On this first day of the New Year, I can't help but reflect on 2011. It was a rough year. One full of huge up's and down's, and many life changes and transformations in myself. I was diagnosed with melanoma in April 2011, had surgery, had a huge lifestyle change and realization that, I was not invincible, but human. I gained a new voice through my experience with melanoma. I am very open about my views on tanning and I am spreading awareness through many outlets. This is something I am very passionate about. I have many things that I will be doing in the new year to spread awareness. Some very personal projects that have been on the back burner of my mind. I feel like I found purpose this year and that is a great feeling!
I learned a lot in 2011. I learned that I have the most wonderful fiance, children, family, and friends that a person could ask for. Without all of them I would not be the strong women I am today and I would not have gotten through this last year. The caring words, the cards, messages, texts, phone calls, visits, flowers, prayers,hugs,love, etc.... I learned that life is short and time is precious. I was in pretty bad shape after my surgery. I couldn't take care of my kids, or anything, not even myself. My wonderful fiance, Kevin, stepped up like a true man and took care of me, the kids, the house and everything. He is my hero. He saw things that no one should ever have to see their loved one go through. He held me when I cried and he showed me what I have to live for. He went through his own hell with melanoma. He never complained. He really showed me how important I am to him. Thank you honey, I am forever grateful for you. My kids even took care of me, even though they didn't know it. I am supposed to be the strong one, taking care of everyone, especially them. When I was laying in bed, waiting for the path results, thinking I was going to die because they sent it to San Francisco for a second opinion, (and it was going on 2 weeks!), they gave me strength to keep fighting. The smiles, the hugs, the sadness in their eyes gave me strength to not give up! They needed me and they showed me they needed me. I realized how strong my kids are. What good people they were becoming. They were scared and they were strong for me. I could not be a more proud Momma.
Another blessing of 2011 was that I realized I needed to make my dreams reality. I bought my digital camera that I have always wanted and made my dream of being a photographer a reality after so many years. Being a single Mom, I could never afford to buy the camera. Food and other necessities were more important. Without Kevin, this dream would still have been out of reach. He told me to just do it and not think so much about it. I have not regretted it once! I know this is the beginning of a great career. It is the greatest thing in the world to do something you LOVE. I am very passionate about photography and it is what I was meant to do. I can't even describe the feeling I get when I am shooting pictures. It is just what I am supposed to do. And what great therapy for me. It is getting me through the darkest of times that cancer can bring.
Another thing I gained in 2011 was new friends, who are understanding of what I am going through with melanoma, because they have been touched by it also. I have a whole support system a click away and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world! We are all dealing with it in different ways. It is amazing the bond I have with these fellow warriors. They are kindred spirits, each unique in their own journey with the beast. I know they are there to give me strength, support and an understanding like no one that has not been through this can give. I have learned that I am not alone.
I have learned to love more, forgive more, live more. I will not be another statistic, not without one hell of a fight anyway! I realized how strong I am. How important I am. I realized and learned a lot this year, through pain and suffering. Through taking a chance here and there. Through not being too scared to try something. I am looking forward to 2012. I am going to make the most of it, through the up's and the down's. So out with the Old and in with the New! Happy New Year to all of you!!! May it be full of happiness and blessings!!