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!

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!!!!


  1. How did they test you for genetic mutation and Dysplastic Nevus Syndrome???

  2. Hey Summer, I'm assuming my Dr at Vandy used the tissue sample from my biopsy to get the testing done. My Insurance company wouldn't pay for the testing cause they say it doesn't really affect the treatment or the patients outcome. It did help me to know why I've developed multiple melanoma's and I think if our Dr's were able to test for such things they may know more about how to treat patients with this condition. Much love Summer xo