January 2011 - Diagnosis - Cancer. Ouch! Talk about reality hitting hard at 32. After a month of tests, biopsies and scans for what they thought was breast cancer, the verdict came in...Melanoma! "Interesting" I thought. I wasn't a sun worshiper or had many blistering sunburns as a child, no family history and no funny looking moles or freckles. All I had was a swollen lymph node under my right arm. This is what they called "Occult" Melanoma or Melanoma of unknown primary origin. AKA no primary tumor. A year, many pet scans and theories later; I still don't know if it was a regressed melanoma that somehow slipped passed un-noticed or if I have remnants lurking in my body somewhere waiting to surprise me. I guess that is part of the mystery of cancer; did they get it all?
Coming into 2012, I just celebrated my one year cancer free on March 7th - the day that about one year ago I had a full lymph node dissection in my right arm where they discovered 3 lymph nodes were infected with cancer. In two weeks I will be finishing up my Interferon treatments. A year long series of injecting myself with toxins, and for good reason. I am not going to sugar coat my experiences in the past year, it was hard. The hardest thing I have ever done, in fact. The first six months I was just out right sick. There is something to be said for having the feeling of full blown flu everyday for six months. On top of that there was depression, uncertainty and tears. With that being said and I am sure I have frightened you away from interferon just enough; I will say that looking back on it all now with my head on straight and more of a tolerance for my situation, I have no regrets. I can rest a little easier knowing I fought it out and did what I could to better my chances and in the end improve my quality of life. The appreciation that I feel for my life, my friends, my family and all the little, simple things have all blossomed over this past year. For that, I can say that I am truly grateful and that this is one time where so much good came out of something so bad.
So what's next? The next five years are what they call the "watch" years right? Ok, so I watch. I wait. Maybe a little nail biting...probably. I live. I live my life everyday with fulfillment and passion, laughter and emotion.