Saturday, February 18, 2012

Work in progress

My sister and I were having a conversation today that made me start thinking. We were talking about how we have the problem of focusing on ourselves and our own problems and feelings instead of thinking of others and what they might be going through. Personally, I have always struggled with the "all about me" syndrome and I acknowledge it and have been in the process of trying to overcome it for years.

Having cancer has, believe it or not, given me so many good things. I appreciate life more. I enjoy day to day "mundaneness" more. I want to do more and believe I am capable of more than ever before. Unfortunately, it has also made me much more self centered. Sometimes my thoughts of recurrence, my future and what I'm going through consume me. So much so that I tend to assume my problems and feelings are greater and more significant than other's. Or maybe I don't assume that, but I just can't see past the things I am thinking or feeling.

I ve come away from a few conversations this week thinking why didn't I ask how they were? Why did I make it all about me and how I feel? I really wish I could go back and say things differently. I wish I had been more encouraging, supportive or rejoiceful with them.

I keep thinking what if that was the last conversation I had with that person? I wish I could say things differently. This thought could hold true whether youve been diagnosed with cancer or not. We're not promised an infinite amount of days. Any one of us could be gone tomorrow.

It's a morbid thought, but a good reminder for me to take an extra minute or two to tell the people in our lives how proud we are of them, how much they mean to us, what a good friend they've been or how much they ve made you smile. Because when someone can make you smile your most magical happy smile, that means something.

I can't go back in time. I can't change the way conversations went. All I can hope is that I get another chance. A chance to tell each friend, family member or molemate that I truly do care. I care what they are going through, their struggles, their praises, and I care about them.

I'm a work in progress and I am just grateful for all the days I have to continue to keep working.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Living strong

I started my very first actual workout with the Livestrong program at the YMCA yesterday. It's a really awesome program for people who have cancer. You get to do personalized workouts for 12 weeks twice a week and you also get a free membership for that time. This is my local branches first time doing the program, so I got to be part of a focus group last month which was kind of cool. UCO is also collecting research on this program so there are scientisty doctor types there too.

I was pretty nervous going in. It's been a while since I've done any kind of structured excerise program. Not to mention this last year left me all frail and baby kitten weak. But I had on my very brand new yoga pants with coordinating top so at least I looked legit.

Now let me preface this next part by saying that I really enjoyed myself and I am extremely excited about this program. With that said, there were a few things that made me giggle and/or burn a little with shame.

My particular group has one lady that is 49 (and I want to be as fit as her one day) and the rest are in their 70's and 80's. I honestly think that's awesome! They are all amazing people and have incredible insight and hilarious stories. But it was just a teeny bit awkward participating in some of the testing with them.

For instance, one of the tests was to sit in a chair and when Mrs. Straightlace McScientist said go, you had to stand up and walk as fast as you could around a cone (which was like 3 feet away) and then sit back down. Oh and it was timed. When she told me to do a practice run without being timed, the inappropriate giggles began. I explained that I understood and that I really didn't need a practice run. She insisted stating that she wanted me to get a feel for the test. At this point I am full on shaking with giggles. She then very seriously asks me what is so funny. I try to regain composure and mumble something about feeling silly and reminds me of field day. The next few minutes are spent with her explaining the importance, a few false starts and me cackling uncontrollably. The worst most giggle inducing part was when she began cheering for me. "Yes! You can do it. Great job!" and I am just thinking of course I can stand up and walk around a cone. I mean she could see me right? She had just watched me get up from an identical chair and walk quite normally to her station. I'm pretty sure she wrote something about insanity in my chart.

We completed a few more tests and then on to the grand finale. A six minute walk. This is where you do laps around cones and collect Popsicle sticks for every lap completed. Somewhere between checking our heart rates and lining up, I felt an awful and familiar feeling creeping up inside me. It's a feeling I thought I had long since squashed. I felt competitive. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a normal person but let's just say if I had a nickel for every hole I knocked in the wall with game controllers...ask Eddie. It is classic jekyll and Hyde. As soon as she said go, I was off. I lost all sense of decency. I lapped one guy twice and I may have shouted "on your left!" i wanted to protest fit lady's tie with me because she didn't actually make it to the Popsicle pass point when they yelled time but she took it anyway. Thankfully I wasn't too far into my Hyde side and I let it go.

