Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Smell the Stupid Roses.....

I’ve heard it said many times over the years, “Cancer changes you”. I’ve always believed that statement to be true, but what I didn’t realize was that the changes aren’t always so wonderful.

I’ve often heard people say, “Cancer doesn’t define me”. I wonder, what does that mean? In one fell swoop, hearing the Dr. tell Jillian, “ You have melanoma”, has defined my whole world! It sure has defined me. Nothing is the same. Nothing.

I think about Jillian throughout the day, every single day. I cry sitting at my desk at work some days when a random memory skitters across my heart. Not a sob, just tears running down my face with a lump in my throat. I can usually take the memory, give it a kiss, and safely tuck it away for when I can really examine it. And then I go about my day.

But that underlying sadness is always there. Yes, I have memories. Many, many, wonderful memories. But somehow, it doesn’t feel finished.
The memories are not enough and I want more. There goes that lump again. Damn.

I have very little tolerance for people with their judgement's and grudges these days. That is one of the not so great changes cancer has left in its wake. I just have no patience for that nonsense.  Figure out your stuff and fix it.

If you could take yourself to the ocean, or in my case, Lake Michigan, and just be still. Sit on the beach (with sunscreen of course), and let the sounds and smells seep into your being, lulling you into a sense of peace. Go to the place of wonder where the vastness of our beautiful world reminds you that we are so insignificant and small in comparison. Nature has always done that for me. It brings me to God. In the end, that is the only thing that really works for me. “Be still and know that I Am God”.

I look at my life, the plans I had, and I can hardly believe this is where I am today. It’s almost like I’m reading someone’s story other than my own. This stuff just doesn’t happen, or if it does, most certainly not to me. So surreal. But I am making my own story too, in a sense. It’s not all out of my control. I can control how I live through it, how I react to it. How I grow through it. And I’m okay with all that. I really am okay.

Although cancer has made some negative changes in me, it has given me a new set of eyes that come with a deeper understanding than I’ve ever had before. A deeper appreciation for my children, and their mates. For my grandchildren. For all of my family, and Steve’s family. For my friends. I appreciate all of you, and how you’ve stood by me and loved me when I’m not so loveable.

I love you. Thank you.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May-Melanoma Awareness Month 2017

I’m a blogger. So I guess I’ll blog.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. We are on Day 3. For quite some time, I’ve been trying to limit my activity on social media. When Jillian first died, I was a mad woman trying to promote awareness to this horrific disease. Billboards everywhere, TV interviews, calls and emails with people touched in some way by melanoma….I couldn’t stop. I had to share what I knew, I had to keep Jillian’s name alive. I was horrified by the thought that she would be forgotten. I did not want another family to experience the searing grief that we do.

I began to realize that all of this activity was hurting me. I would scroll through Facebook and read the stories. Stories of young children fighting for their lives. KIDS! Stories about young wives and husbands trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after their spouse has died. How do they deal with the aftermath? How can they possibly explain this to their young children? “Daddy is in Heaven, sweetheart”. “Mommy loved you so much, she’ll be watching over you and will always be with you”.  (I want them here with me!)

And then there are the young girls loving their tanning beds, showing off their Golden Glow. Getting their “base” tan. Soon after, having to hold their best friends hand as she explains she now has Melanoma Cancer.

And the photos of the scars. Some of them would literally turn my stomach and make me sick. So much mutilation.

But let’s not forget the people I have known and loved that have died from this disease. The Melanoma community is a tight knit group of individuals. We support each other, we share, we cry and we love. And when one of them dies, we all grieve. It brings back every single moment I experienced with Jillian. AND IT HURTS!!!

Mothers and Fathers who have lost their children to melanoma, swimming in grief. How does that work? I can safely say, not very well.
Parent's aren't supposed to bury their children.

And then, we have the dear friends that we have grown to know and love. Some we have even met in person. The ones whose melanoma has progressed. We stand by helplessly. We pray for them. I hate it.

It makes me angry when people know the dangers of the sun and tanning beds but they choose to go ahead and risk their lives in spite of the warnings. Even the people who knew Jillian personally. I wonder if they truly understand that they are not only hurting themselves, but they are hurting the ones that love them. The ones that depend on them. Good grief.

I cannot change the world. I can only change me and do what is right for me on this day. This moment. And it is always changing.

For this Melanoma Month of May, 2017, I will pull up my big girl pants and fight for you. I will continue to post information in the hopes that you listen. I will do this in spite of the pain it causes me. We all do in our grassroots community. I’m not alone in this, not by a long shot. We do this for YOU. And for those that love you.

So, when you roll your eyes and move past these incessant melanoma awareness posts in your news feed this month, think about the intentions behind them. Perhaps we might just save a life. Maybe it’ll be yours.

Maybe mine.

~ Peace