My melanoma battle and forehead flap surgery

This little light of mine…………..

June 7, 2013

First, I ask you to pray for God to open your heart, mind and soul so that you will receive any and all blessings from my journey, that is my intention.  I am not asking for sympathy or to be glorified in any way but to God be all the glory.  So, let’s not focus on the gross details of the process I have been through, but focus on how God has blessed me through it all…through each and every step!

First & Foremost, I have always been hesitant about publicly using my life and experiences to praise God because I felt in order for people to see Jesus in me, I had to appear to be perfect!  I sin every single day; I am common flesh and bone.  I have always felt that if people, especially the unsaved, watched me and compared Christianity to how I lived my life that I would not be setting a good example, so I kept my testimony to myself.  But I was wrong!  Unsaved people need to see that Christians are not perfect and we make mistakes every day; maybe this would actually make it easier for them.  YES, we need to try to live for Jesus, but if we slip,  through God’s mercy, we have been and can be  forgiven for those sins.  It is a daily struggle for us all!

My journey…..
I had this small mole appear on the right side of my nose over a year ago and assumed it was just another freckle.  Over the last several months, it started to grow and raised up so that I could feel it when touched.  My daughter, Melissa, and husband, Doug urged me to go to a dermatologist but as I have been told..I was hard headed and didn’t.  What caught my attention was when this sweet inmate, Latasha, that cleans our building said that she liked my “nose ring”.   When she said that I thought..geez.. people think I am a 50 year old Hoochie Mama with a nose ring so I called immediately on March 19th, 2013 and made an appointment with the dermatologist.  God used her!  I told her that just because she wore a green and white striped uniform that she should never doubt that God could use her!  If she had not said that, I would not have called and made the appointment.
On Wednesday April24th I went to see Dr. Beau Burrows. When he looked at the mole, he said this was a common benign mole but he would remove it and as a precaution would send it for biopsy.  Not in these exact words, but he said He would call if anything showed up from the biopsy but that I probably wouldn’t hear from him. 
 So on Thursday, April 25th, Melissa called from home and said that Dr Burrows had just called the house for me and she told him to call my work, my eyebrows raised..hmm..  He called and was very surprised that my lab results came back and the little mole was Melanoma (Cancer) and that he was scheduling an appointment for me to see Dr. David Steckler, a plastic surgeon.  His nurse set up the consultation appointment for Tuesday, April 30th.  At first I panicked, but I thought to myself “it’s such a little can’t be that bad”.  So, I was definitely NOT prepared for what I would find out at my consultation.  Thank goodness my Mom went with me because she knows how much like my Dad I am and that I may not ask enough questions.  Dr. Steckler walked into the room, immediately looked at my face and said “and what a beautiful face”.. He looked at the mole and started drawing on a piece of paper showing me the perimeter as well as the depth of the area he would have to remove to be sure there were no cancer cells left.  This is the point I started getting scared & frightened.  Then he looked at my forehead and measured my forehead and the length of my  nose and started explaining this “forehead flap nose reconstruction” surgery.  You could tell at first  he thought I was a little prepared for what he was telling me but the look of fear on my face didn’t lie!  He got a book and showed me the process and it was all I could do to stand there.  He said he wanted to do the surgery as soon as possible.. that Friday!  I held it together as Mom and I left but when I got back to work, I almost hyperventilated and I broke down.  I called and talked with Dr Burrows again, just trying to grasp what was happening.  He apologized for not preparing me, but here’s another one of God’s blessings..  IF I had known this when I talked to Dr Burrows on the 25th, there would have been 7 days of panic instead of 3.  THANK you God!    I immediately “put it out there” via emails and facebook.. the way I see it, the more people that knew, the more prayers that would be heading my way…and I needed a lot of them. 
Then the next blessing, Dr David Steckler.  He was truly sent from God to me for this process.  I have never met and been associated with such a kind and compassionate doctor.  He knew how scared I was and did everything he could to comfort me.  He always asks how I am, how I am holding up etc and you can tell he cares about my response and he isn’t just asking for the sake of conversation.  I always believe if you have good things to say about people..let them know and share it!  So, Dr Steckler, when you read this…please know I pray for you as well as myself and I know God will bless you, that is my prayer
Yes, this was a very graphic process but it could have been worse.  I was border line..right under the radar of having to have a sentinel lymph node dissection with biopsy during the surgery.  Melanoma can get into your lymph nodes.  This would have entailed inserting dye to light up the lymph nodes in and around my face and neck, making and incision in front of my ears and pulling the skin back to remove lymph nodes in my face and/or neck for the biopsy.  Facial paralysis was one of the complications this surgery could have caused.  So.. God blessed me once again.  Then, at first, he was going to cut behind my ear to get cartilage for my new nose but it turned out he could use cartilage from the good side of my nose instead.. once again..God blessed me.
Each time I go for surgery or office visit, Dr Steckler is so pleased with the progression and how everything is looking so I can’t help but feel .. once again..blessed!
I can honestly say that from the very beginning, I never ever asked God .. WHY?  As I have always heard, God never gives you more than you can handle.  I know when you read the next part of this, you may question my beliefs, but it is what got me through all of this, so therefore I know without a doubt this was God’s way of helping me cope.
My DAD!  My greatest earthly inspiration
My Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in December of 2004…he went through chemo, had a bone marrow transplant in 2006, went into remission and the cancer returned in the later part of 2012.  During all of this time, he has not been a text book case.  It seems he has had more problems with other areas caused by the cancer than the cancer itself.  It has been so hard to watch my big strong Dad become so weak.  There are so many things he longs to do…hunt, be outside and work in his massive garden.  He has been a rock during these years but every time he gets sick, my heart just aches.  Last year I prayed to God that he would give ME something and let him rest;  give me at least ONE illness that was meant for my Dad so he could become stronger.  I am unsure if God actually answers prayers like that and you can believe what you want, but I feel he did answer it to help me.  At least in my mind, I made a sacrifice and if it bought my Dad ONE more year, ONE more month, ONE more day, ONE more hour, it is worth it all!  That’s what has gotten me through all of this, the hope that I encountered something that was meant for him!  So, I guess in a way even if God didn’t actually answer that specific prayer, he has allowed me the peace of at least thinking that is why this happened which has allowed me to be stronger.
When Dad found out, here’s what he told me “If I could take your place and have it happen to me instead, I would”!  CHILL BUMP MOMENT!  He had no idea what MY prayer was.  Then he gave me great inspirational words as he always does.. He said “It’s all about your attitude, the better your attitude, the faster you will heal”, and he was right. 

