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Facing Fear… Triumphant through Faith

Well… It’s been 3 years since the last time I posted on the blog. I started blogging ever so slightly assuming it would be easy and people would want to read it, or did they? Did I even want to write about it? What was I even writing about? Anyone that knows our family knows we have a sufficient amount of crazy that I certainly can support endless posts on a blog, but do I really want to share that much about our lives, be that forthcoming, that raw and open my family and myself up to any form of scrutiny… Not so much.

That last statement makes me chuckle inside just a little because I actually prefer to live a life of privacy yet 3 years ago I found myself in a position in our community that was just the opposite of private in every way and opened me and my family doors wide open for more scrutiny than I ever imagined a volunteer position could bring. I love my position regardless of what it brings, the good the bad and the ugly and I will defend it and honor it with all that is in me. This post is not about that at all, but rather the irony that I stopped blogging because of fear of opening my family doors too wide yet I am a “public official” so it does give me a giggle and this was the best spot to address this.

What the last 3 years have given me is more of a presence in a community that I adore. Which compels me to a point with this particular post that I fervently have begged God to allow me to stay quiet about but He so loudly has spoken to me that I must share my story, as a follower of Christ, someone who likes to be “in control” at all times and after many hours of tears and zero sleep I have succumb to His wishes. I am not sharing this for sympathy, I need none. I am more than Fine because God is good ALL THE TIME! I am not sharing this for attention… remember earlier, I genuinely don’t like it but I have too many people I dearly love and they have people in their lives they dearly love and if I have been given this mess, like my dear friend shared with me, then I want/need/have the ability to turn it into a Message!

About a year ago I noticed a mole on my back that I have had ALL of my life and wondered if it looked a little darker than in the past. Scott and I both determined it did not look any different but we snapped a picture of it and vowed to “keep an eye on it” just in case. I don’t particularly like the sun, at all, I never have. I have always been one to burn so I am the one under the umbrella on the beach, lathered in sunscreen and all of the previous things happen only when you can actually get me in a bathing suit! I have 6 kids and had an emergency hysterectomy that left my stomach NOT in bathing suit condition so to say sunbathing is not on my to do list is an understatement. So back to the mole, we watched it… I tried wearing a low cut back outfit for an event one evening and just didn’t remember that mole being that “ugly” when I was younger. Was any part of me like this when I was younger? That is an entirely different post! Again, another picture was snapped, this time with a “maybe you should get it checked if it’s concerning you” statement, maybe so. Fast forward, It is bathing suit time and much to my regret I have agreed to a vacation in Florida with friends on the beach and I will in fact be forced into a bathing suit. There it is, dark, in the center of my back, been there my entire life, ironically my 17 year old daughter actually has a matching one in the exact same spot… that’s what mine “used” to look like when I was younger, prettier, all of my skin looked better ? Maybe I should go ahead and get it checked, so I call. Dermatologist aren’t the quickest appointments to get into so I wait… and wait…

The day comes and I finally get into to see the Dr. which wasn’t even my regular dermatologist but it’s just a mole I have had forever, it’s not that big of a deal just look at it, tell me I am all good and let me get on with my day. Then everything in a matter of minutes changed. Words I never imagined rang through my ears and I froze in an office alone asking for another opinion from my regular doctor, because who was she ? I don’t know you? I don’t trust you, what if you are wrong? She took one look at my mole under a small lens and said to me, “this needs to come off of you now and be sent off for pathology, it looks very much like a melanoma!” With everything in me I tried not to panic, I explained yet again that this “thing” this mole had been part of body since childhood, and my daughter, who happened to be coming in within the hour for her regularly scheduled follow up for a completely unrelated reason could prove to everyone in the office that this mole was nothing more nothing less than just that… a MOLE. I asked if my regular doctor could please come take a look at it before I made any decisions to have it cut off of me right then so she obliged. The next few minutes went by in a flash, his words were “I would take this off of my worst enemy” so with that they numbed my back and ever so gently cut the almost dime size (yes you read that correctly) mole from my back. As I dressed, I looked at the little piece of skin floating in the pathology container wondering how something so small could quite possibly be such a big deal. I called Scott immediately and informed him of what had transpired worried that they would take a look at Chandlers and want to possibly remove hers and knowing she was not expecting that at her appointment at all, he agreed he would accompany her to her appointment. Within minutes of seeing hers, she fell to the same fate as I had, numbing and a thin blade slicing the mole ever so gently from her back. Seven to Fourteen days we will call with the pathology reports was all that was said. So again, we wait….

