Monday, February 28, 2011

Meeting Glenda the Good Witch

Apparently I have an obsession with the Wizard of Oz..

Today I had an appointment with a surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Going into the appointment I felt certain that the doctor would not suggest surgery. In fact, we made bets this morning about whether she would recommend it. We all bet that she would not. So, when it became obvious that she wasn't 100% against surgery, I was surprised.

She is a beautiful woman. Friendly. Warm. Welcoming. She came in, discussed what we already knew about the situation, and asked to examine me. I need to call Dr. Pink and let him know that she complimented his scars look great! As far as the exam, everything was fine. She said I have a few abnormal moles but nothing to be concerned about at this time.

In regards to my CT scan, everything is fine! There was a spot on my liver and lungs; however, she said that it is nothing to be concerned with. We will continue to monitor both and if there are changs, we will deal with it then.

The surgery basically comes down to what I feel comfortable with. When I flat out asked her if she is leaning towards doing it, she said the decision is mine, but that if she were in my shoes, she would do it. If I decide to do the surgery I will then know if there is more cancer in my lymph nodes. If there is, I will be considered at greater risk and will be eligible for quite a few clinical trials. If there are no more positive lymph nodes, my chance of recurrence is lowered from 50% to 30-40%. Although not much of a difference, it sounds a lot better than 50%!!!

IF I do the surgery, it does come with possible serious complications such as extreme swelling of my arms (sometimes permanent or at least requiring physical therapy,) the risk of infections in the future is greater than that of your average joe, etc. I would have to spend at least 2-3 days in the hospital, and would have 3 drains coming out of me for 2-3 weeks. Oh, and did I mention I would not be able to shower?

Let this be another reminder to wear sunscreen and pay attention to your body!

Do I do the surgery? The doctor insisted that this is my decision. Yes, she is suggesting I do it, but I have to do with whatever I am more comfortable with...if there is more cancer, I want it out of me. But do I want to risk everything else? Dr. Glenda kept repeating how young I am, and right now this is affecting my quality of life. She realizes that, which made me really like her more...She realizes I am anxious, nervous, and feel such a strong lack of control. I appreciate that. I appreciate that she did not rush me, that she was comfortable discussing every aspect of my situation for as long as I wanted her to.

What am I leaning towards?

I don't know. I feel like I am damned if I do, damned if I don't.

I know one thing for sure...IF there is, God forbid, more cancer in my body, I want it out of me. As my friend Melanoma and the City said today, the best way to fight this is by cutting it out.

Say I decide to not do the surgery and instead I take the "wait and see" approach, what happens if the cancer returns? Will I beat myself up? Will I have a full fledged break down? I already feel guilty and angry with myself for tanning. Dr. Glenda did say she would be comfortable with simply observing me---she made it clear I am not done with doctors any time soon. Having said that, she still openly explained that the surgery-most importantly-will answer some questions we all have: Is there more cancer that no scan can pick up?

Remember...the cancer they originally found would not have sknown up in any scan.

Then on the flip side, say I do the surgery and everything is clear but I have serious complications I have to live with for the rest of my life. Will I regret having the surgery?

I feel like I can live with that decision...the guilt is what would weigh me down more, I believe.

I am supposed to hear back from Dr. Glenda tonight or tomorrow. We are waiting for Sloan Kettering's pathologists to finish analyzing my slides. There are questions about the amount of cancer in each node, etc, from my first surgery. Once we know those answers we will discuss upcoming surgery some more.

If I elect to do the surgery, Dr. Glenda will be assisted by a neck and head surgeon. She has never had to operate on someone in these 3 different areas at the same time, but she felt confident I would make out well. She kept saying I am young and otherwise healthy. I will heal.

And really....more scars? That is the least of my concern...even if they are visible to the world. ..

Now, I ask you, what would you do if you were me?

Do I elect to observe my body and see what happens?

Do I do the surgery that will give me answers even though I could have to deal with possible complicatios?

I have some serious thinking to do in a very short amount of time.

I ask you, what would you do if you were me?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday in the City

New York is a little different on a Sunday...slower, more peaceful. Don't get me wrong--it is still hectic, but people are less likely to cuss you for slowing down to take a picture! (Kidding...that has not happened...yet.)

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting one of my forum friends--Melanoma & the City!

*I stole the picture from her!
She is an amazing lady.

