I'm sure that I've mentioned a time or two hundred that I love September clouds. Late August through September are some of the best months for clouds where I live and I'm glad to have captured some of them with my camera. I was relieved to get the word that my recent skin biopsy was benign. I didn't expect it would be anything else at one level but I did allow myself to get a little worked up near the end of my waiting to hear the word. I know better than to waste energy on the what ifs but that doesn't help me turn off my imagination sometimes. Now I just have to get past my regular oncology check up tomorrow. That's routine and I'm not expecting anything. I've been pleased lately to realize that in terms of blog categories, melanoma and more is getting farther and farther behind secret garden. Secret garden is the label that shows up the most on my blog posts in terms of a single label that I use. I like post labels because it helps me realize that slowly but surely melanoma is being pushed farther into the background in terms of what I think about. I have come to care about a lot of people who are actively fighting melanoma so to that extent it's not in the background but I mean in terms of my own health. If it wasn't for lingering chronic issues which have hung on since my groin lymph node dissection, I could almost think the whole episode in my life which started in February of 2005 is a bad dream. If I didn't have the chronic crap, I'd be tempted to drop all the doctors and take my chances. The problem is I have issues which have to be managed and the way that management takes place is for me to get referred here and there and each new doc has regular follow up appointments with me. It could be a heck of a lot worse, that's for sure. If I take stock and look back over the past year, some things are much better. This is one of the few appointments which I've had with my surgical oncologist where I haven't had some concern or another in terms of a possible recurrence. I also don't have the tension of a PET scan and shouldn't have to deal with another one of them until March. Different melanoma clinics have different protocols for following stage III melanoma patients and mine is one that does annual full body PET/CT scans as long as the patient is asymptomatic. Until now, I've always had more frequent scans, than is the standard where I go, because of some new physical issue or because of an inconclusive scan which required a follow up scans. I am pretty tired of scans so am very pleased that I don't need one during this cycle. The down side is I don't feel any closer to major improvement physically and I think the main thing I have to do now is get over it. I also know if I get too defeatist it will get worse. At the very least I need to walk enough or water walk or whatever it takes to keep the lymphedema in check. At one level, it would be easy for me to pull the covers over my head right around now but that's counter productive.I always love the way the pain specialist and rheumatologist both end my appointment by telling me to keep walking as much as possible because patients who are physically active tend to do better. I know what they are talking about but the air is thick with irony. I've tried repeatedly to be as active as possible for myself because that's what I want to be. Each time I make any progress I try to push and do absolutely the most I can and it always backfires. Here's where lower expectations are needed for sanity. I can't keep expecting to be fixed in some way that isn't going to happen. I am, however, about ready to put the cancer in my rear view mirror and as it recedes farther and farther away, I do believe that is behind me. That in and of its self is huge and I'm grateful.