A New Year’s Update & the Joy of A Puzzle

Readers who follow me have graciously been asking how I am doing. (For previous story click here.) The surgery went well and I was released after one night in the hospital. There were a few rough patches after returning home, but each day was better than the day before. I had the huge bonus of having my son Will in town for a few days which boosted my mood immeasurably.

By Day 8 or 9, I felt good enough to set up a card table to begin a puzzle I had bought myself as an early Christmas present. The minute I saw it in a catalog, I KNEW I HAD TO OWN IT. It’s a 1000 piece puzzle containing 57 book covers from the Nancy Drew mystery series. I adored these books as a young girl and easily recognized most of the titles and covers. It’s been so entertaining (and affirmative) to piece together well-known images from my childhood.

Then, after two weeks, we met with the nurse practitioner in the oncologist’s office to hear the pathology results. The news was mixed. The excellent news was that all ten lymph nodes that were removed came back clean. The bad news was that the cancer had moved through the entire uterine wall to the outside of the wall. This classifies it as a stage 3 cancer even though the uterus was removed.

I put on a brave face listening to the news that I will now need chemotherapy and radiation over the next six months.  I listened on how it will be one long five-hour day receiving chemo once every three weeks; that it repeats 6 times. I listened about having radiation every day for a month in the middle of that chemo cycle. I listened when she told me that I would lose my hair. I listened on how they will soon insert a port close to my collarbone to prepare for the infusions. And in there somewhere, I was listening to my own voice repeating “this is not what I expected, this is not what I expected.”

 I guess I have finally processed what I heard that day. There was a lot. And I’ve decided I’m ready…but ONLY because the sooner I start the sooner it will end. The sooner I can claim my life back. I’m trying to claim it back now. I’m editing a few posts I wrote about Ginny a few months back and how some changes are coming. There’s going to be a lot coming up soon.

 Also, I recognize that I am not the first, nor am I the last to face this disease. So, I’ll put my balding head down and barrel through trying to count my blessings that it’s only six months.

As I see it, the new year is the biggest time period on the calendar to feel optimism; to feel hope. If it has to be, I’m glad this part of my journey is starting now. But first, I happily plan to spend some time today piecing together the Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion. Even small pieces can bring a big piece of joy.

A heartfelt Happy New Year to all of you.


  1. It’s hard to know how any of us would handle your situation, Melanie, but I think you’ve got the right attitude. That is a hell of a lot to process, but taking charge and being determined to “claim your life back” seems like the best approach. I also think it is healthy to share how you’re feeling, be it, with close friends, or cyber friends. You have the right to feel it all—anger, determination, gratefulness in taking part in pleasures such as jigsaw puzzles, etc.

    Having your son home was probably the best medicine of all. Our son, who we only see a couple of times per year because he lives so far away, was home for a week—it was one of the best weeks of my life. I’m content knowing he is happy living in Montana.

    I also enjoy jigsaw puzzles, and I love that you found one about the Nancy Drew series. I was a big fan of its male counterpart, The Hardy Boys, when I was growing up. One of my nightly routines is to do a puzzle of two on my favorite online puzzle site, Jigidi. Take a look because there are hundreds of new puzzles each day.

    I wish you the best with your chemotherapy and radiation treatments. If you ever need to talk to someone, drop me a line. You will be in my prayers. Take the bull by the horns, Melanie, and tell cancer it’s not going to be part of your life in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Pete for such kind words to start the new year. I think it was in a previous post that I mentioned that cancer has NO idea how stubborn I am. I can dig deep so I do have confidence we’ll get it all. I’ll just keep going until I do. (It’s just going to be tough for awhile doing it. 🙂 ) Thank you for that tip about Jigidi. It sounds fun and I will check it out. We also don’t get to see our son too much because of distance. We loved having him here. That is wonderful you had an amazing week with yours!!!!! We happily take what time they can give us. I appreciate you’re reaching and offer to listen anytime. I hope 2020 brings you your second published book! Best wishes to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Melanie I totally missed your earlier post about your diagnosis. Now I’m all caught up and am so sorry you’re having to go through this. You will have lots of ups and downs in the months ahead. I’ll be holding you in the light, praying for healing. Happy New Year! You’re going to have to have a big party this summer for your 60th!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Janet for keeping me in your prayers. I had planned on doing some travel in Europe for my birthday, but we’ll hold off on that for now. Do you have big plans for your 60th? Wishing you the happiest of New Years!


