Is it? It Isn’t … Not Yet, Anyway.

The dermatologist called me Friday to let me know that the biopsy results show  the brown spots re-appearing on my forearm are not necessarily true melanoma; he called them atypical nevi. He suggests two choices: return to his office in two weeks for a follow-up biopsy to see whether the new spots are still expanding across the original surgical site, or go directly to the surgeon and have them cut out now.

I asked him which course he would recommend, and he said he would wait for the second biopsies before opting for more surgery. I agreed. Evidently if the spots show more atypical cells beyond the original biopsy did (they extended right to the borders of the first) then it is likely to become more malignant melanoma. If they haven’t changed at all, they are a slower growing atypical cell and would not require surgery, yet.

Such a funny word … yet. I used it often to close a sentence uttered by students … “I don’t get it” (yet.)  “I can’t do it” (yet.) “My essay isn’t finished. (yet.) It is a word that offers a promise of more to come, and that more can be a positive thing, or a negative.

the endless task of Sisyphus

the endless task of Sisyphus

Coaching my students to always seek to improve their work, making it “even better” than they might have in a first draft was an uphill Sisyphean push. “Yet” did impose an expectation of improvement, but gave it with an allowance for time. I’m sure it was a mixed blessing to the students.

“Yet,” in reference to the progression of a disease, can be very negative, or very positive. When a skin surgeon is doing Moh surgery (repeated cuttings until biopsy shows clear margins) :yet” implies that it will, eventually, be a clear margin, with no further evidence of the cancer.  If he says it’s not clear yet, that implies a disappointment.

I have accepted that I am not finished “yet” with melanoma treatments. In truth, I may never be finished. Or I may, at some point, decide that I am finished. Right now, I feel free to make that choice. I do have things to look forward to, and I also have things that I can look back on and take satisfaction in having accomplished them. My children are grown. My grandchildren are also nearly grown.  My parents are at rest.

There may be more ahead in our lives … more grandchildren, and great-grandchildren … all of that will happen in its own time, whether seen by me or not.  There is a peace in knowing that. There is rest ahead.

There are no immediate reasons to believe that MS will ever be understood or cured in my lifetime. I can say the same of malignant melanoma. We can say the same of the two-party system in Washington. The country is not waiting for someone like me to solve its problems. I vote, as that is my responsibility … it is the responsibility of all of us, though some choose not to do it. But whether I vote or not (and I do) Congress will still be arguing decades from now … God willing another century from now. Nothing I do with my vote will change that.

I’m tired of the newscasters opening eveyr news program with stories of Congress bickering with each other. I’m sad to hear of the hardship this government closure is imposing on some American families. I know I am among the fortunate, with a self-funded pension not accessible by politicians. I know why I have what I have … because the union advocated for us. I became the union and took my turn in difficult years of negotiating. I tried to do so with dignity, and gentleness. I counseled younger teachers in bitter years to have faith in the strong people that stood around us. But I am weary of the fights. I am weary of the melanoma fight, the MS fight, and the depression fight. I am weary of so much of it.

I will stay in it for now. I want to get the new Quilt Shop up and running. I want it to be a success, financially, to replace the rest of the pension that I lost by giving in to MS and retiring early. I want to succeed in earning that little bit more for us. If having the continued surgeries led to a definite end of melanoma, I would not hesitate. But going back to repeat sites is not progress. It is not treatment. It is only maintenance, and it is tiring.

I do admire those who can stay in the fight. They most likely still  have responsibilities to meet within their families, and I wish them well in their endeavors. Time will tell how long I can keep up with them, and with “yet.”

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