I went through a lot thoughts about this surgery.  During the two weeks between the pathology report and actually doing the surgery, I decided not to do anything about the cancer diagnosis about 3 times.  I tried to rationalize a less radical surgical procedure.

I was given advice, counsel, loving support, prayers, suggestions and warnings from so many people.

  • My first impression when I got the phone call was "OK, it was a cancerous tumor but it is gone now".
  • Then I recalled how it seemed the lump got smaller after the original surgery was scheduled.  Could be it be it was shrinking, knowing that we were going to get it.  Or was did it shrink because it just shot out spores.
  • One person, very dear to me, told me that the cancer was gone... but get second opinions.
  • When I first heard about the radial flap, I was all set.  Go for it!

After the CAT scan and other blood work came back negative (about the spreading of the cancer and/or other possible tumors) I began to doubt the whole thing again.  I asked for a second opinion of the pathology.  But I already knew that Merkel Cell is a diagnosis usually missed; not given incorrectly.

Then I called my friend Tim in New Jersey.  He and I have been friends since the mid-70's.  We shared a common interest in our spiritual pursuits and "hippie-health-food fads" back in the good old days.  He also developed a very rare type of cancer in December 2002.

I asked Tim how he handled all that.  What was his first impression about what to do?  How did Nature unfold itself to him?  In summary:

  • He was given a suggested course of action.
  • He second guessed it, went to specialists all over the country.
  • Ultimately he did what the first doctor suggested.  In other words, he did the first thing that Nature presented to him.
  • He is doing well (cancer free) 18 months later.

That put me in the mind set of going with my intuition that said "go for it" when I first heard about the procedure.

But still, it is a big, scary procedure.  Why does it have to be so big?  So fast?  Why can't we take a small portion of skin now, test it, then if needed, take more later?

I talked with a nurse, the nurse who was there during first surgery.  She said very little is known about Merkel Cell, only that is aggressive and deadly, like a melanoma.  She said if they did anything less and the cancer was still there, it would be considered malpractice.  I work for a malpractice insurance company.  That explanation seemed to put it in perspective.  I went ahead.

Still now, 18 days after surgery.  No more cancer was found.  I have a massive "shark bite" on my arm.  I am not sorry that I went through with this.  But how much better off would I be if I had followed the other part of intuition that said that cancer was already gone instead of passing it off as denial.  How much panic and rushing was caused by the "C" word.

I have no regrets for the surgery.  I only have regrets for not honoring the more subtle messages I was getting from Nature.