Today is exactly two years since my Stage 4 diagnosis. Kind of a big deal! Back then, statistics were only about a 5% chance of survival in two years (not that I pay attention to statistics anymore).
I remember the day vividly because it was probably one of, if not the worst day of my life. To think that I almost went to that doctor appointment by myself too! Luckily, Eric ended up being able to go with me so I wasn't alone after all. I recall the doctor informing me that my scans were "not good" and showed nodules in the lungs.
The sheer fear that paralyzed my body was something that was so frightening and surreal, I thought I was dreaming. I remember wondering if I would be around to see my kids grow up or even see my 35th birthday (which is 6 months from now)!! Never in my life had I really questioned my mortality and now it seemed to be hanging by a thread.
The following 7 weeks proved to be the most stressful, anxiety-ridden, sleepless weeks of my life. Choosing the best treatment plan was such a painful process because there weren't really any great options! It was like choosing bad vs. bad! Nothing we researched gave me more than a 15% chance of having success. Researching treatments on-line and talking to multiple doctors definitley educated me more, but also created more stress. I started taking sleeping and anxiety medications that summer because I couldn't cope with the anxiety very well on my own.
Once I chose my doctor and treatment plan of Biochemo, I felt confident and at peace with that decision and was able to move forward finally. I stopped reading statistics and researching on-line (which alleviated a lot of anxiety) and chose to start focusing on getting better and completing treatment successfully.
Looking back, I can't tell you how grateful and lucky I feel to have had success with the first treatment I tried. I know that it isn't typical to do one treatment and have success. Many other melanoma warriors go from treatment to treatment to find something that works (even if only short-term), hoping to hold out long enough. I know without a doubt that my success is nothing short of a miracle and gift given from God.
I know that even though I have made it two years and have been remission for almost two years, I am not out of the woods. Until we find a cure or long-term solution to melanoma, I know that I am just merely in remission. I know that most likely the melanoma will find it's way back someday and all I pray for is that there will be better, more effective treatment options to put the cancer back into remission again. I think of melanoma as a chronic condition now, much like people dealing with other chronic illnesses like MS or Parkinsons or diabetes do. They take their medications and learn to live with their diseases. That's how I have to think of it now because it's not just "going away".
I have so much gratitude for the miralce of life that has been given to me again. I know I wouldn't have gotten through the last couple of years without the support of my family and friends behind me. I know that the Lord was watching out for me, holding my hand along the way and reassuring me that everything would be ok in the end. What a blessing!
I celebrate this milestone and choose to live life in the "now" and not in the future. I intend to always remember the things that I have learned, to hold onto the perspective I have gained, and to never take life or my blessings for granted again.
Life is truly a gift.