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!

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Jesus has me here for a reason"

Hello friends,  
Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances completely out of our control.  I see this quote "God doesn't give us more than we can handle"flash across facebook and twitter status when tragic situations are happening.  But the truth is, sometimes we are given way more than We can handle!  We are not Strong Enough!!! That's why Jesus says "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  I believe that statement should say sometimes we are given way more than we can handle, but give your fears, your panic, your sense of out-of-control to Jesus and He will help you handle what you are given.  And secondly I don't believe it's God who puts us in these terrible situations...terrible things happen because we live in a fallen world with lots of evil all around us.  Read about Paul's thorn in 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, where Paul says his thorn was given to him as a messenger of Satan to torment him--God did not give Paul his thorn but He helped him deal with it.  Paul goes on to say "when I am weak, then He is strong".  While we may find ourselves in the midst of complete turmoil Jesus is the one that gives us power in our weakness...While the storm is raging on the outside... Jesus gives us peace that passes understanding on the inside.  Panic and Fear IS NOT from God!!!  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."  

I tell you these things today because it's something I must constantly remind myself.  I have to admit, I am a control freak!!!  I would love to tell you that I never fear, I never panic, and I never get that feeling to run away from what I'm facing as fast as I can...but that is not true.  The truth is while I look calm and collected on the outside, I am completely freaking out on the inside!  I have hidden these scriptures in my heart and they are always the go to verses when something Bigger than me is going on.  When I read 2 Timothy 1:7 I immediately feel powerful and while I know I'm not in control, it gives me peace knowing that Jesus is in control. 

This whole post was inspired by my friend Jess who is a great example of obedience and trusting God during a devastating situation.  She flew out yesterday to D.C. for an appointment at the National Institute of Health.  Jess has been battling brain tumors from Neurofibromatosis and been on chemo for a year.  As most of you know there is severe weather going on due to "Frankenstorm" Sandy which is hitting the D.C. area today.  After my friend made it to D.C. she was told all federal buildings would be closed today due to the severe storm, including the NIH.  Then to top it off her flight for tonight has also been cancelled.  She is stuck in D.C. and  can't even see her Dr, which was the whole reason she went there in the first place.  Now I don't know about you but I think that is a totally acceptable situation to throw a complete fit or at least complain a little about.  But not Jess... She was asking what would be some fun things to do today considering things would be closed around town and she can't see her Dr.  She even thought about greeting people at her hotel as they came in from the storm.  I told Jess, I'm so sorry you're going through this....This completely sucks!!!  and Her response was "Jesus has me here for a reason."  Wow!!!  

When my friend Jess said that, it completely changed things for me.  I thought how Powerful and How True!  While God may not cause the thorns in our sides and He will help us handle them, there's also a greater purpose for going through the thorn bush.  There may be someone else we can help along the way.  What if each of us took our focus off of the things that we can't control?  What if we quit thinking about how terrible the situation is for us and pondered maybe "Jesus has me here for a reason"?  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tough Mudder KY 2012

Hello Friends,  Just one week ago today I was getting up at 5 am to get ready to take on the Maysville Ky Tough Mudder with my team The Wildwood Warriors.  I was nervous and excited to challenge myself against the 12 miles of steep hills covered in mud and the 21 insane obstacles.   I had a lot of people ask "Why do tough mudder?"  "Don't you get electrically shocked?"  "Isn't it like 12 miles?" "You know you have to sign a Death waiver!" Yes, I knew all those things because I researched Tough Mudder and it seemed like a Big enough challenge that I wanted to take on not to mention all proceeds go to the wounded warrior project.  I wanted to do something Big to Shove it in Cancer's face!  I wanted to do something to show cancer who's Boss!!!  I wanted to do something to represent all the other warriors out there who are fighting to survive!  I wanted to do this for my friend Joe, who would have totally been right there trudging through the mud with me.  You see, God has spared my life...I can't just sit back and do nothing.  I must do something BIG and smear it all in cancers face...because it doesn't have me yet!

