Friday, August 31, 2012

Those 4 Words I Was Waiting To Hear

It has been an awesome week. Long, but awesome. 
Now we are beginning a 
3 day staycation weekend? Ah, perfection.

In honor of the long weekend, I am linking up with 
for High Five For Friday!

Let's recap on the awesomeness of this past week, shall we?
After all, it's not every week you are asked
4 words you've been waiting to hear.

1) I got to spend a super fun day at The Greensboro Children's Museum
with Mr. Spots, his kiddo, his sister, husband, and the twins!
While they played,
so did I...

 2) I received the Save the Date
for The Skin Cancer Foundation Gala!
(No pictures, sorry!) 

3) I booked an interview with a local news channel
to share details on how I have used this blog
to promote skin cancer awareness.

4) I actually slept through the night.
*OK, I got up to pee once. 
(Just once is unusual. Smallest bladder ever!)

5) I have important news to share...
and I can't focus on anything 
until I tell you........

 I heard that 4 word question that
I had been hoping and wishing to hear:
"When can you start?"


Starting September 24, 2012
I will be a full-time employee for
the local
Veterans Administration Medical Center.

 I have wanted to work for them since I graduated from college,
and I finally, finally, finally
got a job there.

While I love the company I work for,
and all of our prosthetic patients,
I really feel like I can make a difference 
at the veterans hospital.

...even if all I do is help them smile.
I want to give back to those
who give so much for us.

Go enjoy your weekend!

I am celebrating by going to bed early tonight.
I'm beat!

Have a wonderful and safe labor day weekend.
Don't forget the sunscreen!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Something Yellow

 "I'm wearing something yellow 
for the way he changed cancer in this country from dread to hope. 
I'm wearing something yellow for everybody 
who got their chilling cancer diagnosis 
and said to themselves, "Lance did it. Why can't I?"
-Rick Reilly

I will admit something. I don't think I own one single thing that is yellow. I'm not a yellow dress type of gal. It totally washes me out. However, you can bet your bottom that I will head to the store tomorrow and purchase something yellow and wear it on Friday for Mr. Lance Armstrong.

Rick Reilly wrote an amazing article about Lance. It's so good that I can't even begin to explain it to you. You just need to read it.

Basically, Reilly is reissuing the fact that although Armstrong gave up his fight against the doping allegations, he is still an honorable man. He took his cancer diagnosis, tackled it, and then used his experience and social standing to open doors for others. He changed the cancer society. (And raised a hell of a lot of money.)

Let's honor Lance by doing something so easy--yet powerful--as wearing yellow just because we thank him for the hope he has inspired in us. Like Reilly said, "But wear something yellow Friday just to return the favor. Wear something yellow to tell Lance Armstrong that they might be able to ban him for life, but they can't ban him from life. Wear it to tell him to keep going, to keep fighting for cancer-research legislation, to keep showing people through his Livestrong foundation how to fight through the red tape and get to the treatment that can cure them."

By the way, Reilly also wrote, "When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first book she read was his "It's Not About the Bike." She was inspired. She lives. The man is a hope machine."

See....YOU need to enter MY giveaway! Win the book! (And wear yellow on Friday.)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sweet, Sweet Dreaming

My dream is to share my story with anyone who will listen.
My life does not need to revolve around this cancer,
I can have a normal conversation without mentioning cancer or melanoma,
but given the opportunity to spread awareness,
well, I am going to do it.

I am going to save lives.

I was contacted last week by a local news channel after the interview
I participated in was on's home page.
Due to a game of phone tag,
I just scheduled the interview tonight.

On Tuesday, September 4, 2012
at 7 pm,
folks in the New River Valley area in Virginia
will have the opportunity to hear
how I am using this blog
to raise awareness. 
Tune in to channel 10,
to see the interview.

In the meantime, check out the latest article I wrote for Everyday Health:

What was your experience like in the hospital?

I'm heading to bed early again tonight. I just can't get enough rest this week. Sweet dreams!

Oh, and if you need a giggle, this made me smile:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Get Busy

Which are you doing?

PS) Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway! It's an easy win for a GREAT book! I am so excited to share it with someone new. 

PPS) I've had a really long day that included vampires taking 10 vials of blood from me. I'm pooped! ;-) See you tomorrow!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

You're Still A Hero To Me, Lance

While many people are bashing Lance Armstrong for backing down against USADA's allegations of doping, I am standing here to defend the dude. Like the title of his inspiring book, "It's Not About the Bike," my admiration for Mr. Armstrong has nothing to do with his cycling career.