After our meeting, we decided to stroll around for a while.
Being the bookworm that I am,
I had to go to the New York City Public Library.

I was limited in how much I could take pictures
since I do not know how to turn the flash off of my phone
(I'm still learning...obviously!)
But I had to take these.

We ended our day with a trip to the well known

Everyone was right...
the frozen hot chocolate

It has been such a great weekend. I needed a break from the stress and sadness.

Tomorrow I meet with the surgeon to determine if additional surgery is necessary. Again, if she operates, she will be removing ALL of my lymph nodes in 3 areas---both arm pits and the right side of my neck.  I am a little nervous; however, The Wizard seemed confident that she would not insist on more surgery. One part of me says  CUT ME! Get all the cancer out! But then the other part screams OUCH! Whatever she decides I will be comfortable with. After all, she is the doctor!

Stay tuned!

Oh, Celine...You Made The Academy Awards For Me.

"Smile though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds, in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile, through your fear and sorrow
Smile, and there'll be tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
If you'll....
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear, may be ever so near,
That's the time, you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you'll just....
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear, may be ever so near,
That's the time, you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you'll just....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today, I fell in love.

With a city!

I have been to New York before but I have never been able to spend enough time to see everything I wanted to see. Today I had more of an opportunity. Man, we had fun! It was great not to have anywhere to be, to be able to take our time, play tourist in Time's Square, visit the Financial District, and explore Chinatown & Soho.

Most importantly----there was no talk of cancer!

I thought I would share a few pictures with you.

The Sphere that stood in front of the World Trade Center.

The Universal Soldier

We were debating if we should go
see the Statue of Liberty...
the line was way too long!

Looking from Battery Park

The rebuilding of the World Trade Center
(I can still remember what it was like
when we visited a few months after September 11th.
Still, ten years later, everyone still becomes quiet
when they are in this area.

We ran into a protest for Planned Parenthood.
(Reminder---I Stand with Planned Parenthood!)

Do your's a good thing!

After exploring the Financial District, we decided to
stroll down to Soho.
I totally could live here.
This is the bakery made famous by Sex & the City.

New York Pizza?
Happy girl!

And we ended the day in Times Square!

It was SUCH a fun day.

Ask me tomorrow how well I feel...
we walked A LOT!!! ;-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Long Walk

I was feeling pretty sad earlier.
I felt such a let down from the appointment.
I assumed The Wizard would have more answers.

Instead of sitting in the hotel room,
feeling sorry for myself,
we went for a nice long walk.

Mom and I at Rockefeller Center.
It was as cold as it looks.

Although tempting-
I did not show off my fabulous ice skating skills...

I did a behind the scenes tour here
a few years ago.
If you have the opportunity,

This is the view from our room.

As I tuck myself into bed tonight, I am going to forget my troubles. No matter how hard I try I cannot predict the future. All I can do is continue to educate myself, pray, study my body, and stay positive.

The rest will come.

My First Appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Before I get into the details of my day
I first want to say that if you
ever find yourself in the unfortunate position
of needing advice and treatment for cancer,
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
is the place to go.

Beautiful place, wonderful people.

I apologize I have not called, sent messages, or answered facebook comments. It has been a hectic day and honestly it is hard to keep up with what I have told who. I figured it would be easier to wait and tell everyone at one time.

On to the details...

I met with "The Wizard" today. He was very different than I expected---very friendly, very young, very down to earth. I felt comfortable asking him anything that came to my mind. Right now I am stage 3...Here's the thing about stage 3---there is very little treatment available. This sounds horrible, but it is true, I am "not sick enough" at this point to be eligible for any of the trials available.

I am trying to look at that in the positive way---thank God it has not spread further. However, that leaves me in limbo. Except Interferon, there are no other FDA approved drugs for Stage 3 Melanoma.

Now what? Well, I went directly from my appointment with The Wizard to the radiology department for a CT scan. The Wizard did not feel comfortable with simply the PET CT results because it does not offer the highest resolution picture. A few hours, and a disgustig drink later, I completed the CT. I do not know the results at this time.

On Monday I am meeting with a surgeon to find out if she believes additional surgery is necessary. The surgery would be extremely painful. She would go back into the 3 areas where the lymph nodes were positive---my right neck, both armpits, and remove ALL of the lymph nodes in those areas.

