About Me

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I'm a Jesus loving girl who is blessed with an amazing husband and two beautiful children. At the age of 23, while pregnant with my firstborn I noticed a dome shaped nodular area on my left hip. It started growing larger and eventually started bleeding. After the birth of my baby girl and my 24th birthday I decided to get the ugly bump checked. The result was Stage III nodular Malignant Melanoma that had extensions into my lymph nodes. I completed a year of Interferon chemotherapy. a year later I became pregnant with my second child. After his birth I developed two more melanoma primary tumors-- stage 1 2010, and stage 2 in 2011. Since then I have made it my mission to advocate and educate to bring about melanoma awareness in hopes that it could save others from this deadly disease. Thankfully, I am very healthy and doing very well! I have No Evidence of Disease and I'm showing Cancer Who's Boss by staying fit and healthy. I plan to blog about my adventures in running over cancer during training for my first Full marathon Fall 2014. Remember to love your skin, protect your skin, and check your skin. Share the love and spread the chemical-free lotion!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Hello Friends,  Most of us have heard the phrase "The Elephant in the Room"used in conversation to talk about a topic that most certain groups like to ignore.  but to me there's two perspectives or paradigms to "the elephant in the room" phrase.  There's the group that having an elephant in the room would be impossible to ignore and the group who completely overlooks it as if it doesn't even exist.  Falling into both of these groups can both hinder us from moving forward.  As most of you know My BIG PINK ELEPHANT is Melanoma cancer.  I kinda fall into both groups at times. There are days that Melanoma stares me in the face and it keeps me from thinking of the future and then there are days when I should be taking care of a new surgical wound but instead I ignore the issue and go to tough mudder training hehe.  Thankfully there are some days where I fall in the middle and I'm able to balance the beast.  I know a lot of you are dealing with huge Elephants right now.  Your BIG PINK ELEPHANT may not be Melanoma, it may be another form of cancer, a chronic illness of some sort, it may be divorce, abuse, a sick child, a sick family member, unemployment, failure and most of the time the BIG PINK ELEPHANT isn't  something any of us have a bit of control over.  We get to the point where we feel helpless because it's out of our control.  but friends don't ever feel hopeless because there is always hope.  While Aaron and I were having one of our late night car ride "dates" (with the kids sleeping in the back seat) these thoughts came to my mind as if this voice inside me was giving me a stern talking to:  Alicia, Don't let your circumstance keep you from dreaming!  If you can't dream you have no hope for the future.  So stop looking at the BIG PINK ELEPHANT in front of you while doing nothing but worrying about it standing in your way.  Dream. Imagine. Pray. and grab a ladder to climb over top of the beast.  And if it's keeping you from getting to where you want to go then grab a whip and whip it til you get to where your going.  Whatever you do DONT STOP! PRESS ON! and KEEP GOING!  Jesus is strong enough to carry me and MY BIG PINK ELEPHANT! Giving up is NEVER an Option!   Friends, there will be hard things we will face that will be beyond challenging but this is our HOPE: "I have told you these things so that you would find comfort in Me. In this world, you will suffer; but be courageous, for I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)  There will be better days ahead, but while we're here on this earth don't just merely "pass through".  Stand tall... Make some noise... and make a difference in what your passionate about.  Don't sit back and wait for someone else to do the work.  God will equip and prepare you, just say "here am I LORD, Send me".  and ANy time I'm stressed when something seems too BIG to handle, my Hubby always says "HOw do you eat an ELEPHANT?....One bite at a time." I sure needed this little pep talk and I hope it helped some of you as well.  Friends, whatever ELEPHANT you are dealing with please know that my heart is heavy for you and I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.  If you are reading this and I don't know you personally know that I care and would love to pray for you.  It's gonna be a hot one this summer and most melanoma can be completely preventable by being sun smart.  Please remember to  Share the Love and Spread the lotion to all those around you.  Much love and God bless!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May Milestones

