Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear Fellow Melanoma Warriors

The melanoma "world" seems to be a rather small place.  I meet people all the time from all over the country, even the world, that share this melanoma link, this diagnoisis, this life.  Even though our personal stories may vary, we all share the same feelings--the same anxieties and worries, the same fear, and even the same hopes and dreams.  Some of these people I know in person and blessed to call a "dear friend" now, others I only know from Facebook, or from a melanoma forum, or through following their blogs.

This melanoma world is a delicate and interesting place.  Often I hear the most inspiring stories of survival--people who are years out from their diagnosis and doing well.  Like my friends Tina and Sue, who are both 5+ years out from Stage 4 and still in remission.  Or Erick, who I recently met at a melanoma gala, who is nearly 10 years in remission from Stage 4!  Another friend of mine, Kari, is almost 10 years out from Stage 4, and even though she is fighting the battle (bravely) again, she is still here--kicking and screaming.  This other friend, Carol, that I know, has an incredible story--10 years into remission from Stage 4 and she had 77 tumors in her body!  Her story is miraculous and one that I will be sharing on my blog soon.  She not only beat Stage 4 melanoma, but has beat breast cancer 3 times!  Then, there is Lisa, whom I met on Facebook and is treating her Stage 4 melanoma through holistic and natural methods.  She is alive and doing well!  I could go on and on--Mike, Jen, Robin, Ruby, Lisa, Janice, Kim, Bob, Kristina, Tammi, Michelle--so many melanoma warriors and survivors who I have met and who have inspiring stories of survival.

And then I read stories of melanoma warriors who are still in the fight--fighting with every ounce of bravery, courage, and strength they can muster--to try to win the fight.  My fondest desire is that every melanoma warrior will come out on top and beat this monster. Unfortunately and all to often, I hear of those who ultimately lost their lives to melanoma.  These stories sadden me so much, that sometimes, I have to temporarily cut myself off and take a little break from the melanoma "world".  I stop reading others' blogs, I don't pay much attention on Facebook, and I don't read the forums.  It makes me feel selfish and guilty for not being supportive for these fellow warriors and I feel awful for not recipricating the kind of love and support that I felt from so many during my own fight.  But it is my only coping mechanism.  It is the only way I can seperate myself from all the discouraging and devasting stories.  It is how I balance my emotions and not let them get the best of me.  I just have to go into my little bubble.  Shut off the "noise" around me and focus on me for a time-- my health, my family, and my life.  I have to regain optimism and hope and then move forward again.

For any readers out there that might feel that I haven't supported you in your journey, please know that I am truly sorry.  Please forgive me for not being there for you.  But please know how often I think of you, pray for you, and send my love and positive thoughts.  There isn't a day that goes by that I think of all the people I know who have fought bravely or are currently fighting this disease.  I want ALL of us to win.  I want melanoma to lose the battle and disappear into oblivion! 


Here is what I want to say to each and every melanoma warrior out there.  Melanoma might be big, bad, and terrible.  And yes, it takes too many lives.  But that doesn't mean that you should surrender to it.  It doesn't mean that "it" is bigger than YOU.  It doesn't mean that you can't come out on top.  One of the most beautiful blessings that has come into my life as a result of my melanoma diagnosis is hearing these amazing stories of survival and meeting and becoming life-long friends with these fellow warriors.  Their stories have uplifted me, inspired me, and most importantly, have been the glimmer of hope in a dark tunnel of darkness when the world seems to be crashing down upon me.  If it weren't for these survivors and friends, I can openly and honestly say, that I might not be here today. 

These people have given me everything I need to believe that I can do this.  I can be one of them.  I can be a miracle just like them.  I can and WILL defy the odds and statistics.  I will be a success story.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have strengthened  me, (which is ALL of you) in some way or another.  We must stick together, we must lift each other up, and we must seek out those that need a little bit of encouragment, hope, and courage to face the fight. 

To those who are in the midst of the battle, keep on going.  Don't stop.  Take one day at a time and know that there are so many miracles happening around you.  Surround yourself with optimism and hope, surround yourself with people who lift you up, and look forward with faith and an unconquerable spirit. 

You can do this.  Just believe.

1 comment:

cicada said...

thanks for your story! My partner is dancing w/ stage 4 as well--it has traveled from original site in his leg to nodes in the lungs and small bumps in his neck and cheek. We are waiting for a clinical trial of PD-1--a new drug that is the "grandson" of Ippi. I'm wondering what treatment you undertook, and assume you explored alternative healing as we are. many blessings to you!