Wednesday 22 August 2012

At the Beach With My Pal Melanoma

Sitting in my favorite spot - Sunoka Beach, just outside of Summerland, BC. Sounds wonderful doen't it? Sun, Beach, Summerland. Hot 35 degrees Celcius (almost 95 for you Fahrenheit people). So where was I - under a tree and an umbrella of course. I didn't get to enjoy my summer last year. An unfortunate boxing match with melanoma kept me indoors and afraid of my own shadow. I didn't go outside pretty much all last summer as I recovered and tried to come to terms with my new reality. This year, I've pulled myself up by my short and curlies because I will not bow down to the beast. I refuse to live my life being scared. I want to enjoy every minute, every second. I will be safe, but not sorry. I wear 60 SPF sunscreen and I sit under both a tree and an umbrella just to make sure. I go into the water when I get really hot and swim with my kids. Then I reapply my sunscreen. I still want to be out there with everyone else. I don't want to spend my summers indoors. That would defeat the purpose of living in Canada's Hawaii. I'm enjoying every bit of my summer this year. I'm glad I'm still here to do that. Some of us aren't so fortunate. Some of us are fighting an extreme battle and I'm praying hard for them. Me - I'm counting my many wonderful blessings. Two of them are my fabulous children. Mackenzie will be 16 in Sept and he is very much looking forward to driving. Ciara is 14 and will be singing in a Teen Talent contest at the fair in Armstrong next week. So lots to keep us busy. That's for sure. In the meantime, did you see that 6-pack that just walked by?

Clear Skin Exam - Well Almost

Had another 6 months skin exam at the derm today. She is a lovely lady. As pale as a white sheet of paper. I asked her how she kept so pale. Of course she has a product to sell for that. Will have to check it out. Anyways. I've been a little nervous about this exam as I've grown a couple of new funky things and a couple of my existing funky things have changed or grown. So a little worried but not too much as I feel too well for anything to be going side-ways at this point. So I got naked and she peaked around, and over, and under, and between stuff. Embarrassing.... Not that much anymore as I know it's in my best interest. She has the coldest hands ever. But, I'm usually having a hot flash and they feel pretty good. So she brought out her little dermascope to look closely at a few things. And then I pointed out my funky stuff as she seems to have missed all of them. They were all nothing she said except for a spot on the right side of my face. She says, "oh I'll get that" and came at me with what looked like a blow torch. After I finished having a heart attack she says it's just liquid nitrogen. I've had this particular spot burnt off before, so I knew what to expect. Hurts for a moment and then it's ok. She said it was a little pre- spot. Meaning likely pre-cancerous. But she didn't seem too concerned. Said it would blister and flake off. Well that's a good thing to tell pre-cancer - FLAKE OFF!!! lol. So I feel pretty darned good! Now I will relax. I go back again in Feb. and I plan to live every minute until then a little more carefree than I lived these last 6 months. I'm tired of being scared of my own shadow. I'm planning on being one of the lucky ones who doesn't have any further mels. There has to be some of us who stay a little more front and centre so we're not just hearing about the really scary stuff all the time. We are hear to support those who are going through the really scary stuff - of course we are. The Mel Community of Mole-Mates are the best. But people have to know that there are those of us who do survive and beat this beast. It gives others hope.  I'm going to bed to enjoy my rest and look forward to another wonderful day in the morning. Peace out.

Friday 22 June 2012

Freaking myself out

Boy sometimes for a smart person, I can be so dumb (quiet Laurie).
I've been dealing with a lot of personal stress the last little while and subsequently have developed hypertension. I'm not impressed!!! I've been through so much the past few years and now this. I thought I was having migraines and high BP due to a progesterone releasing IUD to try to control heavy bleeding (sorry men). So had it out and nothing settled down. So super high BP 170-190/90-105!!!! 2-3 straight weeks of migraines and painful buzzing ears. Finally started on some Ramipril. After 3 days of that BP is now 148/80 at last check. Also tons of bloodwork and waiting on a renal ultrasound to check to make sure the kidneys aren't responsible.
So then I start thinking.......
Are all these migraines because the melanoma has spread to my brain. I used to get migraines - mostly hormonal - but the last few years as I get older, they've been less and less. Down to about 2-3 per year instead of per week. I was loving the freedom from constant pain. So the last few weeks have been hell to say the least. Today is my first migraine-free day!!! It's still hovering so I won't cheer too loud. Sometimes with all the stories we read on our facebook pages and others' pages and all the tragedies happening right now, it's hard not to look at yourself and wonder if you are going to share the same fate. A lot of them started at Stage 2 just like me. So it is a possibility. I made a comment about this on my Dodged a Bullet facebook page yesterday and received a couple of very supportive remarks. The kindest was "Take a deep breathe, focus. Hug someone important to you and then get out there and take on the day!"
It's so easy to get wrapped up in a negative thought spiral. It's very hard to get out of it. I have to remember to breath and that I have lots of supportive loving people in my life. As always, I'm so thankful for these precious people and all of my cyber support crew.
Blessings to everyone struggling. 

Tuesday 1 May 2012

A Life Saved?

So I was out for lunch with an old friend the other day. We hadn't seen each other for over 5 years. I was thrilled to be spending some quality time, just the 2 of us. I hadn't told her about my diagnosis or surgery, but I had planned on it sometime during our outing. So we sat down and the waitress, a young beauty with wonderfully pale skin and long dark hair, says to my friend "Wow! Where have you been? You look so tanned." My friend says "I know. I have to put off my annual check up because I'll be in trouble with my doctor. She's always reminding me about staying out of the sun and taking care of my skin." So, of course, I pipe up "Well, it's a good thing as you don't want what happened to me, happen to you." So in front of both of them, I told them what happened to me. The waitress actually said her mom always tells her to put her sunscreen on and she always does - hense the pale skin. After we ordered my friend told me that she is usually pretty careful because a good friend of hers died of melanoma a few years ago. So we had a good conversation. So the point is, I don't think I'm the one that saved the life that day, it was the young woman's mother. Yay mom!!! Your kid was listening. But she got to meet a melanoma warrior that also instilled some wisdom and life-learned experience. Sometimes that's the best. It's not just retoric. It's so important to take care of your biggest organ, your most precious skin. The other person that's saving lives is my friend's doctor. Yay doc!!!! Your patients are listening.
So being May 1st of Melanoma Awareness Month, we have to start off with our monthly skin check and ensure we've all made our follow up appointments with our derms, our oncs, and our family docs. Please take care of yourself. You are the only you that you will ever have. And you are the only you that your family and friends will ever have. You are important. Save your own life.

Spacer Progression of Melanoma
Loading Image: Progression of Melanoma
90 to 95% chance of no recurrence following surgical excision

33% chance of no recurrence following surgical excision.

Loading Image: Progression of Melanoma

20 to 22% chance of no recurrence following surgical excision.

A picture is worth a thousand words indeed.