Hello Friends, Over the last couple of weeks so much has happened in our lives.  So many amazing milestones to celebrate and i'm so thankful to be alive, not only to witness but to feel with every part of my heart.  On May 3, 2012 I celebrated my 30th birthday.  While some may hate getting older I choose to embrace it.  I'm thankful for each year i'm alive and humbly feel so fortunate when so many are clinging onto every second they have left.  Life is beautiful, please don't waste it when so many are fighting to have just one more moment.  May 13 was a very special and hard day all in one.  First of all it was mothers day, which  also marked 3 months since my dear friend Joe passed away from melanoma and a very difficult day for Joe's mom.  Joe and His mother Leona had a very special bond...one that all of us mothers long to have with our sons. They were very close and the best of friends.  I remember just a few weeks before Joe passed away, I was sitting with him and his mom at hospice.  Joe walked over to his mom, held her so tight and said ,"Your the best Mom in the world...I love you so much." I know Joe is so proud of his momma and is giving her all honor.  He told us there would be days that would be hard but just "look up to the sky and you'll know i'm smiling down on you."  
Joe and His Momma

This year for mothers day both of my kids made framed handprints so I could always remember the size of their tiny hands.  The best mother's day gift of all was when a couple weeks ago my little six year old, who just graduated from Kindergarten asked to be baptized.  She said she couldn't wait to let everyone know that Jesus is in her heart. My baby girl is wise beyond her years.  When I had a recurrence last January she cried out to God "heal my mommy's  boo boo's cause I don't want to have to get a new mommy."  those words just broke my heart.  I've also heard her pray boldly for Joe and others who are battling cancer.  My girl is a little prayer warrior. She loves to read stories about Jesus more than anything.  Just the other day we were praying for those struggling and thanking God for all He's doing for us and after I finished praying Liv said, "mom I want more of Him."  I was a little confused about what she was meaning until she began to pray "Dear God, I love you so much thank you for all you do in my life. I love you and I want to know more about you Big guy." If we could just humble ourselves and be like little children. Matt 18:4 "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  I am so proud of my big girl!
Andrew and Livi's Hands 2012

May 13, 2012

May 18 was another huge milestone in our lives.  It was mine and Aaron's 10 Year Wedding Anniversary. We had originally planned on taking a weekend trip to celebrate but two and 1/2 weeks ago I had to have another surgery.  On may 2nd I had a wide excision, where a 3 inch hole was cut out of my hip.  A week later I developed an infection and this week I managed to bust my stitches.  Since I'm having some wound healing issues we decided it wouldn't be a good idea to go on a trip since I can't even sit in a hot tub with an open wound. Maybe in a few weeks we will get to make that trip.  I am so blessed to be married to my best friend who is an example of Christ's love. Although I didn't think our marriage would consist of him cleaning and bandaging surgical wounds for the past 5 years, with what seems like every three months I can't imagine anyone I'd rather dress up my bandages:-) My husband has been such a trooper and loves me scars and all.  I can remember back 10 years ago to our younger selves.  I just turned 20 and Aaron was 25.  We were so in love that we didn't care if we lived in a cardboard box as long as we had each other.  We were both full time college students and didn't make a lot of money. Aaron actually sold his car to help pay for our wedding.  I worked as a gymnastics coach and Aaron stocked shelves at the local save-a-lot.  We didn't have much but we were rich on love and passionate about Jesus.  Even though we were young I remember talking with Aaron about loving him in the good times and bad...In sickness and in Health.  But when you talk about those things during premarital counseling you don't think it's something your going to be dealing with in your twenties.  you think cancer happens when your old and after you've lived your life.  It's not something you think about when your pregnant with your first born.  After having cancer three times, I can tell you at times I have been unloveable.  During chemo I was very sick and Im sure I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around.  If Aaron could tell you his side of the story He would tell you he endured months of depression while I was sick.  He had a newborn baby and a wife undergoing chemo not the most idea situation to be in.  Even at the young age of 20 and 25 we picked a song by Selah to be sung by a few of our good friends.  The title of the song is "Press on".   It still amazes me that we picked this song to be sung in our wedding.  I believe God was preparing us for what we were going to be facing in the next few years of our young marriage.
Lyrics o Press On:
When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the Strength to press on

