Happy Valentine’s Day. This year for Valentine’s Day I look forward to spending a low key weekend with my husband and boys enjoying the simple pleasures of life. This week was a bit of a tough one. I had my surgery to remove the mass in my breast on Monday and aside from some impressive bruising and soreness it wasn’t too bad. The hardest part was the anesthesia and I have little recollection of the first half of the week. I finally felt “human” again yesterday and I knew I had to be strong for my scheduled two month Melanoma skin check. The first thirty minutes were spent with my Dr systematically examining my entire body and comparing suspicious moles to ones on my mole map CD. By the time she was done there were five moles on her hit list that needed to be removed and biopsied. I am now the owner of five more sets of stitches including my right knee, left forearm, left shoulder and two on my left thigh.
The waiting game has begun. This is the hardest part of my journey. The part where all the procedures and biopsies are done and we sit and wait for the results. We wait for the phone to ring with hopes of good news. It feels as though I am parked waiting for directions while the rest of the world is whizzing by. Everything feels at a stand still. I try to stay calm and rational, I try to remain positive but I know that at any moment the phone can ring with news that can change our future. It is a humble reminder that each day is a gift since so often we never know what tomorrow holds.
Last night was not a night with a lot of sleep involved. Once the numbing wore off it was a bit tricky to find a comfortable position to be in. That is OK though since these times in the middle of the night seem to be when I do my best thinking. I thought about how I keep waiting for life to get back to “normal” and I realized that instead of waiting for all this to be over we need to start living with this new “normal”. My Dr explained that I could be in this hyperactive state of forming Melanomas for months and the best thing I could do is to continue with close follow up and continue to have suspicious or changing moles removed in hopes of catching them before they become a real problem. This is part of my “normal” now and will be for many years to come. Even when I get past this hyperactive state I will always be followed closely for any changes. This is part of my journey.
I have to admit I did feel somewhat deflated after yesterdays appointment but as I lay awake last night very much aware of the pain and fresh new stitches and scars I felt a fire in me being fueled. The fire to make a difference and make my journey have purpose. It intensified my desire to raise awareness about Melanoma. This is not something that is going away in our country, if anything it is becoming more and more common. I think back to my twenties when I longed for a healthy glow. On my days off I could often be found at the beach or sunning myself by the pool. I also used tanning beds in my twenties. If only I knew then what I know now. I can tell you that my brown glow was not worth laying on a table every two months and having pieces of my skin cut off. It was not worth all the stress and pain it has caused my family and friends. My sweet boys have had to learn so much in the past few months and it hurts me to see the worry and anxiety that all of this has caused for them. To watch my husband helplessly sit by my side during my visit yesterday broke my heart. Coming home from my appointment and having my Dad help me change the oozing bandages that were placed all over my body, seeing the hurt and the pain in his eyes is not something I ever thought I would experience at the age of 40. I can’t change the past but I sure have a lot of power to change the future. I want to spread the word about the dangers of the sun, tanning beds as well as the importance of keeping a close eye on our skin. There is no such thing as a “healthy glow”. As good as it may feel at the time I promise you it doesn’t feel good now. Even though I am one of the lucky ones and my Melanomas are being caught early I would never wish for anyone to experience this roller coaster ride we have been riding.
On this Valentines Day I am reminded to count my blessings, to enjoy the little things and to embrace my new “normal”. I am strong and I will continue to fight with strength and might. I will remember to share the love and gratitude that I hold in my heart for so many.
Thank you for all of your love, support and prayers and thank you for being a part of my life. I continue to be amazed and humbled by all the love I have been given. I am truly lucky for more reasons then I can ever count.
Happy Valentine’s Day