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, September 30, 2012

Don't be Pink Envy~Be Pink Inspired!

Hello friends, I had an amazing time at the Path to the cure breast cancer race in Huntington WV.  It was an awesome turnout with over 1,500 runners and walkers. I didn't get my best race time today as it was difficult to navigate through the masses of people...what an awesome problem to have:-)  My time was 28:08 with a pace of 9:04 per mile.  I placed 8 out of 131 women in my age group,  53 out of 1,075 women and 155 out of a total of 1,527 people.  I'm so thankful for God giving me the ability to run for such an amazing cause.  Our breast cancer fighting sisters sure know how to party and bring about awareness!  They raised a ton of money ($72,218) to help under/uninsured patients get mammograms in our area.  We could all learn a lot from our pink sisters. Let us not forget that we cancer fighting people are all in this together.  Cancer sucks no matter what type you are diagnosed with.   Cancer is Cancer regardless if  you have breast, melanoma, colon, brain, cervical, pancreatic, bone, prostate, childhood, lung, lymphoma, leukemia, stomach or a rare type you have never heard of.  We are all in the fight for our lives when we hear the words "You have cancer".  The  important thing is getting the word out there about your cancer so others don't have to walk in our shoes!  We are all in this fight together and that cancer kills no matter what type you have.  Let us not become envious of the pink that is everywhere but let it inspire us to share and get out there to promote awareness for the type of cancer we each have.  If you aren't seeing enough awareness out there about your type of cancer don't sit back and complain about it waiting for someone else to take the stand.  Get out there and promote awareness cause  you never know whose life you might save. I have learned a lot from my pink wearing cancer fighting friends! It only takes one person to stand up and share their story that could save a ton of lives.   So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and spread some awareness for your cancer!  I hope that soon with all the awareness and money raised for research that cancer in itself is a rare word!  With tomorrow being the first of October and Breast Cancer awareness month don't forget to do your monthly breast exam and while your at it check your skin for any unusual moles or lesions.  As always share the love and spread the lotion to all those around you!  Much love and God bless each of you!

Couldn't fit the massive line of people in one image!  So Powerful!!!

After the race today my livi girl made me a card.  I thought I would share it with my friends, hope you enjoy!
Livi says the heart means "fight with your heart!"

"Fight this cancer!  Love Fighting this cancer1"

"Do not get sunburnt! Wear Sunscreen!"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why Run?

Hello friends,

I get that question a lot these days since I started my running journey in June 2012.  Most people would think I run to get my pre mommy body back after giving birth to two almost 8 1/2 lb babies.  Not so!!!  I have always been someone that enjoyed staying in shape not for the way it made me look but because of how strong it made me feel.  Even during my pregnancies I tried to be active by walking and doing  Zumba. When  I was in high school I ran track during the off months of competitive All Star Cheerleading.  I was an 800 meter runner for the most part and sometimes filled in for the one mile if needed.  I was by no means a distance runner and never really had the desire to run more than a mile. I'm more of a fitness, lift a few weights, gymnastics, dancing, throw in a little yoga kind of girl so it was a real challenge to try to run more than one mile at a time.

Last year around March 2011 I finally thought I was going to try to get myself back into shape after my third battle with Melanoma in January 2011.  I decided I was going to go to a class called RIPPED.  Yep, sounds pretty fun huh?  While lifting what seemed like 100 reps of 5lb weights I felt and heard a pop in my left bicep.  I didn't think much of it and continued working out.  The next morning my arm was so red, hot and swollen around my bicep that I couldn't even extend my arm.  After an MRI of the arm we found out sure enough I tore my bicep tendon.  I kinda laughed cause the Dr. said "what exactly were you doing to tear your bicep tendon?  I mean that usually happens to old men over the age of 50." Me: "Well sir I wish I could say I was curling 50 lbs but it was more like 5" haha!!!Thankfully it wasn't a complete tear and I didn't need surgery Praise God!!!!