While I respect that he was so determined and successful, and although I don't believe he should lose his 7 titles, my respect for Lance is because of his personal fight against cancer. He was a 25-year-old battling a cancer his doctors secretly did not believe he could beat, to being a world class champion. Impressive. He has not been silent about his journey back to health either. He has shared his story and given incredible support to  the cancer society with his LIVESTRONG program.


Armstrong's book brought me a lot of comfort when little could comfort me. Reading about his journey, absorbing the words I needed to read, it allowed me to feel like someone understood. Someone knew what this fear was like. As a book lover, I needed to read this book.

I blogged about my love for this book in the past. Here and here. However, with Lance being in the news for something so negative, I felt like I needed to shed light on the inspiring advice his book brought me during a very dark time in my life.

Instead of rewriting what I already blogged about in the past (see links above!) I am simply going to post a few of my favorite quotes.  

Then I am going to do my first ever giveaway in hopes that Lance brings comfort to YOU.

"What are my chances? It was a question I would repeat over and over. But it was irrelevant, wasn't it? It didn't matter, because the medical odds don't take into account the unfathomable. There is no proper way to estimate somebody's chances, and we shouldn't try, because we can never be entirely right, and it deprives people of hope. Hope that is the only antidote of fear" (95).

"I wanted this picture so that when I got better, I would never forget how sick I've been," I said. "You have to fight" (150). 

"Cancer does one of two things to a relationship: it either brings you closer together, or it tears you apart" (166).

"You know, I would rather have one year of wonderful than seventy years of mediocre. That's how I feel about it. Life's an unknown. You don't know. Nobody knows" (181).

"I'll spend the rest of my life puzzling over my survival. Cancer no longer consumes my life, my thoughts, or my behavior, but the changes it wrought are in me, unalterable" (288).'s time for YOU to win your own copy of this book. Follow the directions and I'll announce the winner next Sunday! Good luck! XO!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What I Am

Happy Saturday!
If you are visiting from Eat Yourself Skinny!
I wanted to take a second to say a special hello to YOU!
I love Kelly's blog and think she's adorable.
I was honored to sponsor her this month.

If you want to learn more about my story, you could start at the beginning,
or you could read some of my more popular posts:

Don't forget to stop by and say hi!

Have a great weekend.
I'm taking a break for the day.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

My 2 Cents: Changing the Debate

If you logged into MSN.Com this morning, you may have noticed their headlines included an article on how the tanning industry is beginning to fight back against those who are warning about the dangers of the coffin-like beds. Someone is feeling the heat, me thinks.

I started reading this article after one of my melanoma friends linked it to her Facebook. All of a sudden I saw my picture. It was only 6:30, I had not finished my 1st cup of coffee, and I was caught off guard. First thought, THAT'S MY FACE! Then, I guess the interview I did with Ms. Bridget in California was published?!

While I think you should read the article for yourself, I will touch on a few items Bridget discussed, and I will reply to a couple of comments left on the article by folks around the world. *For real, some people who submit these comments have far too much time on their hands.*

Warning: This is long but I have a lot to say.

First of all, just because I used a tanning bed does not mean that I am uneducated and lacking in the health insurance department. I am one of the lucky ones who has GREAT coverage, I work my booty off to pay my medical bills, and I have a college degree I earned. (Screw you, rude man.) I made the decision to tan while in my teens because I wanted to look beautiful. Yes, vanity is a horrible thing. I'm paying the price AND I am accepting the responsibility that goes along with it. I made the decision to tan. I was a minor, it wasn't my brightest decision, and I would never would have stepped foot in a tanning salon had the government regulated my time at the tanning salon in a way like they controlled my inability to buy alcohol or cigarettes. Remember, I began tanning at 14. I quit at 21.

Secondly, moderation is key? Seriously? I was never obsessive about tanning--whether from the sun or a tanning salon. I only did it during the summer (at the beach, at the pool) or before major events like prom and before vacations. (Hello, I needed a base tan!) So this comment irked me. "...tanning or spending time in the sun isn't likely to hurt you or have any lasting effects, your body can easily take it and repair itself. And a nice tan looks good and can actually be good for you, again in moderation. Now it does very from person to person so you as an individual need to do your homework and know when to stop." My body attempted to fix itself by catching the melanoma in multiple lymph nodes RIGHT BEFORE IT SPREAD TO MY ORGANS. (Thanks, lymph nodes! I greatly appreciate you!)  Know when to stop? Why bother starting?