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I don’t know what I would have done without all of the support and PRAYERS!  It meant so much to me when some of my dearest friends laid hands on me the night before my surgery!  What a calming experience, I felt so close to God that I just knew everything was going to be OK. 
The night before my surgery, I slept and rested pretty good until I woke up at 4:30 out of anxiety and I prayed to God to release all of the payers to me so that I could feel each and every one of them.. one by one at a time.  Every second that clicked by, I felt calming peace..second by second.  I said THANK YOU GOD and got up and got ready to go to the hospital.  I know without a doubt I would have been much more scared and anxious without all of the prayers that he sent down to me…prayers that were prayed just for me by my precious friends. 
PRAISE GOD, when the results came back from the lab, Dr Steckler was able to remove all of the cancer.  The rest, the cosmetic part is “fixable”. 
AS I commented at the beginning, this isn’t about ME!  I promised God that if he would just carry me through all of this, that I would give him all of the Praise and Glory!  It’s amazing the things God uses and the ways he can send us signs, messages and thoughts.  The morning after I found out about the extent of my surgery, I went into our spare bedroom to iron my clothes for work and sitting upright on a dresser right in my view as I ironed was this ceramic cross sitting in the stand, the cross had these little sparrows and this saying “I know he watches every nest”.  That helped me through the day!  I had never seen that cross before.  It turned out to be Melissa’s and as she was cleaning out some of her stuff she found it.  Just by chance?  I don’t think so.  Don’t ever take anything for granted.  He knows what we need and when we need it so accept these unexplained moments as blessings.

Remember the words to the song.. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”  This song came to me during dreams I am having (which I know are thoughts sent to me from Jesus) as I was trying to think how, other than verbally telling people, I could use my journey to sing his praises.  USE your life, your stories, your thoughts to inspire other people to go to GOD.  Your little light may be all someone needs to make it through a valley in their life.  Don’t take anything or anyone for granted!  Let bygones be bygones..”water under the bridge”.. if you have grudges, complications or unsettled things with family or friends…get it straight!  It’s too hard to focus on Jesus and how he wants us to live if we can’t let things go.  I have taken the opportunity to do that during this and have been so blessed from people I had written out of my life. 

As of today, June 7, 2013 I still have the flap/inset which will be removed next Friday the 14th.. HALLELUJAH!

Then I should have one more minor surgery to trim it down again.   Day by Day, prayer by prayer.. that’s how I roll.  Matthew 17:20

Continue to pray for me and Dr Steckler that God will guide his skillful hands, I still have a long road to go buty the worse is behind me.  I am sure this will be a financial struggle as well as emotional.. BUT I know who holds my future and that HE will take care of all of it!

I feel the need to show you pictures, I can just now look at some of them myself.    These are not pleasant pictures to view, I just want to prepare you.  But it’s important to see what God carried me through, it shows that nothing is too big for him.  I'll start at the beginning and go through the process (through 5th week).
GOD BLESS you all and I love each of you dearly!
Laura Lee May
112 Ellis Dear Rd
Harrisville, MS 39082
601-845-5257, 601-668-9449
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The process.... remove the side of my nose, make the new side of my nose from my forehead by cutting the amount needed, bringing it down, folding and attaching it.  The inset (bridge looking part) has the nerves and blood vessel inside a flesh tube looking bridge to give life to the new part of my nose.  A graft was taken from my leg to encase the back part of the inset.  The part of my forehead that was taken, was down to the skull and is too wide to close up so it is left open.  The nerves are still alive in my forehead/scalp area so when I touch the new nose, I can feel it on the top part of my head..FREAKY.. I still haven't gotten used to it.  Of course, going into my scalp area means that hair grows on the end of the new nose so I have to trim them.  Later I will have laser hair removal.

3 weeks after the original surgery, I had a surgical procedure where he made an incision and de-fatted the new side.

The 3rd surgery (June 14th) will be to remove the inset and I will have another de-fatting surgery later.

BTW.. Blog post are NOT easy, I tried to put these pictures in order and comment but after almost losing my religion I gave up.   They should be in close order.  I am going to get surgery pictures from Dr Steckler and post those later, I still don't think I am ready to look at those.  The very last pictures were taken June 10th.

Right after I was moved to room from recovery (NOT crying, it was the demerol)