The third nipple is out!
The last remnant (discounting scars) of Lis’s battle with leukemia has been removed from her bicep.
And the best part? They let me keep it! (SPOILER ALERT: There’s a picture below!)
Yesterday Lis had her annual oncology check-up. The doctor confirmed all is well. Actually that’s being humble. He actually said he continues to be impressed by how incredible Lis has done.
For you newbies let me give you a brief synopsis on why he would say this:
In April 2005, Lis and I waited until the very last minute to take her to the doctor to see why she was whiter than me, getting random bruising, fatigued, and pin-point red dots all over her legs. We were told she had leukemia and that she needed to be admitted ASAP (more like three months ago) because she basically had 2-3 months to survive. She received a blood transfusion because, comparing her to a car, she would’ve been below the E on the blood gauge. When she was refueled she received non-stop intense chemotherapy treatment for 24 hours a day for seven days straight. To say it nicely, it destroyed her from the inside out.
The first treatment did it’s job and basically killed all the cancer cells. Our next step would be a bone marrow transplant, meaning hundreds more transfusions, blood draws, tests, needle poking and six months of recovery.
Except, quoting an entry from May 18, 2005, “It turns out that Lis may not have to get a bone marrow transplant after all. They sent her blood samples to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer place in Seattle, which is one of the tops in the world, and a doctor, which specializes in AML and is one of the tops in the world was amazed to see that Lis’ chromosomes are splitting and that her body is doing great and that her chance of relapse is very slim. This came as a surprise. Is it true? Are they right? I thought they said the only way to be cured would be a bone marrow transplant.”
So as you can see very good and surprising news. She went through four more rounds of chemo and in November 2005 was pronounced “Remissionized”. I don’t think that’s a word but it sounds cool though, right?
The oncologist had told us that we couldn’t have kids and then that we shouldn’t have kids because what it might to do Lis’s body, the baby, or reactivate the cancer. Well she bounced back so incredibly that he gave us the greenlight to make whoopie and whoopie was made (more than a few times! Can I get a … nevermind) and a baby was made and Lis was healthy and the baby was healthy and the doctor was more impressed so we decided to do it all over again – the whoopie part which accidentally turned into Baby No. 3, which has been awesome so … that brings us back to yesterday.
Her oncologist confirmed what I already knew – that Lis was amazing (brownie points? I think so!) and asked her if she wanted to have the port removed from her arm. Wanting to beat the year-end insurance deductible Lis agreed and this morning at friggin’ 7am we walked back into Providence Hospital, Lis’s home for most of 2005, to get her third nipple removed from her arm.
For six years this third nipple was a bump on Lis’s left bicep. She had started with a Groshong Catheter but it started to cause infection every time they went to flush it or draw from it so they went with the more permanent Port-a-Cath, a titanium port that would be inserted into her left arm with a catheter (tiny tube thing) that ran into one of her main arteries that went to her heart. As you can see my medical jargon is amazing. Oh and I know you’re all wondering … no, it doesn’t make the metal detectors go off at the airport. I know right!
She could’ve had it removed years ago but the price was $3,000 and well, at the time we didn’t have insurance to cover it so she left it in. It wasn’t such a nuisance unless you were like Erik and played the ol’ Twist the Back of Someone’s Bicep game which didn’t make Lis feel good and grossed out Erik even more. It wiggled, it jiggled and if you touched it you got the heby jebys but it did it’s job and we were happy about that.
The surgeons were kind enough to let us keep it. I wanted it as a keepsake, something to show the kids when they are older, something to put in the Hope chest, a piece of Johnsonville history. At first they said, “No” then shot me a look of craziness. Then they said, “Maybe”. I guess in the Operating Room Lis made one last push for me and we were able to snag it after it had snagged Lis. Thanks Schnuggiebutt.
But now it’s out and like I said, it’s the last remnant (minus the scars) of her battle with leukemia. As some of the nurses said this morning, it’s like she graduated. I’m thinking it’s closer to closure. Closure to cancer. You never like putting that out there, like talking to your pitcher during a no-hitter, but it sorta feels that way. All the milestones have been met. Remission, 5-year remission, removal of the port. So yah, I guess you can say that in a way it’s like a closure to her fight. Nice work Lisy!
Fine here’s the picture!
Geez, it feels good to be actually writing about what this journal/blog was meant to be for. It’s been awhile since I had gotten a chance to write about something Lis and Leukemia related. I’m kinda sad. In a way it’s a closure for my blogging too. The only Lis/Leukemia posts will be recaps. That sucks! Let’s put this thing back in! 😉