There is no such thing as a healthy tan as one reader pointed out: "I used to tan every summer, in the natural sun, and unintentionally. Now my dermatologist gets to make his Mercedes payments with my office visits. It is almost guaranteed that each time I go there, he finds something new to be frozen or cut off, and about 25 percent of the time, I get a nice Mohs procedure. Tanning is the skin's way of saying "Stop damaging me, please!".

Or what about this comment regarding the need for moderation: "Moderation folks...... moderation! You shouldn't spend hours on end out in the sun without sun screen, just as you shouldn't spend an hour or so a week in the tanning salon. Enjoy the sun in the summer, and enjoy a few trips to the tanning salon in the winter. Take some f-ing responsibility for yourselves." I am taking f-ing responsibility for myself, dear. That's why I'm warning others about those damn death beds!

Although the tanning industry is obviously feeling some heat, Bridget writes, "Despite the bad press, the indoor tanning industry is holding steady. It showed slow but continued growth over the last three years, and revenues are expected to edge up to $5 billion by 2017, according to IBISWorld." This depresses me.  Hey, WHITE WOMEN, ages 18-21, we need to talk about this.

Let's discuss those comments criticizing me for allowing my doctor to perform 3 month CT scans of my organs, please. The little radiation from those scans which keep us positive that I'm healthy is so worth it. In regards to me blindly trusting my doctor, you obviously don't know me. I'm a control freak. I don't blindly trust anyone. (For the record, Dr. Mark Dickson at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center freakin' rocks. My own Mr. Wizard.)

On the government not needing to get involved: The government told me I could not smoke before I was 18 due to the risks of cancer. The government told me I couldn't drink until I was 21 due to numerous (valid) reasons. Adults, you have the right to make your own decisions. Your children do not. They are CHILDREN. They can't vote. They can't smoke. They can't drink. Why can they tan?

My favorite comments regarding this issue:

--"I do think tanning should come with some type of a 'warning label'. Beyond that, if an adult wants to do it, so be it." Key word: ADULTS.

--"Exposing yourself in a tanning bed for 10 minutes versus being outdoors for 10 minutes is very different. You are exposed to up to 8 times as much UV-A radiation in the beds, that's how people can get a tan in 10 minutes a couple times a week. I have NO issue with outlawing this to people under 18, as cigarettes and alcohol are. Teenage girls are some of the stupidest people on the planet!" Well, that's a bit harsh, but I know I made some POOR decisions while in my teens! It's all a part of growing up. 

--"That's the whole point of this. You can choose to tan, or smoke, or drink, but should have the ability to know what the consequences are. No one is going to take away your freedom of choice."

--"You can say people have the information if they choose to look for it but that is where you are wrong. Young impressionable people are given the idea that tanning is safe and healthy. That is a bold faced lie, especially from the tanning industry." 

--"Everyone knows what the risks are, I don't even know an under 18 year old that does not know the risk. However at 18 yrs or older it is a personal choice and honestly if done in moderation and it is done carefully I don't see the issue." That's a pretty bold statement. My bold statement in return is this: A LOT of people don't know what melanoma is, let alone how serious it is.
In a more positive comment, I love that Meghan Rothschild was also included in this article as she is a huge inspiration to me. The girl works hard to spread melanoma awareness! I completely agree with her, tanning beds are the cigarettes of our generation. Scary.

Not all of the comments under the article were negative. There was comment posted by Miss Becca that really stood out to me:

"All we want is for people to realize how nasty this cancer is, and that tanning beds are one of the big causes of it. Just because you want to be tan for prom or a dance, is it worth discovering you're dying when you're in college? Want to be tan for your wedding? Is it worth it when you're 30, and you have to tell your toddler that mommy has cancer? Is it worth watching the agony on the faces of your family as they watch you suffer through chemotherapy, surgeries, and the loss of hope?
Learn to love your skin color. Pale is beautiful..."

"If you refuse to listen to reason, then I guess we'll see you in the chemo suite."

I think that's a good line to end on, don't you?

