Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life is Good Today!

Life is definitely good today in the words of my new favorite band - The Zac Brown Band.  Today I celebrate THREE YEARS of NED status!!!  I can't believe that it has been three years.  As I look back on these three years I can see so much of my life that has changed.  I am so thankful for the family and friends that I have and the life that I have.  I can only wish that I keep celebrating June 29th for MANY years to come!

We just returned from our annual trip to Destin and it was amazing!  We got some great family pics thanks to my BFF Mary!  She would be the other hottie in the pic at the bottom - lol!  The girls are doing great - Addison is 4 next month and Mia starts 1st grade!  I know - I can't believe they are that old either!!  Mike is doing okay - he was diagnosed with diabetes right before we left for our trip.  They put him on meds and that along with a sugar free diet is keeping is sugar in line!  I am still going to school as well as sewing like a mad woman!  I started my little business and sell my items in a consignment store in Lumberton.  My nana who was a seamstress would be so proud!

Thanks so much to everyone who offer their prayers and good wishes for me - it really does mean so much to me!   Wish me luck in August as I go for scans again!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another life lost to Melanoma

On April 1st, Marcus Stanley lost his battle with melanoma.  His wife, Mindy, entered my life while I was in the middle of chemo.  Dr. Lavalais suggested that I meet them since our stories were so similar.  Marcus was diagnosed as Stage III and was about to start the treatments and we both had two little girls.  I met Mindy and we immediately clicked.  Our girls played at the park as we talked about melanoma and what Marcus could expect with his treatments.  I know Mindy was so thankful to be able to connect with someone who was experiencing the same thing, but it felt so good for me to be able to reach out and help someone else. 

Marcus had a rough time with the treatments and eventually the melanoma spread to his lungs.  Despite the statistics, Mindy kept her faith in God that he would answer her prayers to heal Marcus.  I have never witnessed that kind of faith that Mindy has.  She was so strong and so graceful, taking care of Marcus and their two daughters with every bit of the kind of faith I long for. Even though God chose to heal Marcus by taking him from this world, Mindy has accepted that and her faith has only become stronger!  Wow - she is an amazing woman!!!

So, please wear your sunscreen, don't go to tanning beds and be sun safe.  Don't let Marcus' death be in vain.  Learn from this tragic loss that melanoma can be prevented.  For more on the Stanley family, visit Mindy's blog at www.melanomawife.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the Season!


I can't believe it has been so long since I have posted - clearly a sign that I am doing better!  I have been coping much better lately, especially since my conversation with Tara's mom.  Ever since Tara passed I have had this tremendous amount of guilt that she was taken and I am still here.  Same goes for my friend Amy and Mindy's husband who have both progressed to Stage IV.  We all started out as Stage III and slowly each has progressed to Stage IV.  It is very scary living with the idea that my cancer has a better chance of recurring than not.  It makes me thankful for each day I am given.


Those who have kept up with my blog know that I have ongoing struggle with God and religion.  It is so hard for me to have faith in anything because of certain things that have happened to me in my life, much less a God I can't even see.  However, when talking to Tara's mom, faith began to creep in.  I sent her a card to see you she was doing and to express how much Tara had meant to me and I am so sorry she is gone and that I am still here.  She called me when she received the card and we both just broke down. She assured me that Tara was watching over me and was not going to let my cancer come back.  She said that Tara would not let God do that to me no matter what.  She said Tara was angry in the end, but at the same time was glad it was her instead of someone else.  I don't know if it's because I want to believe it so much that Tara really is watching over me or because she really is, but I just had a sense of peace after that conversation.  A couple of days later I received a package from Tara's mom.  It was a James Avery charm bracelet.  She said Tara had always wanted one and never had gotten one so Tara had sent her mom to get this one for me.  It had an angel charm to represent that Tara is looking after me among other charms. 

So, as I move forward into the holiday season, I am so happy to be alive and be loved.  I have an amazing life complete with two beautiful girls, a husband that is absolutely the best, a great house and a sense of fulfillment.  The fulfillment part had been giving me such a hard time since I stopped working two years ago.  But now, I have finally made that transition to being fulfilled without having a career.  Thanksgiving was one of the best we have had in a long time.  I am so thankful for that!

In other news, Mia turns SIX next week!!  I remember when she was born like it was yesterday and now she is growing up so fast.  She is so smart and such a happy little girl.  We have invited all 8 girls in her class over for a slumber party and I can't wait to see how that goes - she is so excited!

