Today marks one year since I started down the "melanoma road." I had a large lesion removed from my back that required a skin graft from my thigh to close, lost 1 lymph node under my right arm and 29 lymph nodes under my left arm (1 positive) which resulted in lymphedema. Two weeks later, Jimmy and I met with my oncologist who was brutally honest, as he should have been. I'll be honest, too. I didn't think I would be here today. It's amazing how attitudes can change.
At this time last Summer, though I had so much to say, I was really very overwhelmed by my diagnosis and everything that went with it. The process of healing from surgery, the thought of an entire year of treatment, and my mortality smacked me pretty hard. The hardest thing in the beginning though was telling my family and friends that I had melanoma. I'll never forget those conversations.
There have definitely been ups and downs through this year. From the Saturday night before I started treatment (got a "little" tipsy), and a joint 50th party that wonderful family and friends threw for Jim and me where I got to meet my niece for the first time; to lows of having to take breaks from treatment and reducing my Interferon dose because of out of whack bloodwork, and most recently a bout with pancreatitis (wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy). It hasn't been dull, for sure!
And now...there is light at the end of the Interferon tunnel. My last Interferon dose will be no later than August 21, 2012. My doc said only 5% of people make it through the entire year. I'm GOING to be one of them. But I wouldn't be without all of the LOVE AND SUPPORT I've gotten from friends and family. From dinners dropped at our door to cards and phone calls, you've all been SO amazing.
I've learned much about melanoma. I've learned about myself, and I have a slew of new friends "molemates" as we call each other. It's amazing how important it is to be able to vent to someone who has gone through what you're experiencing. So while I would obviously prefer that I not have melanoma, I've met some pretty awesome people. People who do not hesitate to offer support, and will cheer you on no matter what, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
Melanoma. Even the word is ugly. While overexposing unprotected skin to UV rays isn't the only way it occurs, that's how most people get it. And I don't want YOU to get it. It's why I nag about sunscreen and hats. It's why I jumped on board with AIM at Melanoma to help get the teen tan ban passed in Chicago. It's why we'll be driving down to Charlotte, NC in November...to walk to raise money for AIM (and to meet my molemates of course)! Thank you all for your generous donations! I will continue to help get the word out about melanoma and hopefully prevent others from dealing with this horrible disease.
Just one quick word about my main (only) dude and caregiver, my awesome husband, Jim. The guy who has practically never left my side for the last year; the guy who changed dressings for weeks, who went with me to countless treatments and doctor visits, and has ALWAYS been there for me. Like Edwin McCain says...I could not ask for more. I love you dude.
This is also the first post in my new blog entitled "Your Tan May be Killing You" which you can find here, if you like: http://yourtanmaybekillingyou.blogspot.com/
There are links to some of my molemates' blogs and lots of other information about melanoma.