*A big thank you to Bridget for writing this article AND for including me. You're a sweetheart!
 *A huge thank you to my friends who alerted me that this article was moved to MSN's homepage,
and a VERY BIG thank you to my friend Rayna for sharing it with all of the local news channels and newspaper. You were my agent today, girlfriend. Thanks! :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Wow, apparently we all needed a little pep talk about our scars, huh? I know I need one from time to time! Thank you for the sweet comments, messages, and emails. For those of you who are still working on accepting your scars, I understand.

Today I posted a question on my Facebook page. I'm curious to hear your responses before I blog about it in detail:

Spray Tans: Yes or No?

A blog post sharing your answers and my opinion will be published soon!

For now, I'm going to go catch up on some sleep! It being the little man's 1st week of school, I'm exhausted! If you want to catch up with my life outside of melanoma, I've started posting more on my Lifestyle blog that you can find here:

Until the next time...XO!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Scar Does Not Form on the Dying

Well, we made it through Monday! I always consider that to be a huge success. I don't know about y'all, but I always feel so exhausted when 5 pm rolls around on Monday's. It just seems like such a long day answering the phones, dealing with grumpy patients, and sleepy co-workers. Ah...

By the way--Have you decided to "follow" me yet? Click the "Join This Site" button on the right.
Or Find me on Facebook.Here
 I even (sometimes) post on Twitter: @Melanoma_Diva

Since my bed is calling my name, I wanted to post one quick question.

First, we all know how damaging melanoma can be. Let's put health reasons aside, melanoma causes us to look at our bodies in another way. While I eventually learned to accept my scars, I did struggle and give in to the urge to wear scarves and hide behind my hair after my surgeries. Even now, I cringe inside when people ask about "the sunken hole" in my neck.

You can really see the indentation in the left side of this picture.

I wrote an article for Everday Health about being The Girl in the Mirror. I said, "Dealing with body image issues after cancer is a common battle for patients. I felt like I needed to hide behind a scarf following my neck surgeries. I did not want strangers to see me as the sick girl. I wanted to keep my cancer completely hidden. I still remember the first night I went out with my girlfriends without said scarf. It was a Saturday night, and we were leaving the boyfriends at home. I pulled my hair up in a fashionable updo, looked at myself in the mirror, choked back a sob, and said, "Let them talk!" I had so much fun that night, and you know what? Not a single person questioned me about my neck."

It was one of those moments I don't think I will forget.

Do you struggle to accept your scars? Or have you finally realized that scars are wonderful things, memories to be proud of, proof that you really are a cancer ass kicker?

"On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. 
I was thinking, 
Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? 
I thought that would be pretty too, 
and I ask you right here please to agree with me 
that a scar is never ugly. 
That is what the scar makers want us to think. 
But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. 
We must see all scars as beauty. 
Okay? This will be our secret. 
Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying.
 A scar means, I survived."
 -from Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Finding THE Dress

I am still pretty darn giddy about the invite I accepted Friday afternoon. I mean, I'm probably driving my friends and my family crazy. But how often does a small town girl get invited to participate in an event at The Plaza? Exactly.

I think I found the perfect dress tonight. It's a great color. It's the perfect length. It covers my shoulders. It ties around my waist. It's just...


I guess I can't trust the 3-year-old me for fashion decisions.

Check out my walk down memory lane:

 (Oh, and don't forget to become a follower of my blogs!)

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Unexpected Invite

Have you ever opened an unsuspecting email only to get to the final paragraph, begin to squeal, and have your boyfriend look at you like you've lost your mind until you run over to him, force him to read the email, and then jump around the living room together? (OK, maybe I was the only one jumping. Sorry neighbors!)

That happened to me yesterday. See below.

"Separately, I wanted to discuss The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Annual Gala with you. It’s an annual event where Skin Sense Awards are given in recognition of exceptional achievement in skin health, including public education about sun protection and skin cancer prevention. This year’s event takes place Oct. 9 at the landmark Plaza Hotel in NYC. It features a cocktail reception followed by a program and seated dinner. Our honorees this year are Genentech and The PGA Tour, and we expect to announce a third (beauty-related) honoree shortly. Past honorees include Sephora, Maybelline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, StriVectin, the list goes on. Here is more info on the event from our website – You should get a great feel for last year’s gala because there are a lot of pictures.
It’s a fabulous night featuring 400+ major players in the medical, beauty, retail and pharmaceutical industries. We also attract a nice guest list of celebs – last year’s gala was hosted by Katie Couric, for example, and celeb guests and performers from past years include Emmy Rossum, Sam Champion, Bernadette Peters, Meredith Vieira, Christie Brinkley and Julia Stiles.
A portion of this year’s program will cover young women and melanoma – and to that end, it would be our pleasure to invite you to attend the event. We’d additionally like to invite you to have a speaking role during the program. You have been such a tremendous help to our organization, and we would love to have you on board for this special event. If this interests you, I’m happy to go into more detail about what your participation would entail. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and hope to hear from you soon." 