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
To press on
May 18, 2002

This year on our 10 year wedding Anniversary we walked hand in hand with our kids in the survivor lap at Relay for Life.   Then today my hubby surprised me with a couples massage and dinner date. Hopefully I will be healed and ready to make our trip in a couple weeks.  What a way to not only celebrate our love but to also celebrate our life.  Happy 10 years to my love and here's to many many more celebrations.  Friends please be safe in the sun and  don't forget to share the love and spread the lotion.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Smart Fun in the Sun

Hello Friends, Here lately I have had a lot of messages (mostly from mom's with small children and some dad's) asking what would be the best sunscreens to use on their little ones and what I do to protect my family from melanoma. I Just want to first an foremost praise these mom's and dad's for wanting to know more about being sun smart and protecting your precious babies.  When my generation of people were little our parents didn't know the dangers of the sun. We played outside all hours of the day and if you were like me you would get a few good sunburns at least in the beginning of summer and then freckle over. Sure they didn't want us to get a sun burn mostly because it hurt and we would whine, but now we know there's a more serious damage that occurs from prolonged sun exposure than what we see on the surface.  Let me explain... First off there are two different types of UV rays, UVA and UVB.  UVA rays are the type we are mostly exposed to by the sun and these are the types of rays most tanning beds use.  UVA rays can penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays.  UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and don't travel quite as far into the skin but is the cause of most sun burns. In the past UVA rays were thought to only cause wrinkling and loss of elasticity in the skin until the last two years where researchers have linked UVA exposure to the development of Melanoma.  Researchers have also said from the World Health Organization that laying in the tanning bed just one time in your youth will increase your chance of developing deadly melanoma by 75%!  That's HUGE!!!! (for more info about UVA/UVB rays and Melanoma go to http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb/understanding-uva-and-uvb)  this isn't one of those studies that says drink too much coffee and you might develop cancer, wash your hair in sulfates and you have a .00001% chance of developing cancer, this is a Lay in the tanning bed one time and your risk of developing deadly melanoma is 75%. I know those I wen't to high school with are cringing as they read this, I know I sure was.  I mean I wasn't a sun worshiper by any means but I did seasonally lay in the tanning bed a couple weeks before Prom and before I would go on summer vacation... Nothing like the Tan-Mom from Jersey who went twenty times in the last month and apparently decided to let her fair skinned 5 yr old join in on the tanning madness.  Melanoma is becoming an epidemic and taking the lives of way too many young people mostly due to the increase in tanning bed users.  I believe the cycle is going to stop with My generation of Mom's and Dad's.  Sadly most of the damage has already been done to our skin Mom's and Dad's...all we can do now is prevent any further damage, make sure we do regular skin checks and be an example of how to be sun smart to our children. If you have had a serious blistering sunburn or ever stepped foot inside a tanning bed PLEASE GO GET YO SKIN CHECKED!!!!!  We can't turn back time and change the mistakes we made but we may be able to catch the cancer in the earliest of stages if we just get checked.  If melanoma is found and treated early it has an amazing 99% 5 year survival rate but that rate drops drastically once melanoma has spread to lymph nodes and organs.  As I have said before, there are some rare cases where melanoma occurs in some patients who have practically lived under a rock and never been to a tanning bed or spent much time in the sun but still developed melanoma.  Most of these cases are linked to mutations and decreased immune systems, so even if you don't spend much time in UV radiation  if you have skin go get it checked!!!!  And don't think because you have that nice bronze skin tone that you are exempt from the Beast cause If you have skin you are not exempt...Bob Marly (Jamaican Reggae Musician)  died from Melanoma that started on his foot and spread to his brain so please be safe.  If you are lacking in Vitamin D then take a Vitamin D3 supplement don't go putting yourself at risk for Melanoma by being exposed to unsafe amounts of UV exposure.  I just wanna say that I love being outside and I love spending time in the sun. About 15 minutes of unprotected sun time is what my Dr's recommend as a safe amount of UV exposure.  Anymore than 15 and my Dr's recommend me covering up in sunscreen.  Being sun smart doesn't mean that we hide in our homes and not come outside until after 4pm.  If we do that then Melanoma has already won. we can't let the beast control our lives, we just have to be smarter. While it is true that the sun's rays are the strongest between 10am and 4pm there will be times that we can't avoid being outside at these times.  The sun is not our enemy, we just have to learn to give the Sun Respect by sharing the Love and Spreading the Lotion.  Here are My tips to Respect The Sun's Rays and Still have fun:

  • Designate a Fun in the SUN TOTE BAG to put all your sun safe items in (AND NEVER Leave home without it)
  • Wide Brim Hat's (for mom, dad, and each child)
  • Sunglasses (for mom, dad, and each child)
  • Sunscreen (with naturally sourced ingredients such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide.  These two physical sunscreens are gentle on the skin and provide Broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.  You will also want to make sure your sunscreen is at least SPF 30 or higher) I love California Baby Sunscreen but it's very expensive ($20 for a small tube) I have found some cheaper alternatives at Walmart that contains zinc oxide or Titanium Dioxide such as Neutrogena Pure and Free baby($10), Coppertone Sensitive Skin($8), and Banana Boat Natural reflect Baby($7-$8).  Make Sure to REAPPLY Sunscreen at Least Every TWO Hours.
  • Lip Protection/sunscreen (Make sure it is at least SPF 30 and provides UVA/UVB Protection)  Burt's Bee's has a really good lip balm and I really like the Blistex Five Star Lip Protection with SPF 30. 
  • WE also have a UV protection Tent for times when we will have direct sunlight for an extended period of time and this tent provides much needed shade from the harmful rays.
  • For the people in your life who hates sunscreen (like My Hubby and little boy) you can always pack sun protective clothing such as UV SKINZwww.uvskinz.com and I've also seen Sun protective clothing at Old Navy and DIcks Sporting goods.
Have an AMAZING Summer and Don't forget to be Sun Smart!  Much love and God Bless Each of you:-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Melanoma Roller-coaster

Pregnancy with Baby Boy (2yrs Post Cancer Treatment)

