Friday, November 09, 2007

The Bump

You ever look at your face really closely, nose touching the bathroom mirror, condensation forming in front of you? Looking at every nook, cranny, pore, pimple, splotch, etc? I think we have all done this at one time, but what do you do when there is more than just the normal adult acne, blackheads and blotches? What do you do when there appears on the side of your head a bump?

My husband, Ryan, had surgery last year, just after we were married to have a cancerous tumor removed, as well as his parotid gland (the location of the said tumor) because he discovered a bump on his jaw. It was scary. Yes, part of it was the "c" word, but part of it was also the explanation that he could have a paralyzed face because of all of the facial nerves near the gland and tumor.

He came out of four hours of surgery, blessed with the removal of cancer and the same beautiful smile I fell in love with. Having a rare type of cancer that seems to like popping up on the same piece of real estate, he was subjected to radiation. This process was horrible because it made him feel sick and he would be so exhausted afterward. But, like a shogun warrior he faced it all bravely. He has been cancer-free since March 2006. He is a survivor and such an inspiration to me.

Now, after experiencing all of the above...what do you do when a bump appears on your face once more? This is what happened six weeks ago when we noticed a bump right above the location of his surgery last year, next to his ear. When we went to the oncologist, he wasn't alarmed and thought it was just scar tissue. But, he ordered an MRI to be on the safe side. While waiting for the health insurance company to approve an MRI, we watched the bump become bigger. And, it was tender to the touch. After having an MRI last week, we went to see the oncologist once more to have him examine my husband and look at the results of the tests.

"It looks like it is a lymph node. You should make an appointment right away with your specialist. He will either want to do a biopsy or remove it entirely."

My heart broke when I saw the panicked face of my husband looking back at me. He mouthed..."here we go again."

Today, he saw the specialist--the surgeon that performed his surgery last year. Until today, we discussed the possibilities, the what-ifs, and we prayed a lot. I didn't blame Ryan for not wanting to go through the whole process again. Who would want to? But, the look of defeat in his eyes when he made plans for the worse, killed me inside. And, thinking about it, just made it all low could I be on the not-handling-this-so-well scale when I break down in tears in the bathrooom at work?

Well, we heard the news and it hasn't allayed our fears and it hasn't made Ryan rest any easier. It is a tumor of some kind...7 millimeters of tumor. It will have to be removed regardless if it is cancerous or not. The doctor took a needle biopsy today and we will get the results on Tuesday. It was hard for my husband to not break down and cry in the office. He could see it all coming again...the surgery, the recovery, the radiation. Deep down inside I know he sees surgery as a blessing. It will enable him to continue living his life. But, I also know that in the back of his mind he is thinking..."how many more times does I have to endure this?" Being on the verge of 40, he is young to be wrangling with such health issues.

So, until Tuesday, we will remain on a teeter-totter. We will feel blessed in the lives we have and think about the best of outcomes. And, then we will also feel the injustice in the prospect of facing the possiblity of cancer again. And, this is all because of a bump. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Beach Wedding

This weekend, we went to California to attend my cousin's wedding. We were looking forward to seeing him exchange vows with his girlfriend of seven years, but we were also encouraged by a mini-holiday by the beach.

When we arrived in Laguna Beach on Friday, we weren't disappointed. Our hotel was a short walk to the beach (aka less than 40 steps). And, we were right by PCH so we could walk among the restaurants and shops in Laguna. The temperature was perfect for exploring. We ate dinner on Friday evening at Sapphire. It is a lovely restaurant that is inside an old pottery house from Laguna's artist colony history. Everything we had was delicious and the atmosphere was romantic. We shared a goat cheese and roasted tomato tart as well as a pasta dish with lemon cream, prawns and crab.

On Saturday, we drove along PCH taking in the beach sites. Then we headed to Fashion Island in Newport Beach to get my cousin's gift, a pair of heels, and to get something to eat. We found a lovely surprise while we were there...a Teuscher Chocolatiers. I remember seeing a Teuscher's in Zurich. We bought some things to take home and enjoy. So far my favorites are the dark chocolates shaped like bees with bits of crystallized honey inside. yum!

The wedding was gorgeous. It was held at a house on the beach. They exchanged their vows under an arch adorned with flowers and shells with the setting sun in the background. They both glowed with happiness; I had never seen Wayne so elated. And, I was so happy for him. From experience, there is nothing like finding your soulmate...the one person you were meant to be with. The smile on his face after he kissed her as his wife was evidence enough that she was the one for him. My sister and I are ecstatic because we have more than just a new cousin...we have a new sister.

Each table at the wedding was named after favorite bands and musicians. We sat at Willie Nelson. As the deejay called each table forward to get their food, I figured that the neighbors must be quite curious as to who was attending this wedding. We had such a beautiful time seeing family and friends that we hadn't seen in a very long time. The evening was filled with love for the couple. I was honored to be there.

The next day, we enjoyed breakfast at an old standard in Laguna called The Cottage. I had eaten there many times after early morning snorkeling in Laguna Beach when I was in college. The french toast there is divine. After breakfast, we headed to Oak Glen to admire the colorful leaves of fall and to spend some time with my family. We had a wonderful time eating caramel apples and looking at the scenery around us.

After a long weekend of fun and relaxation, we were back in reality at 10 p.m. on Sunday evening when we arrived back at our house in Arizona. We'll be back California. Believe me, we'll be back.