Yes, I had to keep re-reading it.

I love my celebrity gossip, I know how major this event is especially for a little gal from Virginia who just wants to share awareness. I mean, look at the pictures from the past events!

"This is big stuff, kid." ~Mom

I am unbelievably honored that The Skin Cancer Foundation has extended this invite to me. I have truly enjoyed every moment working with them and their team. I honestly will never be able to repay them for allowing me to share my story.

Now---what in the heck am I going to wear...TO THE PLAZA?!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Always, Sometimes, Never

As the author of this little blog I get to publish what I want to share with you guys. While my passion is talking all things melanoma, I thought I'd let you into my life a little bit tonight with a fun new link-up with some other awesome ladies. Remember that drinking game "Never Have I Ever?" Seriously, if you have not played it, Google it now, grab your sorority sisters, and prepare yourself for an awesome (and super tipsy) night with the gals! This game is similar to that; however, it's a Thursday, and I have that (often dramatic) desk job to attend tomorrow, so you get the behaved version tonight.

Oh. If you wish to read about my Ah-HA moment I had today, click here.


Always, Sometimes, Never

I always bring my sister with me if I'm looking to have a fun time.
I sometimes crave Waffle House on nights like the one above.
I never make this face without the assistance of adult juice boxes.

I always miss the friends I made in Richmond.
I sometimes wonder how that year after college
was crazier than the 4 years in college.
Although fun, I never want to repeat that year again.

I always have that to say to Melanoma.
(Please excuse my tan. This was in St. John, USVI. Pre-Melanoma.)
I sometimes judge fake & bakers more than I should.
(Don't you girls watch the news?!)
I never know where this adventure with melanoma
is going to take me,
but I'm here & I'm ready!

The Daily Tay

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Choose not to be a lady."

"Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women."
                                                              ~Nora Ephron

I finished reading Nora Ephron's "I Remember Nothing" memoir tonight. I randomly picked up this gem on a Friday date night trip to Barnes and Noble. This lady was brilliant. Not only did she direct and write some of my all-time favorite movies--Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, and You've Got Mail-- she seems to have been a wonderful and feisty gal. Not gonna lie, now that I read her last book, she's totally one of my "Dead or Alive: Who Would You Like To Meet?" choices. (I'm also currently downloading 2 of her other books on my iPad as I type this.)

Why am I talking about Nora Ephron on a melanoma blog? Easy, this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. Teasing!! The quote hit home for me. I read this quote while doing some background on Mrs. Ephron after I finished the book. I needed to know more about her. I wanted to know what she was thanking her doctors for in the end of the book. She hints throughout the book that there is something not quite right with her health; however, she never gives you enough to know what it is that's wrong. Turns out, Mrs. Nora was a cancer warrior too.  (read a great article here about her memorial.)

Back to the quote. I could be quiet about my (very intense) hatred of tanning beds. I could keep my medical crap private. I probably should keep 90% of what I post on this blog private. But you know what? People would not learn, this would just be another blog warning people about the dangers of skin cancer. My goal is higher than that. I need people to see what it is like LIVING WITH MELANOMA. It's not something that just goes away. That fear doesn't just disappear. That lifestyle change lasts forever. (Or it should. If you keep tanning after a melanoma diagnosis, I judge you.)

Maybe this blog offends some people. Some may think it is for my benefit only. (And they wouldn't be entirely wrong. It is the best type of therapy for me!) Others may think it's an attention seeker. Whatever. 

It's mine and I love it.


I'm not always being a lady. (I mean, have you seen these pictures?)
I'm telling it like it is and pissing people off. (Like here.)
I am making some trouble for other young girls 
simply because I don't want to see them in the chemo suite. 

Tonight I thank Nora Ephron for motivating me
not to be a (silent) lady. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

15 With a Tanning Membership? Not in New York.

As of tomorrow--August 15, 2012--
teenagers 16 and under in New York
will be no longer be allowed
 to use commercial tanning salons.

