I've always liked that movie, especially the beginning where you see how autumn has taken over the town and leaves are blowing everywhere. Growing up in Florida, I pretty much can only dream of days like that, since autumn is my favorite season. Even still, there are signs every year that let me know that my favorite season is beginning and my least favorite is coming to an end- the sound of high school bands practicing, Starbucks bringing out their Pumpkin Latte, Back to School commercials, whistles blowing at football games. If you think about it, every season or memorable event has some signs to let you know that the time is about to approach again. So it should be of no surprise to me that as I near a year from the date of my melanoma diagnosis, I am seeing signs all around me.
First it was my visit to MD Anderson for a chest x-ray last week. Upon my first visit a year ago this month, I saw fish bowls filled with ribbons of different colors for different cancers decorating the reception desk. I walked around it, amazed at all the different types of this horrible disease, and found my color- black. Yes, at first I was a tad bit disappointed because it was rather morbid and I wanted to have positive thoughts, but then I decided that black is exactly what it should be- so glad someone had already come to this conclusion. When I went back on the next visit, I wanted to show my sister, but they were gone. Apparently, they must bring them out in June.
Then I did my annual volunteering at a local library for their Summer Reading Kick–Off party. Last year, I spent the morning rushing around to make sure I had a proper sized bandage to cover the excision my derm had just made for some “abnormal cells” she detected. I didn’t want to scare the little ones away as I was signing them up for the reading program. It’s laughable now, to think I thought that was a pretty big scar.
This was the caption I put next to the photo when I was showing my friends.
"Much bigger than I expected, but still not a ugly as the second head I had growing there for the last year, lol" If only I knew.
Both of these events brought back the sights, smells, and feelings of the awful month of limbo from June 15th to July 13th 2012, when I went from hardly knowing the word melanoma to the reality that my life may not be as long as I expected. As much as I would like to not have these reminders, wishing them away would be pointless. They are a part of me now. And it doesn’t even have to be June in order for me find those awful feelings and memories. They can happen any time of any day. I am reminded each time one of my wonderful new friends and fellow warriors shares test results that didn’t come back as we had all hoped. I am reminded all too often when I come across a random article or post, like this one from one of my favorite people, Respect the Rays
I clicked on the comments link right away to participate, but before I typed, I read everyone else’s responses. The last one made me take a long, hard pause while a storm began brewing inside of my stomach. “…on his back in 09, clear nodes. Metastasized to his brain 3 yrs later."
Mine was on my neck, which is closer to your brain than your back. I, too, had clear nodes.
For about 5 seconds, I actually had the nerve be upset that she shared so much information. I thought, “Really? Did we need to know all that?” Yes. Can you believe it? For 5 seconds I was a total ass. Then I realized she is just doing what my friend asked- sharing the location. She wasn't trying to terrify me. Then I thought of all the pain she must have experienced. I could no longer comment at that point. I put my phone down and walked away.
Just like the terrifying traveling carnival crept up on that unsuspecting town in Ray Bradbury’s tale, melanoma can show up in our thoughts, our fears, our bodies, when we least suspect it.
It’s because of this that I say, allow yourself :
-to feel nauseous
-to be aware of what could happen
- to feel your feelings
- to hear your thoughts
- to face your fears
But just for a few minutes. Then move away -far away- from those things and focus on the good, your blessings right now. You’re alive right now. Focus on your life, your future. Appreciate that maybe, just maybe, all of this fear has or will help us to live better, more honest, more full lives. Lives that we would not have lived had we not met with the beast.
Then make sure you go out and live that life.
As always, thank you for reading and practice safe sun!