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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Social norms and melanoma

I read a very interesting article the other day about how social norms in our culture have influenced the spike in melanoma in the last 30 years.  If you think back to the turn of the century, for the most part, people covered up (in regards to clothing).  They also idolized porcelain skin, in which was also meant a "higher" class in society, while tan skin was usually found in people who worked outdoors in the fields and were "lower" class in society.
The article also points out that earliest evidence that UV exposure could lead to skin cancer was found in the early 20th century, but ignored by most people. As the years went on, from the 1940s to the 1960s, tan skin hit its stride, and bikinis and T-shirts were the clothes of choice. But incidences of melanoma went up 300% in men and 400% in women between the 1930s and 1960s.
And now the incidence rate of melanoma is an all-time high.  What's interesting to me is that awareness and education for the disease is also increasing, yet people seem to be ignoring the statistics and opting for the tanning beds, the long, unprotected exposure in the sun, and less clothing.
Can we change this?  Yes, we can, but it's going to take small groups of people to change and make an impact, before we see any real decrease in incidence and deaths from this melanoma.
You can read the full article here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Now what?!


My kids started school this week and it's always bittersweet.  I love having them home for the summer, but I also look forward to the "routine" that school brings.  I will admit, starting school this year was more "bitter" than "sweet" because my baby went to first grade!  I have long dreaded this day and boy, was I a mess!!  It's a huge milestone to have all your kids in school all day!
Many moms look forward to this day and I'm hoping I will feel that way eventually, but for now, I'm mourning having my youngest in school all day and not to myself anymore.  Plus, kids seem to grow up so much when they go to school all day. :(
So, I've been thinking, now what?! Do I go back to work?  What do I with myself now that I have all this time while the kids are in school?  First things first though, it's not like I'm going to be BORED and have NOTHING to do.  There's always things to do--clean the house, grocery shop, pay bills, run errands, volunteer in the class, help friends, attend to my church responsibilities, the list goes on. Oh, and then there's always the non-profit responsibilities too.  So, it's not like I don't have plenty to do.  I guess I just feel like now is the time to be productive in the world again, help out with finances, and well, reinvent myself.
For now, I'm going to try to get used to being all by myself during the day, but stay tuned, I have a feeling that big changes are on the horizon!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hot off the press!

Another treatment was approved for metastatic melanoma!  This drug, otherwise known as Anti-PD1 is similar to Yervoy, in that it enhances your immune system to kill off the cancerous cells (to put it simply).  What's great about this treatment is it is showing better efficacy with less severe side effects.
You can read the complete article here.