The surgery was shorter, but the incision is longer and the wound much deeper.  And I’m thrilled with the consequent pain because……..the margins are clear!  I got the phone call from my doctor a few minutes ago (she actually giggled when she told me the news!), just 24 hours after surgery, and there was no sign of cancer in any of the tissue she removed yesterday.  There is no longer any doubt that I’ll be heading back to Germany in the next few weeks and pursuing radiation there while FINALLY reentering the life that has until now been on indefinite hold.  (There will be one more surgery necessary next summer to correct some of the damage left behind by three successive excisions…)

And to think that two weeks ago, I was certain of a mastectomy and a three-month reconstruction process.  God worked in my doctor’s mind to postpone that option yet again.  Her words after she shared the good news this afternoon?  “Looks like you’ve made the right decisions all along…”  The decision to forgo chemo, I made on my own.  But the choice to do one more re-excision (that’s a total of 3) was hers, and I am so very grateful that God gave her to me for this phase of this journey.

I’ll write more a little later, when things settle down in my mind!  I am…beyond words, really.  Grateful and excited and wanting everything to happen RIGHT NOW after so many months of waiting.  I’ll end with a short pictorial of yesterday’s excitement!

Another night in Ann Arbor’s Microtel preceded an early morning pre-op appointment.  I was greeted at the motel by a message from the front desk informing me that flowers had been delivered for me.  My wonderful friend Michelle (from BFA) had arranged to have them sent to the motel.  Only twice in my life have I had flowers delivered: once from the school for my last surgery and this time from Michelle.  There’s something very luxurious about the experience! 

My pre-op was at 8 am and I didn’t need to check in for surgery until 11:30.  So what did I do in between?  I went off to the mall in search of a pair of jeans.  See, temperatures have dropped drastically in the past few weeks, and I’ve discovered that when I packed for the summer, I omitted to include long pants–I was only supposed to be here until August, after all.  Hearing of my plight, my amazing church in South Carolina (Sandhurst) sent me some gift cards in order to spare me from frost bite.  What a practical and insightful gift!  The jeans were the last of the winter-type clothes I purchased with the gift, and they’ll get me through the weeks before my return to Germany.

There’s no such thing as a glamor shot when dressed in a hospital gown, but I couldn’t resist taking this picture with my beloved Dr. Diehl.  Don’t you love her smile?  About 1/2 hour after this, I was knocked out and she was in full surgical mode!

My favorite part of the surgical experience: a smorgasbord of snacks upon wakeup!  I’m about a half-hour out of surgery at this point and washing saltines down with a can of ginger ale.  They even gave me a handful of yummies and two blankets to take home with me!  I love America!

Still a little woosy from the anesthetic…  This is Sylvia, the German nurse I met and hit it off with last time.  She wasn’t assigned to me for this surgery, but when I woke up, there she was!  And speaking to me in German, no less!  I discovered that my German might actually be better when I’m semi-conscious…  I was speaking in full sentences and coming up with vocab words I’m not sure I would have remembered if I’d been in my right mind.  We did fall back into English eventually!  She is the kindest, friendliest lady.  I was thrilled when she gave me her address and plan on following up with her in the future.  She took over from my assigned nurse and wheeled me out to the car herself.

And where was I an hour after leaving the hospital?  Why, in Walmart, of course!  I needed vitamins and I knew they’d be cheaper there than in Canada.  My mom kept saying, “Are you sure you should be doing this?” and I told her I was fine while staggering down aisle after aisle of vitamins and supplements!

And now?  I guess it’s time to start planning for plane tickets and reentry into the whirlwind of life at BFA.  Both are tasks I’ll GLADLY tackle!  I also need to tie up some lose ends and make arrangements for the next phase of my medical journey.  I’ll be getting radiation in Switzerland (30 minutes from home) and will need to initiate all that from here in order to start ASAP when I get back. 

Feeling a little weary as I type this…    Because this surgery was more invasive than the last two, there is a bit more pain than I’ve had in the past.  I’m popping my pills and sleeping on my lawn chair and hoping for a few more hours of z’s tonight.  With all the happy things to contemplate, I’ll even be content to lie awake and think of the near future.

Please continue to pray as I try to make sense of insurance coverage/payments (oy!), make plans for my ongoing therapy in Europe, and recover from surgery #9.  It’s all a little overwhelming!  Most importantly, please thank God with me for this answer to so many prayers.  He is good.  He is powerful.  And He is still on His throne.

(If you have a Facebook account and aren’t too scared off by teenage insanity, please go here:  It’s a video made by some of my students  for their “Miss PhiPhi,” and it had me laughing and crying simultaneously! Make sure you watch until the very end [past the weirdness in the middle] to catch the blooper reel!)



  1. Dear Michele,

    On Sunday we had a church service about healing. But it wasn’t your typical service about healing, cause those usually have alot of hoopla that really turn me off. But this was about healing in all areas of life not just physically and it was in beseeching God for healing, but realizing that healing doesn’t always look like what we think or pray it will. But on Sunday we were encouraged to pray for healing for ourselves or for others and you were the top person on my list. I called out to God on your behalf, willing your body to be healed by his Divine hand, that you would be able to return to those you love, that there wouldn’t be cancer found in your body and that with this surgery that they WOULD get it all, that you could stand strong in the face of the upcoming surgery and that you would be blessed in your journey there and Back. PRAISE GOD that so many people had you on their hearts and minds and were lifting you up before the Throne with desire for the Lord’s healing in your body. I’m sooo excited for you that you can return to Germany to be with those who make your heart beat just a bit stronger and whose very lives light up YOUR life. you are LOVED Michele


  2. Jeepers!

  3. I’m just so happy. . .

    (please note: I’m going through my surprised stages again. I’ll be absolutely ecstatic in a few weeks!).

  4. dr diehl’s smile reminds me of liz’s!!!!!

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