I share my experiences because too many other people do not. Most people, myself included prior to melanoma, want to keep their private lives private. I respect that. When I was first diagnosed, I needed to read more than just statistics. Lord, if statistics were the only thing I read, I would have died of fear right then and there. I wanted to read what being diagnosed with cancer was really like. Was I supposed to cry in the shower? Was it OK that I smiled and laughed with my doctors instead of sobbing my way through appointments? Did it seem odd that I couldn't allow myself to grieve? I needed to hear about the emotional part! Being only 23 years old when I was diagnosed, I did not find many resources. According to Google, melanoma attacked mostly older folks many years after sunburns and tanning bed memberships. I thought that if someone my age, or especially younger, read about my fears & saw my not-so-attractive pictures, maybe they would think twice before they fell into the belief that melanoma is "just" skin cancer.
Another reason I continue to post my most intimate fears for the Internet world to see is because I receive so much positive feedback & advice. Yesterday I was really struggling when I wrote the blog post. As usual, I received wonderful advice from people who have already been through the steps I am going through now. The overall piece of advice they all agreed on was:
I want to share a few other pieces of advice from fellow "mole mates" (Thanks to The Big C for that wonderful nickname.)
"When you know... you'll know. Until then, don't look so hard."
"Keep the long range big plan in mind, but a whole lot of life is short little slices of time that fall in between the bigger things you do."
"For now, I'd prescribe for you a large daily dose of living in the present. In the meantime, let the deep soul searching about life plans continue on in the subconscious reaches of your mind. The harder we search, the less we discern, and moments of insight may seem to come out of nowhere and at the most unexpected times and in the strangest places."
"If you discussed this with your parents and family, I'm sure they would say "Go, fly, live your life... We'll ALWAYS be here for you no matter what. You'll always have a safe place to land."
"Where are you going now? ANYWHERE YOU WANT!!! You can do it! Life is scary, growing up is scary, but cancer is SCARY! Just follow your heart!"
"He told me that if I lived with that fear, the Melanoma was already winning. Easier said that done, I know, but he was right. You HAVE to make plans like you will live until you are 100. It's ok to be scared, it's ok to question decisions, it's ok to have a moment where you worry about the the "what if". But ultimately you have to remember that you are ALIVE and you are a SURVIVOR. No one can predict the future and you can't miss out on things because you are worrying that something bad may happen. The good news is that your family isn't going anywhere. They will always be there for you if you need them. Now is the time to figure out what YOU want, regardless of your medical status. Melanoma does not define you and should not define your decisions!"
I hope this advice helps someone else who is facing such tough decisions...It sure helped me. Thanks, mole mates. I adore you.