Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Isn't it ironic? Don't ya think?"

Dad: "Are you going to New York tomorrow?"
Me: "Yes."
Dad: "For what? It's time for treatment again already?"
Me: "Unfortunately..."

 Seriously, the last 3 weeks have flown by! I had to laugh today. My friend John emailed me, I am assuming he read my last blog post about being so exhausted, and he said, "At least you will sit still while they have the needles in your arms!" That is one way to keep me in place!

I started to feel pretty rough today. Like after the last treatment, my neck is really becoming painful again. It is swollen, sore, and feels like the nerves in my neck are trying to crawl through my skin. Have you ever had an itch underneath your skin? It is A-N-N-O-Y-I-N-G. No matter how much you scratch in the itchy area, it continues to itch. Today my neck felt like someone had their hands on both sides, slowly squeezing. Uncomfortable!


It has been a while since I have shown y'all my "bad ass" scars. I had Mom snap two updated pictures of my most visible scars. (Remember...I had one surgery in January where they sliced and diced me in 5 areas: both sides of my neck, both armpits, and my back.)

Here is my back directly following the surgery in January 2011:

And here she is in June 2011:

Looks better, huh?

Here is the right side of my neck following the SECOND surgery---full lymph node dissection:

Here is Ms. Neck Scar today:

Dr. Adorable at Sloan Kettering did a freaking awesome job on this. I realize it still is not pretty, but I am not ashamed of it. I feel like it blends in fairly well...considering!

Although my scars are still noticeable, I am relieved I heal fairly well. Every time I see a tanning bed whore (I should come up with a more polite term for them, buuuuuut they make me angry...) I want to shove these pictures, and all of the other pictures from where I was cut on in FIVE locations at ONE time, in their faces! Today I logged onto Facebook and saw a girl had changed her profile picture. The very first thing I noticed was her white line under her chin. I know that line. I used to get it after spending too much time in the tanning bed. Sure, she looked pretty in her picture, but all I saw was her ignorance. Man, if I had known better, would I be in this situation today?

I read an article today (read article here) that begins: "Just because someone is college-educated doesn’t mean he or she is cancer smart." How true! I am not an idiot. I did well in college, I graduated from college, etc. Still, I visited tanning salons every once in a while. Ironically I tanned to prevent a burn...Mistake! But still. I wanted to look good! I associated being tan as being attractive. No, I never let myself go crazy with the tanning, but I had what I considered a healthy glow (I cringed as I typed that...) during the summertime thanks to my visits in the tanning salon.

This article makes an outstanding point...

"It’s ironic, said Morris Hospital oncologist Dr. Nafisa Burhani, that women work so hard to get a tan to look better, when melanoma can leave its victims so disfigured. Melanoma is a skin cancer that is very invasive, she said. “Melanoma can be very disfiguring,” Burhani said. “You need a wide excision area that can result in disfigurement. It can get ugly."

If I had to choose between my old, healthy, pale body or this new sore, scarred, and not-that-healthy body, I would confidently walk around being the palest chick on the East Coast!

My scars are a constant reminder that I need to continue to fight, strive to make others realize the seriousness of this unpredictable disease, and they remind me that even on my weakest days, I am much stronger than I had ever imagined.

OK, I leave for NYC tomorrow morning. I better pack my suitcase! You never know who you'll see in the Big Apple!


Al said...

The more people show their scars, the better. I think that's the most blunt and effective message to get people to pay attention. I'm so glad yours are healing nicely (and they are!)...but always keep those first photos to share...and feel free to shove them in the tanning bed whores' faces (or as another recently stated..."Leathery Ladies". Best of luck in NY!

Ranisa said...

Thanks for showing your scares! They are amazing! I look like a dog took a nice chunck out of the back of my calf. Nasty nasty skin graph....burned looking. You really will have nice lines in time. Might even hardly notice them!

Rich McDonald said...

Chelsea, I admire your courage and candor in continuing to share your story. And may I say that the right sort of a young gentleman that deserves you won't give a rip about your healing battle scars? Take care.

Shannon Fielding said...

Your scars look great! My doctor told me he could have done a better job on my scar. I told him I didn't care if my scar went from my head to my foot, as long as the melanoma was gone. Show your scars with pride and if anyone asks about them, educate them. Good luck in NY.

Carolyn said...

Chelsea, thanks for posting your journey. You have a wonderful sense of humor. It's encouraging to the rest of us following your story. Your scars look beautiful - you heal well. Mine is still all puffy and angry looking even after 3 months and 2 Staph infections. Best wishes!!!

Marsha said...

Your scars are looking good Chelsea, and it won't be long before you can barely seem them. Whilst I strongly agree with everyone's comments that you should wear your scars with pride, it's something I won't be doing... I'd be arrested if I got mine out in polite society!