It has been 10 years since Mike was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma. We are happy to share that he remains healthy and without a recurrence. Sadly I lost my mother to cancer last month. I am going to dedicate a page to her soon when I can bring myself to do it. XO Emily
We’re sorry for not updating you all more often. The beautiful, tedious “normalcy” of every day life has taken over once again…almost 5 years later. We know we are lucky and we appreciate every comment on this blog. We will not take this state for granted …as it comes with the beauty of health. See for yourself…look at Mike’s guns.
Just updating the blog – Mike passed his yearly scan with flying colors! It has been over 3 years now since his diagnosis. He is all clear and we pray that his luck will continue. YAY!! His doctor told him that the survival stats are very good after the 2 year mark but in the same breath told him he must be vigilant. Our doc told Mike that he recently had a patient that was all clear for 16 years and just had a recurrence near his primary. Melanoma is a sneaky bastard. We will try and enjoy each moment and not let that fear control us. Take care everyone.
Just letting you know we are doing well, but Mike hasn’t had his scans yet – we are procrastinating. He celebrated his 3 years of NED back in August. His diagnosis finally seems like it was ages ago and we have days where we forget about cancer. It is so nice. Mike has is referral for a PET/CT, but we have stalled due to the scanxiety..it is such a horrible thing.
In August, I lost a lovely friend, Shari Van Heusen, to melanoma. She had battled it for a long time. This is a woman who came to visit me in Palo Alto a day or two after she had brain surgery at Stanford…and she brought ME a gift that day! It is a little ceramic bird that has “be brave” written on the side. I look at that bird every day and think of her. It reminds me that we all need to be brave, no matter what we face. Fear is the enemy. And fear is why we procrastinate. So this is a reminder to my husband and to myself: We need to face our fears and be brave.
We will keep you posted!
We like the saying “Keep Calm and Carry On” – – it’s something they used to tell people to help them deal with the fear of being bombed in Britain during World War II. That is kind of how cancer feels. Like you are waiting for a bomb to drop. I like that saying because it is a reminder that we can’t let fear paralyze our lives. We need to go on. That is why I haven’t posted in a while. We are enjoying life and carrying on!
Ever since Mike’s diagnosis we have met so many truly amazing people who LIVE with melanoma. Our “mole mates” are inspirational. I was bursting with pride when our friend Christina McEvoy was featured in the NY Times. Christina has Stage 4 melanoma (in remission). Between treatments of Yervoy and caring for her young children, she started a group in Idaho for melanoma survivors (Sol Survivors). An amazing woman! Our other friend Sue Lescure had her eye removed due to her ocular melanoma. What torture she has endured – all with such grace and beauty! She is also amazing…and in remission! And I can’t forget my friend Shari. When they found melanoma in her brain and lungs she stayed very positive. This is a woman who, a day after brain surgery, came to see me in Palo Alto and brought ME a gift – a little porcelain bird that says “Be Brave” painted on it. I am happy to report that Shari is also in remission.
Sadly, I can’t forget the people whose lives ended due to melanoma over the past months. We lost a few good men. One was Mike Brockey. I admired the very honest journey he took with melanoma. Another was Andy Wileman. http://thewilemansjourney.blogspot.com/ Andy was a 40 year old police officer and father of young children who bravely fought Stage IV melanoma. He passed away in December. My heart goes out to Mike and Andy’s family. These two men left a mark on me that I won’t forget.
Mike’s sister and I are on the event committee for the Melanoma Research Foundation San Francisco Gala. If you can join us on May 17 – or donate auction items – we would be thrilled. I can’t wait to see all the wonderful people at this event – from the top local docs to the local celebs. But the main reason we love this event is because we get to connect with melanoma survivors. It is therapeutic and it helps us keep calm and carry on.
One of things a young lady with melanoma says in the “Dear 16-Year old Me” video is that your skin is like an elephant – it remembers the damage you do to it. She is so right, but young people still don’t seem to get it. I don’t blame them, for most of my life, I didn’t get it either.
As I scroll through Twitter and search the word “melanoma”, I see the latest news in the world of the most deadly skin cancer and I also read things that make my stomach turn. Young girls Tweet stuff like this all the time: “The last thing I want to do right now is write a paper on Malignant Melanoma… REALLY?! #Ilovetotan” and “It’s people getting ugly season..I refuse to participate #GTL” or “Think 9 mins on the beds today was a little to much but it will be worth it !! #tantastic” Note the hash tags: #Ilovetotan, #tantastic, #GTL (GTL = Gym, tan, laundry.. which comes from the stupid people on Jersey Shore). Men are just as guilty. Today I saw a self proclaimed “Tanorexic” from England announce that he has melanoma on Twitter. He even went to the dermatologist appointment “lobster red”. Do they not know that Melanoma is the most common cancer found in people aged 25 to 29 and the second-most-common cancer in people aged 15 to 29 years old?
No wonder the rates for melanoma are going up in this segment of the population. It is all about vanity. They want to look good now and aren’t concerned with the future. What they don’t understand: If you damage your skin now, you will pay for it down the road. Not just with wrinkles, but with a deadly, devastating disease. It might not happen right away, but it could be 5 years, or perhaps 10 or 20 years down the road. The reality is we just don’t know – so why risk it?
Last month California passed the first ever ban on sunbed use for those under 18. It is a huge victory and I was one of the people who sent our governor a letter in support of passing this new law. It makes sense to me. You wouldn’t give your kid a pack of cigarettes, so why would you let them go to a sunbed? In the past we didn’t look at the sun as a carcinogen, but now if you go into a tanning bed or purposely burn your skin, you must understand the consequences. It will affect your cells. It will mutate your genes. If you are unlucky enough to have a cancer gene in your genetic makeup, perhaps passed down from your ancestors, then you are at an even higher risk. Maybe it would only take 2 bad sunburns to mutate your genetic code to the point that melanoma grows uncontrolled. You just don’t know what lies inside you, so why not try and prevent those mutations and stay out of the sunbeds?
If you say to yourself “It wont happen to me, I don’t have fair skin, I am too young for cancer”. You are wrong. It can happen to anyone, at any age. Some examples are below.
- Diagnosed at 24 years old, Stage 3 survivor – http://adventurewithmelanoma.blogspot.com/2011/10/now.html
- Diagnosed at 22 years old, Stage 4 survivor – http://meredithlegg.blogspot.com/ – she is in the Dear 16 Year Old Me Video
- Diagnosed at 24 years old – deceased – http://rehabelburi.blogspot.com/ – Rehab El Buri, a young muslim woman, was diagnosed at age 24 with Stage 4 melanoma. What haunts me is that she never got the results from a mole on her neck that a doctor removed because it looked suspicious, 3 years prior. She died in March 2011. Her blog ends in 2009, but it is a haunting yet beautiful account (she was a journalist) of how she faced death at such a young age. Her obituary: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/remembering-rehab-el-buri-abc-news-investigative-team/story?id=13076627
PLEASE REMEMBER: YOUR SKIN REMEMBERS