VIEW FROM THE RIDGE
Date line 5/5/2016, Portland, Oregon.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This has been one whale of looooong week. Last week the MRI and PET scan were completed and we found out the results Friday. Made arrangements for Surgery tomorrow, Friday, but didn’t find out until yesterday what time the surgery was to happen. I have to be at the hospital at 5:30 AM!! I don’t get up for anything at 5:30 --- oh, wait, my bladder will sometimes wake me up and scream in my ears “Run, Mikey, Ruuuun!!! Ahh, it is just a thrill a minute to grow old. But I digress. Anyway, surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am so why on earth do I have to be there two hours early? I have been down this road a few times and I can tell you that it takes all of maybe 30 minutes to prep me for surgery. Mean while, whoever is with me is trying to make small talk and looking at me as if they were viewing me at a funeral. So, again, there passes 90 minutes that I will not get back.
I had two pre-op meetings with the two surgeons that will be working on me. Dr. Anderson will do the removing of the cancer and bone in my left cheek, and Dr. Wax and his team will do the reconstruction. Each time I meet with doctors, new stuff and information comes out or is revealed, however you want to put it.
Wednesday I learned where the free flap comes from to cover the hole in the left palette. And it is not Free!! They take a cookie size piece of tissue from your thigh, including fat, veins blood vessels, maybe even some tissue. But they also have to take 12 inches of veins and vessels feeding that piece of flesh. So they will make a 14 inch or greater incision somewhere between my knee cap and my hip. Man, I am so looking forward to that!!
After much discussion with family and friends, I decided to insist that the surgeon not remove the upper left jaw bone and teeth. If there is no cancer there he will then proceed with the rest of the operation. If he finds cancer in the jaw bone he will remove what cancer he can, close me up and send me home in two or three days. The chances of this cancer coming back in the next year or two is like 99.9 %. If it comes back that soon, I don’t want to spend the next year trying to heal so that I can eat, just to have the cancer return and we start the miserable journey of dying. I am not sure which is worse; fighting cancer or dying of cancer. I know fighting cancer is no fun and I have watched a number of friends die of cancer and it is no walk in the park. So we go into this surgery knowing that the outcome will determine what the rest of my life is going to be like.
Oh, wait! Hang on a minute! Christ and God determined eons ago what the end of my life was going to be like down to the day, hour and minute when Jesus is going to come down to earth and walk me by the hand to Heaven. So in reality I don’t think I can make a wrong decision. The choices I have will only affect the quality of my life in those last months or years.
I did not like choice one, do nothing, choices three and four were risky as there was such a small percentage of projected success with immune therapy and clinical trials. That leaves only surgery which Jeri and I chose based on quality of life issues. When, not if, the cancer returns, we will still have the option of Immune Therapy and/or clinical trials.
It is now 5/7/2016
Yesterday, surgery day, finally arrived. We didn’t leave the house until 5:35, was in pre-surgery by 6:15 and at 6:45 the various surgery teams started wandering in to brief and answer questions that I might have. There were four teams; The first was the anesthesia team that would put me out; The second is the surgical team that would remove whatever cancer they found; The third was the ophthalmologist team that was there in case they were needed to rebuild muscle or flesh around the eye, and the forth was the reconstruction team to rebuild around the eye socket, depending on how much bone was removed.
They made an incision starting at the middle of my upper lip, went under the left side of my nose, then up along the left side of my nose to just about where my eye brow starts. They then lay this flap of skin over and check for cancer in the jaw bone. In answer to all your prayers they found none, zero, nada of any cancer in the jaw. They then went up to the upper sinus bone and eye socket and discovered there was less cancer than they thought. They removed the remains of the original tumor and were able to obtain clear margins. There were no other signs of cancer. After 3 hours of surgery they were closing me back up. Interesting side line to all of this is that my grandson, Mitchell, is an anesthetist assistant who prepares surgical rooms before and after surgeries. He was allowed to come in and check my blood sugar during the operation while my face was laid open. He said it was not a pretty sight.
I woke up at 3 pm in recovery and the first thing I did was close my right eye to check if I had any eye sight from my left eye. I was relieved to be able to see clearly. I next ran my tongue around the roof of my mouth to see what the soft palate felt like. Only there wasn’t any. Hard palate was still there. Then I remembered telling the surgeon that if he found cancer in the upper left jaw bone to just stop and only remove what cancer was easy to get out. So I’m thinking that is what happened. I am also thinking “dead man walking”. Turns out I was thinking wrong!
Some of you prayed for complete healing, and that prayer may or may not be answered now, it may have to wait and see. For today I am cancer free, but Mucosal Melanoma is a sneaky cancer and I am a small percentage of victims that have lived long enough to contact it twice. It will come back sooner than it did this time and will come back stronger. But modern medicine is making tremendous progress in fighting cancer and there is no telling what they will come up with in the next two or three years.
Yet I belong to the family of God. Jesus is the great physician who healed thousands, rose people from the dead, and is more than capable of healing me of cancer, if that is His will. And that is all I want is His will to be done.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
James 4:2-----and you have not because you ask not.
The power of prayer has again been demonstrated through the thousands of people that have been praying for Jeri and me. I send out about 150 e-mails notifying people who are interested in knowing when I post on my blog. Last week I had over 300 hits which means that a lot of those e-mails are being forwarded to other people. I had 21 hits from Russia. Most of the people that read my blog are Christians who belong to churches, Sunday School classes and care groups, home bible studies, all who have family and friends that they ask to pray also. That adds up to thousands of people petitioning God to answer their prayer requests.
Satan has requested of God 4 times to allow him to destroy my testimony and four times your prayers have defeated Satan. Jeri and I am eternally grateful. Each of you knows someone who is suffering from cancer. Pray for them and get as many of your family and friends and their families and friends to pray for them. There is power in prayer that goes beyond our understanding, but the one thing I do understand is the request has to be within God’s will. We have to pray and then step back out of God’s way and let him do his will. Good things will happen when we do.
As for me, I am doing exceptionally well. I have very little pain and most of that is being handled with Tylenol. I am writing this on Saturday and they expect me to be released tomorrow on Sunday. I have some double vision but the doctors expect that to correct itself as the swelling goes down. I am one happy camper and for now cancer free. God gets all the praise, to God goes all the glory. Amen!