Here it is, the two-year mark since I was informed I have stage 3b nodular melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer; with Breslow depth of 12.5 mm, Clark level 5, three mitoses per millimeter squared. I have since learned what that means. Bad news.
It was a clear sunny day, which quickly became dark, as my family physician explained to me that the sentinal node biopsy I had had the week prior showed metastases (spread of cancer) to my lymph nodes. It was in my lymphatic system. Even more bad news.
Two years (plus a 'leap day') later: 731 days, 4 surgeries for melanoma, 8 immunotherapy treatments, 2 months on complete bedrest (9 weeks NO driving!), several missed events for 1 set of twins trying to keep on living during this battle, 9 CT Scans, 1 leg with lymphedema, 2 years away from work, a team of 10 physicians across 4 Ontario hospitals, 30,000 hits on my blog, countless emotional days spent in recovery later I am content to report that I can enjoy today with a feeling of peace that, upon diagnosis, I did not expect to feel ever again.
Today I was invited to speak to a group of youth about the importance of sun safety, and I could not think of a better way to spend this clear sunny April anniversary. Thanks to the Rocklyn Agricultural Society for inviting me to speak to Junior Ambassadors (Fall Fair) from around our region, about the importance of sun safety, skin health, and the serious nature of skin cancer, in that it is #NotJustSkinCancer.
I was able to present to them the #NotJustSkinCancer video, as well as the Become a Skin Checker video which is a great representation (especially to kids/teens) of how to examine your own skin and that of your loved ones for dangerous-looking moles or potential problems. The dalmatians are a fantastic way to give a visual representation to "SPOT Skin Cancer to STOP Skin Cancer."
I was happy to pass around the audience samples of sunscreen (which most applied to their noses and cheeks - it was so cute!) as well as the art piece I was gifted from the group filming the #NotJustSkinCancer video.
They asked some great questions and I even ended up with homework to do! I must get back to the group about "UVC" exposure, as we discussed broad-spectrum SPF and UVA and UVB radiation from sun rays, one student had heard about UVC rays as well - I promised I will ask the LaRoche-Posay experts next week at Melanoma Monday and I will get back to the Rocklyn Ag. Society with the answer.
Thank you for the heart-warming way to spend an afternoon folks, and thank you for the flowers. I will speak to you again soon!
As for the rest of the day, I am resting up from a busy week, an enlightening-as-always visit from The Warden --oops my Mom-- ;-) and chillin' with the kiddos in the shade.
Another reason for celebration today is Scott's second year smoke-free. The day I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, my best friend threw out his cigarettes and has never looked back. Hand in smoke-free hand we have traveled this journey, as I have full confidence we will continue to do in whatever remains of my future.
Love and gratitude from me to you... thank you for being through 731 days and counting.... Thank you All!
And thank you to Claire for joining me today... "Daughter of the Year" as proclaimed by Cass ;-)
PS - Today also marks 577 days since my diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer, which was found in CT Scans for melanoma.