Friday, March 22, 2013

Melanoma, Melanoma, Mela-freakin-noma!

There are days that I call "Melanoma Days".  Those days could be good days, or bad days, depending on the type of "Melanoma Day" it is.  A "Melanoma Day" is what I call a day where everything draws me back to melanoma.   I have them sometimes and when I do, I pay close attention.

Started as a normal day.  I was at work and I started seeing butterflies everywhere.  Not REAL, LIVE ones, but a patient brought us treats and they were in a package with butterflies all over them.  I had a patient who had butterflies on her shirt.  My friend Briana who passed away last month, was a butterfly lover and I felt she was telling me something.

My next patient, who was new to our office, had been diagnosed with melanoma years ago.  She was stage 2 and was NED for the last 6 years.  She and I chatted briefly.  I love meeting others who are like me. It's like an instant connection!  Makes me feel good that I am not alone, and also makes me realize that this cancer is REAL and BIG.  There are a lot of patients that have melanoma in the practice I work for.   It is nice to swap stories and to meet people who have been a survivor for years.

At lunch, I went to pick up my daughter to take her from school to work, and she started telling me about a friend that was tanning and how she told her that she was excited and scared to do it for the first time.  My daughter told her not to do it because it causes melanoma and death.  Her friend said it was okay because they were the "UV free tanning beds".  My daughter was very upset by this and asked me to find out what they were because she was really worried about her friend.  I went back to work with no time left to research this.  I felt like it was just a way for the tanning salon to get people to lay in their death beds. (I had a lot of friends look up stuff for me that day, and as I suspected, there is no such thing! Thanks everyone!)

Then, when I got home later that night, my sister texted me that my niece's friend, who was only 15, died from stage 4 melanoma.  Another awesome friend got her results back from a biopsy of a strange mole and it was melanoma. Again.  Which means surgery, again.  And she was taken out of the trial she was participating in.  Damn.

As I put my phone down, a picture of my friend Briana was there and her beautiful face and huge smile were beaming at me.  I lost it.


Sometimes, it would be really nice to not have these kinds of days.  That isn't going to happen.  I miss my friend EVERYDAY.  I encounter something related to melanoma EVERYDAY.  How in the world did my life feel like before melanoma?  I can't even remember anymore.  I think that the more I try to ignore melanoma, the more it is there.

When I was first diagnosed almost 2 years ago, I was scared out of my mind.  I reached out online and started sharing my story.  I started healing.  I didn't realize how much of a part of my life melanoma was to become.  It is a huge part of my life.  I have learned to live with it, to respect the sun, to treat my body with much more love and care.  I have become healthier.  I have become more intune with myself.  I have become a lot stronger and I have become a lot more focused on my life and where I want it to go.

I am kind of hoping that tomorrow is not so much of a melanoma day, because I have a lot to do.  But if it is, I hope it is a good news melanoma day!

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