Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I had a moment this morning. You know, one of those moments that you're almost embarrassed to tell anyone about because it's so out of character for you. One of those moments where you say to yourself, "OK. Get it together, girl!" Yeah, I had one today.

 I was driving out of my neighborhood this morning when I had to stop for a school bus. I sat there and watched a family prepare to send their baby girl to school. It was obviously her first day of kindergarten. She had her big book bag, both parents, and her baby sister cheering her on. The parents put her on the bus, the school bus driver sat there while they waved to each other, then the doors closed and baby girl was off for her first day of school. The parents continued to wave for a few seconds, and before I could even drive away, both parents started crying. Both of them, in the middle of their yard, sobbing. Naturally, I started crying too. It was like watching a damn Hallmark commercial. (Seriously wish I had recorded it for the family. It was special.)

Ah, special moments...

...Moments I want to have one day.

Thinking back on this special moment  made me remember I haven't shared my special moment with you! My bridal shower last weekend!

 My mom came in on Friday night as a complete surprise to me
as I thought she had to work!
I should have known,
mom doesn't miss milestones!

 My awesome cupcake dress cake!
(Thanks, baby sister!!)

With the amazing hosts:
 my baby sister Cara,
and the gal who introduced me to my future husband!
They threw a great--totally me--shower!

Apparently there is an old wives tale that says the amount of bows
you break indicates how many children you will have.
The one bow I broke--even though I tried not to--
was on the present my future husband wrapped!
How appropriate.
And hilarious.

I can't wait to use these October 18th!

It was such a special weekend. My mom was in town, my mom's best friend from Canada drove in for the shower, Mr. Spots' family joined us, and a few women who are special to me joined us for a great shower. It was personal, relaxed, and sweet. Absolutely perfect.

It was a day I once wondered if I would get.

When the reality of cancer started sinking after they diagnosed me with stage 3 malignant melanoma, everything I may not get to do ran through my head. Days when my anxiety levels are high--cough SCAN DAYS--cough--It still runs through my head. Would I get to marry my guy? Would I be a Momma? Would I get to grow old? 

To be able to marry my guy on October 18th really will be a blessing for so many reasons.

Non-existent bucket list item, Marry the love of my life, will be complete.

...and I can't wait.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Silent Agreement

If you were able to recover from the disaster that was Miley Cyrus, maybe you noticed that the celebrities embraced their natural skin tones at the VMA's last night! The gals--and guys--looked stunning and a whole lot less orange than usual! It's like they all made a secret agreement to ditch the over spray tan look! I like!

I thought I would share a few of my favorite looks from last nights award show:

Even Snooki looked a little less tan:
...I did said a little less tan.
It was nice to see a little less orange on the red carpet! 

Have a great week, friends. I'm rushing through a busy work week before heading to NYC next week! It's that time again: one more set of scans & treatment between me and our wedding! Fingers crossed. Always.

Have a great week, y'all! XO

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Rules Do Apply

My co-worker was reading the local newspaper this afternoon during her lunch break when she came across this heartbreaking letter to a local doctor. Apparently the young lady mentioned in the article had a biopsy of a mole years ago, continued to tan despite knowing the risks, and died at age 33 of melanoma. 


The letter left me feeling a lot of emotions: sadness over this loss of life, frustration that this may have been prevented had she learned with the early biopsy, and anger that there is so much more that we need to do to make people aware that melanoma is not just skin cancer.

I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who had to have a biopsy, everything came back fine, and I was able to continue on with my life as before. Would I have embraced the pale skin? Would I have refused to step foot in the tanning bed again? Would I consider buying stock in sunscreen since I buy so much of it? Of course I don't know the answer to that. I would like to believe I would have had the shit scared out of me by the experience and by my doctor so I would have made the necessary changes, but who really knows the answer? Considering how uneducated I was on the seriousness of melanoma, maybe I would have been just like this girl. Maybe, I, too, would have believed the rules did not apply to me.

Dr. Camardi responded to the letter perfectly. He expressed his sympathy, yet he used this opportunity to educate our little town on the seriousness of melanoma. Dr. Camardi fully explained the ABCDE's of melanoma, and states: "The challenege in all of this is to 'get it right' and biopsy only the cancer. Frankly, that's impossible. I'd rather do 10 normal biopsies to find one melanoma and treat it at its earliest stage."

Yes, Dr. Camardi, I agree! As a patient, I would rather have 10 brand new scars if that means we catch the one melanoma in the earliest possible stage. Don't get me wrong, I don't like scars--didn't even have any before all of this melanoma craziness began--but scars beat cancer any day! 

While it is important to biopsy any suspicious mole, we have to agree with Dr. Camardi, prevention is the best medicine. Lather up the sunscreen, seek shade between the hours of 10 and 4, and throw on a fancy hat and some big shades! No one is saying you have to avoid the sunshine. We just suggest that you safely enjoy it!

This young lady, this free spirit who loved people and loved life, was obviously loved by the author of this letter. While it hearts to think of another life taken from this cruel disease, it breaks my heart for the author who is so right when he/she wrote: "She just did not have to die so young."


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Is My Cancer Different?"

When you hear that someone has been diagnosed with the big C what is the first question that pops in your head? For me, I want to know what type of cancer. I know when it boils down to it "cancer is cancer," and no matter what type of cancer a person has, it's horrible. However, the statement "cancer is cancer" really isn't that true.

Let me backtrack.

There is a new movement that forces us to ask ourselves, "Is My Cancer Different?" Maybe I would have answered differently had I not been diagnosed with melanoma already in my young age, I don't know, but now I want to scream it from the roof tops: MY cancer is different! Every cancer is different! The same cancer in different patients is different!

When people first find out about my history with melanoma they ask if I had to have chemo and radiation. I would have asked the same thing 4 years ago! However, we melanoma patients have had that frustrating conversation. You know the one, that heartbreaking conversation with the oncologist where he informs us that melanoma doesn't respond to the typical chemo cocktail.

I remember calling my Gran after that first meeting in New York, crying in the bathroom floor, because the doctor basically said the options are limited when it comes to stage 3 melanoma. They just can't treat our cancer like they do other cancers. It doesn't work!

This is why it is so important to be followed by a melanoma specialist. On their website Is My Cancer Different? discusses how patients with the same cancer are still totally different: (View their 2.23 minute video here!) I think many of you have already seen that in our melanoma community. Some of us have been a part of the same clinical trial and had very different reactions! We can't give up though just because one treatment works for one person and not for us. We move on to the next thing that may help!

I encourage you to take a few minutes and view their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

...And don't forget to ask yourself the question: "Is My Cancer Different?"

You know it is! Treat it like it is!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lights of Hope

Imagine seeing approximately 10,000 luminaries honoring people who have been touched by cancer.

It would be an emotional and rewarding experience, yes?

You have an opportunity to participate next month!

The 3rd annual Lights of Hope Ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol will be held on September 10th. There will be approximately 10,000 luminaries shining that night all around the reflecting pool as part of the annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. Each of the luminaries has the name of someone who has been touched by cancer written on it. I encourage you to watch the slideshow here that hits on the highlights: http://acscan.org/events/view/event/2050

If you are unable to make it to DC for this, you can still donate. For just $10.00 you can honor someone. Their bag will shine in front of the U.S. Capitol. 

I can't make it to DC this year since I'll be just coming back from my next NYC oncology visit, but I really hope some of you are able to attend. I would LOVE to see your pictures and hear about the event. I attended an American Cancer Society event after my grand father passed away from lung cancer, and I can still remember how special it was. Although I can't attend, I will be donating in honor of a few special people!

If you would like to learn more about the event: http://acscan.org/events/view/event/2050

If you would like to donate: https://secure3.convio.net/acscan/site/Donation2?df_id=6788&6788.donation=form1