Other than the crazy giggles and me running over older people for Popsicle sticks (which they didn't even let us keep by the by), I had a great time. I set some goals that I'm excited about and I really just can't wait to see what this amazing, cancer fighting, God given body can do!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

So the doctor wants you in a gown.

Ahhhh! I was not counting on hearing that today. When I went in to have little lumpy checked last week, I just pulled my pants down a little. So when the nurse handed me a full gown, I suddenly started thinking of all the shortcuts I had taken earlier that morning. I had only shaved the top part of my legs. I couldn't find a pair of my own socks, so I had borrowed a pair of Ed's. I had not taken the time to make sure that everything I was wearing was matching. Then as I'm undressing, eddie says, "Hey, what's that on your bra?" I look down and there is some kind of brown something that I am telling myself is chocolate. I can hear my mother gasping right about now. Oh and did I mention that on Friday night I fell down an entire flight of stairs so my body looks like a human punching bag?

But as soon as the doctor came in, I kind of forgot about all that. I think sometimes in those kind of stressful waiting doctor situations I focus on all the trivial things I can or could control. But really I just want to know. What's going on? What is it? What do we do about it? Now I know. The dr did not seem concerned and I'm going back in 2 weeks for the old two month check so for now I'm just keeping an eye on it.

Yay! I dodged a bullet...again. I realize this is my life. There will always be scans and worry. I can't control what happens next with my cancer, but that doesn't mean that cancer controls me. Like my sweet friend Julie A pointed out, I'm not lying to myself. I'm living. And that's exactly what I want to be doing right now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I am so wishing I could go back and have that ultrasound. No I don't. Yes I do. I'm calm. I'm going crazy!! That's pretty much been my train of thought today.

For the past 3 months I have been on the outside looking in at the dark and scary cancer world. I talked myself into believing I was on the other side. I cheerfully and knowingly gave advice to fellow molemates because I'd "been" there. I even stopped talking about it at home. Honest, ask Eddie! I was beginning to feel "normal" again. Of course I know that with melanoma, you re never considered cured. I'm more than aware of my particular statistics involving recurrence and life expectancy. But I'm quite adept at creating my own reality. Call it a coping mechanism.

Now this silly little most likely nothing lump just yanked me from my peaceful happy little lie. Back to the place where I have to fully acknowledge the absurdly strange and unreal concept that I have cancer. I've found myself once again being consumed with that word and once again I'm slapped in the face with the enormity of it. It is a complete and utter life changing occurrence.

I'm stuck in the waiting game. I'm sure anyone with health issues gets this game. There are really no rules other than you must wait. I'm trying to simplify this week. I'm clearing out all trivial anxiety. Well, I'm trying to and anyway, I just have to make it until Monday right? Right?!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby steps

One doctor appointment down, hopefully only one more to week. Well the beautiful and hilarious Juli gave me a quite thorough exam and thinks that my new little groin friend, Lumpelstilskin, is possibly a cyst.

Not to digress, but as far as doctor appointments go, that one was awesome. I was laughing so hard! Who knew lumps, hormones, groins and cancer scares could be so hilarious?! But seriously, would it be too forward if I asked her to be my new BFF? Or maybe I should start with something less committal, like lunch.

I'm going back next week to let Dr. G have a grope and see what he thinks. At that time, we ll decide if I need an ultrasound, a scan or hopefully it will have disappeared by then.

I feel like I've made some progress, at least emotionally, on this jacked up melanoma journey. I was offered the choice between an ultrasound today or to wait a week and see what happens. The me a year ago would have been running to radiology while pulling my pants down, grabbing for the ultrasound goo. But today, I was content to take Juli's advice and wait it out. Unfortunately, Eddie is not quite there with me, but he gets me and let's me take this trip how I need.

Am I still worried? Heck yes! Is this going to keep me up at night? Probably. But right now I feel like I can handle the upcoming week. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, one pant leg at a time. Baby steps.

On another note, I heard from the YMCA today and I get to start the Livestrong program on Monday and not a moment too soon. I'm pert near atrophied. Now, I am going to be so toned and faaabuuulous!! It's a really cool program and I sincerely hope you never meet the requirements:)

Wish me luck and prayers this week!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You should probably come in and have that looked at

I don't know why I thought the nurse would say anything different. It's their motto. It's why I never want to call. It's why my sister had to text bomb me today. It's why I ve waited almost a week and didn't even call until 4:30 in hopes that I would have the evening to avoid those words.