After I healed from the bicep tear I never really got back into shape.  April 2011 was PET scan time for me and my friend Joe.  In early May 2011 we found out I had some questionable lymph nodes that would require a 6 week followup scan then core biopsies  and my dear friend Joe was told the melanoma had now spread to his lung.  After I found out about Joe, I immediately went into fighter mode.  I was arranging bake sales, making dinners for him post surgery, and rallying the troops to help give him support.  I was researching the best treatments out there for Stage IV melanoma.  My friend had lung surgery in the summer of 2011 and was back to work as an ER nurse by the end of September 2011.  I remember He had his followup PET scan in early October and my PET scan was at the end of October.  We were so thankful to find out both of our scans came back with no evidence of disease.  Then the week before Thanksgiving 2011 Joe came in to the ER and was very sick.  That night he looked me in the eye and said "the monster is back."  After a day full of scans sure enough the cancer was widespread throughout his body.  My dear friend fought a courageous battle with such grace and the army of his friends and family fought with him all the way til he entered the gates of Heaven on February 13, 2012.  You can read about my amazing friend Joe by visiting www.caringbridge.org/visit/joestevens.  My friend Joe taught me a lot.  He taught me that life is short and the most important thing is to love God and to love people.  While he was in hospice he always talked about how he loved to run the trails of lake Vesuvius or ride his bike through the mountains.  I told him when I healed up from my recent surgeries that I was going to start running 5K's cause I wan't to run to make a difference.  He said "when you run, run for me."
Me and Joe

In May of 2012 I had a wide excision to remove a early melanoma vs severely dysplastic lesion from my right hip. It was during that time that I started this blog and decided I wasn't letting this cancer control my life anymore. Sure I have anemia, sure I get swelling from lymphedema in my left pelvis, sure I get pin prickling pain in my left hip, sure i've had a mini stroke,sure I have stage II kidney failure and sure there's that high chance that the cancer may come back but right now God has given me two good legs and by golly i'm going to use them.  I went all out and joined the tough mudder group from church (which by the way tough mudder is a 10-12 mile military style obstacle course) before I even healed from surgery to push me to train hard.  Starting out in June I could barely run a mile without literally almost passing out and by the end of July I ran my first ever 5K!  I wasn't the fastest but I felt invincible crossing that finish line.
Race to Fight Hunger  5K 7-14-2012
Wild Wood Warriors Tough Mudder Team
Running for me isn't about being the fastest it's about showing the cancer whose Boss!  When I run, I run for Joe and I run for all of those who are in the fight for their life.  I am blessed with such great health and I'm not going to waste it by sitting on the couch.  I feel guilty if I'm not living my life to the fullest because God has spared my life for a reason and I'm not going to sit back and let it be boring. Luke 12:48 Message version says "Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!" I know it's hard as a mom or dad to find the time to workout but if you are in good health and your Dr says its ok to partake in exercise by all means running is the most time efficient workout there is.  Like I said, I can find all kinds of excuses not to run:  I work full time, I have two kids (6 yr old and 3 yr old), I help with small group at church, Kids homework, laundry, family time, doctor visits, kids sports, family lives 4 hrs away, and the list could go on and on....but running takes no more than 30 minutes of my time.  While I'm not the best runner and at times running is not fun for me I do enjoy the challenge of trying to beat my time from previous runs.  I love competing with myself, It's my way of sticking it to the cancer.  So why do I run?  I run for all those who aren't able to, I run to show the cancer that I'm in charge, I run to be a healthy mom to my kids, I run to do my part to be healthy for my husband (who by the way is my biggest fan),  I run to help those in need and I run to give glory to God for giving me these two legs to run with.  
Hands and Feet 5K  9-1-12
2nd place in my age group ~Time 28:26
Me and Hattie (my BFF) who has been there with me through it all.

Poage Landing 5K 9-15-2012

Poage Landing 5K
Me, Liv, & Deb (she is seriously like my sister)
2nd place in my age group

Liv and I enjoying a post 5K banana 
Stay tuned for more blogs about my running adventures and the Tough Mudder coming up on October 20, 2012.  All Proceeds for Tough Mudder goes to the wounded warrior project.  I feel it's the least I could do to endure 10-12 miles of mudd for the freedom these men and women have given to me.  My next Vandy appointment is October 22, 2012,  Local Oncology visit is November 2012, and scan time is December 2012. I run in the Melanoma AIM walk November 17, 2012 in Charlotte NC.  Please consider sponsoring me in the fight against Melanoma by clicking here.  Don't forget to share the love and spread the lotion!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 11

Hello friends, September 11 is one of those dates that is forever burned into my mind not just because of the attack on America but because of other events that happened specifically to me and/or my family on this particular date.

