Friday, February 10, 2012
In The Blink Of An Eye
Atypical and Histiocytes. Those were the two words my wife had written down on a piece of paper as she was crying, on the phone, with our family doctor. The results had come back from my 12 year old son's mole biopsy. I didn't know what either word meant but a quick google search (I know, bad idea) lead me to the same conclusion...it was bad. We were instructed to follow up with a dermatologist as soon as possible and got an appointment scheduled for the following day. In the blink of an eye our world had just been turned upsidedown!!
The mole, which started as more of a pimple showed up about a year ago. It was on his waist line and was removed more because of its location. There was never any concern expressed by the doctor that it was anything more than that. A similar mole had appeared under his chin about the same time but it was decided, at that time, this would not need to be removed. We tried to keep things in perspective but the fact the doctor had called us directly, could not be a good thing. I told my wife we couldn't over react and we needed to just keep our cool until we got a little more information from the dermatologist. Of course, I did the thing everyone knows you should never do...right back onto the internet. I spent hours reading and evaluating the possibilities in my own mind. Thank God the next doctor's appointment was only a day away.
The dermatologist certainly didn't make us feel any better than my elementary google search. The one medical term the doctor through out was LCH and that one I remembered reading about, Langerhans cell histiocytosis. I recalled there were different kinds of this disease and knew some of them included cancer. At that moment it took every once of will power to keep myself from throwing up right there in the doctors office. There was no way my kid had cancer! He's healthy, active...no F'n way! I tried to keep a calm and confident look to reassure my son but I knew he was reading through it. The doctor told us we would need to see a hematologist or an oncologist for further testing. He offered us the choice of going to a hospital or University since this condition was "so rare". He even told us "I'm not going to go as far as to say it's cancer, but at this point we can't rule anything out." They asked to remove a second mole that had appeared around the same time as the first and explained it would be biopsied as well. That car ride home was one of the toughest 30 minutes of my life. The mix of emotion, fear, trying to find the right words to keep my son's spirits up all while still trying being honest and realistic with him was nearly unbearable.
Two days later we got in to see the Oncologist. Walking into the pediatric cancer unit was surreal. It was something I'd only seen on t.v. or in pictures for fund raisers. To not only be in there but to also have the realization that we were now a part of it was indescribable. A little girl who couldn't have been more than 3 was in a room receiving Chemo, or so I thought, as we passed on our way to our room. On our way out a dad was on the phone explaining his child's condition. There are not many things that get to me but that day in that hospital changed me, forever. I will never allow myself to forget they way I felt that day.
Once the doctor arrived, he asked a battery of questions and gave my son a thorough examination. His conclusion was Reticulohistocytoma. In simpler terms, it was a benign cousin to LCH but it was not LCH. He felt it was isolated to the first mole that was removed and no further treatment/testing would be done at this time. At that moment I had a harder time controlling my emotions than the prior doctor visit. My eyes welled with tears, tears of joy and relief. The doctor explained we would still need to wait for the results of the second biopsy, to determine where we go next. Two weeks later those results came back the same as the first. Despite the fact had these elevated histocytes in two locations, two doctors have said they believe both to be benign and at this time he will not require any further testing or treatment.
We have a follow up appointment in two months. And probably a few more over the next year or so just to be sure there has been no change. But for now, it appears my son will be fine. Thank God!
I don't know what my family has done to deserve this grace of God but I can promise you it will not go unnoticed. I've told my family, I believe this was our proverbial kick in the balls, our eye opener. Life is precious and it becomes so easy to take that for granted. Without even realizing it we get caught up in the day to day nonsense of life that we loose sight of what really matters. We need to appreciate our health and utilize the abilities we have been given, whatever they may be. I want to make sure that I acknowledge this experience in a way that matters, in a way that I can pay it forward. Just being ok with our outcome seems selfish. There are way too many people fighting this ugly disease everyday.
On April 22nd, 2012 I will participate in a St. Baldricks head shaving fundraiser. My goal is to raise $1000.00 for this event. I've looked at many very worthy charities but have decided on St. Baldricks due to their national reach in working with hospitals around the country. I would be extremely honored if you would consider making a donation. You can do so by clicking here.
In the words of Kris Allen- "So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would have done? Yeah, we gotta start lookin at the hands of the time we've been given. If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin If every second counts on a clock that's tickin. Gotta live like we're dying."
Even you are unable to support my cause do me a favor and give your kids an extra hug today. Or, before you decide to get angry about something decide if it really matters.