Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To have or not to have - that is the question...

Peeps keep telling me to stop saying that "I have Melanoma" because the surgery took “it” out and I am now considered a "survivor".

Quotations upon quotations.  

Now, this is a hard/soft spot for me, which I am sure that a lot of us lower staged feel the same way.  It could be denial.  O-kay, fine, it’s more than likely denial for two (or more) reasons:
  • Denial that 'we’re' called/considered "survivors" even though WE aren't higher staged warriors. Typically 'WE' haven’t really gone through a lot.  Though, now that I am typing this – I guess I have.  Biopsies, Surgeries, lymph nodes being yanked out, multiple doctor’s appointments, LOTS of $$$ still being spent and we can't leave out the mental anguish... Anyways, even with all of that, I personally don’t really feel that I am a "survivor"….quite yet. I'm sure my brain will eventually wrap around it (although my brain hasn't really wrapped around the fact that I have Melanoma just yet - it may take a little bit longer.)
  • Denial that Melanoma is completely gone because 'we' aren't medically treated the same way that a higher staged warrior would be with continued CT/PET scans and testing.  We merely get one annual X-ray and one annual blood test (two annually if we're lucky).  Which said testing would only show tumors that are fairly far along.  CT/PET Scans would be so much more forewarning for everyone in our diagnosis.  
    • This is something that all of us Cancer peeps have something to think about, regardless of what big Casino we have - this really should change!  We should all have the same right to find out what is growing in our bodies - right?  PET/CT Scans should be annually available to anyone that has Cancer tailed to their name.  That is preventative in my book.
No one with cancer knows if the cells are regaining strength and growing out of control.  And we have to learn to accept that fact.  Accept the fate.  My way of thinking is that our cells are already talented in transformation – they’ve earned their Masters in Mutation.  How do I know that I don’t have Melanoma?  I don’t.  Right at this very moment, a misfit Melanoma cell could be creeping along, just cruising around my body looking for a place to set up camp.  

Though, I do understand the people that are the "have nots" – the ones that say they had Melanoma (or had whatever cancer).  I can completely understand that they want that selfish bastard, also known as Melanoma, out of their bodies and lives.  Saying I "HAD" (X Cancer) would be amazing.

I mean, I guess even saying "I have Melanoma" is in a way kind of giving it power by saying "have".


Friday, January 3, 2014

Growing up

Most of you that know me are well aware that I try to show my scars everyday. I like them.  They are part of me.  They aren't pretty, but they, the new me.  Those scars were there during a HUGE transformation in my life.  They will be there with me during the ups and downs for the rest of my life and I am embracing them the best way that I know how: by loving them.

It's not like I'm walking up to total strangers, pulling down my shirt or lifting up my arm while screaming, "Hey dude, check out this awesome shit!"  I totally just got a vision of the scene in Jaws where they're on the boat, drunk and comparing their battle wounds.  I wear tank-tops everywhere possible.  I made mention in previous post (here) that I've even cut tee-shirts into tank-tops so they will fully expose the scars. Seriously, some days my clothing decisions are based on if my back is exposed or not.  Unfortunately, once it gets close to laundry day I am forced to wear something that covers them...or in the rare cold day in Orange County.

I guess I am hoping that someone will ask about them.  O-kay, fine - I want people to ask about them.  In almost a year I've only been asked twice.  I was standing in line at Rite-Aid and the man behind me said "That must have hurt" and I said "Oh, it's just Melanoma and I was totally out when that happened so I didn't feel a thing".  Even when I was in that one support group, I was crying and told them that I felt stupid for crying because I was losing my mind over stage 1b Melanoma. I feel terrible for saying it.  I feel even worse for thinking it.

So, the last time I was asked I made sure to say 'it's Melanoma, the creepiest form of skin cancer because it likes to go to your organs and often doesn't ask for an invite'.  I felt good that I educated two people that day of what to look for on their skin, finger nails, eyes and mouth.  It made me feel stronger that I wasn't hiding behind humor like I normally do.  But then it also made me a little sad because I wasn't hiding...I was out in the open, acknowledging that I actually have it.  It's easy to type it, to write it, to say it over the phone - but to say to someone face to face that is curious about the gnarly scars you have is a different story.  That day I grew up a little bit.

This year I promise to not hide behind realities.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

This year will bring...

The first of the year always fills my head with hopes for the coming days. One thing that I can say with complete conviction is I am stoked 2013 is over...I will repeat - I am SO stoked 2013 is finally over. Actually, the last TWO years have sucked.  2014 has to be better, right?

So far, this is what I know about 2014.

  • 01/06/14: The start of a new JOB!  We're still ironing a few things out, but the date is tentative and I hope to have found my new home.  
  • 02/09/14: The Walking Dead comes back on...totally missing that show (only including it because they're doing a marathon right now so it's on my mind)
  • 02/28/14: One year since diagnosis.  
  • 04/12/14: One year since surgery.
  • 04/26/14: One year since I was told that the surgery was successful: no further excision need and lymph nodes were clear.  
  • 04/28/14: Me and the hubs wedding wedding anniversary of 7 years.
  • 09/24/14: Five year anniversary of when I decided to quit smoking (though I did continue to have a puff here and there for a little bit).
  • 11/21/14: 10 year anniversary of me and the hubs being together.
  • 11/21/14: 5 year anniversary of the last time I smoked.

May 2014 be a great year for ALL of us!  Filled with good health, good luck, good food and good friends.  Happy New Year everyone!