You see, at times, I can be a little head in the sand, ignorance is bliss, what ya don't know can't hurt ya. Unfortunately, after cancer, I'm no longer afforded that luxury.

I have this pain in my groin. Not my favorite word by the way. Its like angina. It just sounds wrong and makes me cringe and maybe secretly giggle a little. I ve been keeping an eye on it all week but finally admitted that I do feel a little knot.

Now it could be anything mind you. Maybe an infection, maybe a spider bite or maybe whilst I was asleep, one of my precious angles executed some kind of an MMA sleeping death blow to my crotch. But those explanations aren't what puts the pit in my stomach. Casual worries are no longer mine. Mine are bigger and more terrifying if I choose to let them be.

If I didn't have cancer, I'm quite sure this tiny bump and minuscule pain would not even be on my radar. Sigh...Every twinge, bump, cough, zit, ingrown hair, freckle or mole is now considered a potential threat. I feel like the girl in final destination (the first one and in my opinion, the best). She was always looking for signs and clues that weren't necessarily obvious in themselves but put together could be used to thwart death. My body is now a series of potential clues that I'm forced to analyze and decode to try and stay one step ahead of the Beast. It can become all consuming.

For now I've done all I can. I made the call. I made the appointment (Monday at 11). and now I've made myself crazy. I'm just glad I'm scheduled with my girl Julie. Cause we all know the groin is awfully close to the angina.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

To My Molemates

Well, all my scans came back squeaky clean! I'm officially one whole year and 5 days NED(no evidence of disease--since you're never really and truly cured) and I could not be happier. Getting through this year has been difficult and I have had so much help from friends, family, church and lovely strangers, but this one, this one post I want to dedicate to my very special molemates.

I'll start with my melanoma mentor Tina Parker. She is such an AMAZING woman. She's a stage III. She is a single mom who did one month of high dose Interferon WHILE WORKING!!! I can't even imagine. She is constantly raising awareness and has even gone and talked to high school kids about the dangers of tanning. She is the kindest, friendliest, most generous, honest, tell it like it is warrior ever! She did her treatment a few months before I did and held my hand through mine every step of the way. When we first "met" on fb, she immediately messaged me her cell number and insisted I call her any time day or night. And boy did I. I would call or text and cry, complain and moan and she encouraged me at every turn. Just the sound of her sweet little Missouri accent would calm me down:) She gave me my mantra "it's working! It's working!" when I would be in tears over side effects. She has prayed for me and with me all year long. Even though we have never and may never meet in person, I consider her a lifelong friend who will be there for me always. I am incredibly grateful for her strength and faith. And there's always Vegas baby:)

Next is the beautiful little spitfire Chelsea Price. Chelsea is a 24 year old warrior who is also stage III. She is currently doing her second round of an IPI trial. In her trial she doesn't know if she's actually receiving the drug or not. That's right. She is selflessly helping researchers learn more about this drug in order to help future melanoma patients. Chelsea came into my life a short while into my own treatment. I was instantly drawn to her (I imagine most people are). I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to do for her what Tina had done for me. I was going to be her mentor and walk her through this whole new life with melanoma thing. But low and behold, this gal wasn't going to walk through, she was going to run full tilt with fists held high. She has become the new poster child for melanoma. She's raising money and awareness at every turn. She has inspired me, comforted me and I am in awe of her. You should check her out at

And last, but not least is the wonderful and beautiful Erin Youngerberg. Erin befriended me on the AIM at melanoma fb page. She was stage III when I first "met" her. We were supposed to start Interferon treatment at the same time, but due to job changes, her hectic schedule and some reservations, she kept postponing. Then she had a scan that showed Melanoma on her lungs. We were devastated. Not our Erin. I remember I called Tina in tears. It all hit too close too home. But don't you worry about Erin. She healed herself:) Yup, at her last scan there was NO trace of the tumors!!! She's our little miracle molemate:) She is a jet setting, New Yorker and seriously fabulous photographer. She is always there with a kind, encouraging word for everyone. I am so extremely jealous that her and Chelsea do treatment at the same hospital and meet up every now and again and brag about it on fb:)

I consider these ladies to be my molemates. They are the gals who understand exactly what it feels like to face the c word. They get it when you're down, when you're up, when you're sick, when you're well and when you've completely lost your mind in all this madness. I am forever indebted to you ladies. Thank you for getting me through this year and thank you to all my other melanoma warriors. One year NED down and God willing, many many many more for all of us!!