Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Meandering with Melanoma....

Jillian continues to deal with the effects from the treatment of this disease, Melanoma Cancer.. Most recently, she has been having blurred vision. We think it is related to being in the sun without sunglasses. The drug she is on, Zelboraf, causes extreme sun sensitivity. So not only is it important to wear sun screen, and sunglasses, it is critical. She can be out in the sun for only 3 minutes and blister without protection. As her mother, mama bear, I have to juggle between being concerned and proactive, with being a ‘worry wart’, and hovering. I think, with Jillian’s help, I’ve pretty much mastered it. Finally. One of her eye flashing looks will tell me I’ve crossed the line. One of her grins tells me, I love you anyway mom. J

Recently I finished reading the book, Unbroken , by Laura Hillenbrand. This is a story of a World War II POW. A story of survival, resilience, and redemption. It’s one of those books that stay with you. I’ll find myself thinking about a particular chapter, and I can’t help but compare this man’s story with Jillian, and my fellow Melanoma Cancer warriors, and their stories.

 I stand in awe of the human instinct for survival. I am amazed at what the human body can endure. Oh, you hear the stories, so and so has melanoma and is undergoing chemo. So and so has melanoma and is in the hospital waiting for his T-Cells to grow. So and so just had surgery, so and so completed full brain radiation. Uh huh. You hear those stories, but do you? I think it’s normal to hear them, say a quick prayer, and then look at the “to do” list hanging on the refrigerator.  Do we really know what it means to have melanoma cancer?  These Faces of Melanoma are the hero’s, the true warriors. These faces are going through treatment, while trying to live a normal life. They have families, they go to work. They jog twice a day whether they feel like it or not. They have to remember their medications, have them refilled. They have to schedule time around their Dr. appointments and scans. They have to accommodate their schedules for feeling crappy and fatigued. Something I was reminded of today. These Faces of Melanoma undergo trials. Jillian did last summer. These Faces are at the forefront of new discoveries, and they endure the effects of the treatment, without knowing the outcome. They do it for themselves, and they do it for you.  And yet, through it all, these Faces of Melanoma thrive. They know how precious each day is. Rarely do they take those days for granted. They are loving and compassionate, and they always give of themselves to others in spite of their own challenges.

Last Sunday, I started the day feeling sorry for myself. Jenni moved into an apartment on Friday with friends, getting ready to begin college in the fall. I spent the day Saturday working in my yard. I was just plain weary. And I think my last cub leaving the den hit harder than I thought it would. So, while sitting in church that morning, I almost walked out the door. I could feel the lump forming in my throat, and the tears threatening to fall. But I stayed, and I’m glad I did. I needed to hear the message, because it was intended just for me. :) The pastor reminded me that while things don’t always make sense, He is with us while we meander, and that we pick up people along the way to meander with us. And this is so true for our family.

 The Faces of Melanoma. So happy to meet you, and to share in your journey. You have blessed my life far beyond my imagination. And I promise you. I will walk beside you, and I will fight for you. I will never stop.



  1. As always, I am in awe of your writing talent, your strength and your love. You are an amazing women and role model! I love you, my dear friend, and will continue to be at your side!

  2. Sue, you are awesome! Thank you for spreading awareness and letting us in your heart. Love to you and Jillian!

  3. Sue...this is the first i have read your blog. Thank you for realizing that the "face" of melanoma isnt easy to look at. I am one of those faces and i often wonder why but i think it has made me stronger and have more passion for life. I know that God knows what he is doing and i am a dummy when it comes to figureing out the whys so i just hang on. Thank you for being part of this ride and jillian sure is lucky. I will keep both of you in my prayers....Jolaina Walling

  4. No one can truly know, until they have walked in your shoes. You are a true warrior. May God bless you.

  5. another inspiring post Sue...I hope you are feeling more uplifted this week-from your FB posts it feels like there is pep and optimism in your words. I hope so.
    I posted a thank you for my card note as a comment on one of the posts, but I want to thank you again for your sweetness.
    I looked for an update about Jillian's UM trip this week,but seem to be overlooking it. A candle is lit in church as always for the 2 of you! God bless

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.