Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pictures






This last picture has 4 Stage IV Melanoma FIGHTERS..... 2 are now gone.  #MoreThanJustSkinCancer
#MelanomaAwareness

Friday, April 14, 2017

FEAR & JEALOUSY

Hey you.... the one sitting on the bench enjoying the warm afternoon sunshine. Where are your sunglasses? Where is your hat?  How can you lean back and close your eyes while sitting right in the direct sun??  I am JEALOUS of you!

Unlike you, I worry about each minute I am in the sun without a hat or sunglasses or sunscreen.  I am aware that last week I spent about 24 minutes in direct sunlight without my hat. EXTREME??  

YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT I KNOW ABOUT "JUST SKIN CANCER!"

If you are new to my story, in the fall of 2000, I had a small and malicious "freckle" removed off my left forearm. This "freckle" was melanoma and resulted in a lymph node biopsy. LUCKILY, at that time, there was no more cancer in my system. My stage I diagnosis remained stage I for 10 years. Then, fall of 2010, a tumor began growing in my left armpit. It became the size of a grapefruit and by Christmas of 2010 I was officially stage IV metastatic melanoma ... with 4-6 months to live.  With some divine intervention, I found the Angeles Clinic in Santa Monica, and Dr. Hamid. He experimented with my treatment and prescribed biochemotherapy.  After 5 rounds I was bald, skinny, but ALIVE.  I am currently 6 years No Evidence of Disease.


The treatment was extremely difficult and throughout this time we were not sure I would survive.

OK, back to the sun....  

Do you sit outside with no worries?? I am jealous of you.  No worries about the sun. I wish I were you. 

The truth about the dangers of the sun:



I live with the fear of melanoma returning always.  I am currently N.E.D., but my melahomies know.... this disease is sneaky and heartless. It can come back at anytime....  



SO, get the right info and protect yourself from the sun.  

Peace!  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Message for New Melahomies & Families

I wanted to take a moment to send out a message to those who are new to the world of cancer... or even to those who are STILL here, fighting the beast!  

While melanoma comes with some HORRIBLE statistics.... it can be beaten!  6 years ago I was fighting for my life. I had a doctor tell me to go home.  I had another tell me he'd try to save my life, and he did!  My family and I went through hell as the medicine fought the multiple lesions in my lungs, the subcutaneous tumor on my abdomen,  and in the massive 16 cm tumor in left axillary lymph nodes. Left untreated, I had 4-6 months to live.

I know you are scared as hell, I know you cry at night when everyone else is asleep. It is hard to be brave all the time. I know you feel pain every time your port is accessed... and some nurses are better at it than others and you end up feeling like a pin cushion for all the blood draws.  I know you worry beyond words about how your family will deal with your death if you do not survive.  I know....Some days are harder than others and allow yourself time to be still and quiet. There is no easy way to fight melanoma or any cancer. It is painful. I remember one drug felt like pins and needles as it entered my veins... another we nicknamed "shake and bake" for the fever I developed while on it. 

Fighting cancer is serious business!  

PLEASE KNOW that I AM here praying for you!! I am painting more ANGELS to send off and WOULD love to mail you one!  


There are so many new medicines approved for treating melanoma and more and more people are BEATING THIS UGLY DISEASE! Just know, for what it is worth, there are those of us who have been there and we are here... and we are praying... and we understand.  This is a photo of my Mom and I during treatments. I had 22 day treatment cycles, and this was the 18th or 19th day after one  of the five of 5 treatments... and I actually felt like going out and eating for a friend's birthday party.  

HUG each other and cherish one another.   


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Miracles

With the holidays coming I am thinking about miracles.  While in the melanoma community we have had too many deaths and too much sadness, I want to take a moment to recognize the miracles.

Lately I have been hearing stories fighting cancer, colon cancer and other types of cancer and winning!!  People who had HUGE tumors discovered inside and they beat the odds!  People who faced death and the horrible treatments, and are here!

When we think about it, we are face challenges everyday. From medical crises of all kinds, why  do some survive and others not?  The answers come from a power higher than myself. I am grateful to meet so many survivors from so much diversity!  It gives us HOPE when there seems to be none. Many of my melahomies know this already, our community has many sad stories, many stories of re occurrences and the loss of too many people.  There comes a time to remember the miracles and that we are fighters!

I am grateful to be one of those miracles, and as one, I will continue to help find a cure for cancer.  I am planning another AIM @ Melanoma 5k Fun Run Fundraiser. I am going to continue to paint my angels for those fighting the BEAST. & I plan on sticking around a long time to continue to beat the odds!  

If you are still in the fight with cancer, know that there are those of us who have been there... and we have SURVIVED and we are rooting for you!!!  FIGHT ON and be that miracle!!!

