We all have them, The Negative Committees, that sometimes take up more time than they are typically allowed. Usually my Negative Committee only pops up right around scan time. I acknowledge it and I move on. I am normally good at pushing aside the worries and getting back to my MelaNormal life. I feel like living my life is one of the best ways to get revenge on melanoma. It's my way of telling melanoma it isn't winning. Lately, it's been hard to keep the anxiety away. I'm fine as long as I'm busy, but it's at night when I'm sending my good juju towards my friends that The Negative Committee begins to show her ugly face.
I know why.
When I was first diagnosed with stage III malignant melanoma, it was a complete surprise. I was not expecting one little mole to turn my entire life upside down. Even after the first surgery I didn't know what I had ahead of me. Through my research and meeting friends online I quickly realized that melanoma is not going to be something I heal from and forget. It's always going to be there. There's always going to be the need for observation. I will forever be a cancer patient. That took a long time for me to grasp. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still don't think I totally grasp it. Thankfully I get to live my life in a way that doesn't force melanoma to be on the front burner anymore. I get to be a healthy daughter, a silly girlfriend, a crazy live-in-girlfriend-not-yet-stepmom to the kiddo, a loving sister (HA! I try, sissy & baby sis!), etc. I am one of the lucky ones.
So, why is the Negative Committee back in session? I am far better off than others! I've hesitated blogging about this, so try to understand...The Negative Committee has been on overtime in my head lately because seeing my friends advance to stage IV has been very difficult. I'm scared for these people. I ache for their families. And then, late at night, I see myself in their shoes.
People sometimes question why stage III patients receive CT scans so often. This year I saw how important those scans actually are for us. I witnessed how quickly one can go from No Evidence of Disease to stage IV. Perfect scans, clear for 2 1/2 months, then boom, melanoma in multiple locations. It happens so quickly.
It terrifies me.
I'm not uneducated anymore. I can't hide behind my "it's just skin cancer, it's OK" attitude. I know what it can do and how quickly it can do it.
Some would tell me that one way to avoid this added anxiety would be to take a step back from all things melanoma, to put melanoma behind me. Well, that's what people don't realize. These people are my friends. Selfishly, their situations terrify me. More importantly, their situations break my hearts because of the ways it changes their lives! These aren't statistics I'm reading about, these are my friends. I cheer for them, I cry for them. I'm going to celebrate with them when they receive the news that they are once again showing no evidence of disease. (And it will happen, girls.) It's that simple.
The Negative Committee has officially outstayed her welcome. Maybe I do need to stop being afraid to dream of No Evidence of Disease
...for all of us.