  3. Melanie, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I am so angry that something so sh!tty would happen to such a wonderful person. I can’t imagine the range of emotions you have been feeling the last several weeks but I’m glad one of them was joy at having your son around. Hang in to that and know that so many people care about you, are thinking of you, and wishing you a quick recovery!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katherine!!! It is so wonderful to hear from you. It made my day. 🙂 I do go through moments of renewed shock sometimes (usually when there is an update) but then I recover and move on to the next step. I just got my port in yesterday and it’s possible chemo starts next week. The goal is to be DONE this summer (I have a wedding to go to in August, thank you very much), but it’s the process of getting there that is going to suck. It just goes with the territory. It helps so much to know that you and others are thinking about me. Thank you!! A big hug to you, Melanie


  4. Melanie I just discovered this part of your blog. You know how I feel about you and your writing so I’m very happy to see you sharing this part of your life. As others have mentioned I also believe it can be very beneficial to put your feelings into words on paper or be-it on a screen 🙂 You are in my daily prayers and I’ll be sending you healing energy.
    How’s your puzzle going? 🙂
    With Love,


  5. Hi Melanie, I’m back to read your cancer story. I suspected that our cancer started at the same location. But as you realized from my book my gynecologist found out after the hysterectomy. We did a lot of puzzles during the pandemic. We put them away for now and redo some of them later. Are you still doing puzzles?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Miriam, that’s so sweet you returned to read my story. Thank you. To answer your question, I have not returned to doing puzzles, but I did not give away my Nancy Drew puzzle either because, like you, I put it away and will definitely do it again. I really love that puzzle! Yes, we did share the same location, but your melanoma was a more dangerous cancer. I remember you writing the “what if” part where you ask what if I hadn’t had the hysterectomy? You would not have known. I had something similar. My endometrial biopsy didn’t catch the tumor! My doctor was ready to stop investigating, but did ask if I wanted to have a D&C to stop the irregular bleeding. It was “up to me.” It was an easy decision to say yes and I am glad I did. It was during the same day D&C surgery that she found the tumor. Within days, I was in a gynecologic oncologist’s office discussing the hysterectomy. I think about if we had just stopped at the biopsy. For me, treatment wasn’t a straight path as I had a severe allergic reaction to one of the chemo drugs and the radiation actually put me into acute kidney failure, but it all ends WELL! I am healthy and feel 100%. I do have my 6 month bloodwork with my other oncologist next week (which I would do even more frequently if they would let me!) Thank you again for checking back. It’s nice to feel support and strength from other women who have faced cancer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We’ve had a busy schedule of a home inspection, termite inspection, and other things. I’m now back to reading your comment, Melanie! In fact, I started writing my response on the phone and got interrupted. Yes, our cancer started at the same location. You discovered yours before the hysterectomy and I found it after the hysterectomy, and it was melanoma.
    I’ll read some more when I find time here and there during this crazy moving time. The new buyers are happy with our home. By 11/16, everything should be final with no chances of withdrawal. We’re clearing the garage and doing the final cleaning of it. We rented one storage, and one more, and now it seems like we need to rent one more because we didn’t have time to organize things. They’re not stored in a space-wise manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Miriam. I apologize for my delay, we were right in the path of Hurricane Nicole. We didn’t have any damage, but we had to clean and put everything back on the patio. It’s rare to get a November hurricane! Good luck with your closing!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry for the delay in my response, Melanie! We signed the documents this morning to respond to the buyers’ request to fix some little things after the inspection. It looks like things are moving forward. We want to have a fixed date of 12/7 for closing so we could make plans.
    Good to hear Hurricane Nicole didn’t cause any damage to your home. I hope cleaning up your patio is all you have to do and that you’ll have a normal Thanksgiving!


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