As the title says this blog is one man’s effort to make sense out of his journey fighting melanoma. I have enjoyed reading some of my fellow melanoma warriors’ blogs and thought it might be an interesting way to share what this journey has been like for me. If you find this interesting great, if not that’s great also. Selfishly this is more about me getting this out and moving on from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor.

Let’s clear up a few things. Yes, I know how to use spell check and no I don’t always use it. I majored in accounting, not english. I have always been a below average writer, which is why I find the therapeutic value of doing this surprising. I think for this blog to make any sense you pretty much have to go to the archive and start from the beginning which is titled “Life Is Good”

I am not a doctor or medial professional of any type. My blog is not endorsed by any medical professional or facility mentioned in it. Every decision I have made about my care was done after careful consultation with my medical team. Decisions I have made were right for me but should not in any instance be considered right for anybody else. I don't recommend taking medical advice from an accountant.

Key West

Key West

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

To say I have a lot to be thankful for this year is a huge understatement.  A year ago I really felt like my life was spinning out of control and to be honest I wasn’t sure I was even going to be around to see this Thanksgiving.    I had just received the results from my SNL biopsy and it was positive for melanoma in my lymph nodes and this was just worse news on top of bad news.  Heck a year ago my family didn’t even know of my diagnosis yet.  I spent last Thanksgiving with my then girlfriend and her family.  It was a nice thanksgiving and they were all very welcoming to me for the holiday but there was so much going on it was hard to enjoy it.  I didn’t know it at the time of course but that was actually the last bad news I would receive from a biopsy.  I have had two more surgeries since then, multiple spots carved of me by my dermatologist, and two additional PET scans.   All have been no evidence of disease or NED as we say.  Being a stage 3 melanoma patient isn’t the most desirable of positions to be in, but it beats the hell out of being a stage 4 melanoma patient.   Toss in my time on Interferon and it’s been quite the journey.  I can’t help but feel like I have had my dance with the devil and lived to tell about it.  What I am most thankful for this last year is my family, especially my children.  Their support has been the difference for me this last year and I can’t imagine going though this without their unconditional love and support.  My granddaughter is too young to understand but her mere existence motivates me.  My mom and dad, brother, and sisters have been incredible.  I received support from aunts and uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews.  I am truly a blessed man.   I also am very thankful for a new appreciation of what it means to beat cancer.  Before I was diagnosed it was black and white, if you lived you beat cancer, if you died you “lost” you battle with cancer.   I can tell you now I see this very differently today.  Nobody who fights this disease before getting called home by our maker is a loser.  If there is a loser in this equation it is us.  We lose friends; family members lose loved ones but for those whose journey in this realm comes to an end they have beaten cancer.  They have inspired us with their courage and teach us what it means to fight.  In their names and memories we help raise funds for research, do what we can to raise awareness, and become advocates for our fellow warriors.    I was surprised to hear from so many strangers during this last year.  My angel Tim offered encouragement, Dianne walked me though interferon treatments, Rich entertained me with this blog, Al pays tribute to his brother so eloquently, and Chelsea writes like I wish I could.  They share their stories about their own journey with this disease and offer encouragement and support to others.  Keep fighting like hell my friends, is there any other way?   For those of us still here we beat cancer every day by just rolling out of the sack and putting our feet on the floor.  Right after I started my interferon treatments a fellow warrior in the chemo suite told me that I didn’t realize it yet but we were the lucky ones.  I wanted to punch him, I didn’t feel lucky.  Then later Lance Armstrong told a story in his book about somebody telling him the same thing and he had the same reaction as me.  But now, a year into the journey I am beginning to see what he meant.  Obviously I am lucky to still be alive but it’s deeper than that.  I am lucky for my new outlook on life.  I appreciate everything a little more.  Things that once caused me stress just don’t anymore.  I hope that never changes.  I continue to slowly feel a little better.  The fatigue that dogged me all summer and fall seems to have subsided.  The memory loss and other side effects from chemo seem to be getting much better and fortunately/unfortunately I have gained back all the weight I lost while on interferon.   Life is good.