Trying to stay strong.

I had a lung biopsy last week.  Let me say it was very interesting.  I was surprisingly calm.  I guess ignorance is bliss.  I have been working my way through the internet for information on things like stem cells, varies drugs, medical marijuana, special teas, vitamins, supplements and whatever I can read.  I find myself in a dialog of hope and fear.  I run between being happy and joyful to being the saddest of sad.   I have been reading the stats of 1 in 3 women will develop melanoma.  I have been reading about pediatric melanoma.  I can’t imagine being a parent with a child in this horrible place.  I try to sit and just watch TV, go to work and just be normal.  But in the back of my mind is the most scary statistic, Stage 4 diagnoses has 9 months to 1 year to live.  If you are lucky, maybe up to 5 years.  I keep thinking of my mom who was told she had cancer and 3 months to live and she did not last a week.  My dad is almost 7 years cancer free from colon cancer.   I don’t know what to think anymore.

I get my results on Monday.  I want so much to talk to someone who is going through this war zone.  I want to understand how to accept this and how to rise above the fear.  I want someone to walk the path with me and even though I know God is with me, a physical presence would be great.    Yes, I have my family and my friends and even the doctors and nurses I have made my friends are there.  But no one except a fellow traveler can completely get the reason I want to be alone, the reason I cry for no apparent reason, the reason I want to do silly things like go to the zoo or a movie or just sit and read a book. A fellow traveler on this road would get it, would have insight, would have comfort and maybe even have compassion for my need to scream.

I want to let everyone in my life know just how scared I am but I am not sure that would be the right thing to do.  You see, I have always been the strong one.  The one that never showed fear or sorrow when my daughter broker her arm or lost a boyfriend or a job.  I have always been the one with the positive words, with encouragement for everyone.  It would be totally out of character for me to show my reality.  I have always stuffed my feelings and dealt with them behind closed doors or in the shower where no one can hear me cry.

As I travel through this week to my diagnoses on Monday, I will keep my head up, keep my joy, embrace my family and friends and be at peace.

Peace to you all.

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My struggle with Hope!

I have had a few days to think about all that has happened and many nights losing sleep over this entire process. Strangely, I feel fine. Yet the occasional ache or odd feeling sends me reeling. Oh my God, what is that. Oh my God, is it spreading. It is crushing. I have done hour of research about treatments both western medicine and alternative choice. That idea of maybe being stage IV is crazy. I know there are treatments and I will be pursuing everything I can find but I struggle with the word hope. I have moments of clarity and joy and great hope and moments of sheer terror and despair. I find myself looking for words of wisdom, you know, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. God won’t give you more than you can handle. One door closes a window opens.  We have all heard them and we all try to find one or two to live by.

If you know me at all, you know that I believe that no matter what happens in this world it is as it should be.  What is the lesson here?    I have come to realize that even though I have had some wonderful people in my life, wonderful adventures, a wonderful family and I have been down and out and up on high, I have never really sat down and said this is great.  I have always asked when does it get better.  Why do I not have all the things I thought would make me happy.   I guess the joke is on me.  My life is great, I do have everything I need and the reality is, this is my life and I have never really lived in my house.  I have always wanted to have that other persons life.   So here I am with a very important lesson, be grateful for all of my life.  We all have dreams and wishes.  I have had the good fortune of achieving some of them.

I wanted to be an actor.  I had that in the wonderful groups I have worked with on the stages of Sonoma County.  I wanted to sing.  I have done that with musicals I have been a part of.  I wanted to travel.  I have been to a few states in our great country and have a few more on my bucket list.  I am a huge Disney fan and a big dream was to visit Club 33 in Disneyland.  Through a theater friend and her friend who I met on Facebook, I was blessed with lunch at Club 33.  Words cannot express how excited I was to be there and to share it with the person in my life I had always looked for.  That man who would truly love me for me.  I am not an easy person and I have my “issues”, but he accepts me as I am and what more could you want.   I have always wanted to write, so here I am, blogging.  I think this is more for me than anything, but if some reads my words and find comfort or inspiration, that is great.   I have always wanted to be wealthy.   I am.  My wealth is my family, my friends and my strength.  No amount of money can give you what is truly of value in life.