September 11, 2001 
I was nineteen years old and a sophomore at Morehead State University.  I remember walking to my morning health class with the excitement of Fall weather.  It was a beautiful morning with the sun beams peering out behind a blanket of fog and a slight crisp chill in the air.  As I got to my class the professor announced that we would be wearing Beer goggles in class and then write a paper about the affects alcohol has on your motor skills.  I remember thinking WOW this is ridiculous!  About midway through the class my professor comes running in frantic "We are under attack!!!"  She was pacing the floor and dialing numbers trying to reach her family that lived in NY city.  After class I remember standing with others around the TV watching as the planes hit the twin towers.  The visions before my eyes were as eerily chilling as the air that September day.  

While workers were searching for people and moving rubble they saw two steel beams in the form of a cross.  It stood there strong in the middle of such destruction as a symbol of strength and hope.  My thoughts and prayers are with those who are daily affected by this tragic day!

September 11, 2002
A year after the attack on our country my father in law became very ill.  He passed away on 9-8-2002 and was buried on the one year anniversary of September 11.  My husband was 25 when he lost his father.  He was an honorable Man of God that lived and breathed his bible. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to know him and hear him tell stories about traveling around to preach the gospel.

September 11, 2006
I don't remember the exact time of my appointment but it was on a Monday afternoon.  This was my first appointment with a dermatologist.  I had this ugly red bump on my left hip since I was 23 and in my 12th week of pregnancy.  Now that I was 24 and was holding my 6 month old bundle of joy it was time to get the ugly bump checked especially since it had started bleeding.  I remember the Doctor sitting directly across from me and asked "so what are we here for today?"  I told her about my bump and she had me slide down my pants to get a better look at my hip.  She poked, prodded and squeezed around the bump then had me go to the procedure room where I soon had a biopsy.  The lidocaine injections felt like a big pinch and after I was numb the procedure wasn't so bad.  In the back of my mind I knew something wasn't right but I kept reminding myself "even if it is cancer, It's just skin cancer".  Besides, I never knew anyone who died from that!  Two days later on September 13, 2006 I received a phone call from my doctor's office telling me to immediately get to her office to discuss my pathology results and options.  I knew at that moment my life would forever be changed.  To hear the words "You have cancer"  "invasive nodular Melanoma" "It has spread to your lymph nodes" "Stage 3 metastatic malignant melanoma" "You will have to do a year of chemotherapy"  "you will be very sick"  "you may need anti depressants as this drug has neuro-toxic side affects"  "you may develop liver and kidney failure" "your chances of survival are less than 50% in 5 years". I cried and I prayed "OH GOD help me get through this"  just as we did on the other Sept 11 days.  I remember laying across my bed sobbing and asking God to help me as these words came to my mind "Can you serve me through this?  Without the power of God and the support of my friends and family there is no way I could have endured that difficult year on my own.  2 Timothy 1:7 says " For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  Friends, while September 11 will be one of those dates that we will never forget because of the tragedy that happened, let it also be a reminder to love and encourage one another.  You never know when it could be your last time to tell someone you love them or your proud of them or just hug them.  As a reminder,  Please check your skin for any unusual areas.  If you have any new moles look for the ABCDE A-assymetric, B-Border irregular, C-color variation, D-Diameter (big as a pencil eraser), and E-evolving/changing over time.  I would also like to add if you have a mole or new bump that itches and it doesn't go away please get it checked asap!!!  I know Fall is in the air but don't forget to share the love and spread the lotion as the sun can burn you in the fall and winter just as much as the summer.  Much love and God Bless!!!

Me holding Alivia (6 mo old) one week before getting diagnosed with cancer