I stand for us all.
Tonight I wish to honor a special friend. Tonight, and every other night, I stand for Julie.
Julie and I met in the Spring of 2011 when our mutual surgeon--our beautiful Dr. Charlotte Ariyan emailed me and asked if I would mind if she gave one of her other patients my email and blog address. Julie had recently been diagnosed with stage III malignant melanoma and was terrified. Knowing that Julie and I are close in age, both struggling to emotionally handle our new cancer diagnosis, Dr. Ariyan felt like we could be great resources to one another. She was right.
Julie and I have been enrolled in the same clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the last year and a half. We compare experiences, we joke about the vampires who steal our blood, we cheer one another on.
Just 2 weeks ago I was cheering on Julie from Virginia as she married her best friend.
(Both photos legally stolen from Julie's Facebook.
On Wednesday while I was washing dishes I received the text I never wanted: "Chels, not good news at all. I have spots in my liver, spleen, and lymph node in lungs."
My melanoma twin, my melanoma friend, the girl who just got back from her honeymoon has advanced to stage IV melanoma.
How could it be, we wondered? She just had scans 2 and a half months ago where she showed no evidence of disease. Now, not even 3 months later, melanoma has spread to her internal organs.
They tell us that it can happen. They warn us that it is likely to happen. Melanoma is a silent beast, they claim. Yet, even when we're prepared, we don't expect it. Then it happens.
Tonight--on World Cancer Day--I felt it is important for you to hear Julie's story. A young girl, a former tanner, a brand new bride is beginning the battle of her life against Melanoma. Yes,Melanoma...that thing that people still believe is just skin cancer.
I stand for you, Julie. It's time to fight, girlfriend, and we're all holding your hand.
*I received Julie's permission to share her news days prior to writing this post.