Saturday, May 31, 2014

Unlikely Events...

There are many events in our lives that hold importance. Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day.....

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. An event. Our melanoma community has been busy blasting social media with stories of warriors, information on skin safety, new advancements in research and more. I see it fitting that I close out this month with Jillian.

You’ve heard the story. A story of a young girl, still in her teens loving life, and enjoying summer. One pesky mole on her back that just needed to be cut out. Melanoma? What’s that? That mole led up to several events in our family, and it ended Jillian’s life.

I’ve heard the comments, “ She’s too young. It just isn’t fair. Why”? I’m not questioning “why”. I’m not shaking my fist at God, asking Him how he could allow this could happen to such a vibrant young girl. I have questions about what the greater meaning of life is, however. And as we limp along this new road without Jillian, I’ll keep my eyes open looking for answers and opportunities to make it better.

In the meantime, events like Melanoma Awareness Month will be acknowledged. And if just one life is saved through sharing Jillian’s story, I’m okay with that. Well, sort of. J

Next week, in honor of our beloved Jillian, this billboard will be displayed in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Laying out and tanning beds, pretty much screwed me”- Jillian Hayes


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Changing Colors...

So here we are again. May, Melanoma Awareness Month. I marvel at how life moves forward, pulling us along with the current even as we sputter and splash our way through. Some days we feel as if we are drowning as the tenacles of despair fight to pull us down into the dark abyss. Other days we are blessed with glimpses of brilliant light just beyond the banks. Like the reach of a child, bathed in sweet smiles, waiting with open arms.

Life has changed drastically for our family this past year. We are learning to live our life without Jillian. I’m learning to live with the images of her last year on earth. Those memories are becoming less horrific for me, and  are slowly being replaced with her true essence.

I’ve lived through the death of my dad, and an untimely divorce. I moved from my home, my place of solitude. I’m beginning a year of new memories.

And it’s good! I’m learning to view my life as a huge, evolving canvas. I’m not the artist, God is. But I get to choose the colors. I prefer the bright colors of spring, rather than the greys of winter. I know there will be dark hues on my pallet, but they’ll be mixed with pastels, giving the artwork more depth.

One thing hasn’t changed. My passion for awareness and education to Melanoma. The black of this disease is the frame to my canvas. But I’m stepping through, and appreciating my Makers hand, as he paints a marvelous masterpiece for me and my family.

I’ve been blessed to have met so many beautiful people throughout my journey. The next billboard is focusing on our Caregivers. The people behind the scenes. The other half to melanoma. The ones with broken hearts learning to live with their own cancer diagnosis, but in a different way.

The below billboard will be displayed in Grand Rapids Michigan. That’s FOUR  separate locations. How’s that for getting LOUD?

*May 5- June 1
I-I96 .3 mi E/O Chicago Drive SS/Facing E.

*June 2-June 29
US-131 .5 mi S/O West River Drive WS/Facing S
*Two Bonus Locations yest to be determined
May 5-June 29

My prayer is two-fold. Learn all you can about Melanoma, tanning beds and the sun. If you have just a tiny tickler of doubt, do your research. Educate yourselves. And then share what you've learned.

You may just avoid having to live with the Black on your own canvas.
~Peace and so much love...