Monday, 23 February 2015

Run For Cover! This Girl's About To Erupt!

                " What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

My surgery back in April; the abdominal perineal resection, was a success. My anus and rectum we're removed and I now had a permanent colostomy. I did feel miserable for a few days as I mentioned in my last post, but this was due to the epidural, not the surgery itself, from which there were no complications.
The pathology from the surgery revealed a slight spread of the melanoma to 2 of the 14 removed lymph nodes. The original tumour was also ulcerated, all indicating that I had a 50 to 70% chance the cancer would return within 5 years.

I was discharged from hospital nine days after surgery. I was both ecstatic and terrified at the thought of leaving this safe and secure environment. Ecstatic because, well who wants be in hospital in the first place, and terrified because I had this new thing attached to me. Well no, not attached. It was sticking its head out of my belly like some kind of alien trying to break free from its human host. And I thought I would have a big challenge learning to cope with this. . . That I would have to alter my lifestyle . . . That I would be preoccupied with the care and concern of the ostomy.

I am happy to report that this was not the case. It has not been too difficult learning to cope. Certainly, it took a couple months try different products to find what worked and suited best and to settle into a routine that I was happy with but since all that was worked out it has not been a hardship.
My lifestyle has not changed and I'm far too busy to be preoccupied with any of this.

At the beginning of discussions on treatment, I thought I was headed for months of chemotherapy followed by radiation. This had been the standard treatment in the past but I did not relish the thought of going though this rather toxic experience.

After a fair bit of research and consultation with colleagues from bigger centres who specialize in mucosal melanoma, my oncologist advised a different, and in my opinion, a far better plan of action. My husband and I also travelled to The Dana Farber Cancer Centre in Boston for consultation, and we were given the same new advice there.

I won't get into all the technical medical information on gene mutation and so on, since that is not the purpose of this blog, but sufficient to say, our conclusion for treatment was to do regular CT scans every 6 months, and wait. Should anything suspicious show up I would have surgery to remove it as long as it was resectable. If anything showed up that was not resectable or too numerous then we would try a course of immunotherapy agents. I'm told these new drugs are showing promise in treating this beast.

Right then. Back home. So good to be home. When I was first diagnosed I felt a bit stunned. This was followed by a couple of weeks of flurried activity leading up to surgery. While in hospital I experienced great sadness and great joy, as I wrote about in my Nov. 30 post.

Now at home, ANGER erupted like a ferocious volcano that spewed its muck and mire over everything and everyone in its path.  The two other people in the house, family members, were having a disagreement. . . not even an argument . . . just not agreeing on something. Even though I was in another room, their conversation triggered something within me and I let it all out. I screamed at them to Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Then I just started screaming at the air. Screaming about the colostomy. Screaming about having cancer. Screaming about feeling miserable. Screaming about being afraid. Screaming at no one, yet everyone felt the brunt of of my screaming.  The air was a very heavy, thick blue as I let fly assorted adjectives and expletives unbefitting a lady . . . Well unbefitting anyone, really. It would have made even the saltiest old sailor blush. (OK, that last sentence was perhaps a slight exaggeration). Oh yes, I was angry.  

Eventually, both family members left for awhile on errands. Even the dogs ran for cover. After a bit I think I cried myself to sleep and that was the end of my anger.


Since then I've had moments of sadness and fear, many more moments of joy and happiness and contentment. But the anger was done.

In my last post, I wrote about how listening to Bach's Mass in B Minor was a great source of comfort while in hospital. There was another song on my playlist that also brought peace and aided in the process of healing: "Blessings" by Laura Story. 
Click on this link to listen to this beautiful song.
This song talks about how we pray for peace, healing protection for loved ones. These are all wonderful things to pray for, but sometimes we go through difficulties in life anyway, despite our prayers. And sometimes, it is in enduring these hardships that we find deeper healing. We learn about ourselves as we grow and become stronger. Somehow, through God's grace, we come out on the other side with more wholeness, freedom and sense of God's interest and involvement in our life.

By mid June, I was feeling quite well and very grateful and pleased that I did not have to endure chemotherapy treatments at this time. God's grace had carried me through this first round of the darkness of cancer and I was filled with a joie de vivre that allowed me to enjoy a marvelous summer.  In June I auditioned for and won the role of Mother Abbess in the Sound Of Music, to be performed by my city's theatre company in November. In early July, our son, his wife and our 2 grandsons visited at our cottage. My husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in August. We travelled to Calgary to visit our daughter and her boyfriend. We visited my mother, my 2 brothers and their wives. It was the first time since my dad died in 2006 that all three of our spouses and us were at Mom's at the same time.

I enjoyed every minute of the summer, feeling more appreciative of all that I have in my family, friends and church family than ever before.

Through this experience God has been faithful. God's grace is abundant.
Yea, though I walked through the shadowy valley, fear did not overwhelm me because He was and is with me. (sort of Psalm 23:4)

I'll close today with the lyrics from our closing song at church this week.

Words and music by Reuben Morgan:

Hide me now under your wings?
Cover me within Your mighty hand.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will rise with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood.
I will be still and know that You are God.

Find rest, my soul in Christ alone.
Know His power in quietness and trust.

March and April 2014 was a time of turmoil and uncertainty while we dealt with my cancer. It really was like being tossed and thrown about in a storm with rising flood waters. But the peace and presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit got me through it. We've weathered another stormy month since then and are about to enter another rough patch, but I'm ready and confident that regardless what happens I will continue through darkness surrounded by Grace.

God can help us breathe underwater. . .



  1. Jane, your faith and grace are such an inspiration! I am sorry to hear that you are challenged again, but recognize too, how blessed and comforted you are with that Faith and Grace. Know that I think of you often here and continue to hold out for dinner on the deck!!

  2. Jane, I appreciate so much your willingness to share your heartfelt experiences and difficult journey.

  3. Loved reading this post and I admire your honesty as I totally understand the wave of emotions. Thank you for sharing

  4. Jane, I am so sorry to hear of your future challenges, but having the faith and positive attitude that you and I am sure your family does, will get you through. Hearing other people's C stories are very close to my heart. And seeing how we all treat our journey is a testament to the human spirit. My story has been certainly less invasive than yours but we all deal with the uncertainty of our future. God certainly plays a role as well as the wonderful support from our family and friends. You girl, keep on singing and I will keep on ridin haha. xoxo