Miracle

Thursday, October 20, 2016

memories....

In January of 2011 I was admitted into St. John's Hospital in order to fight stage IV melanoma cancer. My treatment was to be one that did not promise survival. It was one of the hardest regimes known to the world of fighting cancer. As I try to not think about this time, the memories often come to me at random times... and music brings on memories.

My family would drive me to the hospital, to the Angeles Clinic and basically took care of me during my treatments. I listened to a CD by Train during the drive to Los Angeles from Laguna Beach. This morning, as I drove to work, I listened to the same CD.  I immediately was back in the front seat of my mom's jetta, in the heated leather seat, turning off the 405 freeway onto Wilshire Blvd. I immediately am flooded with the memories of how life was going to be as I began my 5 days of treatments that rendered me weak, sick, and barely alive.

Those of you fighting cancer may have experienced these feelings. These feelings do not go away. They fade...but do not go away. For me, October holds memories as it is when the horrible tumor under my left armpit began to grow, in 2010. I am not full of as much fear as I used to be in October...and I am braver now when I walk into a cancer center....as I am by all means healthy.

But, melanoma is sneaky.... and it is a beast.....  so I will always use these memories to fuel me to LIVE and NOT SETTLE for ANYTHING less than the BEST!  I will laugh and enjoy my life.  I will continue to bring awareness to melanoma....

ENJOY the song and know that "I am not a new sensation, but I am better than I've ever been!"

PEACE !

Sunday, September 25, 2016

CHANGED

Those of us who have been through cancer are forever changed.  Family members who watch treatments and were caregivers are changed.... patients who lost their hair are changed... and we DO VIEW the world differently.

For me, I try to remember that being here is a MIRACLE and by the GRACE OF GOD I survived a horribly toxic treatment...biochemotherapy. As I make contact with a new cancer center to set up my checkups I realize I will be again telling the story to a new physician.

Telling how I almost died brings tears to my eyes as I can remember being in the hospital bed looking at the skyline of Los Angeles and slowly being poisoned to death in order to kill the melanoma. I remember barely being able to walk 5 feet to the bathroom and not eating for 2 weeks. I remember the look in my family's eyes as I fought. FEAR & SADNESS & HOPE all mixed together as WE ALL faced the FIGHT TOGETHER.

NOW, I do my best to support others in the fight. I paint my angel cards and reach out.... I also take a break from the cancer community as it is HEART BREAKING when we lose one of our melahomies. AND this happens more often than I WANT to mention.

CHANGE...

Cancer did TEACH me to not accept unacceptable behavior... LIFE IS TOO SHORT
Cancer did TEACH me to GO FOR IT!  You never know when you will get the opportunity again.

CANCER DID TEACH ME TO FIND JOY IN AS MANY THINGS AS POSSIBLE AND LAUGH MORE!!  

At the end, all you have is your dignity, integrity and memories....  love the ones in your life and LAUGH MORE OFTEN.



Sunday, July 24, 2016

you DO NOT want to know WHAT I know about skin cancer!!

It is July, full blown summer time with people laying out all over the place, in their swim suits, TANNING!!  I have come to HATE JULY because of this!


According to AIM @ Melanoma one risk factor of melanoma is:

UV Exposure

Frequent and intense exposure to UV radiation, either from the sun or from indoor tanning devices, is the major risk factor for melanoma. It has been shown that repetitive and severe sunburns (sunburns that result in blistering), especially in childhood, put one at risk for melanoma. 
This is not a joke.... this is serious business!  Melanoma is becoming one of the fastest growing cancers for young people and 6% of young people, age 15-29, have melanoma.

Let me tell you about a cancer that people this you can "just cut out."
Melanoma often requires a lymph node biopsy... 
Melanoma often requires a wide excision of the site where the original melanoma was found.
Melanoma can look vastly different than what people think, it is sometimes pink.
MELANOMA, is one of the FASTEST metaastizing cancers out there, and once it has spread outside of your lymph system, your chances of beating it drop drastically.  I know, as I had 8% chance of living 5 years past diagnosis.  
8%
I am blessed to still be here, sharing this story.... PLEASE do not underestimate the danger of a sunburn or melanoma which is often referred to as "JUST SKIN CANCER." 
Tell Flynn's family, as they bury him this week, that it was JUST SKIN CANCER.  Tell Rose, who buried her daughter, it is JUST SKIN CANCER.  Tell Susan, who buried Jillian, it is JUST SKIN CANCER... all of these people were YOUNG, under 35!!

If I sound angry, I AM.  I AM TIRED of people thinking this is not a serious cancer and TIRED of people telling me to GET OVER IT. 
Tell my family as they supported me as I almost DIED from "JUST SKIN CANCER!"

Trust me, you do not want to know melanoma as intimately as I do....