Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Everything happens for a reason.....

When we first found out we were pregnant again after the triplets we were stunned. After all, how is it possible that we conceived without Assisted Reproductive Technology, while I was on the pill (for over 6 months) and while Jeff has sperm antibodies that prevent me from getting pregnant? How did this happen to us? We embraced the pregnancy and joked that this baby could be part of G-d's greater plan, perhaps this special child would even find a cure for cancer! Who knows. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Fast forward to the birth of our beautiful healthy baby girl, named Charlotte Alana after Jeff's parents who are Zichrono Livracha, or of a blessed memory. Charlotte was Jeff's mom's first name and Alan was his father's- by adding the "a" after Alan, we created her middle name- Alana. At 3 months Charlotte Alana was (and still is) the highest of highs in our life. But like most infants, she had sharp fingernails that required constant manicuring and attention. One night last Fall she scratched Jeff's nose and drew blood. The scratch took a while to heal and then a few months later it randomly re-opened as if she had nicked him again. Weird? Then a few months after that the sight of her scratch was back. Jeff's Internist doctor thought he should have the area checked by a dermatologist just to be safe. Fair enough- done!

As it turns out Charlotte scratched an area on Jeff's nose which triggered a biopsy that revealed a basal cell melanoma under the surface of the skin- this was not a problem that you could see or feel. It was fully under the surface with no warning signs or indications or a problem. Had she not scratched him precisely on that spot, who knows if it would have been detected at all. Yesterday Jeff spent all day having MOHS surgery to excise the cancer that Charlotte discovered with her jagged nails.

The procedure is state of the art. Mohs surgery is a special procedure designed to remove skin cancer with the least chance of recurrence and the least removal of healthy tissue. It is named for the physician that invented the technique. Here's how Mohs works - The specially trained dermatologist shaves off what he/she thinks is all the cancer, then you go into the waiting room and he/she goes into the lab and looks at the stained specimen to see if all of it was removed. If the cancer is growing all the way to the edge of any part of the specimen on the slide (seen under the microscope) that means there's probably some more left on the face. You return to the surgical suite to have a little more removed- but just in the spots where the margins are positive for cancer. Then it's back to the lab to see if that's enough, and so on, until the whole lesion and every last bit of cancer is gone. Each subsequent specimen is smaller and smaller, leaving healthy tissue where it is and just going after the "legs" of the cancer, until it is finally completely gone and you've got the smallest defect to repair.

Skin cancer can grow along the planes under the top layer of skin, so the cancer is often larger than it initially appears on the surface. In Jeff's case it was far deeper and wider than even the dermatologist initially expected. He had about 25% of his nose removed and to put it in perspective, it required over 30 stitches to close.

Fortunately he started out with a fairly generous honkin schnaz to begin with-(humor) and more importantly his cancer was caught early thanks to the handiwork (literally) of baby Charlotte.

In keeping with our original thought about our miracle bonus baby- everything happens for a reason, and while she has yet to find a cure for cancer, she has already done a substantial job detecting it. Now we believe that G-d had a plan we he gave us this very special baby. Baruch Hashem a million times!

1 comment:

Karen @ Chez Perky said...

Wow. What a miracle baby! Refuah Shlema to Jeff!

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