Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hindsight is 5 p.m.

I saw this last night, a remnant of the "old" website, before the revamp. It was written just 2 months after the diagnosis, and I think it's pretty interesting. See what you think.


Hi, my name is Lori, aka Miss Melanoma. As you might have guessed I have Melanoma. That's just a fact, not a death sentence. I started this site for a couple of reasons. First, once I found out I had Melanoma I searched the internet and couldn’t find one local place for people dealing with melanoma and didn’t have much luck. Second, I wanted a place where people with Melanoma could come, share stories, read about my progress as I go through treatment and share along in my blog area. I feel like this has been an awesome experience, and I've grown from it and learned so much from it. I couldn't imagine not sharing the whole thing, the good and the ugly, so that it wouldn't be lost just on me.
So I had this mole. :) Just your run-of-the-mill mole, nothing super special about it- a little mole on my baby toe. And yeah, the mole started to grow, and then a year (or three) later, it started to peel, and bleed, and I happened to be working for a doctor (or- let’s just be honest here- I probably never would’ve even had it looked at even then) who took a look at it and sent me to a

dermatologist friend of his across the street to have it removed. So the dermatologist shoots the mole up with lidocaine, slices it off with a razor, puts a band-aid on the toe, and that was it. I never once, not even for a second, thought about the mole after that. Never wondered what the path report would be, never thought of asking my doctor the results, never called to check up on it, never considered that I could have cancer. I’m not really sure why, but now I do know a lot more about this sort of thing. Now I know that skin cancer typically strikes women in their thirties (even though I obviously had it before then), and is a leading cause of death among women in that age group. Now I know that cancer hits all kinds of people at all ages in life all the time. Good people, young people, healthy people included. Now I know that cancer, like so many other things that you can come across in your lifetime, can be a blessing disguised as a bump in the road.


I look back, just two months into this thing, and know that I was a typical patient. Like so many people I lived under that little cliché you hear people say all the time: I was so caught up in my little life, just doing my day-to-day thing and worrying myself over the intricacies of what I had to get done that I just never thought cancer would “happen” to me. The doctors would later ask, Why didn’t you have it looked at sooner? And there would be no answer, because the answer is in the million daily doings that cover the not-doings.
A week or so later my doctor calls me into his office. This doctor, who is also a very good friend of mine, has this horrible sad look on his face and he says to me, Please sit down, Lori, and he pauses what seems like forever, and, rubbing his eyebrows and holding his breath he finally says that he’s so sorry to be the one to tell me that I have cancer.

I first think: it’s not really cancer, not the kind of cancer other people get. I’m 30. I can’t have that kind of cancer. Not the kind of cancer that kills people, which meant, basically, I am invincible.
Then, after I guess a few milli-seconds, I starting with all the other racing thoughts. I guess it takes a second to really realize that there is this extraordinary chance that the disease no one wants to get has already taken over part of your body and you really may die.
Then- and I'll never forget this- then I thought about my friends. How I was gonna tell them? How could I tell them? And over and over and over I just kept saying, I can’t put them through this. What was I going to do?
That's just a snip-it, but an interesting look, I think, of life after dx and before treatment. How crazy things are?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Moveable Feast

Sometimes I come to this blog and I have no idea what to say. I spin the words around in my head, trying to come up with something clever, trying to think what is important to say and what I can figure out on my own without worrying others.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that he often had writer's block, and this would worry him. The thought of not being able to write would begin to make him anxious, and that he would "stand and look over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there."

My true sentence for today is: I truly do not know what to make of the things we are asked to do in this life.

I attended the memorial service of Mary Davis today. She was only 62, and she was the first person in my support group that has passed away. I didn't know too much about her, but I saw her every time I was there. She once told me I had beautiful eyelashes. I learned about as much as I know of her today during the service. She was an old hippie. She loved to drink and smoke good stuff and surrounded herself with colorful people. She had two lesbian daughters, both with serious life partners, one of whom spoke today. She said that when she went to Mary's house, she was always the most conservative person there. I thought that was funny, and thought of how I wish I could've known Mary in better times. I think we would've gotten on famously. The last time I saw her, she had been taken off all of her pain medication except Advil because she kept having hallucinations, and she'd had brain surgery just a week or so before. It was awful to see her in so much pain. She said she was ready for the pain to end.

I don't know what to say really besides that. I guess it's good that the pain is gone, and that is that. That is about as much as you can say. It's unfair. So unfair that Mary had to go through this; unfair that so many people are losing their fight to this. And a part of me wishes I didn't know about this world, this place where so many people are fighting this disease. A part of me wishes that I could go back to just being oblivious to the struggle so many are having, a struggle of literally life and death.
In the last month, three of my friends have found out that their cancer has metastasized to organs in their body. To be honest, Mary's funeral showed me that I am not ready for this: to watch people I love fight this fight. And yet, I find myself coming to the conclusion that there is no choice here to be made. This is how it's going to be, and I will undoubtedly watch them do it. I will do my best as a human being to be there when they need to know that others can be. Isn't that what a support group is? People who understand the struggle you are having? My friends without cancer, so many have slipped away, unable to cope. And I can't do that to those that have been there and watched as I coped.
I am always amazed how my friend Faith does it. She keeps up with everyone, goes to see them in the hospital, brings food and cards and soup and checks up with all of us on the phone every week. I want to ask her, what is it that keeps you going? Don't you just want to quit sometimes, just disappear? Aren't you tired of watching everyone suffer and die?
After today I guess I understand that the only other choice is pretending it's not happening. So you buck up, you just jump in and do what needs to be done, and you learn to deal with it as you go. No one is born knowing how to look a dieing person in the eyes. But you do it because it's the best thing for you and it's the best thing for them, and what comes after that is really insignificant. Everything else sort of takes care of itself.
So that's it. I know in the next month and year and decade I'll see my friends go through things, some good and some bad. I am fearful of what may come, and I hope for the very best. I am not big on prayer, but, if you're reading this, I ask you to please pray for my friends. Pray that they not suffer the way Mary did.
And pray for all of us, that we be the persons we need to be when we are called to be that support. And for peace, not just on Earth, but everywhere, in every one of us. Lastly, pray that this is not in vain. Because if it is, I just don't see how any of us can look the same at our insignificant little lives.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ceri Elizabeth Smith 1986 - 2007

I didn't know Ceri Smith. I didn't even know about her until a couple of days ago, when I saw a link to the video you are about to see now. I am passing on what has been passed on to me from Sarah, and I'm hoping you'll pass it on, too.

Ceri Smith, like so many others, has succumbed to melanoma. It is so difficult to believe that even at the young age of 21, she lost her fight.

I don't have the words to say what needs to be said about someone so young dieing like this. But this is her story, and I think we all know why it's so important to me that you watch it.




I'm Too Young For This!