I will never forget the day when my doctor called me and said "Jennifer, I'm so sorry to tell you this, but you have melanoma". I was in Seattle getting ready to fly home to Portland - thankfully I wasn't working the flight. A stream of tears fell from my face and I almost collapsed. The guilt I felt was instant. For the past 13 years I've been an avid tanner. I felt the sun was my friend, and living in the Pacific Northwest, I thought I truly needed the tanning beds to keep a "healthy glow". When it comes to melanoma, there is no such thing as a healthy glow, because that could very well be a death sentence.
I really didn't know much about cancer and I certainly didn't think I would need a crash course. Guess what? I have done my homework and I feel blessed in a way that God chose me to be the voice of melanoma among my peers. You see, I have this ability to speak to total strangers about anything and everything. As a stewardess, it's what I do for a living. And now that I wear with pride the melanoma ribbons on my nails, and the compression sleeve when I work, I feel that I can get my story out. Every day when I work I make sure to reach out to at least 5 people, whether it is at the hotel, or a new co-worker or a passenger on the plane, if I can get people to start that talk about "what's this on my skin?" then hopefully they will get to the doctor and just possibly through my experience, I can save a life along the way. I'm a single mom with two fantastic kids (Carter, age 11 and Liberty, age 9) and I have a great family support system and my friend support system is amazing. My two best friends jumped on this cancer of mine and they have really been the strength to help me fight this battle.
Right now, January 2, 2012 I am post surgery and I begin my immunotherapy tomorrow morning. I have stage 3 melanoma. It started as a mole on my arm and the cancer found a comfortable home in two lymph nodes under my arm. The cancer has been removed and now we fight this battle. I'm sure there will be more tears, but you know I'm a tough republican girl with good values and I have this inner strength that can move mountains. When I'm not being a stewardess, I'm a Mom and when I can I get involved in the local politics. I'm also going to fight for melanoma awareness on the national level. I'm going to let my voice be heard and get my story out. Melanoma has met it's match and it's going down! I wish my fellow survivors and fighters the best. Keep up the fight and the faith...God has a plan for each of us, don't forget to count your blessings!