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Resident Cancer #1: A Ganglion Cyst

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Or so we thought

Disclaimer: This post may contain scattered thoughts, ramblings and graphic imagery. Reader discretion is advised. The names of people have been changed to protect their identity, for my own amusement and/or mostly likely because I can’t remember them. Their new names will probably only makes sense to me. Try not to read too much into it.

A Ganglion Cyst

I guess we can start this with a flashback. It was probably sometime in 2013 when I discovered an oddity in my left wrist. When I first noticed it, all I could tell was that my left wrist felt different than my right wrist. It was a little harder and not quite as level. I’d fallen a couple of weeks prior and I’d used my hands to break the fall. Had I fractured my wrist? It didn’t hurt. Surely, if I had fractured my wrist it would hurt, right? I wasn’t overly concerned about it but I brought it up the next time I saw my doctor. She told me it was most likely a ganglion cyst (apparently using a bible to smash and rupture them is a thing. I’m glad I didn’t try that. I might have ACTUALLY fractured my wrist.), that they were common and referred me to an orthopedic specialist.

I made an appointment, had my wrist X-rayed and their diagnosis was the same. It’s a ganglion cyst. Dr. Horrible Boss told me he could remove it with surgery. {insert panic attach here} I hate doctors, I hate hospitals. I’ve never had surgery and the only time I had to stay in the hospital overnight was when I had my son. I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t sleep and requested to leave a day early. Getting released was such a hassle. You know what? I’ll save THAT story for another day. Back to my panic attack. Surgery scared the shit out of me. Dr. Horrible Boss said it would be out patient and that I’d go home that day. He then ended by letting me know if the cyst didn’t hurt or bother me, I could leave it. Done! That’s all I needed to hear. I left and didn’t think about it again. That is, until it started growing.

 

UPDATE: Turns out it was #cancer. #clearcellsarcoma. This was my #ganglioncyst before #surgery.

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Growing Discomfort

Fast forward to June 2015. The lump in my wrist had grown. While it wasn’t painful, it was starting to be annoying and uncomfortable. After a lot of deliberating I decided to just get it over with and have it removed. I scheduled my surgery for mid July.

I wasn’t allowed to eat the night before and had to remove all my jewelry. Taking out my tongue ring is no biggie while taking out my lip ring is always a bitch. As I was getting undressed and prepping for surgery, I broke down and started crying. (Hello panic, it’s you again.) My husband tried to calm me down but anxiety doesn’t care. They knocked me out with drugs and I didn’t wake up until in recovery. The surgery itself was 30-40 minutes. It was pretty weird waking up with my arm bandaged up, knowing it had all been said and done. They kept an eye on me for about an hour, gave me a coke, and told me not to eat anything too greasy or fatty. I gave that idea the finger and requested to have lunch at Giordano’s. I stress eat, and pizza is definitely a comfort food. I didn’t puke. So worth it.

 

Feeling useless. #surgery #ganglioncyst

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Removing The Stitches

After the surgery I was forced to wear a bandaged splint. It didn’t hurt much but the feeling of stitched skin pulling kind of sucked. Getting through the 10 days to my next follow-up was difficult. If I could forget about it I was ok, however the panic attack struggle was real. At least once a day I freaked out about the pins and needles in my arm. What if I never got the feeling back? What if it doesn’t heal right? A co-worker recommended taking vitamin B supplements to aid in recovery. Being able to take some sort of action made me feel better.

When it was finally time for my follow-up I practically ran there. Dr. Horrible Boss’ apprentice (what do they call them?) removed my stitches while I held my eyes tightly shut and faced the opposite direction. She applied some sticker stitches and then wrapped it in an ace bandage. Good lord it felt so much better after that! If you listen to the podcast you’ll remember me talking about it here: http://themommygamers.com/2015/08/episode-98-one-armed-ninja/

 

Bandage is so much more comfortable than the soft cast. Ready to get my heal on. #surgery #ganglioncyst

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Before I left, Dr. Horrible Boss mentioned the cyst was sent to a pathologist in Orlando. He claimed this was normal and something they did after every surgery. However, the pathologist didn’t feel comfortable diagnosing it, so they sent it to Harvard Medical School to be looked by someone with more experience. I decided not to jump to conclusions and waited to hear back from Harvard.

The Big C

A couple weeks later I had another follow-up. They wanted to check on the mobility of my wrist and how I was healing. The scar a was a little itchy, but outside of that I was doing well.

 

The pathology report had come back from Harvard, and it wasn’t what any of us were expecting. ‘The appearance and immunophenotype fit very well with metastatic malignant melanoma.’

Dr. Horrible Boss had lots of questions. How long had I had the cyst? Was there any history of cancer in my family? Have I had many severe sunburns? Have I noticed any questionable moles? I answered each of his questions. He struggled to understand the diagnosis. The cyst had been growing in my wrist for over two years before I opted to have it removed. Wouldn’t there have been more signs? It just didn’t make sense.

Before I left, the Dr. ran through a few different scenarios with me. I got into my car and cried. I was under the strong impression that I might have to have my arm amputated.

Malignant Melanoma Harvard

Cancer. It’s been 5+ months since that office visit and I’m no closer to identifying with that word. It’s hard to say “I have Cancer.” I feel like a fraud. Physically I feel fine. Shouldn’t I feel sick?

There’s so much more to say; so much more to cover. I’d been holding off on telling people. I really wanted them to be wrong, but we’re passed that now. I’m writing this post (and hopefully others) as a way to cope with what’s happening, to prevent feeling so alone, and as a way to update those that care about me in some form or other. So for now, you can expect a Resident Cancer series.

Why Resident Cancer? Well, ‘My Cancer Journey’ and ‘Living With Cancer’ sounded super clichĂ©. Eventually my gamer brain kicked in, and with Resident Evil being one of my favorite series about a spreading disease, it just made sense. I’ll be playing catch up with my first few posts. I hope you’ll stay with me while I deal with the things that happen next.

About Desirai Labrada


Graphic & Web Designer, Gamer, Technology Enthusiast, educator, Bride from the 2009 Halo themed wedding, and also mommy to a smart ass teenage boy.