IF I have the surgery, I am eligible for the IPI trial. The Wizard did not seem to believe the surgeron would recommend the surgery, but he said he wanted to find out for sure.

IF the CT scan shows something, I am eligible for the trial.

How do I feel?

I feel bittersweet...Of course I am thankful that I am not worse. But I feel a strong lack of control...How can I have stage 3 cancer and be told I just need to watch and wait to see what happens?

The highest level of recurrence is within the first 2 years. Of course it could come back later. And, The Wizard repeated, there is a chance I am a "cured" person and will never have another problem. Unfortunately, Melanoma is extremely unpredictable.

In regards to my question about Dr. Mustache saying I am an odd case because of the multiple lymph node basins being positve, The Wizard agreed it is strange; however, my mole was on my left side located fairly close to my spine. That could be the explanation for it being on both sides on my body.

In regards to future babies, at this point, I am OK...No freezing eggs, etc, right now.

I will be meeting with The Wizard on Tuesday following my appointment with the surgeon on Monday. I really need to start questioning if the "watch and wait" approach is for me, or if I will do the Interferon that Dr. Bad Mustache originally suggested.

I feel like if I do not do SOMETHING I will never get back to living my normal life.

It totally baffles me (and pisses me off) that I can have a stage 3 cancer and there is NOTHING I can do to protect myself...except for Interferon...Something that is still so openly debated.

I am going to go rest now...I feel like crap. Seems as though every time I have a CT, I feel ill afterwards. I will write more later, just wanted to update everyone.

Thank you for all of the support today.

Comforting Words

I have never been an overly religious person. Don't get me wrong, I believe there is a God. I believe there has to be something greater than humans. That's about all I am certain about. Maybe it is my lack of knowledge that prevents me from fully committing to my beliefs. However, in the last month I have clung to any type of religion...

Prior to my surgery, a stranger to me, a special friend to my Step-mom drove to her out of town church in order to send me Holy Water. People have sent me scriptures. Dr. Pink asked to pray with me. Anything that could possibly give me comfort, I take part in.

This morning I woke up to numerous good luck messages (you all are THE best!!!!) but there is one in particular I want to share with you.

My beautiful friend, also battling Melanoma, sent this to me:

Jeremiah 29:11
"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And she added..."And babies!"

That is what I will be thinking of this morning; The happy future I WILL have.

And, as always when I am nervous, I will be humming Mr. Marley's song..."singing' don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be alright."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wishing. Praying. Hoping

As I get ready for bed I am praying, I am wishing, I am begging for tomorrows appointment to go well. I already know the test results. I already know what I am dealing with. No matter what type of treatment he believes is best for me, I can handle. Whatever he tells me regarding my future babies, I will handle. Whatever scary statistic he shares with me, I will ignore. I will be strong. I will stay positive.

But...I am one nervous girl.

So, if you find yourself with a few extra minutes this evening please send good thoughts my way...


And to those of you who have called today, messaged, etc, it made my day!!!! :-) Best support system ever!

I will update when I can. XO

I'm Off to See The Wizard...

I have not met my new doctor yet at Memorial Sloan Kettering but I have decided ahead of time to call him "The Wizard" because I feel like I am off to see some mystical man who will have all of the answers. Well all of the answers that anyone can have anyway...

Oh--to clear up the confusion--I didn't break up with Mr. Spots. I was just having a moment. Luckily, he knows when to tune me out. The future is going to be rough, especially in the next few months, but no one ever claimed life was easy. Maybe if I get my struggles out of the way now, I can live a long and healthy life.

By the way, I love the genius who created AT&T 3G. I have been a busy bee on my Ipad during the drive so far.

Just wanted to write a quick update to let everyone know we are on our way to New York City. I have to admit, I'm pretty excited to be back in the City...It has been too long!

Being Ms. Independent Gets Me in Trouble.

I have a bad habit
of trying to take care of everyone else.

When I am nervous,
or confused,
I tend to shove people away.
It is my coping mechanism...

Which is why I tried to end things with Mr. Spots today.

I know it was not rational. I know I was just feeling the pressure from the big "C" word (haha, not commitment...cancer!) I know I was hurtful. I know I was being a drama queen. And I know I would be absolutely lost without him.

But I had my reasons....

You see--in my head--I was protecting both of us. I felt like he wasn't facing the cruel reality of what is about to happen, the changes that will alter everything about ME.  I will never again be the girl he fell in love with...who I will be, well, I don't know. In my head, I saw myself as being baggage.

It gets more selfish...

I can't believe I am admitting this for the world to see (damn my promise to be brutally honest) but it is hard for me not to feel resentment towards him. In my selfish mind, I saw him living his life like normal...Here I am, hours away, about to go through the battle of my life, and he gets to continue doing his day to day routine. Do I want any less for him? Of course not. I want him happy. I am just jealous of what he has...his normal, healthy life, the child I may or may not ever have, the ability to stay positive no matter what. I don't want any of that taken away from him--ever--but it is hard to deal with sometimes. On my hardest days, I feel like I am being slapped.

Try to understand---I am angry at the world right now. Not Mr. Spots. I am angry about the drunk on the corner who can CHOOSE to waste his life every day. I am angry at the sorority girl who chooses to tan even though her family has a history of skin cancer. I am angry at anyone and everything because what other emotion can I feel right now? Sure, I am sad. I am destroyed by this. However, if I give into the sadness, it will bury me alive.

So, in my mind, instead of taking my anger out on the one I love, I decided it would be healthier for the both of us if I did the dirty work for him.

Here is the unexpected thing about Mr. Spots...He knows me better than I think he does. He knows that when I am scared, I shut down. I don't trust easily, and he knows that. He could have easily said "OK, Chelsea, do what YOU need to do" and I would have been on my way. Instead, he got extremely frustrated with me, took a break from it, and then flat out refused to accept what I was proposing.

Did I truly want to end things with him? Of course not. I would be lost without him. I have this irrational fear of being hurt...I could blame it on my past but I feel like that would be an easy escape. My way of protecting myself is by leaving before I am left. I know that in the situation with Mr. Spots that is unfair. We have what others want. I know that. But in my very scared mind, I wondered how I could deal if he left me when I get "sick? "

Do I expect him to stay with me? If so, it will because he chooses to do so. Not because he feels sorry for me. I will never beg. If he wants to be with me, he will be with me. Until then I need to go back to enjoying what we have...and the laughter that he adds to my life.

Because...without would not be as fun.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beautiful Friends, Beautiful Day.

As I expected, the beach totally relaxed me.
We walked.
We talked.
We simply looked out to the ocean
that is bigger than anything
we can ever imagine.

The smell of salty air is magical.

What a beautiful day.

"The Salty Air, it Soothes Her Soul, Says it Makes Her Whole..."

There is one place where
I always feel
a true sense of peace...
The beach.

I am a water girl. I always have been, I aways will be. The only difference will be that I will be drenched in sunscreen...and big hats...I can't lose the bikinis. I know some people would say I am not protecting myself enough by chancing it, but I can't completely stop living my life. Although in a bikini, I will be covered in SPF, don't worry. And of course, I won't be out there for long.

Oh---and I will also harass you to wear your sunscreen. I promise.

On the one month anniversary of my surgery, my childhood best friend and I are heading to Assateague. It is only 40 degrees outside, but the relaxation we will experience will be worth the cold temperatures. I have not seen her yet, so it might be an emotional visit. What they say about childhood friends being special is true...I don't think anyone can understand you in quite the way as someone you grew up with. People change and go their separate ways; however, I have been lucky to keep in touch with E.

I am looking forward to sitting in the sand, staring out at the sea, clearing my head.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes..."

I am feeling nervous tonight. Everything about my life has changed and I have very little control over any of it. Is reality hitting me again?

The other day, after reading one of my posts, my friend Kasey sent me a message that accurately describes WHY I am so angry. Having been through the fear of finding out her body was invaded by cancer, she 'gets it.' She wrote, "Someone is stealing something from you that most people never consider possible...your freedom of choice. Your body doesn't completely belong to you right now, and that is a feeling that no one should be ok with. Nothing about this situation is right or fair, nor is it ever going to feel that way. You should be mad! Hell take a boxing class or something just so you can beat something up. Just try to keep your head up. It does get better. It's something that you learn to live with, because honestly things will never be the same as they were before."

Well said, Kasey! I thought everyone needed to read that.

Yes, I am anxious for my upcoming appointment at Sloan Kettering, but I am becoming very nervous. I believe I will receive a brutal wake up call. Right now all of this information is experiences of other people; In a few weeks it will another experience of my own. 

I have researched a lot of my options and they all seem to be rough treatments. Most will require me to spend 4-5 days in the hospital, followed by a few days of rest, and we will repeat the cycle for a series of weeks. Looks like I better get comfy on the Shore...and with hospitals.

Being surrounded by family today has been nice. Seeing my beautiful niece put a huge smile on my face...One thing I can say without a anyone being able to argue, my sister and her ex-hubby made one gorgeous little girl. Her intelligence amazes me. Sometimes I am not sure she is only 4 years old!

Seeing Pop for the first time was great too. I know he had been anxious to "get his eyes" on me. He reminds me that no matter how brutal the treatment is, we will do it, and we will get through it. None of us know what the future holds, not just in terms of the melanoma, but it terms of everything. Regardless---we have each other. Not everyone is lucky enough to say that.

I am going to attempt to get some sleep. I only got about 4 hours last night so I am feeling exhausted. I believe I am going to bite the bullet and talk to the doctor on Friday about possibly taking something to help with the anxiety I experience at night. Life is good when life is busy...when it's quiet, that is when my mind likes to bounce from subject to subject.

My Step Dad told me today, my mind is going to be my biggest help. If I can keep a positive attitude and go about this in a positive way, the outcome has to be better. I refuse to accept anything else.

Off I go...hoping for strength and more sleep.

Yet Another Argument With Good Ol' "And.Them."

It is no secret that I hate "And.Them."
And it's also no secret that I have
numerous reasons
to hate "And.Them."

So, the lovely insurance company is denying all of my claims except for my PET CT and MRI. Why? They claim my cancer is a pre-existing condition...This is no new information. I knew that my initial office visit with Dr. Cool Guy was being denied prior to my surgery. I thought it had been corrected since Dr. Cool Guy sent my notes to "And.Them" to prove that it was not a pre-existing condition. "And.Them" actually CALLED ME to inform me that my surgery by Dr. Pink was approved; however, when I received my Explanation of Benefits today, it has been denied.

Please tell me how that makes sense.

So, I called the lovely folks at "And.Them." The poor girl tried her hardest to get me off the phone without giving me a direct answer. She actually told me that she did not see my medical records in my file. That would have been all fine and dandy except that I had just gotten off the phone with my "And.Them" RN Case Worker who informed me that there is a big note in my file that lists certain codes which have been determined not to be pre-exising. When the girl insisted she did not have any of my medical records to review, I made her call my case worker. She did. And suddenly, 45 minutes later, her attitude changed.

"I will reprocess these claims. Based on the information in your file, there should not be further problems. You will hear from us in 30 days."

 I wanted a direct answer. I wanted the problem to be fixed today. But, I figure I harassed her for an hour, hopefully she will do her job and correct the problem. (Although I am sure the higher ups of "And.Them" would prefer she ignore me.)

It infuriates me how they treat their customers. Aren't I already experiencing enough stress?

What makes me even more angry is knowing that there are millions of people who don't bother fighting "And.Them." It is intimidating to call them because they make you feel like the lowest of the low. If you have someone who is not experienced in the horror of insurance companies, you can't blame them for not trying to fight. It makes me so, so, so angry. I want to ask them how they sleep at night, but I can only imagine the smart ass answer they would give me...Gotta give them credit. The people who work for them definitely know how to make you feel like crap.

What is the point in having insurance if they are not going to protect you?

"Who Says You Can't Go Home?"

I didn't expect it to feel this good to be home. Maybe it is seeing the relief in mom's face, maybe it's being surrounded by things from my childhood, or maybe I am just thrilled at the opportunity to see my family whenever I want, but it feels comforting to be home.

Leaving Mr. Spots was as hard as I expected. I have to admit I shed a few tears...not because I hate being away from him, obviously that's something I can cope with since we began as a long distance relationship. It is more the looming realization that nothing will ever be the same. I am trying to look at that in the "glass is half full" type of way instead of the opposite, but in the back of my mind I do fear that we will change too much during this tiring journey...We will both be living two totally different lives...Instead of focusing on that, I am going to appreciate what we have now. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? (OK, I rolled my eyes as I typed that. I'd prefer to be curled up next to him at night.)

My days prior to heading to New York are going to be busy. Settling in, seeing the family, dinners here, lunches there, I sure won't be bored. I know it has been hard for my family to be 7 hours away from me, or in the case of my Gran and Pop, many more hours, so I believe it will be a great stress reliever for all of us to be in one place. I'm looking forward to it. (Granny, I am looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks!)

I know that I shouldn't be selfish, but I truly hope everyone "keeps it cool" during our visits. Seeing those I love upset over this hurts me more than the situation itself. I know that sounds incredibly selfish...and I know sometimes we all need to cry...however, it does make things harder on me. I tend to censor out the seriousness of this to some people in order to protect them. My "momma bear" instincts take control!

Let's not cry until we have more of a reason to cry.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Here's to One Year & No Tears!

One year ago I began a friendship
with this funny guy,
who made me feel like 
the prettiest girl in the room.
Today, that guy is my best friend.
So, we made it a year, babe! :-) It sure has been a hard year for me physically and emotionally, but oddly enough, I am happier than I have ever been. And as my Pop told me back in November, if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything. 
Okay--I will stop being mushy now.
I am waiting for Mr. Spots to get home. After a lot of debate we came to a joint decision that I am not strong enough to make the 7 hour drive to the Shore. We checked flights from here & Charlotte to Salisbury, MD but $800? No. Thank. You! It made me cringe just looking at it. Mom & my Step-Dad are going to meet us in Richmond, have dinner, then make the rest of the trip. I have to admit I am excited about smelling the salty air... seeing the beach...and being close to my family. oh, how I have missed it. 
I am not excited to leave Mr. Spots. Or my baby sister. Or Louis. Or my life...
But we all have to make sacrifices! If it will allow me to live a healthy life, I will do whatever I need to do to keep myself with "no evidence of disease" for as long as possible!

Let me get off here and finish my last minute packing. Mr. Spots should be here shortly to scoop me up. I am determined not to cry today...
After all, it is not goodbye. It's "see ya soon!"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

According to Grey's Anatomy...

"The odds are that the...
the odds mean crap. 
So people should face it, 
and they should fight." 


"Endometriosis Linked to Increased Risk for Melanoma"

Well. Well. Well.
Isn't that interesting...

As I have mentioned I have met some amazing people due to the internet. As awesome of a support group as I have, sometimes it helps talking directly to someone who is going through situations very similar to mine. We are able to share personal fears, bounce ideas off of each other, share research, and just VENT without the fear of scaring someone we love. 

Today I received an email from one of my melanoma girlfriends who shared an article discussing how endometriosis may be linked to increased risk for melanoma. 

Although this article was written in 2007, it still causes me to scratch my head. As most of you know, after seeing 9 doctors, and going through a ridiculous number of tests, I had surgery in November 2010 to remove endometriosis and a cyst off of my right ovary. My own personal McDreamy also took out my appendix since there had been speculation that my pain could have been the result of chronic appendicitis (and like McDreamy said--I don't need my appendix anyway, if he could grab it, he was taking it.)

Needless to say--when I healed from that surgery, I was thrilled to think I was finished with doctors for a while. I believe that is another reason the melanoma diagnosis shocked me so much. I felt fine. I wasn't experiencing any pain. I wasn't sick. I finally felt healthy for the first time in months; however, I was being told I have melanoma...something I can't have McDreamy just "fix."


So, who knows if the high ups believe there is a correlation between melanoma and endometriosis. I just know that, ironically, I have had both in the last 5 months.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Breaking News: I Slept Through the Night!

This is major.

I can't remember the last time I got a "good night" of sleep...maybe the night of my surgery when I was too drugged to think about moving? I don't sleep. I think. I plan. I worry. 

I haven't been feeling very good. The pain has been hard to ignore.  The swelling is back. The shooting pain that runs to my fingers has returned. It kind of feels like I have the flu. Oh, and my skin itches! 

Oh well, just another day. 

This is the last weekend I will see Mr. Spots for a while...I hate that I am not feeling well enough to do something fun. I guess I pushed myself too hard the last few days. My body is SCREAMING at me to rest. So, rest it is. 

Anyway---nothing interesting to say today...too tired.

I hope you are all out enjoying the beautiful weather---wear your sunscreen!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Stand With Planned Parenthood.

There are certain things that make me sick to my stomach...
hearing that the government wants to
take funding away from a group
that provides help to SO many people?
That makes me nauseous.

