Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 comes to a close

As 2014 comes to a close in just a week, I reflect on this past year with so much gratitude for all the blessings I have been given!  I don't know what I did to deserve them, but God has certainly blessed my life beyond belief.
 
 
I am especially grateful to be here with my boys still.  I recall a time when I wondered if I didn't make it, if they would even remember me.  Every year that goes by, I feel blessed to have another year with them.  More memories, more life experiences, more growth, more TIME.
 
 
I am ever hopeful that 2015 will be a great year too!!
 
 
Merry Christmas!!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Share the Gift


 
Our Lord, Jesus Christ is the reason for the season!  I am so grateful for his birth, his life, his life, and most importantly, his sacrifice for us to live with Him again someday.  I know that he loves us and knows us individually and only wants us to have true happiness.  To me, true happiness is living a life that would make Jesus Christ proud of, serving and helping others, keeping the commandments, and loving one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

No coicidences

Just in the last 2 weeks, I have had 3 different people reach out to me that read my article in Cancer Today, then found my blog, and contacted me.  All 3 were people dealing with Stage 4 melanoma, like myself.  All 3 were in the trenches of the disease, still dealing with the shock and devastation that comes from that kind of diagnosis.  All 3 were also clinging to some kind of hope that there were survivors out there.
 
 
It's times like those that make me extremely grateful that I have been willing to share my story with the public. Every time I have done just that, I have done it with the sole goal of reaching others that, like me once, were reaching for a glimmer of hope in all of this.  Sometimes it's very hard to hear their stories and not feel guilty that I'm still here.  It's also hard because hearing their experiences gives me anxiety of the harsh reality of this disease.  And that is, that unfortunately, most people don't make it past a couple of years.
 
 
The 3 people that reached out to me, I was able to either email or talk with, and it was a very humbling experience.  I am so grateful that God has used me as a tool to help others in some way, and there have been numerous times where I have known that was my purpose here on Earth, and why I was still here.  There are no coincidences.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Nightmares=Reality??

Every once in awhile, I have these nightmares of the cancer returning.  I wake up, usually in a cold sweat, heart pumping, unable to breathe.  I quickly snap out of it and realize it's all a dream, but sometimes it feels so real I'm not sure it was a nightmare or not.
 
 
You would think that nearly 5 years out of this, I wouldn't have these kinds of nightmares anymore.  But the truth is, they are and probably will always be my subconscious thoughts and fear of this disease taking over my body again.  I realize that it's probably normal to have these kinds of thoughts still, but they still haunt me and cause anxiety.
 
 
To be completely honest, part of me feels like I'm not "done" yet with this disease, that it will come back.  Does that mean it will take my life?  I don't know, but sometimes I feel like my gut is telling me that it will return.  But then again, maybe that's just my way of preparing for the worst (that's the realist in me).
 
 
It's a fine line of balancing both worlds, I've decided.  I think I've gotten pretty good at it, but it's still hard.  On one hand, I try to live my life as normally as I can, taking good care of myself, living in the moment and not worrying about the future and the unknown so much.  On the other hand though, I see so many people around me that are falling victim to this disease and that scares the beejeezes out of me.  Am I just a waiting duck?  Or by some miraculous reason, am I cured forever?
 
 
I try to have faith in God's will and purpose for me, and sometimes, that's the only thing I have to stick to.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seize the day

 
I think if my life could have a motto, this would be it.  I have always tried to live life to the fullest, but ever since my cancer diagnosis, this motto takes on a whole new meaning.
 
To me, seizing the day doesn't necessarily mean doing fun, adventurous, grand things everyday. I think it means enjoying the small things in life, the moments that make you stop and express gratitude for this life you live.  Seizing the day is making the most of your life, even during dark times and I believe that we can do that if we choose to focus on the good and not the bad.
 
 
The other day it was freezing cold (like 0 degrees, which is freezing for November) and I was picking up the kids from school.  On our way home, we saw a bunch of kids having a snowball fight on the side of the road in our neighborhood.  They were having a great time, despite the freezing temperatures.  My kids urged me to pull over so they could join in on the fun.  Normally, I would've said no (despite the cold weather, didn't we have homework to do?), but this time, I said ok, and so we pulled over and got out of the car.  Before we knew it, we were in the thick of a snowball fight and all of a sudden, it didn't seem cold anymore!  We were only outside for 10-15 minutes maybe, but after we were done, I noticed the happy, flushed faces on my kids (and my own!), and I knew that was a moment that we had chosen to seize the day.  It was such a small thing, and it wasn't grand, but it was a happy moment and one that made me very grateful for many things.
 
 
 
(Happy kids, happy mom.  Life is good.)
 
I've come to the conclusion that life should be made up of lots of the small moments...where we seize the day and enjoy this gift of life that we are given.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Peace and Love, Lisa Formato


A couple of years ago, I posted about an amazing woman, Lisa Formato who was fighting Stage 4 melanoma.  We even featured her story on our website because her story was not only inspiring, but also different than that "norm".  Lisa took an unconventional route for many years fighting the disease primarily holistically.  Her and I emailed back and forth many times about her methods and research for fighting the disease naturally, as I was fascinated to hear about her path of treatment.  She gave me lots of ideas and tips for my own fight, and although some of it was a little extreme for me, I always thought she was brave for choosing this path and giving it everything she had.  Lisa fought melanoma for almost 10 years, but recently passed away.  I was devastated to hear this news.
 
Lisa was such a fighter, a pillar of strength and hope to so many, myself included and even though I never met Lisa personally, I will always keep her in my memory and look up to her example of never giving up, all the while fighting with a smile on her face.  Rest in peace, sweet Lisa!


You can read Lisa's blog and story here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Miracle for Kathy Taylor


 
There are many stories of melanoma warriors that have touched me through the years, some who have lived on well past their prognosis and are thriving, others that were taken too soon.  Each time I read these stories, I am always reminded of how blessed I am to still be here.

This story pricked my soul in a different way, on a deeper level.  This young mom of five (pictured above) was recently diagnosed with aggressive Stage 4 melanoma while she was pregnant.  She chose to forgo treatment at first, to give her baby a chance to live, but ultimately, became so sick from the cancer, that she was told she needed to deliver the baby early (at 26 weeks), so that she could start treatment to save her life.

Baby Luke was born and doing well for a preemie.  Kathy, on the other hand, was declining fast, and doctors at first thought she wouldn't live past the weekend following Luke's birth.  Kathy's liver was failing and doctors needed to do something fast.

Then the miracles started happening.  All of a sudden, Kathy's health took a turn for the better slowly but surely.  Kathy got to a point, where the doctors were able to stabilize her liver so she could begin treatment for melanoma.  After she was only given days to live, now all of a sudden, she was living weeks beyond this devastating news.  And not only that, she was given the ok to be released from the hospital so she could go home! (Under the care of doctors and healthcare providers, of course.)

The unfortunate news is that baby Luke didn't make it.  He passed away due to complications in his digestive system.  I can't even imagine how Kathy or her family feel.  But I'm also comforted to know that they feel peace and reassurance that they will be with their son again in heaven.

Please pray for this mother and wife, as she continues to astonish doctors with her progress, but needs our prayers and support all the while!


You can read the first news story here , the updated story here, or for the family's blog and updates, read here.