The grueling ten-month journey into Ontario’s healthcare bureaucracy to get a melanoma removed from a woman’s neck.
You can review the Timeline of Events here
You can read Part 1: The Bump here
You can read Part 2: Collateral damage from the Coronavirus here
You can read Part 3: Delays, misunderstandings, and a lackadaisical attitude here
You can read Part 4: Bureaucracy run amok here
You can read Part 5: Plan B’-ing here
Call it Karma. Call it Divine Intervention. Call it what you will, but on December 15th Maria’s luck kicked into hyperdrive.
First, Dr. Hong told her that the CT Scan showed no sign of an enlarged lymph node, which meant it is less likely that the cancer had spread. Then she got word from her husband that she had been admitted by her local hospital for a lymphoscintigraphy. Finally, at Maria’s request, Dr. Hong also agreed to perform the surgery before Christmas as to avoid any potential further delays due to the incoming Ontario post-holiday lockdown.
The operation took place as scheduled, on December 22, and even though Maria’s bump was only two centimetres in diametre, it still required an excision approximately the size of a hand. You are not reading that wrong. Dr. Hong removed a patch of skin that big from Maria’s neck.
He then arranged a biopsy to confirm the presence of any cancerous tissue. Findings were once again negative.
You know that feeling you have when you need to go to the bathroom REAL bad? And you have to hold it for a long time? And when you finally go and that overwhelming sense of relief brushes over your whole body? Multiply that by 1,000.
“My life was finally being restored!” says Maria. “I was on the brink of losing everything. My family, my friends, and now, instead of being an outcast with a countdown clock hanging above my head, I felt part of society once again.”
Months of anguish, pain, and stress were swept away in a matter of seconds. The sterile air of the doctor’s office suddenly smelled like freshly baked cookies. The sound of nurses working in the background were strangely lyrical and melodious. Her chair even seemed softer.
Dr. Hong suggested – since she was admitted at her local hospital – that she go through with her lymphoscintigraphy and continue her follow-ups back home. After months of waiting, everything was finally pointing in the right direction.
Maria is back home waiting for her lymphoscintigraphy and is not completely out of the woods. Due to the deep thickness of the initial tumor, Maria will always have to face the possibility of the skin cancer spreading in the future.
For the rest of her life Maria will need to be doubly vigilant and take extra precautions when going out into the sun.
In Part 7, we take stock of where we are, and why stories like these need to be told.
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