Another Twist in the Road: Melanoma

A little over a week ago my world turned upside down. We got a call that put yet another new twist in our journey. We started the day drained after a night of little to no sleep because Sage was up crying most of the night. But, apart from that it was a pretty typical Wednesday. We had therapy for Sage in the morning, so Bryan didn't go into work right away. Our family resources coordinator had just left when Bryan got a call. The whole time he was on the call I kept trying to figure out who it was he was talking to and what about, but I couldn't - because this would have never been on my radar.

The call was from the dermatologists office and they were calling with the pathology report from a tumor they had removed from my husbands thumb the week before. The dermatologist had said from looking at it that it was a pyogenic granuloma and not cancerous. They told my husband on that call that the pathology report showed he had melanoma.

That first day we walked around in a daze. Bryan went to work. My mother-in-law took Thaddeus for a few hours and I was left alone with Sage. I felt a little bit like I didn't know what to focus on. I was so grateful that my two year old was gone and I didn't have to entertain him. I started to look up melanoma online. Bad idea. My mind couldn't get past phrases like "most deadly form of skin cancer". I remember sort of just staring blankly at the screen thinking, "that can't be right." Bryan is young, fit and healthy. I started to shake uncontrollably, the way I did after both my children were born. I was in shock. I knew I couldn't keep reading, but wasn't sure really what to do with myself. Then as if spoken I thought, "what were you going to do today before all this happened?" "clean." "then do that."


So I picked up, and I vacuumed, and I dusted, and I cleaned the bathroom and I scrubbed the floors. And as I did the numb shock subsided. I realized something right then, something I want to remember...

Sometimes when life throws something at you that you truly don't think you can handle the best thing to do is to just do the step that already lay in front of you. Do the mundane, the ordinary, scrub the floors. I realized that there wasn't anything I could do in that moment that would change the twist that had just been thrown in my road. I couldn't make the melanoma go away, I couldn't control the future, all I could do was the task that lay before me and that task was scrubbing the floors. And you know what? It helped.

Bryan came home early and the rest of the day was spend with a sort of sweet dazed preciousness. There were cuddles and tears and lots and lots of playing together as a family.

A little more than a week has gone by since then. We now know that the recommendation is for Bryan to have the top half of his thumb amputated. The oncologist is running a blood test now and wants to schedule a PET scan, an MRI, and a lymph node biopsy. The priority now is to make sure all of the irregular cells are removed and find out if it has spread and if so how far.


After the initial shock we have of course experienced a roller coaster of feelings. But, overall we are trying to stay positive and not become ruled by the fear or the what-ifs. We believe that we can and will fight this. This is not going to be an end of a road it is just a new twist. This road we are now traveling down is a road leading to life - a fuller, deeper life then we could have experienced without this twist. That is what I believe today and that is what I am choosing to focus on going forward.

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman