Thursday, July 27, 2017

You Can Only Love Them

There once was a time – not that long ago – I thought I knew it all. I was so angry, so bitter, so scared, that I critiqued what people said to me. Instead of wrapping myself in the love sent with their comments, I thought of what they should have said. Like many others, I blogged about what you should say to cancer patients, I wrote about what not to say to cancer patients. I talked about the clichés used and how one should avoid them. I was such an angry know-it-all.

My blog friend, Tim, wrote a comment in 2011 that really struck home with me today as I reread it: “Unfortunately, almost ANYTHING someone says can be a problem depending on what my state of mind happens to be at that particular time.” How true is that? Why didn’t I realize that at the time?

In the last few years, and even this week, I’ve found myself in the position of not knowing what to say. Friends have suffered tragic losses and I’m left speechless. I’m thinking of the clichés. I’m considering not saying anything at all. I’m worried that my sentiment, my love, is not what will transfer and it will all sound insincere. This is ridiculous, you guys. I just want these people to know they are loved, that in their darkest days, THEY ARE LOVED.

So, here I am, many years later, asking for your apology for being an angry-know-it-all melanoma diva.

I know you meant well.

(Well, besides that lady in the post office. I’m not over that one.)



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Life's Coincidences

When I'm not raising boys, building a business, or browsing social media like it is my job, I am a residency coordinator at a teaching hospital. I enjoy my job. It introduces me to all sorts of people, from all sorts of places. Seeing these medical students and residents learn, hearing their passion and enthusiasm, it gives me such hope for our future. These people are smart, y'all.

Recently I was making small talk with my new chief resident. Nothing out of the ordinary, small talk. I asked him about his interests, where he hopes to end up--surgical oncology--and his future plans. We're walking through a long tunnel and he says that he matched with a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and will be working with my Dr. Glinda.

Jaw dropped.

Readers from the early days know Dr. Glinda, AKA in real life as Dr. Charlotte Ariyan. I absolutely, positively adore her. Dr. Ariyan's kindness, intelligence, awesome surgical skills, and bed side manners made her a super hero in my book.

So, of course I had to tell this resident my story.

Now it was his turn to drop his jaw.  "You're very fair skin..I guess you take care of your skin?"

The conversation lead to the most recent research out of MSK: "The results of a new study indicate that immediate surgical removal of remaining lymph nodes does not improve survival compared with a watch-and-wait approach." It was very interesting to hear his thought process and then have him ask for my treatment experience and opinion.

If you have any doubt that research is benefiting melanoma patients, this is proof.  Dr. Ariyan co-authored this study. 6.5 years ago, Dr. Ariyan helped me reach the conclusion to have the surgery. OK, I shouldn't say she helped me reach the decision. She basically told me in her very kind way that it comes down to what I'm comfortable with. She explained that if we did the surgery, I would know if there was remaining cancer in my lymph nodes. That would change things in terms of available clinical trials and statistics. We sat in that examine room and talked about the many side effects that could occur if we choose to proceed with the surgery. She gave me the info...and then she talked to me like a friend.

I have no regrets about going through with the two full lymph node dissections. I'm one of the lucky ones. The lasting side effects are pretty much non-existent. How would I feel now if this research had been available then? I don't know.

Anyway...I love life's coincidences. Oh--and I have total faith in this resident. ...I just have no desire to see him in a non-educational setting. ;-)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Daily Sunscreen Confession From A Melanoma Girl

Do you use sunscreen every day? I mean, every single day you step foot outside? Not just beach day, not just days at the ball field, not just for your run. I mean, every single day your skin is exposed to the environment.

I know. I'm cringing because I know the truth. I didn't either.

But that all changed.

Over the years I have often admitted how little I like sunscreen. I hate the way it feels under my make-up. I hate the way it smells. I hate the way it seems to get on EVERYTHING. I hate feeling sticky!

Then my best friend gave me her Rodan + Fields sunscreen.

Game changer.

Really, I know how uneducated, stupid, and down right lazy it is for me, the melanoma girl, to go without sunscreen. I justified it because I was just driving to work, I was just going to the store, I was just taking a short walk. I gave myself excuses because I didn't want to have to take a second shower to wash the gross feeling of sunscreen from my skin. I knew better... but I went without anyway.

I was suspicious of Rodan + Fields. Honestly, I was suspicious of anything I saw sold on Facebook. I was a complete direct sales snob. SNOB! That also changed when I started using their products.

The daily sunscreen, SPF 30, is light weight, goes on like a moisturizer, and doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing sunscreen. It has a light smell that quickly fades. In no way does it feel like I'm wearing sunscreen! It's great for errands, every single day, and play time outside!
(I prefer to use something with Zinc Oxide when I know I'm going to be outside for HOURS! Think is a new favorite brand of mine! I absolutely adore ThinkBaby and that's what I use on my toddler!)

Now let me tell you about my all-time favorite facial sunscreen:
Soothe sunscreen, SPF 30, contains Zinc Oxide! It is SO lightweight, it goes on perfectly, and make-up goes on flawlessly on top of it! Typically when I apply make-up over a sunscreen, my make-up does not work. It looks cakey (is that a word?), and just gross! Not with Soothe. Oh, and it's for sensitive skin!!! I use it--with pediatrician approval--on my toddler's face!

My second favorite sunscreen is the Reverse sunscreen, SPF 50! A little thicker than Soothe, my make-up still goes on perfectly! This is not the norm for me. I would depend on foundation with SPF in it to prevent from wearing sunscreen. Not any more!

Because I use my regimens every single day, I NEVER, EVER go without sunscreen now. I know what you're thinking. Shouldn't being diagnosed with melanoma changed that for me? It did. ...but vanity sometimes won, in terms of facial sunscreen.

I know I may get some flack for this, and I get it. I'm living with stage 3 melanoma. I shouldn't be vain. I KNOW. but I'm still a 30 year old gal... I'm still a little vain.

I had been using the products for 8 months when it occurred to me I was telling everyone else to use them! I've been suggesting skin care products to people for 6.5 years on this blog. I've finally decided to try to make a business from my suggestions. I am proud and super excited to announce to you all that I am a Rodan + Fields consultant! A company that stresses the importance of sun safety AND delivers premium products that help you stay sun safe? YES! Why didn't I think of this years ago?!

I hope you will join me in this new journey. I am so excited for you to try these products, especially my favorite sunscreens!

And one more picture of my sweet boy...because...BECAUSE. ;-)

Be well. XOXO!