In 2012 I found out I had Stage III Melanoma. It led to a roller coaster ride of emotions as you might imagine. If you’ve been on a similar ride, I don’t have to tell you how the fear, confusion, waiting for results, and pain can really wear on you. I had three surgeries in two and half months, countless tests, and numerous scans. It all happened very quickly and I wasn’t able to really process it until a few months after things had settled down. (and I’m still processing..) The cancer was completely removed through surgery and I am fortunate to not have to undergo any further treatment at this point. I’m at a high risk of recurrence though, so I am on a schedule for more tests and scans for the rest of my life.
I’m so blessed to be able to heal now and move on. I’m grateful for the experience because I have learned so much.
- I’ve heard how you never really know who your friends are until you need them. The outpour of love and support from our friends and family was so incredibly humbling and inspiring. Gifts of prayer, financial support, rides to appointments when I couldn’t drive, cleaning our house, doing our laundry, coming in a minutes notice to be here for surgeries, holding fundraisers. I could go on and on. The support system we have is beyond my comprehension. But I would have never known that without this experience. I’ve often felt alone before, but am now fully aware of how untrue that is. It’s a beautiful thing to know and experience. We are held up by the people who love us, even when we’re unaware.
- Having cancer helped me to work on the issues I have surrounding any illness in my body. Sometimes it’s hard to work on things unless you’re in them. I’ve always had a difficult time wrapping my head around the value and purpose of illness of any kind. I’ve worked for years on becoming healthier and have come a long ways. This illness gave me the opportunity to see new ways to improve even more on the work I’d already done. It also gave me a new motivation and drive to stick with it.
- This experience has also helped me see all the blessings and gifts in my life in a new light. I have a renewed gratitude for the simple things in life like being able to take a walk in my neighborhood, getting to spend time with family, being able to prepare meals at home for myself and my husband, having the energy and mental fortitude to work on various projects, etc. I also have renewed faith in how God provides everything we need right when we need it.
I still have moments in my journey that trigger fear and self-judgment. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to learn and grown. I am grateful for each experience and all it has to teach me. I feel a strengthened sense of hope, faith, community, and love. I encourage you all to take a fresh look at your life and remind yourself of all the gifts and blessings you have around you.