I am hoping that you go to the link that will be listed at the end of this post, read the letter, and sign it. Educate yourself on the services provided, talk to other people who have received help from them, do whatever you need to do, but please consider signing this. 

And despite the reputation I keep hearing---Planned Parenthood is not there to just provide abortions.

Educate yourself.

As my friend Kasey said, "This is serious. Not only is this a knock on women's health, but its also a knock on the young adult cancer community.Young adults with cancer are the only group who's death rates have not gotten better...and it's because we don't have screening. Please help stop this!"

Stand with Planned Parenthood!

Embracing My Scars

I have been hiding behind scarves.

It has not mattered where I was going, I added a scarf to each outfit. Riding in the car to go to the bank? Scarf. Heading to the grocery store? Scarf. Driving to see my baby sister? Scarf.

I was incredibly self conscious...especially considering I had the horrible rash. I didn't want anyone to see my ugliness. 

Then yesterday, after talking to Dr. Bad Mustache about my swollen lymph nodes, I decided to lose the damn scarf. Maybe it was the beautiful weather, maybe it was the fact that I was feeling brave, I don't know, but I could not stand the idea of hiding anymore. My rash has finally healed, I'm not black and blue, and I feel a little less like Frankenstein's twin sister.

So, what did I do?

I pulled my hair up and went out with the girls. 

And it felt goooooooooood.

If anyone noticed, they never said a word. 

I like to think they only saw three pretty girls, enjoying good music.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Melanoma Awareness & Benefit Show!

"I think music in itself is healing.
It's an explosive expression of humanity.
It's something we are all touched by.
No matter what culture we're from,
everyone loves music."
~Billy Joel.

About a week ago Mr. Spots called me into the living room. "Hey Chels, have you read the message from PolyChrome?" Message from PolyChrome? No, I don't think I have...Was I supposed to? I walk into the living room and Mr. Spots shows me the message sent from our favorite local band.

I read the message.

I read the message again.


PolyChrome, winners of the 2010 category "Best Local Band" for The Roanoke Times and Roanoke's City Magazine, is asking if they can do a benefit show for me, asking if it is necessary. 

My first emotional response is shock. Here are these 3 awesome guys who only know me as a random girl who forgets the words to "I Shot The Sheriff," who swoons when they sing "Wagon Wheel," and has a boyfriend obsessed with their version of "Free Falling." Still, they are going out of their way to do something for my family...They have secured a location, found other bands to perform, and they are taking care of all of the details on their own time, etc.

See why I am having trouble finding the words to thank them? 

Sometimes people really do amaze me. This is one of those times. (Again, thank you guys...I will never be able to say that enough.)

Now on to the details...because who isn't in the mood for a party?

What: Melanoma Awareness and Benefit Show, staring PolyChrome, Mafia Track Suit, Superhold, Sideshow, The Ruckus, Watershed Conspiracy, Manic Farm, Sparks Will Fly

When: April 17th, 2011, starting at 2 PM

Where: Schooners, Roanoke, VA
              7226 WILLIAMSON ROAD 
                     Roanoke, VA
                     Find them on Facebook: Friends of Schooners/Roanoke VA

I really would love to see my friends that weekend. Obviously I don't know what my treatment plan is but I should have an idea after the appointment next Friday. I have every intention of being in Roanoke April 17th and I WANT TO SEE YOU! 

Check out PolyChrome's page. Look at their show dates. Even if you can't make it to the event that weekend, GO SEE THEM. They are a fun group of VERY talented guys. You will not regret it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Ugly.

 The weather is becoming warm, you want to make sure you look good for spring break, you tan and avoid sunscreen because skin cancer can't happen to you, right? 


And what happens when it does? 

 You get battle wounds like these....

These are my pictures from the day after my surgery. 
They aren't attractive. 
But nothing about cancer is.)

This is my left neck incision. I have a matching one on my right side. 


This is my right armpit. I have a matching incision under left arm also.

And here is the 5th incision site:

Beautiful, huh?

Lucky for you, Mr. Spots erased the pictures of the rash that made me look even more like Frankenstein. The bruising and swelling that I have had? You can't see that. And the pain I keep mentioning? No picture can describe it.