Although I wish the ban was for 18 and under, I am happy that New York is taking action. I was 14 when I first started tanning before prom. This would have stopped me. Lives are being saved, friends.

In other news, Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s editor from 1965 until 1997, passed away at age 90. She sounds like she was quite the lady! I absolutely love Cosmo for their Practice Safe Sun Campaign. You should buy one of their bracelets! It goes towards the Melanoma Research Foundation. Rest now, Ms. Brown. (PS--Ms. Brown apparently had an office with pink silk walls...Not gonna lie, I totally want to see it.)

Annnnnd in other news--I feel like crap and I meant to go to bed an hour ago. Crap.

I hope everyone had a wonderful (and sunburn free Tuesday!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 Days of Rest

Apparently my local oncologist thinks it is possible for me to let my body rest for 10 days. While I will obey and not (attempt to) go for a run, I can't stay away from my weekly yoga session. I mean, it's already paid for...So, we are compromising. I'm taking today off from work.

So, what happened at the appointment?

Well, after becoming a little turned around, I finally checked in for my appointment, grabbed a seat, and started reading the book I'm currently obsessed with "Signs of Life." I guess I was pretty into it because I jumped when a man, standing directly in front of me, said, "Hi!!" I looked up, shocked to see it was my oncologist, Dr. Bad Mustache. First of all, doctors look so different when they aren't in their white coats! Secondly, his mustache isn't really that scary anymore so I should probably come up with another name for him. Anyway, he says, "I saw you sitting over here so I wanted to come say hello. I'll see you in a few minutes."

How Nice. A lot of doctors would have walked on by and not have spoken to their patients outside of the exam room. (Or maybe that's just my experience?) Plus, it's not like I see him very often, only when there's an issue that needs to be addressed in the time between my visits to NYC, so I'm shocked he could recognize me. How nice. (He won back all of the points he lost at my very 1st appointment with him in January 2011.)

Back to the exam. He agrees with the doctor I saw on Friday. I have an infection in my ear. In regards to the neck/throat pain, well, that's complicated. The pain could be associated to the infection in my ear. Since I have NO lymph nodes in that area, there is blockage that prevents the lymphatic system from working correctly. Basically since my neck is 50 shades (HA!) of messed-up, I am going to feel more pain from a sore throat, ear infection, etc, than other people without damage. "Damage disturbs the flow." 

He also said that Yervoy tends to cause inflammation and this could be a side effect from the latest treatment.

He reassured me that everything feels symmetrical which is always pleasant to hear. For some reason, MSK did not send my latest CT scan results to him so he's going to get those, double check the results, and let me know if he thinks we need to do something else. He did say that if--after these 10 days of rest--the area is still painful, we will begin discussing the need for a PET scan.

Now, I must follow doctor's orders, take my medicine, grab the heating pad, and take a long nap.

(Oh, and I must not feel guilty for not going to the gym for 10 days. After all, I'm only following orders.)

Sweet dreams! ;-)

One other thing.

I owe you all a big thank you for your continued support, for your desire to keep up with me and all things melanoma, and for your loyal reading. Thank you.

I never expected for this little online diary to have such faithful readers. Thank YOU.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Funday

It's a gorgeous Sunday morning here in Roanoke, Virginia. I mean, it really is stunning. The temperature is in the mid 70's, not an ounce of humidity, and a light breeze. Ah, wonderful. I am nursing an ear ache (doctor thinks it's swimmer's ear which is a bit odd because I haven't been swimming) but he's sending me back to follow-up with my local oncologist on Monday due to some issues in my neck. Fun times, yes?

Despite the aching in my ear--and the urge to just rip it off--I am having a lovely and relaxing weekend.

PJ's, messy hair, balcony weather, and catching up on blogs!

Yesterday I spent a lot of time browsing other blogs--see my post about it here--trying to find a way to gain attention to this blog. Recently, my pal Al blogged about a conversation he had with his father. Since Al's brother died from melanoma, Al has put a lot of time and effort into raising melanoma awareness. Not only does he have one of the best blogs, he submits ideas and articles to local news channels and newspapers, AND he also sells these awesome coffee cups! (There are other items listed on his site too.)

OK, back to the conversation Al had with his dad. Al printed off some of his blog posts for his father to read, and while he agrees with us that Al's posts are wonderful, he said, "But it seems like you're preaching to the choir."  (Read full blog here.)

Al's father is right. While we have attracted the attention of many folks involved with Hotel Melanoma, we need to branch out and make contact with people before they become melanoma patients. This is my latest goal.

So, yesterday thanks to the ear ache, I spent a lot of time on the computer. And what do you know, I stumbled across this awesome blog called Back East Blonde. I liked Nadine's blog from the minute I clicked on it, but I became a follower once I read this post titled: "Regrets: The Crispy Years." She talks about how she doesn't have a lot of regrets, but she truly regrets the time and money she spent on something so dangerous as tanning. She writes, "Overall, it makes me sad that I did this for so many years. And the consequences are something that I'll have to live with." She even posts the statistic that says tanning bed usage increases the chance of melanoma by 75%. Yes, I like this girl.

It was a nice surprise to see a normal blog discussing the risks of tanning. Of course, the next blog I stumbled to was doing a giveaway of a tanning membership & lotion (although she brags about how healthy she is....) so we still have a ways to go; however, people are starting to pay attention.

Plus, I really do believe--now--that we all look so much more attractive in our natural skin tones.

As Lauren Conrad said, "Tanning is so old school."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

That Ain't No Beauty Mark

Warning: Graphic picture directly following....


You know what's scary? My melanoma did not look like this.

You can ask Mr. Spots. The mole that turned out to be melanoma was just a mole I had on my left shoulder for as long as I can remember. It was a pretty mole, dark black, alone, just hanging out on my shoulder. I used to joke that it was my beauty mark because it looked "pretty" when I wore strapless dresses, etc. It was just part of me....
OK, I have no pictures of the mole in all of its glory...
I'm singing to you!

Turns out, that little beauty mark was attacking my body!

All of a sudden--after 23 years--the mole changed. It started to itch while I was washing dishes (my least favorite chore---well, one of them). I felt something kind of odd, so I walked over to Mr. Spots and had him take a look. My mole had a scab on it and it was leaking a clear fluid. Uh, I'm no genius, but I knew that was not normal. By the time I went in for my very first visit with a dermatologist, the mole had healed and returned to normal. I almost cancelled that appointment.

(Thanks, boyfriend, for encouraging me to go. You pretty much saved my life. For real, for real.)

The point of this story--and the ridiculous pictures--is that you can never be too sure. If a mole changes or suddenly appears, get it checked. Look for the warning signs.  1 in 5 people will get skin cancer in their lifetime. Check out the ABCDE's of Melanoma. Grab your partner and examine each other. Use a mirror. Whatever floats your boat. Just do it.

 Early. Detection. Is. Key.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Message From America's Beauties

Jennifer Garner, Miranda Cosgrove, and Gabrielle Union have a little message to share with you...

Please watch these lovely ladies quickly explain why sun protection is especially needed. Oh, and don't forget to share.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dreaded Statistics

I think all cancer patients (and their families) have a mutual hate of statistics. We don't like to read them, we don't like to talk about them, and we sure don't like to hear them from our doctors. My wonderful Wizard and the great Dr. Glinda (AKA my oncologist and surgical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) do not speak of statistics. They stays clear of those numbers. Like they say, it's just numbers of groups of many different types of people. It's not 1000 Chelsea's.

I'm currently reading the memoir "Signs of Life" by Natalie Taylor. Natalie, a married & pregnant 24 year old high school teacher, loses her husband in a freak accident. Towards the middle of the book, Natalie discusses statistics with her high school students. In her case, she's talking about how--statistically-- low income students with a single parent- have less of a chance of being high achievers. Natalie, a newly single mom, says, "And to be honest with you, I don't really care what the statistics say. I know that statistically things are not exactly in our favor (82).

Ah, I can relate to this. Things not being in our favor? Sounds familiar. And I get it. Statistically, things don't look great for advanced melanoma patients. However, it's not just the patients who need to be nervous. It's everyone! We need to start treating our skin like we do our other organs. Skin cancer--and especially melanoma--is on the rise! The Skin Cancer Foundation says that 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. 1 in 5 people, y'all. 


When the numbers become too scary--and they do--I remind myself that I am not a statistic. Like Natalie Taylor, in her memoir "Signs of Life", I also believe "that statistics are just that--statistics. Numbers that represent a study that someone performed on a group of people. But they certainly are not my destiny, nor are they yours" (83).

Amen, girlfriend, Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just Sayin'

A Picture Speaks 1,000 Words...