Football season finally ended and we all survived.  Mike's team went 4-6, which was a major improvement since they only had one win in the two seasons prior. 

School is still going great - I've been at it for over a year now and it has just become part of my life and routine now.  I have made all A's and one B and just two more years until I'm done.  I don't know if I will actually use my degree or if I will just continue to be a stay-at-home mom and stay stress free.  I think being stress free plays a major role in whether or not my cancer comes back, so if we can afford it, I want to stay home.

Addison is doing great.  I am so thankful that she and I get to spend everyday with each other.  She is enjoying preschool and learning a lot which is good for her and gives me a break as well, even if it is only 4 hours a week.

So, Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope your holidays are great and 2010 treats everyone well!  I know I am going to enjoy every minute!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

RELIEF, RELIEF, RELIEF

So, it has been a while since I posted to my blog. I have to admit that I have been somewhat of a basket case this past month. Scanxiety was definitely getting the best of me. I think part of it was Tara's birthday was July 14th, five months after her death. The other part was so many of my connections to people on MPIP.org (Melanoma Patients Information Page) had recurrences or had passed. And, I had a swollen node in my neck that I had to have biopsied which turned out to just be a reactive node. It was just a really difficult few weeks, but thank goodness I had my scans on Monday and Tuesday I was told that I remain NED (no evidence of disease)!! So, that is 2 years and 2 months of NED status. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to hear those words. I feel like a new woman today!! I'm going to really try this next six months til my next scans to not let this cancer get the best of me . . . I hope I succeed!



Onto better things - Mia starts kindergarten on the 24th - I cannot believe it!!! She is so grown up now and she is so excited about it. It feels great to have a child who is excited about school. I'm hoping that Addison and I will have some really good bonding time while Mia is at school and I'm hoping she won't miss her sister too much! I had a great surprise birthday for Mike this past weekend. Well, it was a surprise up until the Wednesday before when Addison let the cat out of the bag. But, it was still a great time and he couldn't believe I had done that for him. Speaking of Mike, football season has arrived and I am a football widow again! The past two weeks have been so bad since two-a-day practices have been in the mornings and he is ususally home by 3 p.m. But, all that will change with the start of school - 7 day work weeks and not getting home until after 8 every night!!



School is still going - I got my first B since I started back, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. Two more years to go!! I really enjoyed the Bible study class I went to thanks to my BFF from school, Mary. It was a great group of women and I even signed up for another class. I still have a lot of issues with religion, but we'll see how it goes!

Until my next update . . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th, Happy Life!

I had a great 4th of July! We spent it at my sister's house swimming and popping fireworks and it was so nice!!! I am so happy that we moved back from Katy and now I can't help but thinking to myself why we ever moved to begin with. Moving back has made me appreciate home. It feels good to travel the same roads I did when growing up and such a comfort to be near my sister. And, I can't tell you how excited I am that Mia will start kindergarten where I went. Everything has fallen into place and I really feel settled.

I have also gotten to reconnect with my best friend growing up, Mary. She and I had been best friends since junior high and now we both have kids the same age and she teaches at the school Mia will be at. It's so special to be able to share your life with someone that knows your past! She also invited me to a bible study class that I agreed to go to. It has to do with women being frazzled, so regardless of how I feel about religion, it is worthwhile.



We have gotten so many home improvement projects done, but still a lot more to do. Basically, I want to repaint every room in the house, so that has taken a while. Then, the kitchen needed a major overhaul and that is almost complete. Overall, I love the house and feel so at home here. Addison's birthday is in a couple of weeks, so hopefully everything will be ready for her party.





Speaking of birthdays . . . I turn 32 this month!! It's weird that I am now excited about birthdays. If there is one thing cancer does it makes you glad to grow old! I'm so thankful that I am here to celebrate another year. On June 29th, it was my two anniversary of being NED (no evidence of disease). In August I go for my next set of scans and hope that I will be clear again. Coping with the reality of recurrence does become easier, but seems to get harder when the time for scans nears. It really can consume you and I try my best to push those negative thoughts aside, but sometimes it is a struggle. There have been so many of those fighting melanoma that have lost their battle in the past couple of months. It is so sad to see those families go through so much to just lose the battle in the end. They definitely give me something to be thankful for if I didn't have enough already.

Kerri