3 weeks later and I am still struggling with the pain. Today Mr. Spots went to grab a piece of lint off of my collarbone and I cringed because it felt like my nerves were going to pop out of my skin and stab him. Or how about when he rubbed his hand down the back of my arm and it sent a burning sensation to my fingertips...Oh, don't let me forget how much it hurts when someone hugs me and puts pressure on my shoulders. I want to look over my shoulder to see if there is a car coming? Can't do it without pain shooting downwards. I want to raise my arms over my head without feeling the urge to scream? Maybe soon.

One more important thing I can't show by picture---my lymph nodes on both sides of my neck are very, very swollen tonight. Unless someone slipped rocks inside of my neck, I am sure something is not right. Is it an infection? Does it need to be drained? Who knows. But this, the swelling of lymph nodes that I would have never paid attention to before, is what made me call Mom crying tonight. 

Crying over swollen lymph nodes...definitely a first for me.


Congratulations are in order 
for Mr. Spots.
He's a brand new uncle 
to a baby boy and baby girl!

I don't want to write too much about it because it is not my story to tell, but I will say this, a lot of prayers were answered today. We are all very thankful that Momma and babies are healthy. 

I am looking forward to playing Auntie very soon!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anger...And All things Related.

I'm feeling a tad bit angry.

Pet peeve of the day: people who do not appreciate what they have.

I look at things differently...People who I thought were irresponsible before are now considered pathetic in my mind.  You are too obsessed with your partying lifestyle to give your child a bath? Well, you are pretty much worthless in my opinion.

OK...where did this stem from? 

My Melanoma friend, Melanoma & the City, had quite the interesting experience during a visit with her doctor. The little "mad scientist" doctor informed her that people with our lovely (ha!) cancer have a 50% chance of being alive in 5 years. 

I, being the stubborn and determined person that I am, refuse to believe that.

I have met people through the online forums who have been without evidence of disease for many years. I know that there is a statistic for everything. I also know that statistics mean crap. You have to educate yourself, fight, and fight some more.

Here is why I became so angry...That "mad scientist" told my sweet friend that she will have at least a year of treatment, then she will need to wait 2 years to see if the cancer returns before she can THINK about having babies. 

I am not saying that I am prepared to have babies in 3 years.

But I AM saying that I would have liked to have had that OPTION. 

Now I can understand what couples dealing with infertility must feel like. 

Just look on facebook, how many parents do you see actively NOT taking care of their children? Oh, they may make sure they don't KILL them, but what else do they do? 

OKAY...I will admit--- I am evil. I am grumpy. And I am pissed off at life right this second.  And I kind of hate the fact that I am jealous of these people... But my gosh, if you know me, you know how much I want babies. And more than that, I want to be HEALTHY to care for my babies. 

If my biggest fault in life is getting sunburned, why in the hell do I have to deal with all of this? 

OK. Rant over.

Mr. Spots Deserves a Reward...

...for giving me the best Valentine's day!
(And for all the little things that
I don't thank him enough for.)

What is that quote about being able to make a girl laugh?

Yesterday was a great day. And yes, as many of you notified me about, I did not post anything. I needed a break! I wanted to love on my boyfriend, feel pretty, and avoid anything Cancer related. 

(But I am glad to know I was missed!)

It has been very easy to become absorbed into the Cancer world. There is research. There are forums. There is a whole lot of "doom and gloom" available online if you take the time to look for it. The last month I have been hit over the head with bad news, been told amazing news, and essentially been on the roller coaster of my life. To have a romantic evening with my guy? It was needed. 

And appreciated.

It made me realize that life does get in the way sometimes. Priorities get out of wack. Petty issues get blown into big deals. Why? Probably because all of us are too tired to actually deal with the issue on hand.

I will never truly know how Mr. Spots is handling the news that his girlfriend has cancer. I mean, who expects that, right? On the outside he is strong, he is positive, and at times, he is the only thing holding me together. I can imagine the toll all of this is taking on him. Someone pointed out the other day that I should be relieved he hasn't disappeared. Truth is, he is not that type of guy. 

Through all of this, he has never made me feel like I am alone. When asked by various people about my condition, he never says "she." He says "we." I am pretty sure I have not even told him how that ONE word means so incredibly much to me. For a girl who likes to behave as though she can handle the world on her own, I cannot. And realizing that he is willing to take me on, cancer and all, has made me truly realize what a lucky girl I am.

Despite my very ugly scars, despite my very ugly rash, despite my new ability to cry while washing dishes, he loves me...he tells me I am beautiful...cancer and all.

And for that, I will always be grateful.