Monday, November 23, 2020

Giving Thanks

In March, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder and half my liver (on which a sizable melanoma resided). I didn't have a history of melanomas. In fact I never had one that I know of. So I was in a 5% category (of course) where there's no known primary origin.  

This all took place right after the COVID crisis began and visitors and the general public were not allowed into the hospital.  I spent many nights without my family. Pain killers were my best friends. They kept my mind off of the tube that was inserted through my nose into my stomach to drain the fluid. 

In April, I started immunotherapy treatments at Moffitt to boost my immune system and help prevent my cancer from coming back. I visit every month for infusions that have numerous side effects that make me feel like I'm on a rollercoaster at times. I'm in my eighth month of infusions and have four more to go. I'll finish in March.

So what am I thankful for?

All of this!

That's right. I'm thankful for all of this.

You see, if the doctors didn't pick up on my melanoma when they did, it would have been too late for surgery. But they did ... they found it and removed all of it.

Secondly, if I had developed this five years ago, I would have had less than a 10% chance of survival even if they could have operated on me. Melanomas are notorious for reappearing and spreading. Immunotherapy has been developed in the last couple of years as a very successful treatment of just what I have ... so much so that I now have very good chance of survival. Moffitt happens to be the leading institution in the world in the treatment of melanomas. 

Third, I happen to have the greatest family and the greatest friends a guy could ever ask for. As my brother in law Tom used to say "Better than I deserve." My wife Debbie is and always has been a saint. She comes to every treatment session, every surgery and every doctors appointment and waits patiently in the car for me because she still is not allowed in the hospital. (I told her to behave!) She actually was able to come in to my last session finally when they lifted the visitor restrictions at Moffitt.

So as 2020 comes to an end and my life is just beginning again, I want to thank everyone ... doctors, nurses, family and friends ... for being there for me. 

I love you all.   


Luz said...

Joel, thank you for sharing this. Glad you’re still here; you’re an inspiration to many.


Unknown said...

What a great story. I thank God for Moffitt. I was treated there 30 years ago. God bless you.

Renee Dickson Jaskulek Farrar said...

Thank you Joel for a wonderful perspective and glad you are doing well. My husband also experienced that horrible sense of isolation that comes from Covid when he had complications from his "elective" back-surgery this past June. He said he gained clicking ruby red slippers after that experience. I love "All this"

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