Friday, June 15, 2007

So many things to say

Well, my 5 day stay at the hospital has come to an end, and the news that seems so unlikely and too good to be true turns out to be real afterall. Free and clear. No melanoma.

It feels- amazing. Amazingly like it used to before I knew what a cancer diagnosis was like. Like I went and had my first mole removed and the path report was negative, and now I can go on with my life without the worry of all the stuff that coulda been. Like life never got scary. Amazing. I still tear up when I talk about it.

Now, I know that I'm still a survivor, and I still must be vigilant, and I know all that comes with that. I'm sure that in a few weeks or months when it's time for scans again, that I'll be scared until the results come back, and that I'll still panic over new moles or strange pigments or funny aches and pains. But I feel, today, like I've won the lottery and I've no limit to what I can do with the gift I've been given of "no evidence of disease." Free and clear.

And, yet, of course, I am hurt, too, by the fact that we have all lost Sarah. I simply can't believe she's gone.

Since February of this year, I have lost four people to cancer. I can't say how it hurts to write that.
Cancer is almost always a whirlwind of a mixture of the strangest feelings- joy at the good results, pain with the bad. Grieving the loss of all you had in your life (or at least you thought you had) before the diagnosis, and rejoicing in all you've learned and figured out about life since then- like the precious gift of a single moment. There's the joy of meeting the most amazing people on Earth, making friends across the country, drawing strength from their journeys- and- the flip side of that- is hearing that this stupid disease beat their spirit once and for all.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Oscar, and I said that my first instinct when I thought about his death was a sense of relief that he was finally out of pain, out of the battle. At ease. And, after that feeling, it was simply a matter of getting past the missing him. I know that everyone that knew Sarah is probably feeling this same thing right now. But I can't tell you how much strength I drew from her advice. And I'm angry in the selfish way that she deserved so much more. I read her blog again and it's like I'm reading the story of a superhero, who put her private self out there so other people could learn. Amazing how she never gave up and she fought her way through the system to make sure she'd find a doctor who would treat her to fight melanoma till her last breath. And now that she's gone, it's stranger than ever.

So, again today, is the whirlwind. And I am just soaking it all up- the ache for Sarah and Derek and the joy of the gift that I know I have been given. It never makes sense, but I think to seek reasoning or consolation or an explanation is only inviting a conflict that I can't resolve.

Once again, no tidy wrap-up, but a quick petition to the higher power that is (or is not) ruling all this: thank you for my time knowing Sarah, thank you for lending Sarah to the world for a while, and thank you for the grace I've been offered, too.


-L

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

What to say besides congratulations on your amazing, surprising news...Sarah will be remembered forever...And thank you for blessing us by sharing these intimate steps in your journey.

Carver said...

Hi Lori,

I am so happy that you are able to celebrate such wonderful news and although ever viligent have regained that feeling of going on with life without worry. That is so great and makes me very happy!

Sarah touched so many people. I still can't quite accept the fact that nothing worked for her. She was such a fighter and never gave up. I am glad she is at peace and free from pain but am also sad for Derek, her parents, and friends.

As ever, Carver

mlittle said...

My heart aches for our dear Sarah. I cannot imagine what those closest to her are going through. I found myself rereading her blog again.

Shannon is also kept close in my thoughts. I am hoping for a miracle for her and her family.

And YOU... girly. What a huge breath of fresh air you are. Amid all of the gloom of the past few weeks... you are a ray of sunshine in all that is shitty in our little black melanoma world.

99% sure to be melanoma?! Well, HA!... take THAT! I did the 'negative node shimmy' and the 'NED dance' for you when I read your FANTASTIC news!!!! I just couldn't be happier for you.

Take care of yourself this summer.

Hugs

Melissa

Anonymous said...

Hello Lori,
I saw your name mentioned in Sarah's blog...so I just sat and read your entire blog tonight! You have such an upbeat attitude in dealing with everything you are going through. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your FANTASTIC news! I am so happy for you! Thinking of you...
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Update: Melanoma claimed the life of Sarah

Posted Jun 14th 2007 8:00AM by Jacki Donaldson
Filed under: Melanoma, Blogs

"People don't often understand how a tiny skin blemish can kill," wrote Sarah Toller in her July 2, 2006 blog entry. Yet it call kill. And it killed Sarah on Tuesday, June 12, 2007.

On June 10, I wrote about Sarah. I wrote about how melanoma was claiming this young woman, how her husband was writing the final chapters of his wife's life on the blog she began just more than one year ago.

I visited Sarah's blog yesterday and read a closing statement written by her beloved. It was simple, to the point, and terrifyingly sad.

Sarah Toller

February 7, 1977 - June 12, 2007

Sarah passed peacefully this morning with her mom and I by her side. Now she rests, her love still radiating everywhere.

And now I can write no more -- because words escape me and sorrow fills my heart.

Anonymous said...

Update: Melanoma claimed the life of Sarah

Posted Jun 14th 2007 8:00AM by Jacki Donaldson
Filed under: Melanoma, Blogs

"People don't often understand how a tiny skin blemish can kill," wrote Sarah Toller in her July 2, 2006 blog entry. Yet it call kill. And it killed Sarah on Tuesday, June 12, 2007.

On June 10, I wrote about Sarah. I wrote about how melanoma was claiming this young woman, how her husband was writing the final chapters of his wife's life on the blog she began just more than one year ago.

I visited Sarah's blog yesterday and read a closing statement written by her beloved. It was simple, to the point, and terrifyingly sad.

Sarah Toller

February 7, 1977 - June 12, 2007

Sarah passed peacefully this morning with her mom and I by her side. Now she rests, her love still radiating everywhere.

And now I can write no more -- because words escape me and sorrow fills my heart.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

FYI / Another tribute to Sarah from another blog site...

Sarah’s weblog.
Skin Cancer ABCD wha?
June 17th, 2007

Yes, I know - not posting for a couple of months is a good way to lose readership (if there was any). This is posting about skin cancer - about the fact that melanoma is the leading cancer that kills women 24 - 35.

About the fact that ‘it won’t happen to me’ can happen to you.

About a beautiful woman named Sarah Toller who passed away last week at the age of 30 from Melanoma.

Her story is here and by reading it and remembering her, perhaps her death was not in vain.

My personal link to this is that I had a lump of some sort removed from my right thigh last week - the Dr’s think it’s benign but it also looks similar to Squamous Cell Carcinoma. When I go to have the stitches removed they’re going to evaluate and remove other spots that look more like pre-cancerous melanoma.

All of this is surreal but I’m not sure I’d be at this point had it not been for Sarah’s blog. After reading it, it made me realize how I take my health for granted, and that being proactive as someone who is fair and had many severe sunburns over the years is something I need to do not only for vanity’s sake, but is something that could save my life.

Had I known about the ABCD guideline perhaps I would have gone to the Dr’s a lot sooner. The ABCD guideline is:

A - Asymmitry - Apparently if a spot is asymmetrical it’s considered a warning sign that the spot could be dangerous

B - Borders - clean sharp borders are good, blurry, irregular mushy borders are not.

C - Colour - my guess is this is what most people know, but for the record, if you have a spot that is two or more colours go get it checked out. Especially if it was originally only one colour.

D - Diameter - 6mm is the rule of thumb - once a mole / spot is past 6mm it’s considered at risk.

To learn more about what to look for the Canadian Dermatology Association’s website has lots of good information.

Most of the spots the Dr saw on me on Wed were ABC, and there may be one that is ABCD.

At this point, after reading Sarah’s blog, I would much rather a few holes and stitches.

Rest in peace Sarah - you won’t be forgotten.

Posted in Uncategorized, Ottawa, Health

2:49 PM

Anonymous said...

Saturday, June 16, 2007
Remembering Sarah

With Sarah's untimely death affecting us both so much, Cathy and I have been chatting about how to memorialize Sarah's incredible inner strength and beauty. At first we felt quite helpless; it seemed that nothing we could think of would do any justice to Sarah's life.

Sarah blogged about and fought her battle in London, Ontario, Canada. Therefore, it seems to us that one very good way to remember Sarah is to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society and/or the Canadian Melanoma Foundation.

Moreover, we wish to take it one step further than our simple two donations: we would like to invite you all to join us.

In Sarah's memory please click on one (or both) of the following links and donate whatever you are able. Every dollar counts. The Canadian Cancer Society allows online donations in Sarah's name while the Canadian Melanoma Foundation has a printable donation form that you may mail to them.

Then, if you are so inclined (and we hope that you are), post a comment here with the amount of your donation. That way we may all follow the donations and smile just a little, knowing that Sarah's tragically short life continues to have an impact on a cause that was all too close to her heart.

Sarah's obituary may be viewed here. We wish peace and strength to all of her family and friends on June 23rd, when they say farewell to Sarah.

Que Sera Sera, Que Sarah Sarah.

Posted by Dr. K at 4:00 PM 1 comments

Thursday, June 14, 2007
Sarah

My site metre is showing a large number of visitors (200 today alone) from hitched.ca. I know that you are all here because of our lovely Sarah. Please won't you come back to visit soon? There are plans, soon to be announced here and elsewhere, to honour Sarah's memory. I would really like it if you could all take part. So, please, stay tuned.

Posted by Dr. K at 10:28 PM 3 comments

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
She Has Her Angel Wings

Sarah Toller. February 7, 1977 - June 12, 2007


Sarah died peacefully this morning. Sarah was incredible and her strength touched me in many ways; in ways that I will forever carry forward with me. I know that I am not alone - Sarah touched the hearts of hundreds around the world.

Her husband, Derek, is left without his best friend, his lover, his incredible Sarah. I can only wish that the strength that was Sarah will help to carry him and the rest of her family and friends through this most difficult time.

If ever there was a person who resonates in the following words, it is Sarah:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand and my grave and cry,
I am not there - I do not die.


(For this I will break my blogging silence, no questions asked.)

Posted by Dr. K at 8:51 PM 4 comments

Tuesday, June 05, 2007
In The Words of Forrest


That is all that I have to say about that.

Explanation: I am entering my pre-tenure year for my University (academic) appointment. In light of recent events in the medical blogosphere, I have decided that a blog is just not worth the risk at this point in my career. Put simply: I would hate for something that I have written to be discovered and affect my tenure application. I'm fairly confident that I haven't written anything that would have such an effect but it's just not worth such a potentially awful outcome. I'll still be reading your blogs and may return post-tenure. Until then: it's been fun. Keep well.

-----------------

An update based on responses here, in email and in other unnamed places (and because I think it important that medical bloggers understand this a little more - as if Flea didn't teach us enough): Pieces of Mind has said it much better than I could ever hope to do here.

I have always followed her first rule, even before she wrote it (I'm not sure about her second rule simply because there can be so many arguments made about what 'being accountable' means).

For me the importance lies in these three quotes from her blog about the meaning/value of words:

Various bloggers have gotten into trouble or been fired - in some cases over the content of their blog, in other cases over the mere fact that they have a blog.

Words have power. They also can cause hurt and damage every bit as painful as sticks and stones.

Don't think for a New York minute that words are any less real because they happen to reside in the shifting, formless ether of the Internet. Don't think you won't be held responsible if your words somehow come back to bite you.

I will admit that I feel beaten into submission as I close my blog, but I am (potentially) avoiding the sticks and stones that will bury me and my career. That's the most important thing.


Posted by Dr. K at 3:50 PM 11 comments

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)
It's Apples & Oranges to Me
It\

Blogs That I Read

* Bitch Ph.D.
* Cathy's Place to Blog
* Doctor Anonymous
* Doctor Mama
* DoctorScientist
* Dolittler
* Dr. Dork
* Dr. Wes
* Fat Cyclist
* Fat Doctor
* Fingers and Tubes in Every Orifice
* Island Med Student
* Jennifer Hawke
* Just Up The Dose
* kt-rn
* Med-Source
* Medstudentitis
* Midwife with a Knife
* Musings of a Dinosaur
* Ob/Gyn Kenobi
* Panda Bear, MD
* Pieces of Mind
* Que Sarah, Sarah
* Rocky Mountain Medic
* Scan Man's Notes
* Six Until Me
* So Close
* Someonetc
* Tales From the ER and Beyond
* That Med School Guy
* The Angry Medic
* The Future Dr. House
* The Rejected
* The Thoughts of Artemis
* Tiggers don't Jump
* UroStream


Blog Archive

Contributors

* Dr. K
* Dr. K.


Stat Counter
StatCounter - Free Web Tracker and Counter

Anonymous said...

How are things going?

kay said...

Hello Lori-- Paul and I were so glad to hear your wonderful news!

I HAD to send you this link

http://www.comics.com/comics/fminus/archive/fminus-20070621.html

I wanted to just send this to you, but didn't know how.........
Take care of yourself--
Sincerely,
Kay and Paul Kile

David said...

Hey, that's great, awesome, fantastic, fabulous, news about you! Congratulations! :)

I was feeling great and super-excited for you and then when I read about Sarah; well, that was like an emotional kick in the groin. My heart goes out to her loved ones. Life is so unfair sometimes. :(

Nickster2422 said...

Lori,I am sooo Happy for you!! Congratulations on the NO Cancer verdict!! I don't log on often, but you are always in my prayers. We miss you here at B & N !! STAY WELL!! Love ya, Nicki in San Diego.

i2y

I'm Too Young For This!