Tuesday, January 31, 2012

{Stinkin'} melanoma

This made me chuckle. I had to share. It certainly sums up how we feel about melanoma, right?!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Acidic vs. alkaline

Often people that are battling cancer have heard or read that maintaining a healthy pH balance by eating a diet that promotes a slightly alkaline pH within the body MIGHT be good protection against cancer. Of course, there is always going to be opposing arguments that say that there is no evidence that a slightly alkaline diet is better. I guess the jury is still out on that one.

Here are what the proponents of eating a slightly more alkaline diet say...(Keep in mind that you should draw your own conclusions from this argument.) Studies have shown that in the test tube, cancer cells and tumors thrive and grow in a more acidic environment. When the level of acid is lowered, tumors grow much more slowly. If this behavior occurs in the test tube, it stands to reason that cancer cells in the body would also be detrimentally affected by an overall alkaline environment. It would also make sense that if the body’s pH is acidic, then the growth of cancer cells and tumors would be encouraged. By eating mostly foods that make the body’s pH more alkaline, there would be LESS of a chance for cancer cells to develop and grow. So, by adjusting the diet, it is actually possible to create a less hospitable environment for cancer cells, thus improving a person’s chances of experiencing good health.

Proponents of a more alkaline diet also believe that cancer cells do not grow well in the presence of oxygen. When oxygen levels are low, cancer cells have more of an opportunity to thrive and multiple. When body tissues have a high alkaline level, they are able to hold much more oxygen as compared to tissues with a high acid level. A high alkaline level within the body also makes it easier for cells to discard waste and toxins. As a result, tissues and cells within the body are more susceptible to damage and unhealthy conditions if the body’s pH is too acidic. By maintaining a slightly alkaline pH, you’ll be helping to protect your body’s cells in addition to discouraging the development and growth of cancerous cells.

Now here is what the opposition says about the alkaline/acidic balance and cancer...(from the source, Caring 4 Cancer: http://www.caring4cancer.com/go/cancer/nutrition/questions/acid-balance-in-the-body-and-cancer.htm "It is true that cancer cells can create acid. This can make the small area in and around cancer cells more acidic. But this does not make the entire body more acidic. Even though cancer cells can create acid, this does not change the acid balance in the body as a whole. Furthermore, the body controls acid balance very tightly. Tiny changes in acidity can occur, but the body cannot become significantly more acidic without serious side effects and illness.

In other words, extra acid in the body does not cause cancer. It is just the opposite: cancer cells create extra acid. But remember that even though the small area around cancer cells can be acidic, this does not make the body more acidic as a whole."

HOWEVER, this same article also states that: "It certainly can’t hurt to focus on keeping the acid (or pH) balance in our body healthy. And fortunately, the exact same foods that fight cancer in other ways also happen to make the body less acidic.

The same foods that make the body less acidic also protect cells from damage, encourage damaged cells to die (rather than to keep multiplying), provide vital nutrients that control normal cell growth, and enhance cell-to-cell communication. In a nutshell, these same foods protect the body against many steps in the cancer process."

What are these cancer-fighting foods? Well, mostly plant-based foods--vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc. In general, these foods make the body less acidic and we already know that these foods provide more nutrients through vitamins and minerals than the other food groups. So, doesn't it make sense to adopt a mostly plant-based diet? Cutting down on dairy, animal proteins (meat, chicken, fish, etc), and also processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and additives/artificial sweetners (which all rank high on the acidic end of the scale) and making room for more fruits and vegetables seem to be a fail safe, common sense nutritional practice that will aide in not only fighting cancer, but prevent other health ailments and diseases.

At the end of the day, for me what makes sense is to eat as God intended us to eat. He gave us everything we need--plants and other "natural" food sources to help us thrive, prevent disease and be healthy. The foods that man has made--all the crap that fills the aisles of our grocery stores, the fast food chains, etc.--isn't how God intended us to eat. Does it mean we don't ever indulge? I don't believe so. I don't think that it will hurt us to OCCASIONALLY have a brownie sundae or a piece of cheesecake. Balance is good, moderation even more important, and eating primarily the foods that nourish our bodies, make us feel better, and keep us healthy is what the health authorities have been saying for years. It's not rocket science!

For a complete list on acidic and alkaline foods, visit this website:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The story below is written by my friend, Sue Lescure, who is a Stage 4 Melanoma survivor, 5 years into remission. She is an incredible woman who is CONSTANTLY supporting and lifting those around her. She helped me tremendously through my treatments by offering tips and advice on getting through some of the side effects. I asked her to share her story as a way to give hope to our other melanoma comrades, or "molemates" out there that are still in the fight! Sue is a living miracle, who has beaten all odds, and is still kicking cancer's ass!

