Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Miss Chelsea

Have you watched Dear 16-Year-Old Me? 

Seriously, you need to watch this video. Then you need to immediately share it on Facebook, Twitter, and email it to your loved ones. It's a MUST see and a MUST share. 

I had to ask myself, what would I tell the 16-year-old Chelsea?

* You are 16, little girl. Not 25.
* Don't quit cheerleading just because you transferred schools. 
* Listen to your older sister. She has been there.
* Pay attention to that psychology teacher who believed in you enough to add you to her class a year early.
* There is no hiding your first hangover from your parents.
* Next time someone asks, "Do you ever see the sunlight?" don't feel offended. Your skin is beautiful.
* Be a kid.
* Your little sister looks up to you. Be careful.
* Those hours on ICQ and AIM leave wonderful memories; however, they don't help with you SAT score.
* Embrace the flat iron, or don't cut your hair that short. It's curly. It shrinks.
* Dump him. Life is too short to date a bully.
* Eyebrow waxing is a wonderful thing. 
* Your parents aren't the enemies.
* Don't stop running. It is the one part of PE class you're good at.
* Mental Health days end up being awesome memories. (Just don't take too many of them!)
* That girl who picks on you and puts gum in your hair? Ignore her. It isn't worth it. 
* I know the beach is fun. Enjoy it. Add sunscreen.
* Spend as much time on your homework as you do writing notes to your girlfriends.
* When a stranger tells you to go have a mole checked, go.
* Keep your childhood friends close to you. However, know that people change. Accept it without allowing it to ruin the friendship.
* Stay out of the freaking tanning bed. You knooooow it isn't good for you.
* Listen to your daddy. Stop rushing through life.
* Your pale skin and dark hair make you stand out. Embrace them.

What would YOU tell your 16-year-old self?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Little On Love

I was in bed this morning, slowly waking up, and searching for the motivation to get out of bed. In between dozing, I rolled over and looked at Mr. Spots peacefully sleeping. I started thinking about how much has changed in just the last year. This time last July I was temporarily staying with my parents, traveling to NYC once every 3 weeks for treatments, all while my live-in boyfriend was 7 hours away. Like you can expect of a new couple (or hell, any couple!), we were adjusting to living a life that went from enjoying that wonderful "falling in love" easiness to a life that suddenly included visits to oncologists and hospital stays. We had only known each other for 11 months when I was diagnosed. 

Statistically, we were doomed.

As I have blogged about previously, cancer challenges relationships of all kinds. Sadly, it has been known to end a lot of relationships. In our case melanoma caused us to hurt each other desperately. At the same time, it made our relationship the kind I don't want to live without.

I felt alone, he felt abandoned. We hurt each other. Then, only 2 long months later, on the 6 month anniversary of my diagnosis, we found our way back to one another. 

 Celebrating 6 month diagnosis
by riding roller coasters & the ferris wheel!
July 2011

I know--without question--those months apart opened our eyes and our hearts.

"We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am...
I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)."
--Jason Mraz
Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1-4u9W-bns

Once again, Jason Mraz gets it right.

What I've learned in the last year is that you must fight for what you want in this world. You can't run away just because you face challenges. Today--and every other day--I am thankful we found our way back to each other.

(OK, sorry for the sappy post! Have a great week!) 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Changes Are Coming

I have a lot of big ideas rolling around in my head, a lot of opportunities that are available. Even though I know I should jump at said opportunities, I feel scared. What if I decide it doesn't make me happy? What if I am portrayed in a way I don't wish for others to see? What happens if I accept a position that brings more stress? Oh goodness! Change makes this girl nervous! 

All I can do is try.

If I fail, I fail.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No Sweeter Words

Like always, I needed a break after my trip to NYC and the news of our friends who passed away. I get so anxious, nervous, and down right grumpy before my trips to Sloan Kettering that I usually need a break from melanoma when I return to Virginia. After I heard about Brett, David, and Steve, I really needed to take a step back and appreciate the life that I am living.

I must not take this beautiful life for granted. 

Speaking of beautiful life....I will finally share some of the photos from our most recent trip to New York City!

We began our trip by attending The Comedy Cellar
where we were able to see Louis C. K. and Aziz Ansari!

Then we went to The Empire State Building around midnight.
but super crowded.

We strolled along The High Line

and visited the 9/11 Memorial (and preview.)

Rockefeller Center was fully decorated 
for the 4th of July!

We strolled around Grand Central Station


I was a good patient during my last infusion!

It was a wonderful trip with my mom and Mr. Spots. The trip, of course, was made sweeter by hearing the reassuring words from my oncologist, "Scans are fine." 

