Friday, November 30, 2012

28 Months and counting!

I am so beyond happy to report that my latest scan results were good and that my remission continues!  I am closer and closer to that 3 year mark and that is a big deal!
Even though I physically feel healthy, I always get very anxious when it's scan time because I know how quickly things can change, and often without symptoms.  So, every clean scan I get I praise the Lord that I am able to continue on this path of remission!
Sometimes it is so hard to hear different results from other melanoma comrades.  The very same week I was having scans, many others were also doing the same.  When I heard that some of those warriors were not getting favorable results, my heart broke for them!  I feel this strange pull of emotion upon hearing that news--on one hand, grateful that I am still in remission, but on the other, almost guilty for it too!  I want so badly for everyone to have good news and success with treatments.
Even still, I continue to support them in their fight and pray for their own miracles.  I guess that is all I can do.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Sometimes I go back and read back through my blog to when I first began this journey with melanoma.  It is always therapeutic, strengthening and humbling to recall some of the experiences (both good and bad) that I have had the past few years.
One thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately (and often forget) are some of the painful, not-so-fun experiences that I have had.  For example, I still remember very clearly the day I was told I had Stage 4 Melanoma. It was literally like a bus ran over me.  Or a knife stabbing my heart.  Hearing those words from my doctor was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life.  And obviously not in a good way.  I felt like I was having a nightmare or out-of-body experience where I didn't feel connected to the experience that I was having.  Almost like I was just "watching" or "witnessing" myself being told that news.  It was very strange.  And then grasping that news and dealing with it was a whole different ball game.  It was so frightening, that even now I tear up just remembering how scared I was.  I would cry at the drop of the hat just thinking about the enormity of my situation, the unknown of the future, and how delicate my life hung in the balance...
I remember thinking to myself upon hearing that dreadful news that, "I might not make it to my 35th birthday".  That milestone seemed so far away and yet I was still SO young!  Now, as I approach that birthday in 2 months, I am overwhelmed with joy that I WILL make it to my 35th birthday.  I hope to celebrate it in a big way because there was a time when I honestly doubted I would see that day come.
Another memory or instance that has crossed my mind recently was an experience quite polar opposite from the previous.  And that was hearing the news from my doctor that my treatment was working.  I was half way through my biochemotherapy and had just completed scans.  I was so anxious to hear the results, just hoping and praying that they were good and that we could continue on this path to remission and recovery.  What I didn't expect was to hear that not only was the treatment working, but miraculously 5 of my 6 tumors (which were quite large), were gone.  Dissapated.  No evidence or trace of them left behind. And the one remaining was more than half its size and no longer active!  I remember watching my doctor excitedly tell me the results and the only words that came to my mind were, "It's a miracle."
Because it was.  It was truly a miracle.  I have witnessed miracles in my life before.  But nothing like this.  I was so overcome with emotion, gratitude to my Heavenly Father for healing me through the medicine, and filled with love for all the prayers and love being sent from so many family members, friends, and even strangers.  I knew at that moment that prayers really do work.
It's memories like these that I am so grateful for because I always want to remember them.  When I remember them, I am humbed, strengthened, and reminded of the blessings I have been given in my life and that is truly a gift!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Much gratitude

When I reflect on the "low points" of my life,  I can honestly say that I have always remained happy despite the challenges and found joy in my life.  And I think that this quote really sums it up.  If we can always find the blessings and good things in our life, then we can truly be happy, even when times are tough.

This year I have so much to be grateful for.   My life is overfull of love from all my family and friends, I have good health, I have a warm home and bed, I live in a free country, I have Jesus Christ in my life, and a lot of faith and hope for a bright, LONG future!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sol Survivors success!

We have had success these past couple of months with our foundation, Sol Survivors Melanoma Foundation, in raising awareness for melanoma and educating our youth.  We recently spoke at Timberline and Rocky Mountain High School in Boise and have plans to speak to 2 more schools in December.
It has been such an empowering experience talking to these youth about melanoma and sharing our  knowledge as well as our personal stories with melanoma.  So far, we have gotten AWESOME feedback from both the teachers and students in the schools and all have invited us back next semester to repeat the curriculum.  Some of the things we cover in our presentation are:
1.  Melanoma facts and statistics relevant to the youth
2.  Common misconceptions and myths of melanoma/skin cancer
3.  Risk factors for melanoma
4.  Detection (ABCDE's)
5.  Prevention strategies
6.  Anti-tanning
7.  Embracing their skin or "Going with their Glow"
We try to make the whole presentation relatable to these teens by making it interactive, asking/answering questions, and even making it humerous at times.  We also show the Dear 16 Year Old Me video at the end, and of course share our personal stories with melanoma, both of which really grab their attention.
It has been effective so far, I think.  We have had a few students tell us they promise not to tan anymore!  Success!
The best part for me is sharing a little of my story with them as I know it relates to the choices they are making right now (that I also did at their age).  We are so grateful that our mission is moving forward and know that in the process of educating others, we will save lives ultimately!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I love this because when I think back to the journey I've been on, it's never been just me.  It's a slew of people behind me that have helped me get me to where I am today.
I have said this time and time again, but having a strong support system really does matter and can often make the difference between life and death.
To anyone out there fighting cancer or any other kind of illness, make sure to thank your loved ones for supporting you!  Your "wellness" depends on it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Live Like You're Dying

Sometimes we fall down, can't get back up
We're hiding behind skin that's too tough
How come we don't say I love you enough?
'Til it's to late, it's not too late

Our hearts are hungry for a food that won't come
And we could make a feast from these crumbs
And we're all staring down the barrel of a gun
So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would've done?

Yeah, we gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin'
If every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying

We only got 86 400 seconds in a day to
Turn it all around or to throw it all away
We gotta tell 'em that we love 'em while we got the chance to say
Gotta live like we're dying

And if your plane fell out of the skies
Who would you call with your last goodbye?
Should be so careful who we left out of our lives
And when we long for absolution, there will be no one on the line

Yeah, we gotta start lookin' at the hands of the time we've been given
If this is all we got, then we gotta start thinkin'
If every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying

--Lyrics by Kris Allen

Friday, November 2, 2012


Almost a year ago, the founder of Needs Beyond Medicine approached me and asked if I would be willing to have my photograph taken for their annual fundraising event in SLC, UT in November of 2012.  This event, called canSURVIVE is a wonderful, unique event in which cancer survivors' photographs and stories are beautifully displayed in a gallery stroll.  Each story and survivor is different, inspiring, and evokes strength and courage.
I was humbled to be chosen as one of the survivors they honored in the event, and the picture above is the one they chose to display (not my favorite however!).  I wish we were able to attend this event (which is actually tonight), but we just had too many conflicting things on our schedule.
Needs Beyond Medicine is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to diminishing the burden of cancer by increasing awareness, education, and giving relief to cancer patients. The organization’s Relief Program is the primary means of support for patients. Through this program, Needs Beyond Medicine offers small financial grants to cancer patients. These grants are designed to help with non-medical expenses such as food, utility bills, transportation to therapy, etc.
To learn more about this incredible foundation and the work they do, or to see if you would qualify for financial assistance as a cancer patient, please go here.