Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let's Not Say That.

I read an awesome blog titled:Tips on Surviving Your Cancer today during my lunch break. It hits on a few topics that cause a lot of debate within cancer patients. Do you tell people you have cancer? Do you shave your hair or let it fall out on its own? Do you ask for help?

Well, it made me think. 

Instead of the typical advice that I would give a newly diagnosed melanoma warrior, it made me remember some of the comments that people have said that have made me cringe. Remember--you must censor yourself sometimes. My life is in danger, you know.

"It's just skin cancer. They will remove it out and you will be fine."
          This simple statement has the ability to turn me into Mega Bitch. Yes, I thought melanoma was just skin cancer too back when I used the tanning bed and spent numerous hours in the sun. And yes, I am guilty of saying that statement myself. AND yes, if caught early, melanoma can be cut off of you, and you will just need to follow up with a dermatologist throughout the years. However, for many of us, melanoma is so much more than just skin cancer. It is the very thing that wants to kill us. Need I remind you that your skin is your largest organ?

"Well, you don't look sick!"
        Sometimes I think people would take my cancer more seriously if the treatment options caused us to lose our hair. People associate cancer as a bald head with a scarf. I do not look like the typical cancer patient. Because I have my hair, people assume I am not that sick. You know what scares me most? I don't know what's going on inside of my body. I would much rather look like crap on the outside and know that my miracle drug is healing me. I was recently introduced to this incredible blog (seriously, have your tissues nearby when you read this.) The blog is written by the husband of a recent melanoma angel. Nick writes from the point of view of the caretaker. In this particular post, he is discussing waiting rooms. He writes, "Meagan looks fantastic, as she doesn’t appear to have cancer, so sometimes you get the feeling people are looking at her and wondering, what the hell is she doing here messing up our ‘hood - this is for CANCER patients. I sometimes feel like standing up and announcing, “we are here for a reason - my lovely wife has fuckin’ metastatic melanoma!”. Amen, Nick, Amen.

"Thank God it's not breast cancer!"
        I am not trying to discredit breast cancer patients. Their own personal battles are no different than my own. Cancer is cancer. However, do not tell me that I should be thankful that I have melanoma instead of a cancer like breast. Do you know what it feels like when your oncologist, a melanoma specialist, tells you that they just don't know the best way to treat melanoma? With many cancers, there are certain treatment plans that have been tested and have been proven to work time and time again. With many cancers, there are numerous years of extensive medical research. With melanoma, we are just now beginning to progress with research. (Speaking of which, did you all read the AMAZING news today?!!!) 

"I have a family history of skin cancer but I have never been to a dermatologist."
       Family history is a huge indicator of what you will eventually have. Don't wait until it's too late.

"My brother died from melanoma." 
      Please, I am already scared. When you are stressing the big work project you have coming up, I am wondering what it is like to die. (Sorry, dramatic. But it's true! I think about it.) Instead, tell me something that will give me hope. Knowing that this cancer is not going away--ever--I need things that will inspire me.

"But I LOVE being tan!"
...I am pretty sure you love being alive too. Pick one. 


 And I repeat...

                          "It's just skin cancer."

"Melanoma - a word that changes your life forever. 
To all the survivors you make us believe in miracles. 
To all the beautiful angels you make us believe in love. 
To all the amazing warriors you make us believe in hope. 
We will never give in and will never give up. 
Melanoma you've got a one way ticket to hell. ♥"
        ~Borrowed from a friend on Facebook, Melissa.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Well, Crap.

I just spent a little over an hour writing a blog post about a quote that I saw from The Velveteen Rabbit that made my little brain do some thinking. I was going to share it with you all; however, I hit "X" instead of "Save" and the entire post is gone.


I bet this little girl felt the same way I did when she encountered this situation:

Well, crap.

I will try again tomorrow....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Be As You Are

I started this blog with the promise to be exactly who I am. I don't hide how I am feeling. If a tan chick pisses me off at Barnes and Noble, I write about it. When I am struggling with how people treat me since the cancer diagnosis, I vent. And when I am scared beyond measures, you pick up on it. I keep very few secrets when it comes to my cancer. Because of my lack of concealing my feelings, I never know how people will respond to my posts.