There are no sweeter words when speaking to a cancer patient that those.

I may have some exciting news to share with you all in the near future. My campaign against melanoma is still in full attack!

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Thanks for the adventure..."

I was browsing for an image to include in this post regarding Steve Hock. I saw this one and it immediately felt right to me. Many of you have already read about Steve or have viewed his pictures. He, very publicly, fought a brutal fight against melanoma. Now it is time for his next adventure.

Today, July 16, 2012, Steve joined my friends Tina, Randi, and Shawnda. My heart is aching for Steve's family, especially his wife and 2 children. I ask that you send your well wishes, prayers, and love. 

Thank you, Steve, for your dedication to raising awareness against this cancer.  

We will never stop sharing your story. 

*On a personal level, my hometown lost a special volunteer firefighter today.  While riding in the firetruck heading towards an accident, this man was killed when the firetruck wrecked. Please send your thoughts towards this family. He leaves a wife and a 3-year-old little boy. Thank you, David, for your dedication to the community. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Barbie on Good Morning America?

Did you see Good Morning America today? If not, let me give you a rundown. Two young girls, early and mid-twenties discuss how they are addicted to tanning. One little lady, who already resembles a leather couch, states that "If you told me that I have skin cancer I don't think I would stop," she said. "Scrape it off and keep going."

Yes, she would keep tanning despite having skin cancer.

Now...I think you know why this pisses me off. I, too, thought that skin cancer was just something that a doctor could cut out and then I would be fine. I hope I was not ignorant enough to think I could continue to damage my skin after having a skin cancer scare. This young girl, my own age, says that, "When you see someone who is tan, you are like, wow, amazing." She mentions Burt Reynolds, Barbie, and Pamela Anderson. (Do I even need to touch that issue?)

If you can fight your own anger and annoyance with these girls, there is a great discussion afterwards with Robin and Dr. Jennifer Ashton. The first thing that Dr. Ashton addresses if Ms. Paytas comment that you can scrape off skin cancer and keep going. She says, "it's life or death." Oh, don't we know...

Please watch and share this. Let young girls SEE how unattractive this tan actually is!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear Kim K,

I realize you are a beautiful and hard-working lady. I do not doubt your intelligence. However, I do question why, even after you step-father had a recent skin cancer scare, you still visit tanning salons. Did his experience not shake you? Do you not realize the dangers that those coffin-like beds bring? Are you unaware of how many young people look up to you?

I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you were heading to the salon for simply a spray tan.

That's what you were doing, right?

A girl who learned a tan isn't worth it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

CT Scan Results 7/6/2012

My oncologist: "Hi! Scans are fine! I saw you in the 

hallway and was going to yell it out to you. 

I have set a bad precedent. 

If I came in and started talking, 

you would think "oh shit." 

Scans ARE fine!

No evidence of disease!

Oh, and I adore my oncologist.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. They worked, again! 
I will post a full NYC trip recap when I get back to Virginia tomorrow night. For now, I'm going to go celebrate. 

No evidence of disease. Those words never get old...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello, Melanoma and the City!

I had lunch with Ms. Melanoma and the City yesterday!

More to post later, but I must go get ready...

It's scan day.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, July 2, 2012

And I'm Off To See the Wizard!

During my weekly yoga session tonight, my instructor whispered a few words I needed to hear:
Everything is going  to be OK.

I have to head to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center this week for my 3 month scans, follow-up with the Wizard, and visit to the chemo suite for treatment. Like always, the 3 months of freedom flew by. I can only hope that this trip is as peaceful as the last visit. I would like to have they type of appointment that my oncologist refers to as a "Healthy Baby Visit."  It's quick, it's painless, and it brings good news to all. 

Instead of making this trip fully medical, we are adding an extra day to our trip so that we can fully enjoy 4th of July in the big city. I've never been in NYC for the fireworks so it should be a great adventure. Mr. Spots is actually joining me on this trip which I am really looking forward to. I think I relax a bit more with him next to me. 

If you have a free moment and wish to send some warm thoughts my way, I definitely would appreciate it. I know what the statistics say, and I know the likelihood that something ugly will pop up, but I am going to ignore those statistics. I am going to hope, wish, and pray, and then I'm going to try to put it in the back of my mind for the first portion of this trip. I need to have some fun with my loved ones before this appointment. I will, until Thursday, treat this as a vacation then it's time to be a patient for a few days.

Like my yoga instructor said, and like Mr. Bob Marley--fellow melanoma warrior--sings, "Everything is gonna be all right."