Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Glass House

My melanoma life started in the summer of 2007 when I stepped on something sharp in my kitchen.  Always barefoot first thing in the morning, I reached down to remove what looked like a tiny piece of glass from my right heel.  It made such a small dent in my foot that I wasn’t even sure it broke the skin. Once it started to bleed, l looked closely and saw a tiny open dot on the center of my heel.  I cleaned my foot, put a little antibiotic ointment on the cut and wondered where in the world that glass came from. I hadn’t dropped or broken anything in the kitchen and I kept it mopped clean.

During the first few days, the tiny little cut wouldn't stop bleeding.  I tried all the over-the-counter antibiotic skin creams along with countless bandages (which trust me, won’t stick long on the bottom of your heel.)  Nothing would heal this heel! 
A couple of weeks went by and I noticed it seemed to bleed less. It’s finally healing, I thought.  My heel hadn’t really hurt since the morning I cut it, but it was annoying to have to clean the stains from the inside of my right shoes.
By the end of the month, something new had developed. It looked like the cut was getting circular and bigger.  It was filling in with something that didn’t look right.  I had a routine appointment coming up with my primary doctor so I decided to have him take a look at my foot.

My doctor thought some of the glass had broken off inside of my foot and  developed into a granuloma, which is a special type of inflammation.  He suggested that I see a specialist who would most likely surgically remove the glass and prescribe antibiotics to clear any infection that may have developed.  So later that day, I took out the phone book and made an appointment with a podiatrist who accepted my insurance and had an office not far from my home. 
The podiatrist examined my foot and gave me the same diagnosis as my primary.  She said she needed to go in surgically to clean out the wound because it was possible that glass particles had broken off under the skin.  I really didn't think there was any glass inside, because when I reached down to see what I had stepped on, it was just a small piece laying on top of the skin. But because of the inflammation and infection that might be developing, I agreed to the surgery.  Before I left her office, she asked if she could take a picture of my heel to share with her other associates because she had never seen a granuloma like mine.  

The out patient surgery went fine.  I had to stay off my foot for a while, but I was glad to finally get that annoyance behind me!
I had a post-surgical appointment scheduled a week later with my podiatrist, but I received a call from her nurse a few days after the surgery.  She asked me to come in earlier, on Monday, and at their other location.  I said I would and we arranged a time. She seemed nervous, spoke quickly and rushed me off the phone.  From her voice, I knew something was wrong. 
When I arrived at my doctor’s office that Monday morning, it seemed that the unfamiliar office staff already knew me. The nurse who called me on the phone was standing at the front desk, and she immediately put me into a room.  My dad had driven me to my appointment because my right foot was heavily bandaged from the surgery.  I didn't want him to sit alone in the waiting room so I asked him come in with me. 
 
In a few minutes, that same nurse came in, stood by my side and reached over to hold my hand.  I was right. The news was going to be bad.  My doctor came in and told me that I had melanoma.  The biopsy results showed that it was a deeply invasive melanoma, with details of Breslow’s Depth at 8.0 mm and Clark’s Level IV (at least)... melanoma in-situ.  Her eyes were tearing as she explained that when she received the lab results, it was a complete shock to her because she had been sure it was a granuloma.   She told me that she had contacted my primary about my health crisis.  Together they had decided to give me the weekend and have me come in on Monday for the news.   
I knew it was going to be bad news, but I was thinking maybe an infection, or more surgery was needed.  I never expected to hear that I had a life-threatening cancer growing inside of me.  For a brief moment, it felt like someone had turned on a dimmer switch inside of me.  Everyone in the room had tears in their eyes, but nothing was sadder than watching my eighty-two year old father sit quietly in the corner weeping over his daughter’s diagnosis. 

3 comments:

  1. Hi LuAnn! I'm sorry you've gotten this diagnosis. Thanks for letting me know about your blog and I have added it to my They Dare to Care list. If you haven't found Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook, please do and connect with a larger melanoma community. Blessings on your journey.

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  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?

    Thanks,

    Cameron

    cameronvsj(at)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete