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Erin, Dennis, and their entire families thank you for your love, prayers, and support.

A series of unfortunate events

So apparently God must think I'm a good storyteller since lately I've been given lots of material!

It all started with a girls trip to NYC, one of my best friends was coming to town and in true "live like you were dying" fashion I couldn't resist the 4 hour drive to see her!  My knee had been bothering me before that but we planned a trip the week before Memorial Day to go to OH and was planning on getting checked then (MRI scheduled June 5th for it now).  Anyway, Saturday we did lots of walking, enough where eventually I broke off from the group to go back to the hotel and take a timeout for several hours before dinner.  We go to dinner then out afterwards and I had the most un eventful fall.  I, no joke, was just standing talking to a bunch of people when I got nudged from behind unexpectedly, maybe muscle fatigue from earlier didn't help and my leg muscles aren't what they used to be but I fell and I instantly knew my bone(s) broke.  The random people I talked to from the looks of my fall didn't understand how they could break but I assured them I couldn't get up without assistance and weight bearing wasn't an option.  Luckily our hotel was across the street and they had a wheelchair which was helpful, got some Ibuprofen, ice, and pillows under my leg and we were off to bed. Morning comes and my cankles in full swing, I devise a plan.  So I wheelchair to the car (which I thankfully valeted), crawl in, decide I'll fill up in New Jersey since they pump for you, and keep on trekking home to Ithaca until MY BATTERY LIGHT COMES ON! What the heck. Call Dennis. My phone beeps at me.  In all the commotion the night before we forgot to charge my "blueberry". Dennis says drive as far as I can, turn my phone off to save juice and don't turn the car off.  54 miles to home MY CAR SHUTS DOWN.  CRAP.  Where am I? I call AAA and Dennis giving them very little direction as to where I am annnnd my phone dies.  CRAP! Time goes by, not sure how long because I had no way of telling and Dennis saves the day and finds me!  Anyway, I make the tow truck follow me to the convenient care and lo and behold it's quickly apparent that I have broken my tibia in two places and fibula in one...  This is in my last cast.... 

Now when securing Dr. Joyce as my doctor again for this surgery, I asked him if this was complicated enough for him.  His physician assistant tells me casually "Oh we'll do anything for our tumor patients, we'd even remove a ganglion cyst."  Wheels started turning and I asked if they'd remove the mole on my shoulder, it wasn't big, but it felt a little raised, developed a small scab on it and seemed to hurt sometimes.  He looked confused for a second, I quickly said never mind it's no big deal, and he started typing instructions for removing the lesion on my shoulder. I tried to remove it when we lived in Beverly Hills but the guy didn't take a proper sample and left some cells behind for it to grow back.  At the time though, the cells were non cancerous.  Nothing to worry about.

So yesterday I get the call that the lesion is melanoma, that they had gotten all the tumor but there was some talk when they presented my case to the tumor board that morning that there is more that needs to be done and I need to meet with a melanoma specialist after I see them tomorrow. Crap.

So this morning we go get X-rays, take my splint off, check out my sutures (they rubbed my leg around the sutures with alcohol swabs and it felt soooo good! Free scratches!) looked at the X-rays and the doctor decided I wasn't ready for the air boot yet and decided to recast me.  **Side note, they had me in the pediatric casting unit bc it was closer to their office which resulted in my sweet homemade striped cast in Lily's favorite colors that was the envy of a fellow castee in the elevator on the way out who didn't get the same sweet attention** Then he started talking about my bones and my fall.  He related my bones to balsa wood and said he's going to need to run a scan of my bone density, you know with all the 60 year olds (his words).  He said that the break is just a result of disuse (months before finding it that I was limping, the months after I wasn't allowed to weight bear and my limited ability after that, my words).  This is the same problem astronauts have after being in zero gravity.  So we finished by making some appts for June 5th and then we decide from there what's next. (MRI of my knee, Remove cast, X-ray ankle, consult with Dr.)

My current scar, that's just liquid skin over that hasn't fallen off yet.

On to the melanoma, after Dr. Joyce we saw Dr. Gastman and after meeting him I am confident that I once again was put into the perfect hands.  My melanoma was .82 mm deep, after 1 mm things start to get grim, but with it being .82 we have lots of hope for a positive outcome.  What gives me comfort is that Dr. Joyce has all ready taken out the complete tumor, it's just now that we know what it is there are certain things that need to be done to make sure it doesn't reoccur in the same spot and also to check and see if it has spread.  So, ANOTHER surgery will be done where an extra cm around the perimeter of my mole will be cut out of each side then closed.  They will also be injecting dye where the mole was and tracing it back to the lymph nodes that filter that area (this is called sentinel lymph node biopsy).  Once they identify which lymph nodes the cancer likely traveled to, they will biopsy them while I'm under and send them out to a lab that can find as little as a single cell of melanoma, no false positives or negatives. Pretty amazing. If after several days we get back that none of the lymph nodes had any cancerous cells then we celebrate! I'd be in the clear for the spot it was found and would just have to see a dermatologist every 3 months to get checked as more spots can pop up but can be remedied if caught quickly.  If it did spread then that opens a can of worms where we have to look at heart/lungs/liver etc. but that's where we are at.  The doctor also mentioned he's going to send a biopsy to some specialized lab also that does DNA mapping/genetic testing to get more information about my risks and see if they can predict how a tumor of this sort might behave if spread.  Surgery has not been scheduled yet as they wanted to wait a little bit for my levels to normalize before putting me under again.  I see a general dermatologist next Tuesday who will perform a full body check and run some sort of artificial intelligence that examines each spot and can see things undetectable to the human eye (pretty cool again) and then it can tell next time if there has been any changes from the picture from this time. Which to me is super comforting because if caught early enough, melanoma can just be some scars.  

All that's left is to get a blood clot and test positive for Lyme and I'd feel like I got thrown everything possible.  Ok that's not true, but just sayin...

So once again we are in a little bit of a limbo, a crazy waiting game to see how much more struggles ahead.  It seems never ending.  Prayers are needed.  Life is crazy.  I'm definitely not looking forward to trying to crutch with fresh wounds under my arm, time to bust out that walker!  I've got quite a way to go with my bones and hopefully not as long with my skin but time will tell.  My kids are really missing New York and our friends (and Dennis).  We're hoping to get back once all tests and surgeries and scans are done and rehab there uneventfully.  Until then, we will enjoy the quality time with family and friends here that we've been given.  Everything happens for a reason and I just have to be grateful that I broke my leg so that my series of unfortunate events led me to getting my mole removed and on the path to healing.  Thank God.  I know I've said this before but it's worth mentioning again that due to everyone's generosity several months ago (and a change in health care) we are blessed to be financially secure at this time and we are so thankful to not have that added stress.  We do welcome visitors and prayers (and cupcakes?! :) and prayers.  If you read this far, I'm sorry, I guess I'm not that great of a storyteller.
Today was the first day with my new therapist in New York and I really like her!  I'll be going twice a week now as I'm now "weight bearing as tolerated" which means new exercises yay!!  Finally.  So today I leg pressed 7 pounds with my "bum leg" as Lily calls it, wahoo!  I also stood on a balancing ball and gradually let more weight shift from my upper body to my lower.  All in all was great to feel some progress, but obviously have a long way to go.  I asked her if she could guess at how long til I can walk and she said 8 weeks is a possibility, but that doesn't mean unassisted.  Then I asked how long til I can carry and walk Autumn to the car and she said that's a totally different answer and we'll just have to see.  We also talked about my misdiagnosis and she asked what Dr. It was.  When I told her who she informed me that one of her patients saw him and told her that he's leaving the practice and moving back to Utah.  I hope that I didn't have anything to do with that.

Lately I've been having some unexplained pains/soreness/slight throbbing on the front of my tibia and below my knee where I was bruising before surgery and its freaking me out.  I notice it especially at night in bed as its uncomfortable to lay on my side with my knees together (therapist told me to put a pillow between).  Started a few days ago and I'm hoping its just from maybe doing too much around the house that irritated it, or feelings coming back where it wasn't before... I'm going to monitor it to see if it doesn't go away after I get more muscle support and set a time frame on that (maybe Thanksgiving) before alerting my Doctor and getting an X-ray.  Hopefully its just strained from lack of muscle support...  

