Many of you know I been having some health issues.   I would like to address them in my weekly footnote, maybe in this case - - finger-note.

Allow me to begin with an apology.  I am sorry it has taken me so long to share with you everything that’s been happening.   The past two weeks have been trying.  I needed to wrap my head around information coming at me from several directions.  I’ve had some major decisions to make and felt like I was in a data flood, drowning in information.   Before sharing, I needed to sort it all out in my head, with all my questions answered, so I can pass on to you what I have learned and understand.  

On March 1 I had surgery on my right index finger.  I had a growth in my fingernail bed that had continued to grow.   My doctor removed it along with a section of my finger.   The biopsy came back Tuesday.  It is cancer.  

My Doctor gave me two options:  (1) Have Moh’s surgery where the surgeon slices thin layers off my finger until they see no more cancer under a microscope or (2) Amputate my index finger at the knuckle.

I saw the Moh surgeon today, and after prayer and wise counsel have decided to have the surgery.    While there is still no guarantee I will not lose that finger, there is a slim chance I can keep it. 

There is also a fear that the cancer has spread to the nerve which will carry it to the lymph nodes.   I am still having pain in the upper knuckle which causes them to have this suspicion.   The good news is that there is no redness.

The Moh surgeon is consulting with a team of doctors this weekend to determine if I should have a PET scan where they inject a radioactive dye in my arm to check the lymph nodes in my elbow and armpit.  If they find cancer there, one or both lymph nodes will be removed. My prayer is that the cancer has not spread.

The Moh surgeon took pictures today and will share all my information with this team of physicians.  She will call me Monday or Tuesday to give me more instructions and inform me of their decisions.

Prior to my appointment today I was leaning toward the amputation, but today’s visit brought a wiser decision.  The surgeon told me that if the cancer spread, it would be systemic and removal of the finger would not stop the cancer. The conclusion being, “Why not try to save the finger?”

This is a skin cancer. The good news is that it is not a melanoma, a fast-growing cancer.  

This growth has been on my finger for about 4 years.  I have seen many doctors about this troubling issue.   A year and a half ago I had an office biopsy in a dermatologist’s office and they determined that the growth was not a wart nor was it cancer.   Based on their diagnosis, I decided this was not something serious and that I just needed to live with it for a while.  So I relaxed about it.  The Moh’s surgeon told me today that the kind of biopsy the dermatologist did that day would not carry much weight with her.  Because it was not frozen and sent out of the office, it would be nearly impossible to have known it if was or was not cancer.

The doctor who removed the growth from my finger was the 5th doctor I went to with this finger problem; he was the only one who helped me.   I am thankful for Dr. White; he has been wonderful.

After the Moh’s surgeon removes the cancer, she will turn my hand over to my Hand/Plastic Surgeon, Dr. White who will then perform reconstructive surgery.    At this time, even if I was cancer-free, I would still have to have the reconstructive surgery because the removal surgery must go nearly to the bone (1 mm from the bone) to remove the growth.    After the Moh’s surgery I must have several (3-5) follow-up surgeries to reconstruct my finger.  I was told today that if the cancer is in the tendons, there is a possibility I may not have flowing movement in that finger.

At this writing, I will have the Moh’s surgery on April 11th and my first reconstructive surgery on the 12th.    This could change because of the consultation and the decisions doctors make this weekend, but right now April 11th and 12th are the surgery dates.

As if all this is not enough, I also have a group of small lumps on the side of my knee.   Neither my surgeon nor the Moh’s surgeon believes this is related to the cancer found on my finger.  They will do a biopsy, but don’t expect to find a connection.  On April 24th I will have these lumps surgically removed.

Everyone has asked me how they can help.   My answer is simple: PRAY.   I know there is power in prayer and God is in control.   So your intercession for me is deeply appreciated.    God is watching over me, and I am blessed.   He has never failed me, so my anchor is steadfast.   One special point of prayer: I have not yet told Garrett and Isaiah about any of this. I’ll probably share with Garrett’s therapist and seek his advice as to the best way to pass this on to him; pray for God’s wisdom as I tell the boys and that I can help them understand that God is in control and is still good, even in this difficulty.

I have been emotional because of the outpouring of love you have shared with me.  People have been so wonderful.   Your prayers mean so much.  Yesterday I received a call from India from a missionary friend who called to tell me he was praying for me along with those at the mission.   I have another Christian brother who preaches in Nigeria; he informed me they are praying for me there as well.  Then there are all of you.   Your prayers, thoughts and encouragement are so very much appreciated.   Literally, I am being prayed for all over the world.   You can see how humbled I am by all your love for me.

Just because I am going through this valley does not change the fact that God Is still good.   You can be assured He and I are walking through this valley together. He is providing answers, direction and strength.  He is placing knowledgeable physicians in my path who will do the work of His hands.  He is surrounding me with an incredible amount of love through my awesome family.  Through each of you, He is providing me a support system of encouragement.   My Heavenly Father is giving comfort when I feel the loss of my finger. He calms my fears when I think of the painful surgeries before me.  He is giving me a peace that passes all understanding and he is building my faith as I read His Word.  My trust is in the Lord and I am grateful.  See how blessed I am?