A small hole in your back doesn’t seem like much, it wasn’t horribly painful. It burned, neither of us slept on our backs for a week or so. Showering became a challenge and Scott was full time bandage changer for the both of us, I think looking at hers made mine hurt worse so he did the honors. She healed faster than me, hers wasn’t as deep. Life carried on and Hurricane Harvey began to make his way toward the gulf coast and we began to prepare for what could come. We are no newbies to hurricanes and their wrath, we lost our home in hurricane Rita in 2005 so we don’t ever doubt the damage they can do and the loss that can be sustained by the unexpected elements they bring with them. Approximately 4 days before Harvey I received a call from the dermatologist nurse, Chandlers pathology was in. Severe Atypical Dysplastic Nevus, she needs to see a surgeon and have more of the borders removed around the area to make sure we have cleared the site. Severe…Atypical…Dys..?? Nevus… Google?? NO don’t Google EVER!!! They scheduled it for the following week on Tuesday and assured me she could be healed in time to wear her Homecoming dress and the stitches would be gone. So what about me? This can’t be good for me? Mine was bigger, darker, deeper, uglier… no results just yet for me, but panic set in immediately.

The warning for Harvey also turned to panic as this was a very serious threat to our region and we were being notified that school was cancelled to help families prepare or leave if they so desired. My mind was in full prepare for the hurricane mode when the call came in and this time it wasn’t the nurse but rather the Dr. who said to me, “your pathology is back and unfortunately your mole is a melanoma…based on the measurement and depth we have already sent your information over to MD Anderson and within the next 7 days you should be hearing from someone to schedule an appointment with the Melanoma Skin Cancer Center. My heart stopped, it skips a beat again as I type this and I read those words again. Something about MD Anderson and Cancer make my heart stop in its tracks then I have to remind it to keep beating. I sat down right were I was, I was in front of Scott and one of our oldest boys and I think they both saw the disbelief and shock on my face as I tried to hear what she was saying though I didn’t hear a word she was speaking. She was so kind and just repeated it all to me again when I told her I was in shock and needed her to repeat it all on speaker phone so my husband could hear. So she did…

The call from MD Anderson came sooner than expected and as the sweet receptionist was literally trying to get out of the office to evacuate for Harvey she was scheduling me for my appointment for the middle of September. September!! That is forever from now… what will I do in the mean time to not worry? I certainly need to stay OFF of Google! I cried out of fear. I cried out of anger. I cried out of worry. I cried for my husband. I cried for my children. I cried for my parents. I cried for what I didn’t know. I cried for what I would find out. I slept very little and I prayed more than ever. Harvey came rolling into our city and just would not leave, he rained and rained and rained down his power on those that I love and I watched as there was nothing we could do as homes, schools and lives were swept away in flood waters. I watched on social media as friend after friend posted about their loss and god I empathized with them. I was brought right back to 2005 over and over again; I tried with all that was in me to reach out to everyone I could and give them any advice we could, pray for them, feed them, love on them and just let them know we were here for them the best we could be. What Harvey did for me was helped me remember once again, we are truly not in control. I like to think I am, pretend I am, put on my makeup and smile like I am. But the reality whether through this physical storm like the one we experienced with Harvey or the emotional storm I was experiencing with this diagnosis, control was absolutely lost and not able to be attained… or was it?

The tornado warnings went off hour after hour and repeatedly we gathered our kids into the closet and hunkered down until the warning passed. Our foyer quickly turned into a mud room as towels, rain coats and rubber boots made themselves at home as you entered our front door. The water continued to rise throughout our community and the feeling of drowning had never been so real. I was present, I was in the moment, I was the “source of strength” for the kids because they were uncertain if those rising waters would ravage their home like so many of their friends they were hearing about. Quietly for a lack of a better analogy, I pulled up my boot straps and pushed all of the drowning and fearful emotions inside myself aside and focused on what my family and community needed. The rain finally came to an end, the water began to recede from our neighborhood allowing us to escape and get to shelters to help others. It’s amazing how healing helping someone else can be for the mind and soul. As I served others, cried with others, loved on humans and animals who had lost everything, cooked meals, washed clothes and delivered my personal oxygen bottles to an elderly woman in need with each act of service I quite literally didn’t think of myself or my drowning at all. It was therapeutic for me, healing for me and again a reminder for me that we all have so very much going on. Harvey didn’t discriminate when he ripped through our city, just like hurricane Rita didn’t in 2005. There was no choosing based on race, religion, economic status, level of giving or serving as to who was affected. Cancer also doesn’t discriminate, Melanoma doesn’t discriminate ! I DON’T TAN… Let me repeat this… I DON’T TAN, I don’t like to tan because I have always burned. I am a crazy sunscreen fanatic…. ask my kids! What does the “typical” Melanoma Cancer patient look like? Did I just type that? Is that me?

The day came for Chandlers surgery and we bravely brought her in assuming this was “no big deal.” As I completed her patient forms there it was, the family history section and the glaring question of “Anyone in your immediate family have melanoma ?” Do I check that box now on patient history forms? Oh God…I DO! I couldn’t even bring myself to do it. It was like admitting my worst fears and I couldn’t do it, I especially didn’t want Chandler to see this, I was fearful for her and I can’t tell my kids just yet. I need to know exactly what I am facing before I worry them. As we sat in the office and the doctor began to explain to us the stages of moles it hit both Scott and I like a ton of bricks when we realized Chandlers mole was one step before a melanoma! ONE STEP?? WAIT… We weren’t even looking at her mole? They looked at her mole as a comparison to my mole, how are we now sitting in a surgery center being told it’s a good thing we caught this and now being told the procedure to remove the “extra margins” will now involve not just a little incision in my beautiful daughters back but a 4-5″ incision in her back, 3-6 weeks no exercise, limited movement and 2 weeks of stitches. I couldn’t breathe, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want her to be here! Someone wake me up this is not happening right now she certainly doesn’t deserve this AT ALL! No one deserves any of this, get it off of her!! Again, she was so brave… my God I can’t even put into words how unbelievably brave this girl is. She smiled, told me not to cry that it would make for a great story one day and we would have matching scars! GOD using a mere child to comfort the mother and be the very strength that I needed.

MD Anderson has a patient portal, so very handy. You get messages, appointment reminders, test results really anything and everything you can imagine is in this patient portal via an App. This was not an App I wanted to download but it was necessary. Questionnaire after questionnaire needed to be answered all medical history details had to be documented. Yet the large “C” with a red line through it staring at me on the home screen of my phone gave me reason to pause and reason for my stomach to drop every time I turned on my phone to see if I received a new message. In the blink of an eye appointments were being scheduled, some I could name, some I couldn’t. At this point I had shared my diagnosis with just a handful of people, not even my parents knew what I was facing nor did the younger kids. I hated to worry anyone without truly knowing what was going on myself and my fear was enough to handle, I couldn’t really handle anyone else’s. Time flew and stood still in an eery sort of way. There were moments I thought nothing of Cancer and moments it consumed my thoughts and prayers and nothing could stop the onslaught of emotions that ran through me. I consider myself to be a fairly strong person, but a mis-scheduling of an appointment that appeared on the “handy dandy app” over Labor Day weekend when I couldn’t call scheduling and ask any questions sent me from fear to sheer panic and I was awakened from my sleep to realize I needed prayer warriors to stand with me because I simply could not stand alone. I was simply without words or prayers at this point that felt sufficient. I know many people who have fought very hard and lost their battle to cancer, it almost feels selfish to beg God to spare you when they were not spared the agony of that suffering. So you pray for His will, but do any of us truly want God’s will to be that we would have such a diagnosis? I am a faithful woman, but is my faith this strong? I need help being back in control of my thoughts and emotions and that will only be reattained through the power of prayer. So I prayed for who God wanted me to call on and immediately I knew. They each had prayers and words of wisdom that stopped me in my tracks, as if God had a message that each of them was sent to specifically tell me from him. One might assume I called my best friends, lifelong friends, but to the contrary.

