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!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Extreme Tanning

Hello Friends, Today I read an article on the ABC news blog titled "Extreme Tanner says skin cancer wouldn't stop her."  After I finished reading this article my heart was just broken.  How can we reach these people?  I'm fearful for their lives and if they don't get melanoma imagine how these beautiful young girls will look 10 years from now.  Friends, if you know me and you know me well you know that I'm not a judgmental person.  I have friends who are gay, lesbian, muslim, and friends who tan.  In no way will I ever judge you or call you names for doing so.  My motto is to share the love and spread awareness by educating others about Melanoma in a loving way... not putting them down.  Chances are if you are someone who lays in the tanning bed, then (A) you haven't been educated on the dangers of tanning and the SERIOUSNESS of skin cancer or (B) You know the dangers but you enter at your own risk.  Those that fall into the (B) category also usually have the mindset that "it won't happen to me".  Well I actually fell into both of those categories so I guess you could call this category (C) totally not realizing skin cancer IS CANCER and It CAN and WILL KILL!  I think the two young girls fall into category (C) just like me.   One of the extreme tanners, Giana Gerardo (24) said, "It makes me feel good and I feel comfortable in my skin."  Before I was a Melanoma cancer patient, I too use to think like that.  But now when I see tanned skin (that is not natural) it saddens me.  Now let me set this straight.  I never was an Extreme Tanner by any means.  I was just one of those girls with pale freckled skin that liked a little color during the summer months.  It's just what most teens I went to high school with did for prom and to look good in their bathing suits.  I even used those tanning beds that used UVA radiation and not the UVB, which the tanning experts said was good for my skin because I wouldn't burn.  I believed every word they told me and I loved the golden color of my skin when I was finished laying in their bed.  I probably only used a tanning bed 5-10 times each summer since I was a freshman in high school and some while in college.

There was a lady I went to church with while in college who  pulled me aside and said "young lady please be careful using those tanning beds."  My reply was "Oh, I don't go that much.  I only go a couple times to get a base tan and I use the healthier beds.  Plus if I get skin cancer I'll just have it cut off and be done with it."  Whoahhh!!!  boy am I eating my words now.  I had no idea you could actually die from skin cancer and I really had no idea that there was more to getting rid of the skin cancer than just cutting off a mole.  In the article the extreme tanner named Trisha Paytas said, "If you told me that I have skin cancer I don't think I would stop."  She said, "Scrape it off and keep going."  Trisha,  I wish somehow you would read my blog.  you are a gorgeous young lady.  You don't need to be tan to be pretty.  It took me a long time to realize that being tan isn't worth it.  It took a year of immunotherapy/chemo, high dose 5 days per week for a month and then 3 days per week the next ELEVEN MONTHS!!!  I was taken off the toxic treatment three weeks shy of finishing the full year course due to having a stroke, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Anemia, and a blood infection which required several days in the hospital on strong IV antibiotics.  Removing the Melanoma was much worse than scrapping it off....if you look at my pictures on the right of my blog you'll see I had a huge slab of tissue (down to the bone as a matter of fact) removed from my left hip along with several lymph nodes from my pelvis and groin. Not to mention the ongoing scans, skin checks, biopsies, blood work, and oncology visits. Since the first surgery I've endured two more Melanoma surgeries, one on my right shoulder and the other on my left lower back. I've also had more dysplastic lesions removed than I can count on my fingers and toes.  I wish I could say those dysplastic PRE-SKIN cancer lesions were just scrapped but Nope those were CUT out too. Even the biopsies I get require stitches, no scrapping.  It actually took my most recent severely dysplastic melanocytic lesion 3 months to completely heal because the wound busted open and had to heal from the inside out.  Not only is Melanoma not scrapped off but it takes a while to feel like you can keep going.  It leaves scars on the inside...the scars of worrying if its going to come back to places like your liver, your lungs, or your brain. The scars of missing out on the first year of my daughters life because it's all but a blur from the cancer treatment I was on.  Melanoma is serious and I don't want anyone to go through what I've been through.  I understand how you can think being tan is pretty and makes you feel better.  Believe me, I thought the same way.  But i'm telling you IT's NOT WORTH IT!!!!  Friends, If you tan or ever tanned I will not judge you, but please educate yourself and please get your skin checked cause your chances of developing deadly melanoma have increased by 75%.  I love you all!!!  Remember to Share the Love and Spread the Lotion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oncology Visit July 4th-5th 2012

Hello friends,  My appointment with my oncologist at Vandy was set for July 5 to get results from my most recent scan in June.  We decided to make this a fun trip and celebrate July 4th in Nashvegas, especially since we heard their firework show is top 5 in the Nation. Before fireworks we ate at Ted's Montana grill where I ate the most amazing Veggie Burger ever!  The waitress said they make them homemade in their restaurant daily.  Even my meat eater hubby loved it, so if your into eating healthy you should try their veggie burger.  After eating we made our way to down town Nashville near LP field.  I have never seen so many people in one area in my life! Fighting the crowd was so worth it once we found a spot on the bridge.  I must say Nashville definitely knows how to do fireworks!  Best show I've ever seen and blessed to stand next to the sweetest strangers on the bridge.  The little guy next to us had a glow in the dark red, white, and blue necklace.  He looked to be maybe 18 with downs syndrome. He had kind eyes and the sweetest smile. Such innocence!!!  He shared his Justin Bieber music and fist bumped Liv and Andrew each time the fireworks exploded.  We all whoop whooped together and high fived.  God blessed me with such sweet pureness from this precious soul.

