A commenter kindly asked for a Noo update, so here it is:
After her critical illness this summer, the oncologist did not recommend resuming interferon therapy for melanoma. He had an antibody titer panel done which showed a weak immunologic response to the four months of interferon she'd already completed, and even though this isn't proof positive that the treatment "took," it is better than nothing and we were all quite relieved to shelve the idea of resuming thrice-weekly therapy, with its attendant exhaustion, diarrhea, and general unwell-ness. Since recovering from her hospitalization, Noo has been having regular skin exams, all uneventful until the last appointment when the dermatologist noticed an enlargement of one of her anterior cervical lymph nodes and sent her back to the general surgeon to have it looked at.
Now, the problem with these two events is that they were separated by a couple weeks of anxiety while the referral went through the usual channels and Noo had to wait for the next available appointment with the surgeon. Being in the medical field, I know better than to expect immediate reassurance, but I have to admit--it would have been nice if she had been sent from the derm office directly to a waiting surgeon who could excise the damn node the same day. And it would have been terrific if the pathologist agreed to cancel her dinner plans that day in order to get the sections prepped and stained, and then spent a leisurely hour looking at them under the microscope before dictating her findings. But this is not how things work, and I know this well, and now I also know a bit more about the gnawing worry the patient and her family experience while they are waiting for results, whether good or bad.
In this case, the news is good: the excised node is a simple reactive node, no recurrent melanoma, no cause for alarm. So Noo has been restored to the category of Practically Normal People and we are carrying on with our post-melanoma lives, more dazed and confused--but also more grateful--than we were before the diagnosis became a personal journey.