All in all life's good.  Had Audrey all last week helping me, got some of our room in New York unpacked, the girls room organized, had lots and lots of toddler playtime, made lots of new friends, and even had a dirty martini party til we ran out of brine (didn't take too many for that). Now we're in Ohio getting ready for the big benefit Sunday and hopefully going to get to soak that all in Sunday.  Talked to John Salamon about final details on how he wants to run the entertainment and instantly my excitement level went up, he's a great guy and plans on singing his little heart out (me too!). There's going to be some AWESOME raffles which begs the question is it proper to bid on them at your own benefit? So excited to see my nephew Henry again and all the family and friends of ours in one place (Little guy gets a shout out bc he's 5 months and I can count on one hand how many times I've seen him!). Hope to see you all there! 

All my love,

Post-op Dr appt and Benefit info

Well we came back to Cleveland this week for appointments and PT.  My PT says I've made progress and thinks I'm getting stronger so that's great.  Saw Dr. Joyce Tuesday and we took more films.  Good news no sign of recurrence, bad news we need more bone growth in the back of my tibia where the tumor broke through! He wants me to keep on the same path until I'm 3 months post op then I can begin weight bearing as tolerated then I see him again in 3 months for more scans and check up.  He also said I have to wear this brace until I'm 6 month post op.  
We're heading back to New York tomorrow to be with daddy so he's not lonely!  It's also quite a bit easier on the kiddos too and me since they have a pretty good schedule there and lots of opportunities to see little friends and get their energy out!  We'll miss family time but it won't be long until we'll be back for the big benefit on Nov 10th at the Eagles in Amherst  Its looking like a great time with great raffle items!  Some of the confirmed raffle items so far include:

47" Vizio LED Smart TV ($20 tickets, 150 total, on sale now)
OSU quilt from Chris Bereznay
BRED outdoors basket with $150 gift card to Cabelas
$25 Harbor bait Drivethru Gift Card
Fish mount by Anglers Freeze Dry
Cedar point basket with season passes from Susan Stookey
Vermilion Farmers Market basket
Starbucks basket from Jane Pavlac
Sweet treat basket made by "cupcake" Kari VanDenHaute
Rub Club massage package from Dr. Jeremy Watson
Ironwood Cafe basket from Marie Casey
Rewined candles from Jeanette Davis

Pogey is catering (he did our wedding) and cooking steaks to order and there will be a keg of beer included in the $20 ticket price, cash bar beyond that.  One of my absolute favorite Boathouse performers John Salamon will be at his piano bar rocking out some tunes for us (that's prob where you'll find me!) and it's sure to be a good time!  Did I mention the next days Veterans Day?  Maybe you have it off and can even let a little loose!  If having a great times your thing then get ahold of my sister Aileen (440)4542635 (text or call), Shannon Murphy, Audrey Socha, or Marianne Socha for tickets!

Here's a pic of my girls and niece this week just to end it with a smile 

We're back!

Thanks to my mother in law and Joe we are back getting settled in New York and we love it!  Lily was so excited when we first arrived she had to play with every toy before going to bed.  We've spent the week taking her to the drop in center, the library, visiting friends, reorganizing our lives and Joe has been fixing things like crazy!  So far he's cleaned the gutters, mowed the lawn, cut apart a giant branch that fell in our yard while we were gone, cut and split fire wood, inspected our chimney, fixed our toilet seat, swept up all the spiders that moved in while we were gone, and buffed and waxed our hardwood floors while Mrs. Socha helped me take care of the kids, unpack, organize, and clean my house, grocery shop, and cook!  It takes a village and I'm grateful for mine! They leave Sunday and Audrey's coming Tuesday (to Fri) so we had a Monday void to fill and my friends here are rallying to fill it so we can stay with Dennis a little longer before heading back to Cleveland for my appointment on the 22nd.  There's some pretty awesome people around here.  Speaking of awesome people, the church we belong to, All Saints, heard from a friend that we were back in town and called and came over with this.  I can't wait to plant the mums in front of our house and have them always (and eat the dark chocolate haha)!  We are very lucky to have found such a fun, caring, full of life church, and we can't wait to be back Sunday!  Thanks again so much!

