Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Guest Blog By Heather H.

My journey with melanoma started in June of 2005 with the removal of a mole. The words that would change my life!!! I had to have a skin graph on my hand to get it all. 

Then a day after my 21st bday I had my second surgery of my life. More lymph nodes... The one they tested had been positive. I was dx as stage III I did the high dose interferon for a month then the 11 months of shots at home. I did chest X-rays & blood work until February of 2010 showed a shadow on my right lung. Had a biopsy came back melanoma!!! Now I'm stage IV. I had 2/3 of my right lung removed & went back to the wait'n'see stage.... 

October 2010 I was having terrible migraines & had a CT scan that showed I had two tumors in my brain. I had to have brain surgery then gamma knife on the other. I then had a seizure because the gamma knife didn't work on the second tumor. I lost the use of my right arm & leg for a while. After the surgery I was able to use my arm & leg just fine!! 

By then I was told that the melanoma had spread to too many places in my body to count. I was terrified!!!! I was 26 years old!!!! I took a lot of different treatments (Just to keep me going) because I didn't qualify for any trials at that time. At the end of 2011 Yervoy was FDA approved. I was the first person to get it at my cancer center. 

By the Grace of God & the Prayers of so many I'm still here!!!! By my next scans the cancer was in ONE spot, my right thigh. I was stable for about a year when the melanoma started showing signs of growing and had spread again. So I did the Yervoy treatment again at the end of 2012 & I'm happy to say I'm doing great!!! I will be having my scans again next month Nov. 21st and we shall see where I'm at then...
Just wanted to let everyone know there is always hope!!! Don't ever give up!!!!
God Bless y'all 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"You Must...For Others!"

My mind is still spinning from yesterday's Miles for Melanoma walk in honor of Amanda & Corey.  I can not describe exactly what this day stirred in me (too deep, too complex for words...at this point), but Herman Melville summed it up for me when he said, "We cannot live only for ourselves.  A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."

I'd like to just stop there with the writing, post my pics, and wrap it up with a song...because I'm afraid I won't be able to relay to you the experience of yesterday.

But...I'm not going to do that.  Ya know why? Well, really for many reasons, but most of all, because I just said the word afraid...and when I notice fear come up, my first response is to avoid or hide. For me, fear equals "time to escape".  

I almost did that with this walk....I was asked to speak at the event, to tell my story.  And my first thought was, "No way!  I can't do that.  I'm too scared." At this point in my life, I recognize this crapy anxiety, know that it's fear, and I know (intellectually) what to do about it...
I wish it were that easy, but it's not for me.  So, I run these things by a very wise woman (Hi Kendra!)who says to me after I explain that I have been asked to speak at the walk, "Well, it's not about you.  You have to do this for others.  Be of service. Suit up and show up."

BAM!  Right then, I knew I was responding with a big, fat YES, and that I'd be speaking, whether I was comfortable or not.  

See, one of the many awful things about fear and anxiety, is that it keeps you small, and in self....me, me, me.  These kinds of opportunities take you out of ME and into WE..a MUCH better place to be!

Below you can see the WE...
The WE was glorious.  The WE was connected.  The WE was divine feeling, exhilarating, moving! 

My life is forever changed after meeting the families of Amanda and Corey.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to spend time with them, show up for them and others, speak, walk with them, and all who were there in support of this magical event.

You can learn more about Amanda and Corey in the video below...

This day will never be forgotten, and neither will these young women.  We continue to speak out, to educate, to tell our stories (even in the face of fear)...to honor them and with the hope that we will save lives doing so.

And so I ask myself this:

And the answer is this...I would speak out about melanoma, to everyone, everywhere, no matter how big the crowd, to help make change!

#f*ckfear  #speak  #outofmeandintoWE

And a HUGE thank you to all of you who donated to the walk!!!!!