people all over the world who pray for me.

The past two weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster. In short, what began as a routine procedure to have a mole removed, turned out to not be so “routine.”

In fact, when I saw the dermatologist, he told me he wasn’t sure it was a mole at all, but rather a skin growth that wasn’t anything to be concerned about. But at my request, he cut it out just to “be safe,” as it was irritating me. This may have been the best decision of my life.

I left with a promise that the results would be phoned to me within about a week. Two days later, I got that phone call that everyone dreads, “Ms. Tyler, the doctor would like to see you as soon as possible. Could you come in within the next hour, or first thing in the morning?”

As I was only a couple of blocks away, I canceled my other appointment for the afternoon and went straight there; the last thing I needed was to worry about such an appointment until the next morning! Unfortunately, the doctor presented me with the very news I dreaded most: the mole he removed was malignant; I had melanoma. The verb here is important, though: “had.” We caught it very, very early, and due to the size, depth, rate of growth, etc., they were mostly sure it had all, already been removed.

As I took in the news, the doctor took the liberty of making an appointment for me: I needed to see a surgeon immediately to have a larger area excised as a precautionary measure: to do so is the only way we can be sure it had all been removed. Because the growth was on my face (right temple), I would be going to a plastic surgeon. Hopefully, this would be the best way to reduce scaring.

I met with the surgeon 5 days later, and watched panic move across his face as he read my lab results as sent by the referring doctor. With a great calm and incredible confidence, he was stern but clear: this could not wait. He checked his schedule and seemed to rearrange a few things to work it out: he would operate the next day.

The operation was a bit bigger than anticipated. The doctor cut out an area just over an inch in diameter and 7mm deep (I didn’t know there was that much skin/tissue in that area!). I was awake for the whole procedure and would be lying if I told you it were pleasant, but it certainly could have been worse. 2 hours and about 50 stitches (internal and external) later, I emerged with a sideways “V”-shaped battle wound covered in layers of bandages wrapped all the way around my head.

4 days later, and I’m feeling worlds better. We’ve removed the giant bandages (now just taping over the sutures), and the doctor is very, very pleased with how it is healing. Amidst celebrations of good healing comes a celebration that I have maintained movement on the right side of my face, which was questionable because he had to cut through areas with critical nerves, leaving a chance I’d lose movement on the right side of my face.

I’m still battling exhaustion from all I’ve undergone in the past couple of weeks (did I mention we moved in the middle of this?), but as my headache gets lighter and the swelling goes down, I’m feeling better by the day.

Later this week I should be able to get the stitches taken out, at which time the lab results should also be back. I’m praying for good news and that this part of the journey has come to an end here. Then, post-holidays, I will move forward with plans to have all my moles mapped and skin evaluated, as if the melanoma chooses to return, I want to catch it as early then as I did this time.