Also, I encourage you to check out this post.
I totally agree with the author Brian Secremsky, M.D., "Only a collective front of preventive medicine, cultural support, and increased governmental intervention will put a definite stop to this high-risk practice"

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Life at 25

I recently came across an article written by Emma Gray, called "25 Things I Know Now That I'm 25." I had to share it with you. Like I have mentioned before, had you asked me at 18 where I would be at 25, well, it definitely would not be here! Cancer definitely would not have been a topic I even thought of! Oh well. Melanoma--despite it's scariness and the toll it has taken--has brought many blessings and made me grow up in ways I would not have for many, many years.

Let me share a few favorites from Emma's list.

"You're "not a girl, not yet a woman" -- and that's fabulous."
     It's true. I pay the bills, I work extremely hard at my job, I clean, Mr. Spots cooks, I even kick some melanoma ass, but I still feel like a little kid playing house. However,  I'm fully enjoying life before babies when I really am forced to be a mature adult. 

"Just say no" applies to more than the drugs you might be offered in an after-school special.
   Emma says, "If you're really exhausted or just craving some alone time, it's alright to turn down the occasional party invite or after-work drink. " Yes, sometimes I actually don't feel like going out with my friends. I crave my pajamas, a good book, and a long soak in the tub.   

"It's equally important to say yes against your better judgment once in awhile." 
   I never planned on finding the love of my life while participating in my best friend's wedding. I definitely didn't plan on driving 3 hours just to hang out with him a week later. At the time, I thought it was silly. It ended up being one of my better decisions.

"Book clubs aren't just for old ladies or pretentious NYTimes profiles."
   I really want to join a book club! Book ladies, FIND ME!  It's the number 1 reason I miss college. (Well, besides the extra sleep I got!)

"You don't have to be friends with everybody. " 
    This one is hard for me. Emma reminds us, "Also, accept that not all of your friendships from high school and college are meant to stay as strong as they once were. Save your energy for the real thing. Those friendships are hard to come by and worth investing in." I have learned this the hard way in the past year. Not gonna lie, breaking up with a friend--especially finding out that she got married via Facebook--is just as hard as losing a guy you love. 

"You can stop judging yourself."
   "Your body, your job and your love life might not be "perfect" -- in fact, it's a guarantee that they're not. But at a certain point you just have to realize that no one gives a sh*t nearly as much as you do about your "flaws." So take Nora Ephron's advice: put on that bikini and rock it the whole decade long. You'll thank yourself later." Exactly, Emma, exactly.

"Health concerns are real -- so address them now." 
   Have YOU  gone to get that funky mole checked yet?

"Your parents are pretty cool." 
   Love my family! 

"Watching your friends get married is fun, even if you're single. At 25, if your social circle is at all similar to mine, you're right in the middle of the first wave of friend marriages. Embrace the open bar, open dance floor and newly-married couple at every wedding you go to. Don't worry about the fact that it's not your wedding -- after all, you're only 25." A wedding that I attended as a single girl is where I met Mr. Spots! 

And my favorite..."It's all right to change your mind about big things. This includes your job, your city and your life partner. Now's the time. Your life doesn't have to look the way you imagined it would at 18. It turns out, things rarely work out exactly the way you once thought you wanted them to anyway -- and that's usually a very good thing." 

I agree with Ms. Emma. Things rarely work out how you picture them--and it turns out that usually it is a really, really good thing. 

Check out Emma's full article here: 

Oh, I also decided to start writing again for my personal blog. You know, in case you want to hear me talk about something besides melanoma:

Friday, August 3, 2012

In Headlines Yesterday...

I know, I know. You all thought I was going to discuss  the Olympics or the Chick-Fila drama, right?

Silly, friends! There is more important news to share! (For the record, GO USA!)

Tan Mom has stopped tanning as much.

May 2012

Apparently inTouch magazine dared Tan Mom to stay away from tanning for an entire month and she actually agreed to participate! See how much better she looks!

While a lot of us would argue that this all seems like a big publicity act, I think I speak for all melanoma warriors when I say that I am thankful for Mrs.  Patricia Krentcil. Her atrocious tan brought skin cancer back into the headlines in a huge way! (I mean, would I have ended up on Headline News and Dr. Drew otherwise? Uh, no!)

I sincerely hope--for Patricia's sake--that she sticks with the more natural look.

(It's a lot less scary looking, yes?)