I would like to introduce a new article series. My friend Miranda “Mandy” is a legal wizard with a unique perspective on love, life, and the law. I enjoy reading her articles and I hope you do as well. Amee
The Rest of the Story…
In August of 2009, I went in for a second umbilical hernia surgery since the first hernia surgery that was performed when I was 19 years old ruptured after I got pregnant with our first child. I held off and waited until after we had our second baby girl to finally get it fixed. While getting dressed one morning, I noticed a visible lump protruding on the left side of my abdomen. To be honest, it concerned me only for cosmetic reasons which is the only reason why I brought it my husband’s attention. I went to not one, not two but three doctors before even my umbilical hernia was correctly diagnosed. As for the lump, I had several ultrasounds and an MRI with contrast performed with unremarkable findings. (Side bar: The person/radiologist that read my MRI found my MRI negative for any lumps or abnormalities despite the fact that you could physically see the “thing” protruding from the interior of my abdominal wall!) After the surgery, my amazing surgeon advised me that I was diagnosed with a rare, benign. This type of tumor was locally aggressive, that could potentially infiltrate and sometimes cause destruction of adjacent vital structures and organs if not treated properly. We discussed my options and determined that the highest probability of reducing my chances of the tumor coming back was to have a second, more invasive surgery where he took out even larger margins of tissue.
As every good lawyer does whenever we encounter a new problem or issue, I researched and found out everything possible that I could about this type of tumor. Most people do not know that tumors can be treated with radiation and/or chemotherapy in addition to the traditional surgical intervention which I rejected. Many times these types of tumors can also get into one’s intestines and/or colon—well I will leave that wonderful experience up to your imagination. In my case, there is still a 25-40% chance that this tumor will reoccur despite the fact that “we got it all” between the first and second surgery. I decided to donate all of the tumor and marginal tissue to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and agreed to be a part of a lifelong study so that maybe something “good” could come out this whole ordeal. Unbeknownst to me, this was only the beginning of a life long journey…
While doing the CBS Channel 4 piece on Gavel Babble, Jorge Estevez asked me to send him some “pictures” from the hospital or of my recovery from August to December 2009. I laughed. There were no photos taken of anyone in my family. When we look back at our lives during that time it was almost as if time stopped. I started a blog at the recommendation of a friend to keep my mind off of things and focus on other people’s problems. I lovingly called it Gavel Babble. “Gavel” because a gavel to me represents strength and order. “Babble” because I really never thought that anyone would listen to my foolish rambling. People from time to time ask me … why didn’t you just use your real name? That’s a fair question. I called myself “The Counselor” (which most people probably think it was just a play on words) but really it was because I wanted to be anyone but me at that time in my life. “The Counselor” was a perfect fit under the circumstances.
What most people do not know is the rest of the story… how Gavel Babble saved me again from yet another dark situation less than a year after my last abdominal surgery. In July 2010, I went in for a routine mammogram/ultrasound. Patients came and patients went—but not me. I waited for approximately 4 hours to receive yet again “abnormal” findings. The nurse/surgical coordinator called my doctor at home that evening a scheduled an emergency aspiration and biopsy for two suspicious lumps at 8 a.m. the next morning. They expedited the pathology results and thankfully I fell into the “lucky ones” category again. For the first time in my life, I had such hope and faith and even though I was scared—I knew everything was going to be okay. (Side Bar: A much different experience than when I got the tumor results.) Gavel Babble taught me how to focus my time and energy on people and problems that are much greater than myself. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn something new about people and their experiences every day. Not only that, but it allows me to witness miracles and see kindness in a world full of controversy and for that I am so eternally grateful.
Be good to each other,