Sunday, June 30, 2013

Big Changes--PLEASE READ

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

As of July 1st, Google Reader will no longer exist. This means that if you use your Google account as a way to follow my blog--or any other blogspot blog--you will need to find a new way to keep up with us!

I've recently joined Bloglovin as a way to keep up with all of my favorite blogs! I really like that it emails me once a day with a list of all of the blogs I follow that have been updated! Because of Bloglovin I am actually much better at keeping up with my favorite blogs.

I love all of my followers, and I love that you have stuck by me through the last 2 and a half years. I hope you'll continue to keep up with my adventures!

And because I promised, here are a few of our engagement pictures! It's been quite a journey for Mr. Spots and I, but I'm so glad we powered through the hard times. Someone emailed me not too long ago and asked how Mr. Spots made it through the beginning days of my melanoma. I answered honestly: We didn't. It took time, effort, and forgiveness on both of our parts before the healing process began. Cancer rocks your world, but it also rocks the world of those who love you. All I can say is, I'm thankful each and every day we found our way back to each other.

I so can't wait to be his pale bride!

Anyway, I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. Please consider following me on Bloglovin, and all of you fellow bloggers, make sure you advise your followers to follow you in a new way! Google Reader will be gone TOMORROW!

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"The Hindsight of Cancer."

"As a survivor, I owe it to humanity to share everything 
I can to take any shred of power away from cancer. 
And yes, it's taken me a little while to find my voice, 
to find my vulnerability and to squash it, 
and to be free and able and willing
 and happy to talk about my own path, 
and how many of my own missteps can and should be avoided. 
But I found that voice. 
And I haven't shut-up since.

 And as far as when is a good time to do it... 

it is entirely up to the survivor. 
A month... 
a year... 
10 years...
 it doesn't matter, 
as long as you don't forget the hindsight of cancer.
 Because there is one... 
and it's imperative that it survives, too."

Go read the entire article here:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Relationship with NED

That's right: No Evidence of Disease!

I'm pretty sure my oncologist saw the stress lifted off of my chest when he stuck his head into the exam room last Friday and told me the news, "you're fine!"

I was so nervous--maybe even more so than usual--because this trip was different than all of the others: my mom wasn't with me, I was in the big city with my sister, and I have an upcoming wedding! I admit it, I'm totally a girl who loves a routine, so with things being so out of our typical pattern, I was concerned about what kind of news I would receive. (I wasn't the only one who was nervous about the change in our usual routine--mom was back home in Virginia, and she had her bags packed just in case the news wasn't what we wanted!) I know what you're thinking, we shouldn't act like that, we need to believe everything will be OK, and this just shows that we're letting melanoma have control. Yes, I agree those behaviors do show our true fear of melanoma, but...

Wait, I won't apologize for that. Melanoma is freaking scary, of course we fear it! 

But anyway, once again, I feel very lucky to say that my scans show no evidence of disease.

*Perks of being a woman: I do have a new 5.2 cyst on my right ovary. The cyst on my left ovary is gone, so they think it's just hormonal. I'm not going to stress it as we are going to scan again in September! I do plan on passing along the info to my lady doctor though!)

We had a wonderful time in the city and I will share that with you in a few days! We arrived back home to a neighborhood that was pretty beat up by some horrible weather! I got back into town Saturday evening and we just got our power back on yesterday! Needless to say, I'm enjoying the electricity. I'm not a gal who enjoys camping, even if it is in a house!

I will update again soon--I have some pictures to share with you! ;-) Thank you for your prayers and for your comments on my last blog post. My heart was heavy when I wrote it. XO

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avoiding Cancer

 How do you explain cancer to a child?

I'll follow up that question by saying I don't think there's a correct answer.

Y'all know that I have a special little man in my life. He's now 6 and pretty much the greatest kid ever. We're lucky that we have him 50% of the time, and I feel so thankful to have been able to develop an awesome relationship with him. G was 3 when I was diagnosed with melanoma. We never told G what was going on, just that I was a little sick and the doctors had to make me better. He was around during my recoveries after both surgeries, he has inspected my battle wounds, and he still references the sunken "hole" I have in the side of my neck. During the recovery period he was told quite often to be gentle with me.

We've always gotten away with just telling G that I was a little sick, the doctors had to make me better, and that's why I have scars. He was 3 for goodness sake! It was easy! He knows the importance of sunscreen--and as his mom told me, he's quick to remind everyone else of the importance of sunscreen--and while he knows that the lack of sun protection led me to this disease, he doesn't know the disease by name. It isn't something we talk about yet. I've never--nor do I want to--tell G that I had/have cancer. Not yet.

Tonight we ran into a little situation.

Our beautiful friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As she has a husband and two young children, we wanted to do a little something that could help make things a tiny bit easier so we took dinner to them tonight. G made a card, wrote "Get well soon!" and knew to be very gentle with Mrs. Mel. We didn't think anything else about telling Gavin the reason why Mel is sick.