After Delivering my 8lb 5oz Boy

My little Guy

This was the biopsy site from the third Primary.  There was residual Amelanotic Melanoma Cells  Where you see the pink  "irritated area".  The area was itchy and scaly.  If you have a place on your skin like this that doesn't go away Please Go GET IT CHECKED!!!!!!
Hello Friends, Since writing my first post I've been experiencing a roller coaster of different emotions.  At first I was super excited about having a place to share my story and share tips on being sun safe to avoid the deadly black cancer.  But soon after posting my first blog I began feeling like I had a ton of bricks sitting on my chest.  Even the next couple days after posting I was obsessing over certain things about the blog and questioning if this writing business is something I'm even cut out to do. I guess you could say I felt vulnerable and a part of me felt as if I had just scratched the top off a Huge scab over my heart.  I mean the past year has been nothing but melanoma and more melanoma.  As you know from the first post I developed my first melanoma when I was 23 but wasn't diagnosed until I turned 24 in Sept 2006.  At that point the disease was stage III with lymph node involvement and I had to do a year of toxic chemo.  Well after that year was over I thought that was the end of my battle with the beast.  I truly believed it wasn't ever coming back.  Even though I was still having to go to the oncologist and dermatologist for PET scans and skin checks every three months I always expected good news.  Well, in July 2010 (almost a year after the birth of my Son) I was diagnosed with a second melanoma primary tumor (another Amelanotic Melanoma).  For those that are not familiar with the types of melanoma, Amelanotic Melanomas are non pigmented, flesh colored tumors and are very rare to develop.  At this point I had already developed two!  Thankfully it was caught early Stage 1 Clarks level II so the only treatment was surgical excision over my Right Shoulder.  It kind of shook me a bit after that second melanoma but I just went on about my normal routine.  Living from scan to scan and dr visit to dr visit.  Then in Nov 2010, the same week as thanksgiving I went for my 3 month dermatology visit and my Dr noticed a new flesh colored raised area on my left lower back.  I actually had a scar in that area that had been there for years but there was something growing inside of the scar tissue.  My Dr decided to biopsy it and in early December I found out I had yet another Invasive Melanoma Primary (3.3mm Breslow Stage II).  At this point my Dr's felt it was in my best interest to be sent to Vanderbilt's Melanoma Center for Surgical excision and removal of lymph nodes in both groins.  So on Jan 7, 2011 I traveled to Nashville to have my third Amelanotic Melanoma Primary tumor removed.  Vandy determined the cause of my Multiple Melanoma's was due to a genetic mutation and dysplastic nevus syndrome.  Even though my Dr's at Vandy are melanoma specialist they have never seen a patient with multiple Amelanotic melanoma primaries that occur denovo (not in a pre-existing mole).  Most patients with multiple melanoma's caused by dysplastic nevus syndrome have multiple moles all over their body and I don't have any moles.  I have some freckles but no moles.  so basically any new growth on my skin that looks like its changing my drs cut it out.  I've had more biopsies than I can count on my fingers and toes and a total of at least 5 wide excisions to remove atypical melanocytic lesions.  Then just 5 months after my surgery my dear friend Joe and I were both going for scans, He was also a stage III Melanoma patient. I received mixed results about some lymph nodes on my scan and had to go for 15 core biopsy samples on my groin and left axillary lymph nodes.  Around the same time my friend Joe found out his cancer had spread to his lung.  He went on to have surgery to remove the mass in his lung and within just a few short months the melanoma had spread to his liver, spleen, bones, and brain. He did several radiation treatments and chemo treatments.  He was such a brave and  courageous warrior.  He fought so hard but Melanoma took his life on Feb 13, 2012 at the young age of 33.  That was a personal blow from the beast.  You can mess with me, but leave my friends and my family alone!!!!  I hate you  Melanoma!!!!  Now here we are in the Melanoma Month of May and I'm quite sick of the word Melanoma.  Don't get me wrong...I am a melanoma awareness Queen because I want people to know and understand that this is not just skin cancer.  I love the awareness the disease is getting because it's now being exposed but I hate what it stands for.  With the awareness are real people and real lives who's entire worlds are being turned upside down because of this disease.  It's painful....but necessary to share my story.  I created this Blog so my friends can share this with the teens in their life that thinks their skin is invincible.  This is not just "lets cut it out and you'll be fine" kind of skin cancer.  This cancer, once it becomes invasive loves to travel to lymph nodes, lung, brain, bone, liver, and anywhere it wants.  So friends I guess you can understand my anxiety behind my first blog post.  It's just hard putting yourself out there sometimes.  There will be days that I won't post because my family is more important and I want days that are full of  all things NOT MELANOMA!  So after much time reading over and over and over through my profile  I just wasn't pleased with the way my "about me" section sounded!  What was wrong with it? After reading it several times I realize I don't like the way it sounds because it's not me.  Sure I'm a Melanoma Survivor but my life is far more than just melanoma.  This profile is suppose to describe me and although my body is covered in scars from this horrible beast I am not a victim!!!!  and I refuse to be one! I almost want to change the title of my Blog to "The Skin I'm In...Scars of Victory" or  "The Skin I'm In...Victory over Melanoma" or "The Skin I'm In: Kicking Melanoma where the Sun Don't Shine" hehehe!!!  All jokes aside I really do need to work on my  "about me" profile cause I may have a genetic mutation and I may develop 100 more melanoma's in my lifetime and it very well could be the cause of my death,  but I am NOT a victim of this disease!  This disease does not define who I am...It may Refine me...but it does not define me!  These however,  are things that define me: I love Jesus.  I love to dance and act silly with my kids.  I love to bear crawl and slither like a snake just to hear my kids giggle.  I love gymnastics and anything fitness.  I love to feel strong and push myself over the limit.  I love a good challenge.  I love quite moments with with my love.  I love to catch lighting bugs and eat watermelon.  I love the beach and the sound of the ocean.  I love thunderstorms at night.  I love making people feel better.  I love praying for others.  I love to make a difference. I love to smile.  and as painful as it is at times If I can save just one life from melanoma, then this blog will be worth it.  Thanks friends for allowing me to vent!  I already feel as if those tons of bricks have been lifted Praise God!!!  Please keep me in your prayers as i'm having some difficulty with wound healing from my last surgical excision.  Hopefully after I take my oral and topical antibiotics things should heal soon.  Much love and God Bless each of you.  Psalm 31:7 " I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because you have seen my affliction; You have know the troubles of my soul, (8) And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane...My First Battle with Melanoma