In Sue's words...

My story began in 2003. I had what I thought was a freckle on the inner corner of my eye, right where your tears come out. I had this ever since I can remember. It started to form a tumor on the surface of my eye. I had it removed and got the call two days later that the initial pathology report showed "malignant melanoma." What?! You can get melanoma on the surface of your eye? Well, I did. It's called conjunctival melanoma and it's a very rare form of melanoma.

After the diagnosis, I underwent 10 eye surgeries, proton beam radiation, and two different kinds of chemo eye drops. The melanoma managed to stay localized to my eye until 2006.

In 2006 I had a metastasis to my neck lymph nodes and underwent a radical neck dissection. When I went into my post-op appointment, my head and neck doctor informed me that I also had a spot on my lung. He then referred me to Dr. David Minor at California Pacific Medical Center. The treatment regimen Dr. Minor put me on was 6 cycles (months) of Biochemotherapy with Interleukin-2. For the next 12 months I would also be hospitalized for treatment with 3 days of IL-2. In between hospitalizations, I also had to give myself injections of Leukine and IL-2. This treatment was tough to endure to say the least, but it completely shrunk away the lung met without surgical intervention!

Surprisingly enough, during treatment my ocular melanoma was stable of disease. However, once I was not on chemotherapy, I started showing symptoms of previous "freckling" spots in my eye again, but now it was on the outside skin, on my eyelid to be specific. Dr. Minor suggested I have my eye removed in the fall of 2011. This was a no-brainer for me, being that my vision was just light and shadows anyways from all my previous surgeries, chemo and scar tissue.

So, I had my eye removed on October 14, 2011. I have no regrets. I would rather lose my eye than my life. I have no desire to let melanoma enter my bloodstream again if I can help it!

During this long journey, my perspective has changed so much. I was only given 6 to 9 months to live back in 2006. Every day I'm alive is icing on the cake. I really don't sweat the small stuff. I cherish my family so much more. I believe in the power of prayer. I feel like I am here to do more to spread awareness of this disease and let you know that melanoma can show up in unexpected places on your body. My doctor does not think mine was sun related and I have never been in a tanning bed.

I am the "Fight Back" Chairperson for Relay For Life in my community this year, I was a guest speaker to tell my story back in 2008. I am happy to say that I celebrated my 5 year NEDiversary this last November!

~Suzanne Lescure

Friday, January 20, 2012


Well, another birthday has come and gone. You know, when I hit 30 a few years ago, I had a rough time with it initially. 30 seemed so old in my eyes. I guess I felt like I didn't have anymore excuses, I was in "real" adulthood now!

Then cancer happened. And life. And kids. Gradually, I embraced this age thing. Actually, I can now say I welcome it with open arms!

For me now, every birthday is a gift. Every year that passes that I'm still here is a blessing and miracle.

Whenever I see older persons now, I think, "Man, they are sure lucky that they are still alive!" I used to never even consider that I might not be around to see old age, to see my grandkids and great grandkids grow up. I guess you could call me a little ignorant, a little over-confident. Yeah, I thought I was invincible. Well, maybe not completely, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to stare at my mortality in the face everyday. I remember when I was first diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and I had read the statistics. I thought to myself at the time, "I'll be lucky if I make it to my 34th birthday!"

Well, here I still am. Still alive. Still kicking. And not only that, but healthy and well again. My "new normal", I call it.

I still think about cancer a lot, but I can honestly say, that I don't think about it everyday anymore. Do you know how great that is? Most of my thoughts are centered on things that people my age and in my stage of life are thinking--their families, their kids, their everyday tasks and responsibilities, their hopes and dreams for the future, and all the craziness and caosis of life. It feels SO good to be back in that mode. I pray that it will continue.

Turning 34 this year is a milestone for me. If I had paid much attention to statistics, I might not be here--I was only given a 4% chance of living past 2 years! Thankfully, I don't pay attention to those numbers. I am not a number. I am a human being. And a STRONG human being at that. Actually a better word is POWERFUL. I know that I have been blessed with great strength, courage, determination, happiness, and lots of love in my life.

I am not bitter, resentful or angry that I got cancer. I don't sit around thinking that my life is pathetic and depressing. In fact, it is anything but that. I am grateful for the challenges I have faced. It has given me so much perspective on life. I am grateful that I have been able to help others along the way because that is what I have set out to do from the beginning. This journey wasn't ever about me. I have always known that. I know that God has a greater purpose for me in serving others. And I think a large part of that is helping others become healthier somehow. My whole life, my education, my career in health and fitness all led up to this. Getting cancer only fueled the fire more-- and my passion for influencing others to have good health.