The Next morning we got up early and left for Vandy. Livi always brightens things up with her natural humor.  she out of the blue asked "mom when I get to be a mom like you will I have eyes in the back of my head too?"  Haha of course I said sure will doll.  later on that day as I was trying to find Andrew's sippy cup in the car, Livi said"mom it's right behind you.  Didn't you see it with your behind eyes?"  Then she said, "oh, I bet your hair was in the way."   My life is so full of laughter because of my Livi girl.   I have to say it never gets easy or feels right to walk through the doors to the cancer center.  Most of you who read my blog know that I'm a medical Professional.  I have a Bachelor of Imaging Science and I'm licensed in OB/GYN, Vascular, and Abdominal Ultrasound.  I'm use to being the one taking care of patients...not being the patient. I was especially nervous when I was put in the procedure room (where things like lymph node biopsies take place) to be seen by my oncologist.  Thankfully  Dr. K came in smiling and said "good news, you lymph nodes are stable"  the report says "multiple enlarged inguinal and axillary lymph nodes but stable compared to previous scan".  Praise God!!!!  Happy Dance!!!  Dr. K said most recurrences occur within the first two years after cancer surgery and it's been a little over a year since my last surgery:-)  I'm getting closer and closer to those six month visits.  I go back to Vandy in September and I see my local oncologist in November and then back to Vandy in December.  I can't thank you all enough for your support and your prayers that get me through each day.  For the next three months I'm going to be training for tough mudder and working on my 5K speed.  I plan on meeting with all my fellow Melanoma Warriors in Nov at the North Carolina AIM walk/run.  Much love to you all!!!!  Don't forget to share the love and spread the lotion.
Still hard to believe sometimes

Yea!!!!  Good News!!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Siesta Key Fl 2012

Siesta Key Florida

 Hello Friends, sorry it's been so long! After my trip to Vandy in  June we decided to take a week long trip to lovely Siesta Key Florida.  I know some may be thinking "why would a melanoma patient want to go to the beach?" Because it's the most tranquil amazing place there is to me.  When I see the ocean, the intricate detail of the sea shells, and all of creation I am in awe of how Big and Awesome our God is.  Plus,  I refuse to let Melanoma control my life! Just because i'm a three time survivor to lethal melanoma doesn't mean I have to be a hermit and never go outside, I just have to play it safe!  we avoid the sun during the hours of 10am til 4pm and do our indoor activities at that time.  I find that shopping is more fun during the day and eating out for lunch is usually a lot cheaper than dinner.  while at the beach we create shade with a UPF canopy. we cover ourselves head to toe in natural sunscreen spf 30+ (re-apply every two hrs), grab a hat and sunglasses before we ever step foot outside. I love the sun protective clothing as well which is great when your in a hurry.

This was the first time we've ever took a week long vacation and the first time going to Florida as a family. I must say this was definitely a trip to remember. We arrived on June 23 the same day Tropical Storm Debby made way her to the Florida coast. She was quite a doozy!!! Severely Strong winds, prickly needle like torrential rain, flooding, and Tornados. We tried to make it down to the beach several times and every time it would start raining until eventually the entire beach was flooded...the coast line was covered in water!!! Even the streets were flooded with roads completely under water. Thankfully we had board games and lots of food in our condo. Yep, not our ideal of a Beachy vacation but our motto for the week was "NO DEBBY DOWNERS"!!! We were NOT gonna let "mean ole Debby" as Livi called her, ruin our vacation.   After the storm passed there was a lot of clean up to do on the beach but the wind was calm, the sky was the bluest blue, and the ocean peaceful again.  And the Sun was shining Bright!!!  We not only shared the love and spread the lotion, but we also shared our shade with a guy that was beginning to look like a roasted lobster.  Please be safe and protect the natural skin you were born with whether it be Pale, Olive, dark, or in between.  Embrace your natural skin tone and go tan free.  Remember if you have skin, then you can get skin cancer. Sunburns are no fun and Melanoma is definitely not fun so Share the Love and Spread the lotion:-)

The Beach Flooded

Streets Flooded

The Wind was Crazy

Livi playing in the shade

Andrew Playing in the shade