Me Huge and Pregnant with Livi

I don't have a pic of my Amelanotic Melanoma but this looks a lot like my "ugly bump" tumor.http://www.orebroll.se/Files-en/USO/Kliniker_enheter/Dermatology/Maligntmelanom/Amelanotiska_melanom/mm2.jpg

Hello Friends, I'm so super excited to be starting this blog!!!!  I actually stared at the screen for a good hour with horrible writers Block.  I have so many things I want to share floating around in my head that I can't slow down to focus on one thing.  When I get like that I realize its me trying to do too much and I need to pray and focus on what God would want me to share.  So I stepped away from the screen and began to pray....."God you are my light and my salvation.  I praise you for all you have done.  Give me wisdom.  Lead me and guide me.  Give me words to speak".  My whole purpose for the blog is to bring awareness to Melanoma and share my heart with how God sustained me through my battle with each surgery and with each treatment that I've endured.  I am not strong enough on my own.  Without the strength that God pours in me when i'm weak I would have already thrown in the towel.  With May being Melanoma awareness month I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the past few years.  While living in the past is not a good thing, it can be a positive thing when we reflect on the past to see where God has brought us from.  Let me take you back to the Summer of 2005:  I turned 23 on May 3rd, was graduating a few weeks later from Morehead State University with a Bachelors Degree in Imaging Science and landed my first job as an Ultrasound Technologist all in the same month.  Aaron and I were on top of the world.  Things were starting to fall into place, and in June 2005 we found out we were expecting our first baby.  About three months into the pregnancy I began noticing my use to be washboard abs suddenly had a little pooch..... or what they now call "baby bump".  After admiring my new mommy figure I also noticed a new bump over my left hip.  It was red, scaly, and dome shaped.....very unusual in appearance but I quite frankly didn't think much of it.  My husband on the other hand thought I needed to get it checked but I was too busy planning for our new bundle of joy.  Throughout the course of the pregnancy as my belly grew so did the ugly bump on my hip.  It began to bleed and scab over periodically.  I just thought it bled due to friction from my pants caused by my growing belly.  When I was about 30 weeks pregnant with my baby girl a friend and I was doing a "routine" ultrasound (remember perk of being an ultrasound tech) and noticed my baby girls left kidney looked abnormal.  She had what was called a Mega Ureter where the distal UVJ (tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder) was blocked.  I brought this to the attention of my OB Dr. and then to the pediatrician on the day my baby girl was born.  Soon after Livi was born we were so busy with appointments to pediatric urologist visits and scans that the ugly bump fell off my radar.  During the month of May 2006, just after I turned 24 my best friend was volunteering to do registration for free skin cancer screenings at the Hospital where we work.  She was talking about Melanoma and how serious it is and how young people have died from this disease.  At that point I showed her the ugly bump on my hip (that by this time had been on my body for almost a year) and she told me I should go get it checked.  I called to make an appointment with a dermatologist and they said the wait was 4 months!!!!  I figured I've already waited a year surely in four months it can't change that much.  By the time September rolled around the bump on my hip was looking pretty scary.  It was Red, Ulcerated, Dome shaped, and oozing.  The Dermatologist did the biopsy the same day as the visit and by Wednesday I was called to come back to the office.  When I received the call I remember holding my 6 month old baby girl crying as the lady told me it was urgent that I get to their office as soon as possible because she already has an appointment set up for me to see a surgeon.  