As we were driving down the road tonight, G says, "Why is she sick?" I start babbling about how she had a surgery that is similar to the one I had a few years ago, and G interrupts me, "I know, but what made her sick? What made her have to have surgery?"

How do you introduce Cancer to a sensitive 6 year old?

Mr. Spots and I both started babbling. I have no idea what he said, I said something like "she was a little sick so the doctors had to remove what was making her sick!" and then I changed the subject.

I know. I'm postponing it. But I know this kid.... I know he will worry about it, and I know Cancer will be mentioned until something else comes around for him to worry about. He's just like that. He has a sensitive heart and he will worry. So I avoided it. Again.

Only a few hours later, it almost came back up again.

I was tucking him into bed, giving him one last snuggle, when he said "I don't want you to leave." I said, "I know! But we are going to spend all day tomorrow and I'll be back in just a few days!" He asked me why I have to go, and then he said one little statement that hurt my heart: "We will need to be gentle with you."

I don't know if it's because of seeing Mrs. Mel tonight that reminded him of the recovery days, or if he just associates me going to NY for appointments as being something that may cause me pain, but he understands the seriousness of these trips.

I just can't introduce such a cruel disease to him just yet. He has seen enough of it without even knowing what it is. Can't I just protect him for a little longer?


On that note, I'm off to bed. It's that time again. That time being the time to fly back to New York for my next set of scans and treatment. Fingers crossed...


Friday, June 7, 2013


I am guilty of making assumptions. We all are guilty of making assumptions. Even today when we're supposed to not stereotype everyone, sometimes we do. This brings me to a study I read that discusses the attitudes folks have towards lung cancer patients compared to breast cancer patients. While I'm sure everyone feels a version of sympathy for anyone going through pain, do people discriminate towards lung cancer patients? Do we assume that because a person has lung cancer, he was a smoker?

The local cancer shop in my town.

The article on the study states, "There was significant evidence suggesting a stigma against lung cancer and a strong negative attitude about the disease. And it turns out this finding was consistent across all the different types of participants, including doctors and patients. Although we’ve known for some time that lung cancer is not always caused by smoking, there are clearly biases remaining from this association in most of us – a "mental residue" of sorts."


Have you ever asked a lung cancer patient, "Did you smoke?" I've been asked that a few times when I discuss my Grand Father dying from lung cancer. (And yes, he was a smoker.) We would never ask a breast cancer patient if she did something to her boobies to cause cancer. We would never ask a brain cancer patient what he did to his brain to get him in this situation. Yes, there are certain habits that can lead to a cancer diagnosis--hello! my tanning days!--but that's not always the case.

Take my friend Erin for example. She wasn't a sun worshiper, and I don't think she ever used a tanning bed, but here she is battling stage IV Melanoma.

It isn't always our fault.

Shit just happens sometimes.

(And seriously, I beat myself up enough about it as it is! I don't want a doctor discriminating against me because of a stupid habit I had years ago.)

Let's hope this study causes folks to take a step back and treat everyone equally. It definitely opened my eyes to my own assumptions!

Anywho, we are preparing to go to bed early on this Friday evening. Engagement pictures tomorrow! Then I have a few days of resting before I head back to NYC on Wednesday for my next set of scans and treatment. Yep, scanxiety has already hit!

Have a wonderful sun safe weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Online Friends: They're Real To Me.

I was browsing CNN today during my break at work this afternoon when the headline "When a Facebook Friend Dies" caught my attention. I thought the article was going to discuss proper etiquette for those of us who use social media. Like many of us, I struggle with knowing what to say when there are no words that can truly provide comfort. I had to read the article.

Frida Ghitis writes about online friendships and the assumption that online friends can't possibly be real friends. She says, "I have often used quotation marks in the past when referring to a Facebook "friend" with more than a touch of sarcasm. Are Facebook connections really friends?"

Yep, I've used that sarcasm before. I used to roll my eyes when people talked about meeting friends online. How could you possibly know them? How can you form such an emotional connection with someone you've never met? Then I met my Mole-Mates.

While I will never have the opportunity to meet every single friend I've made in the melanoma community, I cherish their friendship. I enjoy hearing about their celebrations, their joy, their lives. My heart aches for them when life doesn't go as they wanted. They are friends to me in ways that some of the people I see on a daily basis will never be.

Ghitis explains it well, "Online, people express themselves with a special openness. They don't have to wait their turn to speak, and the ones with small voices or introverted personalities can convey big, profound, touching emotions. Online we can develop a kind of intimacy that eluded us in the nonvirtual world. On social media, we can share -- as Jim so often did -- big and small parts of our life, without worrying that others are too busy or simply not interested in hearing it."

These friendships built online saved me from the big scary unknown, Melanoma, and I'm grateful for them every single day.

Read the article.