Bottom line, I have a great life.  There have been and will be challenges, pain, heartbreak and tears, but there is also joy, happiness, fun and awe.  I still am moved by the sunrise and sunset, full moon and oceans.  I am moved by nature, I love animals and as strange as it may seem to some, I still cry when I go to Disneyland.  I still feel my imagination working overtime on the rides and still appreciate the work and imagination that goes into making magic real.  Walt Disney was an amazing man and has always inspired me to dream and believe.

If you have read this far, I hope you can say to yourself that your life is good too.  No matter what makes you cry, what makes you happy, what challenges you and what makes you wonder WTF, life is truly a wonder, a blessing and worth the ride.  Life is the ultimate “E” ticket.  I know it is not going to be easy, but I am going to stay on this ride and, even while I am screaming around some scary rises and drops, it will all be worth it.   Walt said “if you can dream it, you can do it.”   So, here we go!!  Look, after writing this, I got my HOPE back!!




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My Life with Melanoma

My name is Donna.  I have been diagnosed with Melanoma and have been living with this disease for over 18 months.  They call it skin cancer, but don’t let that simple term fool you.  It is so much more than that.  It is the worst cancer you can get and it is the most exhausting feeling to know that there is no cure.  Oh, Yes, there is treatment, but there is no cure.  Oh, Yes, you can prevent skin cancer by not using tanning booths, using sunscreen daily, even in the winter and wearing a hat and protective clothing when out and about. But if you get it, you got it. If you have a family member who has had skin cancer, you want to be even more vigilant about how you enjoy the sun and the great outdoors. 

My journey started about 2 years ago when my hair dresser discovered a very dark mole on my scalp. I did nothing for a few months and than I colored my hair and it scabbed over a bit. My boyfriend insisted I go to the doctor. I made the appointment with the dermatologist and that same visit the mole was off to biopsy. There was a small surgery after that to removed the “margins” and it appeared it was gone. NO, it was not. The area around the margins that were removed started to have spots. They call them satellites and I was told that as long as they were superficial I most likely would be ok. Well, we had a larger surgery and a 5″ by 8″ chunk of my scalp has been removed and it has taken a year to heal. During the past year my doctor suggested putting me on Interferon. I signed up for a clinic trial for high dose interferon. Well, my system did not take to the high dose very well and I was put on a lower does. Perhaps if I was not in the middle of a divorce and having to work to support myself, I could have stayed on the treatment and had better results. But during all of this I worked or should I say tried to work. I have a fabulous employer who has been very understanding. My system was so fatigued I had to stop the treatment early. Who knows if that means anything but the evidence is that the cancer came back.

Now I am finalizing my divorce and have recently had a few more spots removed. I was being referred to a Melanoma specialist for preventative treatment different from the Interferon. I was excited and had to have a PET scan before the visit. As my luck would have it, my scan was not clear and now I face a lung biopsy. As my doctor tells me he has his suspicions and if there are cancer cells I go from stage 3C to stage 4. My heart sank and every fear you can imagine has come to my mind. I have a wonderful daughter and she has a wonderful husband. I have a beautiful granddaughter, 14. I have two lovely step-granddaughters, 14 and 16. I also have my Dad and a wonderful boyfriend and friends.

I plan to live until I am 85 and die peacefully in my sleep. This crap has thrown a wrench in my plans. Why write a blog. I write to clear my head and I write to maybe touch someone’s life and prevent someone from my same fate. Even one life saved makes my life worth it. I will spend my days loving my life and my wonder family and friends and I will keep my readers posted on what it feels like to be a ticking time bomb.

My next blog will give you some scary statistics about the disease. It is not pretty and not fun. I have tried to maintain my sense of humor and my positive attitude. What else can you do. I cry when it comes over me, I cherish each hug and each kind word. I ask for prayers for myself, my family and for anyone facing any type of cancer. Keep smiling, and we will talk soon.


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My Favorite Place

My Favorite Place

This is my favorite place in the world. A place I would like to be on any given day at any given moment.

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