I was young and naive but the reality of the battle I was facing was becoming more real by the second.  I remember holding my baby girl in my lap and holding hands with my hubby as the Doctor told me "Your biopsy shows you have Amelanotic Nodular Invasive Melanoma and we think it could have spread to your lymph nodes". I had two more Dr visits that day one with a plastic surgeon to remove the huge slab of skin from my hip and the other surgeon to remove my lymph nodes for biopsy.  I had a biopsy on a Monday, results on a Wednesday, and my surgery was scheduled for that Friday.....talk about a whirlwind.  After the surgery was over the Dr. told me the cancer had indeed spread to my lymph nodes and they were referring me to an Oncologist at Duke for advice about chemo treatment.  Holy Crap I have to have an oncologist?! and Chemo?!  what happened to skin cancer just being cut out and thats it?  At that point I looked like I had been in a fight with a Huge Momma Bear or I had a terrible Shark bite accident and survived....Anyway,  thankfully I was able to do the treatment Duke recommended at my hometown cancer center and use Dukes protocol for High Dose Interferon Alpha 2b.  The treatment consisted of 20 IV infusions of the drug the first month and 3 times a week subQ injections for the next 11 months.  A couple weeks before I began treatment my 8 month old baby girl was sent for her Renal Scan to check the function of her kidneys and the results showed her kidney function had decreased drastically and the Dr. had to do surgery.  So one week before I began chemo my baby girl had to have invasive surgery on her left kidney to remove the diseased ureter.  It was hard enough dealing with my disease but knowing my baby had to have surgery was absolutely unbearable.  I remember the nurse coming to take her out of my arms as they took her back for surgery and how relieved I was when they brought her back to me after it was over.  She looked so pitiful with the little drain tubes filled with blood coming out of her side and the tiny blood filled catheter bag.  I think I was in such shock, I was just going through the motions.....I felt numb.  It was then I began using my caring bridge site to share my thoughts, my struggles, and my fears.  Here's the link to my full caring bridge site http://caringbridge.org/visit/aliciabowling.  Throughout the year of chemo I dropped from 110 lbs to 90 lbs.  My side effects included high fevers, night sweats, diarrhea, upset stomach, bone pain, fatigue, body aches, chills, elevated liver function, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and a Mini Stroke.  It also caused brain fog and memory loss.  Sadly I can barely remember my little girls first year of life.  There were days I didn't want to keep taking the treatments....I wanted to quit.....I just wanted to feel better.  But through the encouragement of my husband, the prayers of my friends and family, and ultimately the power of God I was able to get through it.  After prayer this morning I read Psalm chapter 27, A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God http://mbible.com/nasb/psalms/27.htm as I got down to vs (13) I paused.  I had never really payed much attention to that verse but today it stuck out.  Psalm 27:13 says "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." Sure we all know that when we all get to Heaven we will see the goodness of God, but David is talking about seeing the goodness of God in the land of the living.... IN the Here and Now.  Without faith and without knowing that I would see the goodness of God through this I would have despaired.....I would have lost all hope and I would have thrown in the towel.   Go on to read vs 14 "Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD."  Friends, no matter what you are facing or going through right now believe and hope for the goodness of God in your circumstance.  Pray about what you are enduring and expect to see great things. I'm so excited for the great things that are happening in the Melanoma Community.  Thanks fellow "mole-mates" for sharing your battle and ultimately Saving Lives. Much love and God Bless each of you!!!!