I called on one woman who I have known for a very short time, I actually work closely with her husband but I know she is a woman of faith and when you ask her to pray…she will. I knew she would be gentle in spirit, loving, kind, she would be the very heart of Christ that I needed to keep me calm. She wouldn’t ask too many questions but would reassure me that my God was bigger than this and she would be on her knees for me…and she was. She sent just the right verses at the right times and peace washed over me immediately. We will call her the Spirit of Reassurance.

I called on one woman who I work with, she too has faced the big “C” and I knew she would stop what she was doing and pray over me because she has done it in the past when I needed her to. She shared with me that Faith and Fear couldn’t exist together so I needed to choose which one I was going to serve. God knew I needed a strong Christian survivor who would remind me that Fear was not coming from him but rather from Satan…. who do you serve, who are you allowing in? She reminded me each day is a gift, and before I was born God knew my days and none of this was a surprise to Him. He is in control, not me, my reminder that I need to surrender to that each day as well. Thank you Spirit of Wisdom.

I called on one woman who I have done everything from bible study to spending way too many hours searching for home decor in Home Goods with. She knew every detail from beginning to end and she reminded me that sometimes “it’s not always about me!” UGH.. What a punch in the gut, but what a poignant moment when the two of us on the phone realized that what if this diagnosis had nothing to do with me but rather EVERYTHING to do with us finding that mole on my 17 year old daughters back? My God, I would go through this worry, fear, and whatever else comes my way everyday and twice on Sunday to save my child/children from EVER experiencing this… What if this has nothing to do with me at all? Honestly Chandlers mole would not have been checked if I had not begged them to compare mine to hers not because we were worried about hers but because I was making excuses for mine. God knew there was more to why my “mess” as she called it needed to be a “message.” Spirit of Selflessness, It’s not about ME.

Lastly but certainly not least I called another fairly new friend who is also a survivor of the big “C” to tell her that I needed her to know that I never truly realized how strong she was until this moment and I needed her to show me how. Her best advice… DON”T GOOGLE, and DO NOT read into anything you get from MD Anderson. If they change your doctor, don’t worry about it. If they change an appointment, don’t panic. Stay calm, stay positive 90% of this battle will be in your head with your attitude, positivity, peace and calmness that you can maintain. Once I was able to regain some peace and calm it allowed me to freely pray again and truly absorb the prayer versus praying with an anxious frantic heart and mind. Thank you spirit of Peace and Calm.

The day finally arrived for my appointment and can I just point out, if you haven’t been to MD Anderson I hope you never have to go. IF, God forbid you do have the “Big C” come visit you, I can not say enough about how amazing this place truly is. I checked in, Scott by my side and I quickly went from Courtney to number 123456, it was like I entered into the movie divergent. I was shuffled into the check in office, then the admin office, do you have a will? Why? Did someone tell you I was dying and ya’ll haven’t told me ? I sat in the waiting room looking around at other people wondering, who was the patient, what was their diagnosis? Do I dare ask? Do I want to know? Regardless we were all there for the same reason and you could feel the pressure in the air as we waited for our names to be called.