So, what do I have to say about aging now? 34, bring it on! 35, can't wait! 40, oh you know I will make it there. 50, how beautiful! And 70, 80, how truly grand life has been!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Samantha Channels

I was saddened once again to hear of another courageous melanoma warrior losing her battle to melanoma . Samantha Channels was a 37 year old mother of four from Hawaii who has fought melanoma 4 times since 2004 and passed away last night. She created Got Sun Block, a company dedicated to promoting skin cancer awareness and protection. She was very passionate about her mission to raise awareness--and that she did. I'm sure her dedication to that mission will long be remembered and honored as well as the kind of person she was. My heart and prayers go out to her family at this time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sad day...

I found out today that 2 melanoma warriors that I follow, Randi and Andy have recently lost their battles with Melanoma. My heart was broken to hear this news because both were extraordinary people who fought with so much courage, optimism, hope, and determination. Both were married with children. Both were always encouraging others who were fighting along side of them, myself included. Both inspired many to keep on going, to never give up, and as Andy would always say, "Remember everyday to put one foot in front of the other, drink a lot of water, and don't forget to breathe."

Every time I hear about another melanoma warrior that has passed, my heart stops for a bit. It's always a reminder to me of how fragile life is, how awful melanoma can be, and that I am blessed to be alive still. I do not take my health for granted. And I never will. Everyday is a gift, every breath is precious, and every clean scan is the greatest blessing and answer to my prayers that I could ask for. The way I see it, every time I get good results I have just "bought myself another 3 months"! I am grateful that I still have a chance to be living, to be here with my family, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

Sometimes I am torn with guilt--why do these innocent people, who aren't any different or any less valuable than I, get taken away so suddenly while I am still here? Or does it just mean that my time hasn't come yet, but will soon enough? I know that's a morbid thought, but when you are faced with this disease, you can't help but wonder that sometimes. Of course, I know people that are still alive, like me, that have beaten the odds and are living proof that miracles don't cease. I know that I am one of those. But it just doesn't seem fair when I get to be here and someone else doesn't.
The thing about melanoma though is that it almost always has a way of finding it's way back. It is a sneaky, sneaky disease. There is no cure, and I would never say that I am "cured". I simply have a chronic disease that is currently in remission. I can only hope and pray that I am here long enough that when or if it does make it's way back, there are better solutions and treatments available to halt it's growth once again.

This road is a long one. It is definitely not a sprint, more like a ultra marathon. If there is one thing that I have learned in my life through my challenges it is PATIENCE and the ability to persevere. It's a good thing that I have a strong will to live, a very stubborn and competitive streak, and more determination than I know what to do with. I don't give any credit to myself either. I know it is my Heavenly Father who has provided me with all these "tools" to keep on keepin' on and that is exactly what I plan to do.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New year, new goals

I was reading my goals from last year and they were pretty simple (on purpose):

1. Get to remission.

2. If I get to remission, train for, and complete a couple of races.

3. Did I mention, Get to REMISSION?!

I felt pretty good upon reading these because miraculously enough, I accomplished both of those!! This year, however, I have BIGGER GOALS. Some I will not share on here because they are personal, but a couple I will share. They are (drum roll please)...

1. To build our melanoma support group here, the Idaho Sol Survivors, into a FOUNDATION. We haven't quite thought of a name for that yet (it will most likely be more broad than 'Idaho' though), but we have lots of ideas and goals. With that, we hope to first get it established as a 501c charity and then get a website started. We have lots of ideas on fundraisers, some simple, some elaborate, but I think if we can do 2 per year to start with, that would be great!

Our mission for our foundation is to promote awareness (specifically in schools and amongst younger people) for melanoma and other skin cancers in our local communities of Idaho, especially since Idaho has one of the highest incidence rates of skin cancer in the country. The second part of our mission is to provide financial aide to melanoma patients that live in a community like ours--where there is no melanoma specialist/oncologist--to travel to a place where there is, so that they can have the best opportunity to receive the newest treatments with top specialists.

Some of my other goals include...

2. Keep building my nutrition as to adopt the habits that I feel are best for my health--and my family's. (I know this might seem silly to most of you who are probably thinking, "How could she possibly eat any healthier?", but trust me, there is always more that you can be doing and I am trying to do one thing at a time.)

3. Compete in a BIGGER race this year--probably a Half Aquabike--a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride. And place 1st. (Hey, I finished 1st in both races last year. Why not a repeat?! ;)

4. Most importantly, STAY IN REMISSION!!!!

Ok, I won't bore you with any more goals. But I had to get it out there because when I write it down on record, it always seems more REAL and SET IN STONE.

What are some of your goals for 2012?