Monday, March 4, 2013

The Negative Committee


We all have them, The Negative Committees, that sometimes take up more time than they are typically allowed. Usually my Negative Committee only pops up right around scan time. I acknowledge it and I move on. I am normally good at pushing aside the worries and getting back to my MelaNormal life. I feel like living my life is one of the best ways to get revenge on melanoma. It's my way of telling melanoma it isn't winning. Lately, it's been hard to keep the anxiety away. I'm fine as long as I'm busy, but it's at night when I'm sending my good juju towards my friends that The Negative Committee begins to show her ugly face.

I know why. 

When I was first diagnosed with stage III malignant melanoma, it was a complete surprise. I was not expecting one little mole to turn my entire life upside down. Even after the first surgery I didn't know what I had ahead of me. Through my research and meeting friends online I quickly realized that melanoma is not going to be something I heal from and forget. It's always going to be there. There's always going to be the need for observation. I will forever be a cancer patient. That took a long time for me to grasp. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still don't think I totally grasp it. Thankfully I get to live my life in a way that doesn't force melanoma to be on the front burner anymore. I get to be a healthy daughter, a silly girlfriend, a crazy live-in-girlfriend-not-yet-stepmom to the kiddo, a loving sister (HA! I try, sissy & baby sis!), etc. I am one of the lucky ones.

So, why is the Negative Committee back in session? I am far better off than others! I've hesitated blogging about this, so try to understand...The Negative Committee has been on overtime in my head lately because  seeing my friends advance to stage IV has been very difficult. I'm scared for these people. I ache for their families. And then, late at night, I see myself in their shoes.

People sometimes question why stage III patients receive CT scans so often. This year I saw how important those scans actually are for us. I witnessed how quickly one can go from No Evidence of Disease to stage IV.  Perfect scans, clear for 2 1/2 months, then boom, melanoma in multiple locations. It happens so quickly.

It terrifies me.

I'm not uneducated anymore. I can't hide behind my "it's just skin cancer, it's OK" attitude. I know what it can do and how quickly it can do it.

Some would tell me that one way to avoid this added anxiety would be to take a step back from all things melanoma, to put melanoma behind me. Well, that's what people don't realize. These people are my friends. Selfishly, their situations terrify me. More importantly, their situations break my hearts because of the ways it changes their lives! These aren't statistics I'm reading about, these are my friends. I cheer for them, I cry for them. I'm going to celebrate with them when they receive the news that they are once again showing no evidence of disease. (And it will happen, girls.) It's that simple.

The Negative Committee has officially outstayed her welcome. Maybe I do need to stop being afraid to dream of No Evidence of Disease

...for all of us.


RBS said...

Boy howdy Chelsea this one is right in front of me while I wait to see if I get into this clinical trial and let myself wonder what if I don't ? And then I see all the much younger mel warriors and kids and pick myself up and take another step and work on today.

Titus 2 Thandi said...

AMEN! It can happen, ladies..We will hope for it.

SPMC said...

Hi Chelsea, a friend of mine (we live in Ontario, Canada) mentioned something to me last night that made me think of your blog. Today our Minister of Health (provincial not national) will be tabling legislation to ban teenage tanning. I've been reading you for a number of months and I'm really glad people like you are speaking out ALL over North America about your experience with melanoma due to ann ing beds.

Cheers, Susan M.

Martha Hokenson said...

You're very inspiring :) keep it up! I totally needed a reminder to tell the "negative committee" in my head to shut up today.

TTjeanious said...

Wow, I already commented on your more recent post before finding this one. You are so inspiring!! Thank you for sharing. I completely agree with you. :) I moved states since my last diagnosis, and while I have a great support system down here, they were not there to see how awful my first battle with it was, and I feel myself being defensive over the "oh, just skin cancer" comments/looks I get. Some even seem to sigh with relief when I explain that it is skin cancer...they just have no idea. Again, thank you so much for sharing, it helps to hear from someone else so similar in outlook to myself! TT

Skin Cancer Treatment said...

you are really inspiring.