Next was into the holding room for the doctor. First the nurse came in to question me and explain to me all that was about to happen and could happen. Next the resident, same questions, same expectations same kindness. I sat across from a chart tears in my eyes, weeping each time I told the story, each time they looked at the hole in my back and explained to me the process of melanoma and what to expect and each time I read over the chart. Ever wonder why they put those charts in rooms? Like the kind when your pregnant for your first baby and they have the diagram of exactly what 10 centimeters really looks like? This chart is similar except the top says Melanoma stage 1a basically… we caught this early all the way to worse case scenario melanoma. So there I sat staring at the chart, where do I fit ? Which one is me? Why do they put these stupid chart right across from where the patient sits and waits to hear their fate? It’s a sick form of torture in my opinion… of course your mind is going to go wild reading these stupid things. FINALLY in walks a middle aged woman, calm, matter of fact, smart, calm (yes I said it twice) she sat down and gently told me what I was dealing with. “I need to go in clear these borders where the “tumor” is located” (tumor) do we have to call it that? “I need to then make a small incision under your arm and go get the lymph nodes it would have drained to if it indeed would have spread” IF it did not spread you are here… OOOHHH that’s the top of the chart!! IF it did spread, you are here… WHOOOOAAA that’s closer to the bottom of the chart!!! She grabbed my hand with a gentleness, and looked at me and said ” I see this all day everyday and out of all the patients I have seen today you have the best prognosis.” We can get this, I can make you better and my hope for you is we will get this behind us and you won’t see me again after a few years. “I” became an “US”… I am an US because of my sweet husband and kids but in an instant I belonged to a sorority of people, of patients, doctors, caregivers, researchers, healers, fighters, cancer warriors that are known by a number whose doctors are on a mission to make them better and never see them again if they can help it. In a matter of minutes back to back appointments started flooding my app, consents needed to be signed, the photographer came in to document via picture where and what the location of the mole looked like and a research team came in to ask my permission that from here on out anytime anything is ever cut off my body they have the right to use it for the advancement of melanoma research.

Elevator E floor 5, chest X-ray… Elevator G floor 3, blood work, West building past the water fall lounge to nuclear medicine Lymphoscintigram… we shuffled from one area to the next with all of the other people. Faces without names, we all had numbers. Some had poles with medicine, some had hair, some without. Some so frail you knew they were fighting with all they had in them their loved ones following close behind. IVs were plentiful as were the stitches and scars. Some cheerful from happy news, some weeping as they made their way to the chapel on the first floor because the news was not good and they needed prayer and guidance only found in a chapel. Shuttle buses INSIDE the building to take you from one side of “Disneyland of Cancer” to the other. I say that lovingly because you know at Disney, everyone smiles and says ” Have a magical day?” It’s pretty close at MD Anderson, they know your day isn’t magical so they certainly wouldn’t say that to you, but at every turn there was a smiling face waiting to direct you, pick you up, answer your questions or check you in by your number. I made eye contact with each person who tested me and secretly hoped inside that someone would see something and know I was “OK.” They see this everyday, all day long. They know what this looks like, but I know from having a radiology degree and working in a hospital in my past you can’t ever let on that you know something about a patient even when you do. But I looked for comfort in their eyes and voices. It was like having an out of body experience yet I have never been so present that my body was potentially not cooperating with what my mind wanted than in this moment in time. By 7:30 pm it was done, surgery would take place in 2 days the day after my 43rd birthday and the wait would begin.

Funny how God arranges things just as we need them to be at times and for a Friday night when our world is often very busy things were quiet. Kids who are usually out with friends were home and kids who are usually home were away. We spoke to each one privately and shared the news of what I was facing, again their faith trumped mine they laughed in the face of this trial and wholeheartedly believed immediately I would be ok and we would get through whatever was thrown our way. I took their strength and peace and the peace I felt from the prayers I could feel I was being covered in and enjoyed my birthday weekend letting worry nestle itself somewhere else for a little while.

