Friday, October 14, 2011
On January 3rd, 1977, I was told that I only had a one in ten chance of living for the next two years. I had just had a malignant melanoma removed from my right arm. Obviously, I didn't die, but I have been fighting off skin cancer malignancies ever since. I have had numerous minor surgeries to remove cancers from my face and arms for years. I underwent two months of radiation to get rid of a cluster of them on the top of my head in 2001. I had one removed from my right hand in a bush hospital with no anesthesia just four years ago. I lost the top third of my right ear to cancer back in 2004--that doctor insisted on reconstructing the ear even though I had no money and no insurance and did such a good job sometimes I can't remember which ear was rebuilt. So, yesterday, a traveling cancer specialist directed the surgery that removed a quarter-sized piece of my head just above that same right ear. At least he was able to numb the area for the surgery. Once that pain-killer wore off, it's just ibuprofen for the pain since that is all that is available here, and there is plenty of pain. They decided against a skin graft and just pulled everything tight and stitched it up. Still, it was a good surgery in a modern operating room. The only difference I could tell was the temperature. American OR's are cold and this one was very warm. I would say it seems odd that I would choose a place where the sun can be a killer to live with my proclivity to skin cancer, but I have had it in L.A., Boston, and Arkansas, so this isn't much different. On two occasions, I covered my head and arms with an acid that ate away the upper layers of skin and turned my face and arms bright red and very ugly for a while. I am a cancer survivor and continual sufferer, but I am not letting that get in the way of what I have been called to do. Everyone has some burden to bear and this is just one of mine. The pain is intense right now, but it will fade to a memory in no time. God seldom calls us to achieve, but always calls us to try, so here we are. Thanks for all the prayers and don't stop. They keep me and Karen and John going strong and in the light as we are surrounded by darkness. Prayer works.