I was not sure how people would feel about my last post. I spent a lot of time on it and I put my true feelings and fears out in the open. Imagine my relief and surprise when I heard from so many people who could relate exactly to how I was feeling. I even heard from quite a few blog readers that I did not know existed! Because of that post, I gained another reason to be molemates!

I started reviewing my blog tonight. I wanted to see who was referring others to my site, etc. I was stunned to see that my blog--since February--has had 95,548 hits! Wow.

When I initially started posting I did it as a type of therapy. I had a hard time talking seriously about the melanoma, I would downplay my fears, make a joke to take away the seriousness of the diagnosis, or quickly change the subject. I felt like if I was strong, it would make things easier for everyone else. As most of you know, you can only be strong for so long until you crack. Writing kept me sane. It allowed me to absorb everything that was happening to me. When you are initially diagnosed with cancer, things happen quickly. You go from being perfectly healthy to ridiculously sick. Your day to day life turns completely upside down and your new schedule revolves around doctors and medical words that require Google to understand. I also did it as a way to stay sane. My family is the best, as I have mentioned a time or two, but they like to know every little detail. It was nearly impossible to explain every appointment to every person who called me. It was easier to just post a link to my blog on Facebook and have them read it there.

Instead of just my family reading it, many more people read my words. It is flattering and humbling to know that my experience helps someone else. When I was first looking through blogs, I had very few options. I wanted to read someone's raw emotions. I wanted to know that the anger that I was feeling was normal. I wanted the truth. That is why I have promised to always be honest with you all.

The comments I receive, the emails that share your personal stories, the fact that you share my words with someone else means that I am doing exactly what I aimed to do, I am writing the truth.

Cancer is not pretty. It isn't pink ribbons and butterflies. We have good days, and we have bad, bad days. We have ugly scars, massive amounts of determination, and secret fears that will make you cringe. We take the good with the bad. And if anyone doesn't like what they read on this blog, well, tough stuff. Like the picture says, "There is nothing more badass than being who you are." I just happen to be one brutally honest melanoma diva.

Please continue letting me hear your stories. Even if I cannot respond directly to your comments, I read what you write, and I am inspired by you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Toast

"Do you have a special toast in mind yet for Thanksgiving?"
~One of my blog readers

I have been staring at this screen for 54 minutes. 

I have typed a few paragraphs...

          I have deleted a few paragraphs...

How do I explain why I am thankful 
when the very fact that
I am alive
is reason enough?

If you had forced me into a corner and asked me in January if I thought I would be alive to see another Thanksgiving, I would have quietly told you no. When this roller coaster of craziness began, I was hit over and over again with bad news; news that seemed impossible. The mole that they removed was not huge or deep. In fact, if it had been just a tiny bit smaller, they would not have done the sentinel node biopsy to see if the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Not only was the cancer in my lymph nodes, it was in 2 separate lymph node basins on completely different sides of my body, and possibly in another lymph basin. Did I tell you that there was only a 10% chance that the cancer would be found in my lymph nodes? Did I tell you that some oncologists would consider me to be stage IV since melanoma was found in basins on both sides of my body? So, yes... Had you forced me to answer the question, "Do you believe you will see another holiday season?" I would have told you no.

Here I am, only 10 months into Hotel Melanoma, still alive, and showing No Evidence of Disease. Despite my brave smile, my positive attitude, and my fighting spirit, I have shocked myself. No, I am not cured. As you all know, melanoma is not a curable disease. I will be fighting this battle until the day I die. But I am in a stage where all melanoma warriors want to be: I am showing no sign of the disease. 

If asked to give a Thanksgiving toast, I would never get through it. I would simply say this: Thank you for letting me be here to thank you in person. 

Thank you, God, for allowing me to get through these 10 months, alive and well. I am still trying to discover religion in my own way, but I do believe that there is a man upstairs who listens. (If not, I talk to myself way too often.)

I thank you, my beautiful family, for providing me with unconditional love, support, and forgiveness. I know that when I am scared, I am not an easy person to be around. You ignore my grumpy mood swings, hold my hand, and get me through the day. I will never be able to fully explain the love I have for each and every one of you. I am who I am because of you.

Although she is included in the list above, I feel as though my beautiful mother deserves a special thank you. I will never forget calling her in St. John, telling her that my mole was melanoma, but not to worry because they would just cut it out and I would be fine. Since the beginning, she has been next to me. She makes me laugh while I am chugging the nasty scan juice. She gets an attitude with the grouchy doctor who tries to tell her Interferon is a "fine" treatment plan for her 23 year old daughter. She knows when I need space and she knows when I need to cry. Never has she let her own fear get in the way of supporting me. She is, without a doubt, my rock.

I am thankful for my boyfriend, Mr. Spots, for still making me feel like the most beautiful girl in the room...even when I look like Mrs. Frankenstein. When I was recovering from both surgeries, I became incredibly self conscious. I felt like I looked like what I was: sick. Cancer or no cancer, a girl wants to feel pretty. Scars and all, he made me feel like I had no reason to hide. And when being the tough girl act becomes too much, Mr. Spots is the one who suffers through my tears. There are days in the shower--the one place that I can cry--where I will just sob into him. Most men, especially a fairly new boyfriend, would run for the hills. Although melanoma has put our relationship to the test, we found our way back to each other. For that, I am especially thankful.

I am thankful for my friends. This cancer has allowed me to truly see who I need in my life. There are certain people who take an extra minute to send me an uplifting text. They randomly drop a card in the mail. They treat me no different than they did before I became The Melanoma Chick. That, the treating me like normal, continues to make me extremely grateful. When the going gets tough, my friends wrap their arms around me and protect, protect, protect. I have said this before, and I will say it again, I have the best support system.

I am thankful to the strangers who have entered my life in the form of doctors, nurses, receptionists, and people in the waiting rooms. Because of you, even the scariest of moments are bearable. To the nurses who joke with me about the hot doctors, thank you for realizing I may have cancer, but I am still a 24 year old girl who appreciates Grey's Anatomy looking doc's. To my beautiful surgeon, Glinda, for treating me like a friend, not a number. To my own real life Wizard, my oncologist, for knowing that he has to reassure me time and time again. I am thankful for the folks who are a lot smarter than I am who are working their hardest to find therapies that will help us melanoma patients live longer lives. I am thankful to the patients in the waiting room who give me silent smiles, who randomly say "I will pray for you" as I am called back for a scan, and the ones who inspire me with their positive attitudes.

Tonight, and every night, I am thankful to those of you who have donated your time, money, and support which have allowed my family to provide me with the best medical care on the East Coast.

I am thankful for the internet because without it I am pretty sure I would have spent way too much money on therapy. The internet has allowed me to "meet" friends, my own mole mates, who have helped me in ways no doctor ever could help. They take their time to explain medical information to me, they interrupt their own fears to build my confidence back up, and they cheer the loudest when I receive good news. As I have said, I hate the cancer, but I love the people I have met because of it.

Tonight, more than anything else, I am thankful to be alive.

....and now, I am emotionally drained.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Oomph

I am tired tonight so I was just quickly browsing online for an uplifting quote to accompany the pictures of me crossing something off of my non-existent bucket list.

(I did the Richard Petty ride along experience
at the Charlotte Motor Speedway!
Boy, those cars go fast....!!!)

Have you ever noticed that you find special things when you are not looking for them? That is what happened to me tonight. I found an article about Joe Kogel. The guy seems like an odd duck, but he made a few comments about his experience with melanoma that hit home for me.

Kogel was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at age 25. He is another cancer warrior who believes cancer has actually been a good thing for him. He explains in the article that "steering into the skid of his fast-approaching mortality forced him to learn how to really live." What better way to put it? Like me, he went from being a healthy 20 year old kid to learning he may not even get to reach that dreaded 30th birthday. Getting old no longer seems like such a bad thing when you learn that you may not be able to...

I have talked to many fellow cancer warriors about how we no longer sweat the small things. Sure, we still get pissed off when our co-worker is being a brat, and yes, we still hate waiting in line at the grocery store, but I can promise you that you will never hear us complain about having the "worst" day just because something minor went wrong. The worst day in our books is hearing our oncologist tell us that the cancer has spread, it is not knowing what the next month, the next scan, hell, even the next day will bring. A bad day is hearing that your fellow cancer warrior has died. That's a bad day.

Sometimes I find myself losing patience with people who complain about how horrible their lives are simply because their boyfriend broke up with them, they had a bad day at work, etc. It makes me wonder how they would handle a real problem. Then I remind myself that those issues are big deals to them. When you compare cancer to the daily problems of people, cancer wins. I have had to learn to have patience that even though my problems are life threatening, the problems of others are still important.

Kogel says, "Life is filled with moments and the more open to them you are, the richer your life becomes. Not easier, not better--richer." Is that how cancer has affected you? I know sometimes I act like I am cheerful all the time, and usually, that is true. No, this experience has not been easy--physically or emotionally--but the one thing that I can control is my emotional response to it. Because of this cancer, my life has become enriched with love, knowledge, and motivation. Kogel explains it well. He says, "Cancer's just one of those things that intensifies whatever's going on. . . . Cancer really provided me the oomph, the leg up to take the next step. The next step was dying. I died of cancer. Whoever I thought I was at that time died."

Isn't that how we feel?

If you meet a cancer patient and they tell you that the cancer has not changed them, I will tell you that they are lying. The person that I was for 23 years of my life died on January 10, 2011 when the dermatologist informed me of the seriousness of my melanoma. And boy, it has been a struggle for others in my life to adjust to the new me since the diagnosis. I may look the same, at times I am the same, but I truly believe that I have been changed for the better. I am becoming who I really am meant to be thanks to melanoma.

Melanoma, as Kogel said, has given me the oomph to take my life to the next level.

That oomph, I believe, is what makes me a survivor.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AIM at Melanoma!

Let me begin this post by saying that I will never forget this weekend...ever. It was such a special weekend filled with family, friends, and fellow melanoma warriors. If you were lucky enough to attend the AIM at Melanoma walk in Charlotte this Saturday then I am pretty sure you heard 2 female voices screaming at 8:20 in the morning. No worries....It was just our excitement when we first laid eyes on each other.

Finally! Anne & I meet in person!

I saw Anne before she saw me. I was walking up to the table where she was standing when I saw her begin to look for someone. Then all of a sudden she spotted me and we start screaming and hugging. I had to keep screaming to keep from crying. She is just like I imagined....beautiful & beyond sweet. You would think that there would be awkwardness between us since we've only talked through the internet and phone, but there was none of that. That's how you know you have made a special friend!

Anne organized a great event. Over 200 people registered for the very first AIM at Melanoma walk in Charlotte, NC, and we raised over $33,000. I think it's safe to say that is a great amount for the first year! I fully believe that next year will double this year!

Me with my mom & baby sister!

Aiming for a cure!

One of my best friends drove
from Roanoke for the walk!
 Anne giving the opening ceremony!
 Don't leave your kids
without a parent...
My aunt & cousins walked
with me too!
Just a walking towards a cure!
 Melanoma Survivor...
and STAYING one!
 He ran the last lap for me...
And yes, he was sore after!
 Melanoma hasn't been kind
to our relationship...
but I think it's safe to say,
we are stronger than ever.
 One of my favorite shirts from Saturday:
"Team Lisa. Loving you through it."
(And yes, I teared up when I read it.)
What a great way to honor their friend.
The walk on Saturday was humbling, rewarding, and it made me extremely grateful. We may still be a small group who understands the dangers of "just" skin cancer, but we are a determined group. We will get the word out there. We will put our heart, soul, and sweat into this cancer so that one day if a family finds themselves in our shoes, they will have more options than what we initially had.We will raise awareness so that your future babies do not have their life shattered by "just" skin cancer at age 23 when their biggest worry should be finding themselves. We will raise money so that hopefully one day tanning bed lovers will not die due the dislike of being pale. We may be small, but we are strong. And everyone knows, you don't mess with strong. One day, I fully believe, our cancer will be as well known as breast cancer. Why? It's because of people like us.

Again, a huge thank you to Anne for organizing such a rewarding walk. Your hard work paid off, missy! 33,000 dollars towards a cause that hits so close to home? You made it happen! I am already looking forward to next year.

I will never forget this event.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


It's time! I
in Charlotte, North Carolina!
*Yes I realize this isn't the picture
that AIM probably wants associated
with their walk, but what the hell,
it fits my attitude towards melanoma. ;-)

I am so excited to head to Charlotte tomorrow after work. Not only do I get to spend the weekend with part of my family, and other melanoma warriors, but I also get to FINALLY meet my girlfriend Anne. Remember the beautiful prayer that Anne sent me when I went in for my surgery in March? I am just now getting to meet her! Finally! Not only does she have melanoma, she also has a family to raise; however, she has organized this walk in Charlotte and raised lots of $$$ for this great cause. I am so proud of her.

I went to visit the homepage for the walk tonight so that I could get the details about the check in time, etc. While looking, I noticed that the walk is in loving memory of two beautiful ladies: Melissa Sicola, age 33, and Laura Gillespie, age 30. The world lost these beautiful women far too soon. Anne has also dedicated the walk in honor of me. If I had organized the walk, it would have been in honor of Mrs. Anne. The woman is a super sweet rock star!

In other news, I had a dentist appointment yesterday. For some reason, sitting in the chair at the dentist's office really freaks me out. I still fear my oncologist more, but the dentist is pretty high up on my list of irrational fears. This appointment ended up being a teaching moment. Like any doctor, you have to fill out your medical history. When the kind-of-tan assistant asked about my cancer, I sweetly smiled and said, "Melanoma....stage III. Tanning beds are my worst enemy." She kind of laughed and said, "Yeah, I have been trying to quit. My Grand Father has a history of skin cancer so I know it runs in my family." I said, "Well, with the statistics that are available now, you would be silly not to quit. Plus if you really need a reason to quit, I will show you my scars." She said, "Are they really that bad?" Instead of showing her my scars that have actually healed nicely, I gave her a run down of the last 10 months of my life. I also passed her a card with my blog address. I hope she reads it. Minus her tanning addiction, she was a very sweet girl and she distracted me from the scary kid with loud tools coming towards me (AKA the 29 year old dentist...)

I did give the dentist a bit of excitement. I had been complaining about pain on the left side of my teeth. He looked at the X-Rays, looked at my teeth, and said, "Chelsea, have you had a lot of stress in your life?" Since we had already gone through The Cancer History, I gave him a "Are you serious?" look and said, "Uh....Slightly." He, excitedly, said, "I know it! You have been grinding your teeth!" Well, Doc, I am glad you know what you are looking at...

I am joking. He was a nice fella. 

But really. I just got diagnosed with cancer this year. Of course I have stress in my life, silly boy.

You never know when you will have the opportunity to teach. I could have simply kept my personal life personal, but because I took the extra minute to share my experience (I swear I don't go on and on about it. I keep it sweet & probably too short.) maybe she will actually stop tanning. She already said she had been trying to stop, and she did continue to ask a lot of questions, so maybe, just maybe, she will cancel her membership. Fingers crossed!

Well friends, I want to thank you again for all of your generous donations. I bypassed my own goal of $1,000. This money is going towards an excellent organization and I could not be more thankful for your help. I will be sure to tell you all of the details soon! 

From the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

Yes, YOU.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Believe You Can

I have quite a bit to write about, but I very little energy to do so tonight. Who knew a tooth ache could be so painful?! Ouch. Want to hear something silly? I fear my oncologist just as much as I fear the dentist. That sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, a dentist is a dentist. Oh well...we all have irrational fears, I guess.

I also fear clowns...don't judge me.

Y'all know I love to meet my blog readers & melanoma friends in person. Well, this past Friday I got to meet two beautiful blog followers in person! Mr. Spots had told me that he used to work with these two girls and that they had been introduced to my blog by a mutual co-worker. I thought that they just read my blog in the beginning; however, they have kept up to date and fuss at their girlfriends who tan. It was so humbling to meet them in person and know that they are sharing my experience to help others. You girls are gorgeous! Thanks for reading!!

As you know, I am heading to Charlotte, NC THIS Saturday for the Aim at Melanoma walk. I am so excited to participate in this event with my family and friends. I will be sure to take a lot of pictures and notes. You will get the full scoop.

Until next time.......XOXO

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dysplastic Nevus....Whaaaaaat?

Today I headed to Dr. Cool Guy, my local dermatologist, to have my stitches removed & get my final results. When the nurse called last week to let me know that my mole came back "OK" (She didn't want me to worry over the nurse ever!) she told me that everything was fine. Dr. Cool Guy had a different reaction to the results.

He walked in, gave me a hug, and said "OK. The mole was a compound dysplastic nevus with moderate cytoarchitectural atypia." I gave him the "please dumb it down" look and he said, "It's not melanoma, but I am glad it is off of you." Well, in that case, me too! 

What is a dysplastic nevus? Otherwise known as an atypical mole, a dysplastic nevus is a type of mole that looks different from a common mole. It can be larger than a normal mole, varies in color, and is usually flat. A dysplastic nevus is not cancer.

If a dysplastic nevus is not cancer than why is the dermatologist happy that I had the mole removed? A dysplastic nevus is more likely to become melanoma than your normal mole. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, people who have atypical moles are "at increased risk of developing single or multiple melanomas." They also explain that melanoma can begin within a dysplastic nevus.

What happens when you learn that you have a dysplastic melanoma? Well, don't freak out. Instead, use this diagnosis as a learning experience for you, especially those folks who do not have melanoma. Grab a partner, have regular at home skin checks, schedule to see a dermatologist once every 6 months, stay far away from the tanning bed, wear sunscreen--even on overcast days! Remember, when caught early, melanoma is treatable. Be smart. 

Okay, I am finished lecturing for the night. Check out my friend Al's blog. He explains how we had our own "Occupy" event the other night! Whatever it takes, we'll get the word out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Try, Try, and Try Again.

I am a believer in modern medicine, there is no hiding that. Although I admire the people who choose to heal themselves through ways besides medicine, I am not one to try it without the assistance of modern medicine. I feel like the risk is too high. That is just my personal belief. When I learned that I have stage III melanoma, I wanted drugs, preferably the kind to cure this black beast. As you all well know, there is no cure for melanoma. 

What would I do to keep myself healthy? Anything. Really, I would do just about anything. I know many of my molemates would agree; if there is a way to keep us on this planet, we will give it our best shot. Does that mean we would try Sildenafil? Yes, it is also known as Viagra, the drug that gained its fame with its ability to help men in the bedroom.

One day, we might. Today, melanoma is in the headlines again. (Woo hoo!) According to the article, " it is very well possible that sildenafil can also inhibit the immunosuppressive effects of inflammation and thus improve anti-tumour immunity in people with melanoma."

I posted the link to this news article on my Facebook feed. Immediately we--mostly melanoma warriors-- all started making jokes. My favorite comment was: "I'm all for this but someone better warn my wife."  Something tells me that if the drug helps keep this guy alive, his wife will accept his.......!

Whatever it takes, right? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Itch, Itch.

Scratch, Scratch. Boy, I am ITCHY! I have had a few issues with having itchy skin following treatment, but this time I actually have little rashes on my arms! After spending most of the afternoon at work scratching my arms, I called the research nurse at Sloan Kettering to report my side effects. The thing about the clinical trial that is sometimes annoying is that they want to know each & every change in your normal life. Sure enough, when I explained what the rash looks like and how I feel very feverish, she had The Wizard call in some topical cream. So far, it is working on my arms. I am still itchy, but I believe with the help of benadryl, I will be able to sleep. Although uncomfortable, this is exciting. With a clinical trial, side effects are good things.

I was browsing my "tagged" pictures on Facebook last night and came across pictures of something famous............

My Primary Melanoma

That little tiny mole on my left shoulder
is what turned my life upside down.
(I was singing in the first picture...great wedding!)

Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick hello! My first day back to work took a toll on me...It's almost bed time. I hope everyone had a peaceful Monday!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Up in the Air

"Up in the air, I looked out the window at the clouds 
and I remember thinking,
Thank you, God. 
Thank you for taking me through that storm of craziness
and having me come out the other side as a
whole, happy girl without too much damage."
~Kris Jenner.
Please do not judge me for reading Kris Jenner's new book. I am almost embarrassed to tell people that I am reading it, but she got my attention during one of her interviews. She started discussing the OJ Simpson drama and, well, it got me hooked. (She is good at what she does--gaining attention--there is no doubt about it.) I vividly remember watching the news when Nicole was murdered, I remember the Bronco, and I remember the disbelief when the jury found OJ not guilty of the murders. Sooooo, I had to read it. Don't judge me.

Little did I know that Kris Jenner would write something that struck home for me. While in the air yesterday, I read the above quote. Great timing, right? That perfectly describes how I am feeling. The last 10 months of my life have been ridiculously crazy; however, I am happier thanI have ever been. I know now what is important in life. Don't get me wrong, I fully realize that my lifetime of melanoma will continue to be stressful, sad, and frustrating, but I feel blessed that I went through my own version of hell and came out on top. My heart is bruised. I am not always cheerful, sometimes I am very bitter, and I still wonder why God picked me to face this battle at only 23 years old, but I know that it is all for a reason. I am a full time resident of Hotel Melanoma, and until they scatter my ashes in the ocean, I always will be. 

I will be the resident with a battered body, a scarred heart, and a smile on her face. 


Friday, November 4, 2011

Let's Get To the Point

I pay attention to facial expressions. Does the doctor avoid eye contact? Is he smiling? Doe he look at Mom? Does he shake my hand or simply sit down in front of me? In my head, if a doctor has good news for me, he should walk in, shake my hand, smile at me, give Mom a reassuring look and get right to the point.

Shouldn't I know by now that life rarely happens how I think it should happen?

Today began with a session with the vampires. 17 tubes of blood, a low grade fever, and nerves. Then I was finally called back to see The Wizard. Those few minutes sitting in the waiting room were torture. It's like waiting for a jury to decide the verdict: Do I get to live my life for another 3 months or will the black beast show his face? Where will the new tumors be? My liver, my lungs, my brain?

The nurse walks in to ask the normal "how are you?" questions. Because the trial paperwork had changed a little since the last time I was there (they added a part about male's sexual capability...obviously, as the nurse said, that doesn't apply to me; however, it broke the tension and made us laugh.) I had to sign my life away. While I was signing the paperwork, in walks The Wizard. I look up, he's super casual, says hi, sits down on the examination chair, and starts talking to the nurse. I am basically holding my breath and thinking, "Oh crap. He normally tells me AS he is walking into the room that I am fine. Why isn't he talking to me?!" Then The Wizard says, "How are you?" I started telling him that I feel great. He says, "Oh, by the way, you are great! Your scans were fine." Dude. Did you really almost give me a panic attack and then downplay my No Evidence of Disease results?


Then I got over it because I AM CLEAR, I AM CLEAR, I AM CLEAR!!!

THANK YOU, GOD! THANK YOU, MODERN MEDICINE! THANK YOU, FAMILY & FRIENDS! A special thank you to my Mom for holding my hand, once again, this week.




.................Sort of.

So, how did I celebrate? 

A visit to the chemo suite, duh!
I have to stay healthy.

I also celebrated by meeting a new friend in the waiting
room while waiting for the Chemo Nurse to call me.
She is my age, beautiful, and has an amazing attitude.
More on that meeting soon...
Lord knows, I hate this cancer, but I love the people
it has allowed me to meet.

Your thoughts, messages, phone calls, and constant support have gotten me through this very tough week. Seriously. I do not think I will ever be able to explain how much the support I receive helps me through this new life. Cancer is so unpredictable, but I know that no matter what results I receive, I will have a group behind me, pushing me forward. You all encourage me to fight even when I don't feel like fighting. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Scan day.

I didn't bring my laptop with me so this will be a very short post typed on my iPad! Pop made out very well with his surgery. He actually sent me a text before I flew to NJ. Your prayers worked. Again!

My appointment with my dermatologist did not go as well as I had hoped. Dr. cool Guy removed a mole located near my primary melanoma. I should hear those results in ten days. I think I am their favorite patient. The lovely nurse asked me to hang out a few extra minutes so that the new nurse could meet me just in case I call with a problem. "You give her whatever she wants." yay! Apparently if you have melanoma, a dermatologist considers you to be a priority. Both the nurse and the dermatologist asked 100 questions about Mr. Spots and I. Apparently they think we need to get married. I explained that we've been a little preoccupied! ;-) ya know...melanoma being time consuming and all.

The eye doc appointment lasted--literally-- five minutes. He asked if I had any eye issues, if I could see the letters on the screen, and sent me on my way. I am a bit bitter that I missed Anderson Cooper for that!

Scans went well.... The juice I was forced to drink was as yummy as always. (Picture will be posted soon.) all in all, it was an uneventful scan appointment.

Tomorrow morning I meet with The Wizard to receive my results. Fingers crossed for good news. I am truly in live with my new normal life and I am so, so scared of losing scared. I don't want to be a full time cancer patient again. Siiiiiigh.

Confidence is important so I am going to believe in myself. Whatever it is, I will face it head on. I've got this.

But...extra prayers and good juju are much appreciated, as always.

All my love,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And It Begins

It is time for me to step away from my almost normal life & go back to being a cancer patient. (Do I sound bitter? I'm not.............well, I am not too bitter. I will be better in the morning. I promise.)

Because life is going to be hectic, I thought I would post my schedule here:

Tomorrow morning, November 2nd, at 8 am, my Pop heads in for surgery. I truly hate that I will not be there with my Gran and Pop. Pop has a special, special place in my heart, as most of you know. Knowing he is going through a big surgery, and I literally cannot be there, makes me sad and frustrated. If you could send some good juju his way, I know my family will be extremely grateful.

Two of my Molemates, Brandi & Becca, are also heading in for scans this week. These beautiful YOUNG ladies are true fighters. Please send prayers to them. They have both had such a rough year. They DESERVE good news.

11/2/2011: 9:00 I have my 3 month dermatologist appointment with Dr. Cool Guy. It has been a while since I have seen him since I had my last skin check at Sloan Kettering, so I know we will have a lot to catch up on.

12:45 I fly to Newark, NJ where I will meet my mom! (The best part about having to travel for treatment and scans.)


10:30 I meet with an Ophthalmologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Because Yervoy is known to cause inflammation of the eye, my oncologist, The Wizard, is following protocol.

11:30 I begin drinking my yummy (ha!) scan juice. My 3 month scans will follow consumption of that disgusting red juice.

1:45 FREEDOM! Mom & I plan to fully enjoy your afternoon and hopefully meet up with some fellow melanoma warriors.


9:00 I head back to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to meet with The Wizard for blood work, check-up, and scan results. (Prayers please.)

11:00 Assuming my results are great, I will head for my next dose of treatment.

5 PM: Assuming all news is good news, I will celebrate with my Momma.

11/5/2011 I fly back home.

Phew. It is a big week for my family. Emotions are running high, patience is running thin. I have to believe that everything will be OK. I have to believe that.....But honestly, "I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes."

I'm saying goodnight to the Internet world. I need some cuddle time with my guy.

Write to you soon from NYC!