Monday morning each one ran out the door with a “good luck” “We love you” “You got this” shout out from the door or text from the car, little Hamilton prayed over me as we sat on the couch watching Mickey Mouse and eating pop tarts. He only knew Mommy had a little surgery but he asked the Lord to protect me and to be with the doctors as they took care of me. Where was my iPhone with the fabulous camera when that moment happened ? They were out the door in an instant and the silence of the home was deafening, fear crept in like a stalker in the night, I wept, Scott held me and assured me I would be ok. He reminded me I was in good hands both the Lords and the doctors and we would get through anything together. I read text messages over again from my warriors old and new and re read over and over the verse “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you, Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

My number is 123456, “please have a seat in the waiting room someone will be with you shortly.” Requirements prior to this surgery were no food, no water, no makeup, no contacts, no lotions, no perfumes, no hair products, no deodorant… I really thought for sure they were trying to kill me. One thing people do know about me is you typically won’t catch me without my makeup and hair done… EVER So this did sort of feel like the walk of death for me. All jokes aside, they called me into a room, again asked my number, my name and made me explain exactly what I was having done. This nice man was taking my vitals and the interview team would be in next. In walks a sweet, precious lady who once again took my number and name and story “tell me what we are doing to you today?” we talked for a while and told stories of the hurricane and friends we knew who had lost everything. It was a nice 20 minute distraction as I was nervous and shivering from the chill of the hospital and the chill in my gut of what was to come. In walked a nurse, introducing herself as my Pre-op nurse, “I will be with you until they take you back” your husband is waiting in your room. Quickly I had my gown, my IV and again had answered the same litany of questions. Next came the anesthesia team, the doctors resident, the team to “mark” where the incisions needed to be placed (doesn’t anyone see on my back the hole that is already there?) anyway… team after team of people all smiling, all efficient came and went asking for my number and kindly taking care of me and assuring me I was in good hands. I remember telling them I don’t drink much, alcohol and migraines don’t mix and them telling Scott it wouldn’t take me long to….

Where is Scott? Where is Scott? I need Scott? I woke from surgery asking for him, which of course gives him great joy that he Is always on the top of my list…LOL I remember hearing someone say, “she has 6 kids and is very scared and anxious give her…..” silence filled my head once more. I don’t really remember waking up, other than I did and Scott was there this time and I was calm and comforted by not only my husband but another team of people, post -op this time taking care of me making sure I didn’t have any pain or needs. The doctor told Scott the surgery went well, two lymph nodes needed to be removed for testing and the site of the tumor was cleaned deeper and wider so I would have a significant scar on my back, similar to Chandler and an additional one under my right arm pit. Scars certainly are the least of my worries at this point and at the end of the day, when someone sees my scar or Chandlers I hope it starts a conversation and helps us spread awareness.

Healing has been slower than anticipated, axillary lymph node removal is a little, well a lot more painful than I realized. Not being able to use my right arm is, well a pain in numerous ways, it hurts too bad to move it so leaving it resting on a pillow is fine by me. The incision in my back, like Chandlers is uncomfortable but manageable. I was told 2 weeks would be the wait time for the results due to the length of time it takes for them to read and re read the pathology. So we wait… I was awakened 2 days after the surgery before the sun came up by an overwhelming sense of urgency to share this story with others. I was convinced it was the pain medicine and I needed to return to sleep. Sleep was NOT happening, I would close my eyes and I could hear a voice in my head telling me to call the photographer, have pictures made and write this down. Ummm NO! I don’t want people to know, I haven’t told anyone for a reason and I am certainly not taking pictures of myself exposing this very private moment to my friends or the world. YES… YES you are, and you are doing it with Chandler. I laid there fully aware that it wasn’t going away and God was for sure going to use this as a testimony for me to share what we have experienced with others. So I waited until a reasonable time, text the photographer and shared what I needed done and without hesitation she said she would be honored to help make this happen for me. Did I really just schedule that? Really God? This is really out of my comfort zone, and Chandler is going to think I have lost my mind when I tell her she too will be photographed. Again, I am not in control, yet I am.

One week later I was home alone for the first time since the surgery, the house was quiet and I had just begun to write this, and the emotions were raw and fresh. A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but this was a cancer I could see. Not a tumor inside my body that I couldn’t see but rather something I was completely aware of. The guilt that I had overlooked my own health was almost as unbearable as the diagnosis. You see as a mother, I am always last. I put others first, which I am happy to do but in this case I pushed my own concerns about myself aside only to find that I was faced with a potential life threatening diagnosis.