I was super pumped when I pulled into the church parking lot, where our team was meeting to carpool.  We had been training for months (since June 2012 after my last surgery) and praying it was enough to get us across the finish line.  I was so anxious I had to make myself eat.  My friend Deb picked me up a coffee and a bagel but I was only able to stomach half of it due to nerves.
Me (wearing black bandana for melanoma), Deb, and Amy
Tough Mudder Maysville took place on an ATV course and since there was 9,000 people taking on the challenge we had to park at the Mason County High School and be bused to the event. My initial concern when I stepped out of the car was how cold it was and I wasn't even wet yet.  It was in the 40's, overcast, and the wind was blowing constantly...Not a great combination with 12 miles of hills, mud, ice, and electric shocks.
Wildwood Warriors--Oh Yeah!!!!

We were in the Saturday 9:20am wave and you had to climb over a berlin wall  before you passed through the starting line.  The announcer did an amazing job getting everyone pumped up before we started as did the national anthem and the American Flag. Here is the link to the  Course Map and obstacle list.  The toughest obstacles for me was the Arctic EnemaElectric EElFire Walker, and Everest. The Arctic Enema was the second obstacle on the list.  You had to jump into a tank filled full of ice cubes and swim under a wooden plank to get to the other side.  I have never been that cold before in my life!!!  It wouldn't have been so bad if you didn't have to completely submerge yourself, head and all under the heavy ice.  The electric eel was more mental than anything.  It was like a huge slip in slide covered in mud and rock.  Above you was barbed wire and electric wires that hung down and shocked you as you army crawled on the bed of mud and rock.  I got shocked about seven times by the electric eel and while it wasn't pleasant, it was definitely not as bad as I expected it to be.  The fire walker obstacle caught me off guard when I jumped over the line of fire into the water, I wasn't expecting it to be so deep.  I couldn't even touch the bottom and it went completely over my head not to mention when I finally took a gasp of air I inhaled massive amounts of smoke. By the time we made it to Everest, we were all borderline Hypothermic.  My body was internally shivering uncontrollably!  My muscles were stiff and my body felt numb.  I wasn't sure how I was going to make it up the half pipe, especially after seeing one of my team members bust his face.  I tried everest 3 times with no success.  The guy behind me said, "give it one more try...run fast...I know you can do it this time."  I gave it one more shot and finally grabbed ahold of my friend Shannon's hand and the rest of my team pulled me over the top.
This was the backside of Everest.
By far the toughest part of Tough Mudder Ky wasn't the obstacles but the terrain and climate itself. There is no way you could "run" through Tough Mudder Ky...You have to climb, crawl, and slide through the steepest mud and rock covered hills you could imagine.  The course was slow, dangerous, and brutal! Even the most in shape muscle bulging guys on the course seemed to be struggling.  Most people got injured on the terrain itself or because of hypothermia.  It was freaking cold!!!!!  I thought I was being smart by wearing cold gear but cold gear only works if you are dry.  I knew I would be getting wet but I didn't realize I would be wet the entire 12 miles.  Next time I'm definitely wearing a wet suit lol!

Boa Constrictor Obstacle--crawling thru frigid muddy water filled tubes
"Thumbs Up"  it was cold!!!!
Electroshock Therapy
Me and Amy packing our wood and covered in mud
Berlin Wall
My team helping me over a Berlin wall
The most important thing I learned during Tough Mudder wasn't how strong I am....I realized how very weak I am...I learned how important it is to work as a team....and that We need each other! Tough Mudder parallels my battle with cancer in so many ways but mostly in the fact that whether you're in the battle or along the side lines you matter in helping me get to the finish line.  My husband and my friends Hattie, Jason, and Lisa didn't sign up to do tough mudder, but they were there on the side of the mountain cheering me up the steep hills and taking pictures of the insane festivities.  A lot of you may not have cancer or been through Tough Mudder but you've been there showing me support.  You'll never know how much that means to me.  The Tough Mudder Pledge says:  As a Tough Mudder I Pledge that.... (1) I understand that tough mudder is not a race but a challenge.  (2) I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.  (3) I do not whine-kids whine!  (4) I help my fellow mudders complete the course. and (5) I overcome all fears
Wildwood Warriors After pic-minus a few mudders on our team.
 I'm not the strongest girl out there and my body has been through a lot but Tough Mudder is very mental. Yes, you must train hard but if I can make it through tough mudder as scrawny as I am then anyone can do it if they just set their mind to it.  It's a lot of mind over matter!  There is no way I could have made it to the finish line without each and everyone of my team members and all my friends support!  Praise God WE did it!!!!!!!!!  Now who's signing up with me for next year?
Showing Cancer Who's Boss!!!!!

