Thursday, March 22, 2012


Bleeding mole checked/removed/tested.
Unexpected results from pathology positive. Melanoma Cancer. Stage II
Mapping, wide excision. Sentinel lymph node removed + one
Results from lab. Surrounding margins clear
Not an exorbitant amount of celebrating results due to lack of knowledge of this terrorist of cancers.
Recovery from surgery. Complications with healing. Another procedure to open wound to help heal.
Checkups every three months. Smooth sailing.
One year anniversary of surgery. Dr orders PET scan “just to be sure”.
September 23, 2010. Positive. Cancer. Stage IV. Tumors, one in each lung. Large tumor in liver.
Surgery to remove half of the liver.
Appt at U of M to discuss options.
Brain MRI
Positive for tumors.
Stereotactic Radio Surgery on brain
Stereotactic Radio Surgery on brain
Clinical Trial/BRAF
Scans/Shrinking tumors
Scans/Shrinking tumors
Scans/Changes in tumors
Scans/positive growth in tumors/new tumors/off trial.
Full brain radiation
Yervoy infusions
Scans/more tumors
Stereotactic Radio Surgery on brain
Scans/tumors shrinking

This condensed version of Jillian’s Journey tires me. J

I’ve listed some of the emotions that were experienced with Jillian’s initial diagnosis, but I haven’t mentioned them as we moved forward with her treatments. They are all present, however, plus many, many more.  Until I had a child with cancer, I had never experienced the intensity of these emotions.  And here is where I want to apologize, and to acknowledge my dear friend Mary.

Mary, her husband Ron, and their children, Ross and Jason , lost their daughter/sister, Kristen Joy  to leukemia at the age of 20 on Christmas day nine years ago. I walked that walk with them while Kristen was sick and undergoing treatments. Or so I thought. Now, as I move through this cancer journey as a mother of a child with cancer, I am ashamed. I’m stricken at my inability to see how all encompassing this cancer world is. I’m sorry I couldn’t feel what she was feeling. I’m sorry because I can’t get that time back in our lives, and to be a better friend. I specifically remember a time when Mary and I went out for breakfast together. We hadn’t seen much of each other because she spent so much time caring for Kristen. I loved having that time with her, but I felt as though I didn’t have my friend across the table with me. She seemed distracted, somewhere else. I  recall when she told me she was ready to get going so she could head back to the hospital. I felt disappointed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I could kick myself now. You were right where you needed to be. For Kristen, for your family, for yourself.

Mary and I have spoken at length of how being the parent of a child with cancer changes you. I believe you go through a stage of grieving for that lost self. The loss of innocence in a way.

 I’m at the checkout line at the grocery store and the clerk asks me, “how are you”? I think, “do you really want to know”? Should I reply, “My child is fighting stage IV melanoma and she just had full brain radiation”.  Innocence.

I’m at the mall and I see a mother and daughter shopping together. I don’t see any of the worry lines creasing that mothers brow as they talk and share a smoothie. Innocence.

 I observe young mothers walking their baby daughters in their strollers enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.  And I PRAY they never, ever, have to meet Cancer. I could go on and on….. I know that I will never be the same person. The loss of innocence.

Nope, I’m not the same person, but that is all okay. I have grown and learned so much.  I’ve learned about the power that comes from a ticked off Mama Bear, and what it can accomplish.  I’ve learned a TON about my daughter and what she is made of. How she has taught me what true courage is. How she has shown me the face of a true hero. But most of all , I’m reminded over and over of God’s grace and how He works Miracles every day in our lives.

So, after a night of tossing and turning as I mulled over my shortcomings as a mother and a friend, I woke up refreshed. Today I am going to  celebrate the good news we received yesterday.  Jillian’s brain is stable, and her tumors are shrinking. Today I acknowledge the gift of JOY . Today I know that I am right where I need to be.

Much love and peace.