It came in, the call. I knew it was them because I know the number now by heart. I have to answer it, I don’t want to but I have to, so I do. The PA was on the other end and wanted to see how I was feeling, and if I had any questions? We spoke briefly about pain management and what is to be expected then she spoke the words I had waited to hear. “Your pathology came back, and there is NO evidence of disease in the lymph nodes” We are pleased with this result and want to continue to follow you for the next several years closely, If Melanoma comes back it will be in the first few years. I will need to schedule appointments with my regular dermatologist in between my appointments with MD Anderson so that every 3 months someone is checking over my body. I sat in silence, in shock that the news I longed to hear was just told to me. I didn’t know whether to cry, or shout in excitement and I couldn’t dial Scott’s number fast enough. As I waited for him to answer the tears began to flow so I made my way to my closet, and found my way to my knees. The man I needed to talk to most wasn’t Scott at all and I was thankful he didn’t answer. My news, my weeping, my joy, my surrender belonged to the Lord and this moment needed to be shared between He and I. Funny how he created complete solitude for that phone call so that only He and I would be alone when it came in. He is in control, and so am I when I surrender to Him.

Lessons learned from this experience some more serious than others :

1. I have to stop neglecting my own health, I have to stop making myself second and I need to trust my intuition when something seems wrong and get it checked immediately.

2. Kids are capable of so much more than they let on, you realize very quickly who will rise to the occasion and who still needs a little push. I have watched in awe as my girls have instinctively gone from teenagers to mothers and have ruled over this house in my down time. Barking orders to the boys, even to me and made our home continue to function as it should. Deadlines met, homework completed, baths done, practises made, laundry done and dinner cooked.

3. Boys can totally do more than they let on but they use every dish in the kitchen when they cook and changing clothes over from the washer to the dryer is sometimes a challenge but they get an A for effort.

4. Peace only comes through prayer. There was absolutely nothing that could replace my fear other than my faith.

5. When you are weak the body of Christ, other believers are strong, so use them. Call on them. Those prayer warriors lifted me and carried me when I didn’t know what to think or pray. They don’t know I named them Spirit of reassurance, wisdom, selflessness, peace & calm. They will !

6. Binge watching Game of Thrones could be the worst addiction ever!

7. MD Anderson is a collection of the smartest, kindest most caring health care professionals I have ever been around. They are gifted in their profession as I know they are faced with life and death with every single patient everyday but their strength and smiles never waiver. I am forever grateful I live so close and can easily access these caregivers.

8. Moles are serious! Even ones that have been there your whole life. Get them checked on yourself and on your kids!!

9. Sun and tanning beds are NOT your friends and though I have always been fanatical about sunscreen, I will be even more diligent when going out in the sun. The statistics on the dangers of melanoma are staggering, and the increased risk by using a tanning bed even just once is unreal!

10. My God is bigger than any diagnosis, bigger than any fear and in complete control. He knows each day of my life before I experience it.

As a follow up to my diagnosis I had everyone of my children mole checked. The results were one more mole being biopsied, and 2 moles being watched closely for any changes (one on my 13 year old and one on my 6 year old) age is NOT a factor either. My extended family has been checked and my niece has had two moles removed and my sister is waiting to see the dermatologist for a mole that her doctor thinks needs a closer look. Scott thinks I should start a “Mole counter” to see how many moles die based on my story. Just my family alone we are at 6. The visits took 15 minutes but could save your life or your Child’s life. I can not express my sincerity more when I ask each person who reads this to know your body, have someone else look at your moles and have your doctor or dermatologist check your moles regularly. I don’t want anyone to experience what Chandler and I have experienced.

ABCDE warning signs of melanoma : (taken from Asymmetry Border irregularity Color variations Diameter over 1/4 Inch (6mm) Evolution or change

I have added the images from our photo shoot, which for us are very personal and raw, but it puts a face and realness to Melanoma and our hope is that this post touches at least one person and makes a difference for someone else.



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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Words are my late night brain dump. They record stories, experiences, and life. What I never imagined, was this "therapy" as I like to call it, was not only for me, but for you as well. Enjoy!

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