Vandy Full Body Exam 10-22-12

Hello Friends,

Sorry it's been so long since I've blogged!!!!  Seems as if I have been completely busy just living life to the fullest.  Since my last post I have been so consumed with work, family, and training for tough mudder there has been no time for sitting down. Some nights I wouldn't get my workout or runs in until after 9 pm while cooking supper,cleaning up house, washing laundry,  juggling bathing two kids and getting homework done.  After four months of training, this past saturday me and my team of Wildwood Warriors took on the Kentucky Tough Mudder, which I will hopefully sooner than later blog about.  Sunday I was pretty sore and bruised up so I soaked a while in hot water to loosen my joints a bit before heading to church.  After church we packed our things and was on our 5 hour drive to Nashville TN.

My appointment was at 11:30 am Monday October 22, 2012 with Dr. E at Vandy's Melanoma Clinic.  Dr. E is specialized specifically in Melanoma genetic mutations and is also a boards certified Dermatologist and Internal Medicine Dr.  It was time for my three month full body exam...and for those who have never had this done, let me just say it's more in depth than a gynecologic pelvic exam. Keep in mind that Melanoma can literally grow any where, so Dr. E thoroughly checks the vaginal, anal, and oral areas very well!  First the Resident came in to get a good medical history by asking questions and asked if I've noticed any new lesions on my skin.  Then the resident began the full body exam starting at the top of my head to the tips of my toes. She was pretty shocked to see all the bruises on my body, which I told her I earned at the Tough Mudder on Sat hehe.  After the resident examined me, then Dr. E came in to do a more thorough examination.  He gave me a high five for surviving tough mudder.  He said he has a nephew that completed it in the summer and whined for months about how hard it was, so he was impressed I survived without any injuries.  Dr. E first examined my scalp, using a hair dryer to move the hair away from the skin. He also palpated my abdomen and lymph nodes. If he see's any unusual lesions, he then evaluates them using a dermascope.  He took pictures and measurements of two new skin lesions that he want's to "watch" for changes and decided to biopsy a new skin lesion on the back of my left thigh that had characteristics worrisome for melanoma.  After Dr. E took pictures of the skin lesion he was getting ready to biopsy he explained to me that this lesion has a hypo pigmentation around it like a halo and the lesion itself appears to have a lot of blood vessels.  I told him the lesion really wasn't bothering me but he insisted I needed to have a punch biopsy just to make sure it's not another melanoma or dysplastic lesion.

During the biopsy, I had to lay on my belly while the nurse prepped the back of my thigh.  Next the resident injected a needle around and in the lesion with lidocaine to numb the area, which feels like a little bee sting.  It's really not too bad and definitely not as painful as lymphoscintigraphy injections!  During the punch biopsy my Dr uses an apple core'er like device that he presses over the lesion and then twists back and forth until the lesion and some tissue around the lesion is removed.  This tissue was then sent to pathology and my incision was sutured up.  Dr. E said he would call me next Monday to give me the results.  Here is a pic of my little biopsy flesh wound:

Thankfully My Dr. called me yesterday with Fantastic News!!!!  My biopsy pathology was negative for Melanoma!!! He said "Completely Benign"!!!  Can I get a Whoop Whoop?!!!!  This was what he called a halo nevus which he said can mimic melanoma due to the hypo pigmentation around the lesion.  This is the first time I've ever had a biopsy come back completely negative.  I've had over 20 biopsies and every  one was either dysplastic or melanoma which required further treatment/surgery.  I just want to thank you all for your prayers, your support, and all your love!  Melanoma may be a thorn in my side but Jesus' power is made perfect in my weakness!  Please take the time to check your skin, check your kids skin, and check your loved ones skin for any unusual areas.  If it itches, flakes, or bleeds get it biopsied ASAP!!!!  Even though the weather is starting to turn cold please be safe on those cold sunny days as you can still get a sunburn.  Always remember to share the love and spread the lotion! Much love and God bless each of you!!!