Physical Therapy and Save the Date!

So recovery is coming along.  Went to my first out patient therapy session where we added more non weight bearing exercises.  She also put me on the stationary bike for the first time, granted it wasn't on and there was no resistance but I felt human again.  My therapist emailed my doctor to see if I could gradually Add more weight but was quickly turned down.  10-20 lbs it is until the 22nd of October!  I have quite a bit of muscle atrophy in my left leg, and it's going to take some time to build it back. Pain is controlled mainly but there are a few exercises that really get painful and bother the back of my calf so I have to take it easy.  
Went last Saturday to get a CT scan of my chest to verify that there are no tumors (the X-rays pre-surgery didn't find any) and also to be used as a base line for scans in the future. Scans are going to become a regular thing now, I haven't gone over a timeline with Joyce as we get scans at every appt now to determine weight bearing and watch bone growth (which are about every 6 weeks) but he did say once everything is back to normal we'll have scans every 4 months for a while, then every 6 eventually.  Chances of reoccurrence are highest in the first 22 months after surgery (21 more to go!) and then nodules in the chest are more likely to appear at a reoccurrence then at the first occurrence, so scans are important!  
We've spent the last week going between terrorizing Aileen and Grandma Socha's house.  The girls have been having lots of fun and love all the family attention they usually don't get in New York.  Dennis' long time friend Katie Stitak visited us (before heading to Brazil for 2.5 months, so jelly!) and brought over a Manila envelope that they passed around to all the PIB establishments for donations and encouraging notes.  It was so sweet and makes me miss even more all the wonderful people up there.  Thanks again Marc and Brock for putting it together!
Dennis' father and Aunt Marianne have been working hard to put together a steak fry benefit to help us continue to cover medical expenses.  They are still in beginning stages of organizing it but we do have a place, a date, and a caterer scheduled.  It will be held at the Eagles in Amherst on Nov 10th (a Sunday) so save the date, more details once we have them but its sounds like a good time!  
A continued heart felt thanks to everyone that has helped us out.  We are truly humbled, and will never be able to show you how much we appreciate you.  

1st post op with Dr. Joyce

Yesterday was our first post surgery meeting with Dr. Joyce! We got X-rays, pictures below, and new orders!  He wasn't too impressed with the new bone formation around the cement, especially on top.  I'm only allowed 10-20 lbs pressure on my leg but full flexion of the knee is allowed and I can take the brace off when sleeping which is a major bonus!  So last night I slept really really well! I have a chest CT on Saturday to make sure my lungs are clear from any tumors (none showed up on X-rays before surgery, its just a precaution because it is a common metastasis of this tumor) and I start out patient therapy Monday.  My at home therapist Sue came today and we worked on at home exercises!  I can actually lift my leg up now, you'd be so impressed, its all I can think about!  Very proud of myself!  I don't see the Dr again until October 22nd where another round of X-rays will be taken to reevaluate weight allowances.  Hopefully more bone will grow!  The physician assistant before Joyce came in to see us had a list of names and scribbles on a paper and wanted me to go over pre-Joyce treatment so he had the right guy to "yell at".  Thought that was interesting.  Lily also told the PA that Dr. Joyce was the man, but froze in front of him so he didn't get to hear it himself.

Dennis has left us this week to work some as his paid leave ran out a few weeks ago and he thought it was important to check on clients (I agree) so we are long distancing it right now.  We were able to Skype last night and Lily did not ever want to stop.  She kept full on hugging the IPad.  She also requested that daddy show her her room and asked him to play with her toys.  Dennis is in AWESOME hands, our neighbors have been cooking for him and having him over (they've also been watching our house and taking care of the lawn).  We lived there for 3 weeks.  There really are great people in this world!

I am still overwhelmed with all the outpouring of help and well wishes.  I was up late the other night reading fb messages and posts from a while back and went to bed feeling Just incredible.  It is amazing what a beautiful community of friends and family I've acquired in my lifetime and I was and still am touched by every one that reached out!  I feel like I could and will spend a life time trying to pay it all forward and it will never amount to all that was given, so from the bottom of my heart thank you.

Until next time,