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Light At The End Of The Tunnel

I just spent the last five days in Naples, FL so I could return to The Moffitt Cancer Center. I was due for my second set of post-surgical scans since my CRS/HIPEC surgery in October for a rare form of appendix cancer.


Needless to say, the weeks leading up to scans are nerve-racking! All the what ifs... what if there's a recurrence? What if I have to have that horrible surgery and chemo again? What if it's mutated from low grade to high grade? Anxiety making stuff!


I had my first teary breakdown while lying in the CT scan machine... while the machine was telling to hold my breath, I was thinking "what the hell do you think I'm doing??!!"...as the fear rolled out of my eyes and down the sides of my face into my ears. When it was over, and the machine moved away from my body, the tech came over with a tissue and dabbed my tears. I'm sure they see this often.


We then went to lunch in the hospital cafeteria while we waited for results and consult with my surgeon, Dr. Sean Dineen. My partner in crime, and Love Of My Life, decided I needed ice cream for being so brave. I laughed - and accepted wholeheartedly. It's always very sobering to be here. I see faces that are so weary and tired, and worried, and resigned. And then I see faces of hope. Hope for cures and futures and families gathered around tables laughing and savoring every minute on the planet.


The moment of truth was near. We waited in the little room for the doc. His new resident, Maurice, came in and introduced himself. He was "Doogie Howser young" with bright blue eyes. He had just graduated med school - from FSU... I was so proud! It was his first day on the job and I was his very first appendix cancer patient. He said, "So...you're the one in 2 million!" To which I responded, "Yes, I'm very rare! Lucky girl!" Then Dr. Dineen came in. He was all smiles behind his mask. I could see it in his eyes. "Your scans look great! No recurrence, nothing worrisome at all, except for the hernia, which is common after the kind of surgery you had. I have a guy who can fix that." I said, "OK. Is he a doctor?" "Sort of..." He so gets me!


I held up the photo I matted and framed for him. I had written it's title on the matte, "The Light At The End Of The Tunnel" and signed it. It is my favorite shot of the Naples Pier. He was so cute. He said he loved it, loved the sentiment, loved the title and knew the exact spot in his house it would hang and that his wife was going to love it, too. He, Moffitt Cancer Center, and Caz really were my light at the end of this tunnel. And they all shone so brightly so I could find my way home.


In October of 2020 I was Stage IV, with a tough outlook for 1) surviving the 12 hour surgery, and 2) a full recovery. Admittedly, it was grueling. Were it not for my acerbic sense of humor, and the love of a good man, I'm not sure I would have made it. But here I am 10 months later, and other than missing several parts, I'm pretty much back to "normal"... "normal" being a relative term! At least for the next four months...


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