Saturday, September 29, 2012

Need we say more??

Wise up, people!  Tan, leathery skin does NOT look good.  Especially as you age.  Case in point?  The "tan mom" (picture below).  Guess how old she is??  44!  She looks 64!
Don't think the occasional tan is hurtful?  Tanning is a real addiction.  Just like an eating disorder.  Tanorexics think they are pale.  They don't see themselves tan enough and they tan as often as possible.  Some even a couple times a day (and will go to different salons to avoid the regulations).  It is SAD.

Most importantly, tanning bed use leads to MELANOMA (75% of the time), which often leads to DEATH....

Need we say more??  A tan is NOT worth your LIFE.  Trust me!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things work out

I love this.  And I 100% agree.  Having a good attitude, trying to make the best out of the situation, and striving to be happy is always the solution.
I look back to some of the most stressful and difficult times in my life, especially the last few years, and even despite some of the anxiousness, stress, and fear that I felt I was always happy at the end of the day.  I have always tried to live my life with the attitude of, "If my life ended today, would I be content with how my life turned out?"
That is an important question to ask ourselves! When I am feeling down or sorry for myself, I try to think of a thousand things to be grateful for.  It always works!  I even have a little "gratitude journal" where I keep notes of things I am grateful for in my life.  Blessings, answers to my prayers (big and small), miracles, and even the everyday things.
Instead of dwelling on the negative things that are going wrong in our lives, we should switch our thinking to the things that ARE going right in our lives.
And if we do just that, things always have a way of working out...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Melanoma Moon Shot

"The time is now.  Together, we will end cancer."
Those are the infamous words quoted on the MD Anderson website.  MD Anderson is a world-renown cancer and research hospital, in fact, #1 in the U.S. for cancer care. 
Just this week, MD Anderson announced something BIG.  Inspired by America's drive generations ago to put a man on the moon, MD Anderson has launced an ambitious and comprehensive action plan, called the "Moon Shots" Program, to make a giant leap for patients and to dramatically accerlerate the pace of coverting discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.
Over the course of this decade, MD Anderson will donate BILLIONS of dollars to research to FIVE different cancers.  These initial "moon shots" will ultimately lead to cures for all types of the disease.

What is most exciting about this newly launched program is that MELANOMA was chosen as one of the cancers that MD Anderson has chosen to focus on.  It is a little well-known fact that melanoma has historically been one of the least funded cancers for research.  Which would explain why the statistics and prognosis for survival of late-stage patients is so dismal.  Because there have been many exciting advances for the treatment of melanoma in the last few years (hooray!), this momentum will only accelerate with MD Anderson's new program.
Upon reading this news, I was so relieved, optimistic and hopeful.  Relieved because like many late-stage melanoma patients, I am grateful that we have finally taken this big step to put more resources in treating melanoma and finding a cure.  I really do believe the end to this disease is closer than we think.  And maybe we won't find a "cure", but we find treatments that are effective for the long-term that stabilize or manage the disease to greatly prolong the life of a patient.  (Maybe like HIV?)
I am optimistic and hopeful that I will still be around when we find a cure.  And how great will be that day!  Finding more effective treatments (with hopefully less side effects) will save thousands of lives in the U.S. and millions worldwide.
To read more about MD Anderson's Melanoma's Moon Shot program, go here.  On their website, there are also some very inspiring stories of patients who have been treated for melanoma at MD Anderson and are doing well.  When I read their stories, I was struck by the commonalities that all of us melanoma warriors share...
Hopeful to find something that will "hold off" our disease, hopeful that we can hold out for something better in the future, and hopeful that we can finally beat melanoma at its own game.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

SU2C Story: Hillary Quinn Kind

This young, brave woman's story was shared at the Stand-Up 2 Cancer's annual telecast recently.  Her story is remarkable and inspiring.  I hope that Hillary continues to fight melanoma, to ignore the statistics, and to live a long, happy life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Never give up on anybody...

Not too long ago, I posted about a fellow melanoma friend and blogger, Alisa (see my post).  She is my age, married, with 3 boys.
If you can recall, I wrote about how inspired I was by her story, her strength and courage, but also how real she is in sharing her struggles with cancer (and finds humor in them!).  Through all of her challenges though, she has remained optimistic and hopeful for a MIRACLE.
In June of this year, she and her family received unfortunate news that the melanoma had further metastasized.  Her scans dated in June showed metastasis in her brain and all throughout her body. 
She had over 100 tumors.  Yes, you heard me, 100.
Alisa started Yervoy shortly after her June scans and only a couple weeks later noticed that some of her subcutaneous lesions appeared to be "melting away".  She was hopeful that this was a good response to treatment.  Right before her next scheduled infusion of Yervoy, she developed colitis and was unable to do the second treatment.  Because of the state of her colon, she was never able to do another treatment of Yervoy.
Hence, Alisa only had ONE treatment of Yervoy.
Her faith remained as she prayed that maybe one treatment would be enough (as she was seeing success).   Well, it was enough.
Just yesterday, Alisa had scans again and I couldn't be more thrilled for her, as the results were ASTOUNDING.
Alisa went from over 100 tumors down to FOUR.
If that isn't a miracle, than I don't know what is.  What a wonderful blessing to Alisa and her sweet family! 
And what a testament that good ole' prayers and faith WORK.  That sometimes ONE can be enough because God's power comes in and does the rest.  It is through His onmipotent power that Alisa was healed.
When I heard Alisa's news on Facebook, I literally cried and jumped up and down!  I haven't even met Alisa yet (in person), but I have felt compelled by her story to encourage, uplift, and pray for her through her fight.
Melanoma might be a devasting disease to so many, but that doesn't mean that miracles don't happen.  For Alisa, myself and so many others that I know, I am so grateful that miracles do exist! 
(If you would like to read Alisa's blog post sharing this news, along with some pretty amazing pictures of before/after scans, go here.) 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Subtracting, not Adding.

I don't know why, but when I saw this quote on Pinterest, it really struck me.  Sometimes I feel that I have too much going on in my life.  When I start analyzing the things that are "wrong" or not quite right with my life (or maybe just exactly where I want them to be), I often think the solution is to do more, to do better, or to do differently.
Maybe the answer though is to subtract
To simplify my life, even though simplifying implies that it will still be busy (how can it not be with two young children?!), is a tough thing to do when you're a mother, a Type A, and always running 100 mph an hour.  The answer might be that I need to go out of my comfort zone (like, WAY out of my comfort zone) and take a step back and slow down.
This is not a new thing to me.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it's a recurring theme in my life and I'm also certain that I've blogged about this before? ;)  I wouldn't be surprised.
I think one of my life struggles is trying to slow down.  Cancer definitely taught me at times to do this.  And for a short time, I did slow down.  WAY down.  But that was easy to do then--when I wasn't feeling good during treatments or traveling back and forth to CA so frequently, that I didn't have time to put extra things on my plate.
But that was then, and this is now.  Am I supposed to re-learn this lesson?  Do I need to slow down?  Some things in our life just aren't going the way we would want or plan them to be.  And yes, I know such is life.  But I feel like we are at a pivital point where big decisions are before us and we need to figure out what to do, where to go with these choices, and most importantly, how to get where we ultimately want to be.
For now, I am trying to revaluate my life and look at the things that are taking precious time away from the most important things--our family, our relationships, and our goals.  If something doesn't fit into those categories, than I guess it isn't important enough and should be crossed off the list.
We have all heard the phrase, "There is a time and a season for everything."  Maybe the time now is to slow down and focus on the big things and not the unimportant things.