Pathology (31)

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I’m sure you guys are on the edge of your seats all weekend waiting to recover from the cliffhanger I left you with on Friday. Kidding. However, here goes.

So, last Monday I went back to St. Louis for my post-op appointment to make sure everything was progressing as it should, to get the staples and stitches removed, and to go over the pathology report.

After checking in at the front desk of the clinic, I had about a ten minute wait before the nurse came and took me back to a room and checked my vitals. Fortunately, the doc came in before she was even done so I didn’t have to wait at all.

The first thing he said to me was “You don’t look like you just had surgery.” My response was “I don’t feel like I just had surgery.” He then joked about how he wished he could have all of his patients recover so fast. I felt pretty good about that. #Gladiator.

Proceeding, he told me to lay back on the chair and I asked him if he was going to take the staples out. I assumed that was the plan…but you know what happens when you assume. He said yes and prepared to take the staples out while I took off the bandages. He began taking the staples out with some device that made it minimally painful, which I really appreciated.

After pulling the first couple staples he asked, “Have we gone over the path report?” I just looked at him and was like “um…no dude…that’s why I’m here today.” So, naturally, he started off with “well, the results were very interesting…shockingly so.” By the way, if there are any docs reading this, please never start off that way about a pathology report. I shot a horrified glance at my dad and was very uneasy and prepared for the worst.
At this point, almost all of the staples were out and he started to go to work on the stitches, which were actually more painful to get out than the staples. He finally said that the news from the path report was “great” and I may have let out the biggest sigh of relief in the history of big sighs of relief. I felt like a million pounds had been lifted off of my shoulders. I pressed him for more information.

He turned to the computer to pull the report up…adding to the suspense. I suspect he was doing this on purpose at this point just to see me squirm. Anyway, he told me that the pathologists tested 87 lymph nodes. I was surprised at such a high number. I was expecting more like 12-18. But, I’ll take it. Not going to argue with them being extra thorough. Well, every damn one of them came back negative. I was stunned. Throughout this process they had always told me that the cancer was in about 6-10 lymph nodes.

Apparently, chemo works! I couldn’t believe that the chemo had worked well enough to completely wipe out the cancer from the lymph nodes after only five of the twelve treatments I am supposed to have. My doc couldn’t believe it either.

I think I was in shock at this point. I just remember blankly staring at him and I’m not really sure that I was doing a very good job of processing the information. Then, he told me that all of the surgical margins were clean as well. Cue more shock.

One of the biggest reasons I had to wait to have surgery was because they were really worried about being able to have surgical margins that allowed them to get all of the cancer out. I was 2-for-2 at this point. Might as well go for the home run…

As I’m sitting there in disbelief, the last thing he tells me, with a giant grin on his face, is that they didn’t find cancer anywhere except for in the tumor. And, that tumor is no longer inside of me. So, if you do the math, no cancer plus no cancer plus no cancer equals…NO CANCER! At this very moment, by all measures available to the doc, I do not have any cancer inside of my body.

I think I mentally lost my shit for a minute. Although, you would’ve never known. I sat there stone-faced, not sure if I should believe it or not. You have to understand, I have received mostly bad news throughout this entire process and, in my mind, the soonest that I thought I might actually hear that news was at least three months from now. And, that was IF everything went perfectly, which, let’s be honest, it hadn’t gone so perfect lately.
I called my mom as soon as I left the doctor’s office and was trying as hard as I could to hold back tears as I talked to her. I’m not used to happy tears, that’s for sure. I remember talking to her and having to stop halfway through for about thirty seconds because I was concerned that I was going to lose it walking through the hospital.
I couldn’t believe it. He fixed me. I have my life back. I have no idea how I could ever thank someone for doing so much for me. The next 24 hours I experience a flood of emotions like I’ve never felt before…and will hopefully never feel again. My dad and I went to lunch right after the doctor’s appointment and I remember him saying “I thought you would be happier.”

I really think I was in shock. I was having a hard time processing it and I still am to this day. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic. But, it was a lot to process.

Anyway, I’ll try and dive into the though process and the emotions of that day and the following few days here soon.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support throughout this process. You guys are the best and you mean the world to me.


7 thoughts on “Pathology (31)

  1. Wow, man…. Just wow! What a report of incredible Grace & Gratitude… & purposeful skilled hands/talent ! I’m Honored / Humbled today to hear this report… You are LOVED, Zach.
    Papa Poage

  2. Zach
    I have enjoyed your writing. You do such a great job of informing and entertaining. But THIS was by far the bestest!

  3. What wonderful news!! You certainly deserve it after the journey you’ve been on.
    I will continue to pray for you as you regain weight and strength. Guess I don’t have to pray for a return of your sense of humor since remarkably you’ve never lost it.

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