Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clean Scan

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Family was in town and we were kept busy. I received the results of my CT Scan the day before Thanksgiving and it was good news - everything looked good. It was nice to have this to be thankful for and to be able to truly celebrate while family was in town. (The scan showed something on my lung, but it is believed that it is scar tissue from my surgery - this is normal. My doctors will keep an eye on it in future scans just to be sure.)

We had a great Thanksgiving and I will post on that soon. Right now, we putting up our Christmas Tree.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Skin Cancer Vaccine testing

From Stand Up To Cancer blog: "The same Australian scientist who developed the cervical cancer vaccine believes he may have developed a similar skin cancer vaccine. It works the same way - by targeting papillomavirus, this time in the form of a very common skin infection that can linger in the body, eventually leading to cancer. Already shown to work in animals, the vaccine starts human trials next year and could hit the market as early as 2014. "

It is not a cure, but it is a step in the right direction which could save thousands of lives each year. This guy is amazing and I am happy that his focus is on cancer research.

Below is a link to the article describing the vaccine.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/16/2420948.htm

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not so celebration dinner

We did venture to Oregano's Thursday night for dinner, however, I did not feel well. There is a nasty virus going around my school and I caught it. I felt fine all day on Thursday. Teya and I even went for a bike ride. Well she rode her bike and I walked. It was a great afternoon and we both enjoyed the activity. When we returned home, I was pretty tired and fell asleep on the couch. Todd woke me 30 minutes later so we could go to dinner. Well everything was down hill from there. By the time we got to the restaurant I was not feeling well. An hour later and I was really not feeling well. I couldn't eat anything as my stomach hurt and I was nauseous. Luckily I made it home before getting sick. I then spent the entire evening being sick. I didn't get any sleep. I stayed home from work on Friday and literally spent the entire day in bed. I swear it felt like 2 hours, but it was all day. Thank goodness I did feel better Friday evening and I was able to keep some food down. I slept pretty well last night and I am happy to say that I feel better today. Not 100% yet, but much better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feeling better

I finished round 2 Monday night and I am now beginning to feel better. I am thankful that my energy is returning and that I don't feel wiped out anymore. Hopefully I'll be back to high energy just in time for family and Thanksgiving. Tomorrow Todd, Teya and I are going to go out for a round 2 completion celebration dinner. I think we may head to Oreganos. Yummy!

Tonight Teya wrote (well I wrote, she dictated) her very first letter to Santa. She insisted that it get mailed tonight, so we put it in an envelope and she placed it in the mailbox all by herself. She was so proud. I wish I would have had my camera to take her picture when she was skipping back to the house. The look on her face was pure happiness.

I have my first CT Scan since my surgery on Monday. Prayers and positive vibes for a clean scan would be wonderful. Thanks!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Round 2 almost over!

I have been really tired this round. I am hoping that my energy level will go back up once this round is finished, which is Monday night. Other than being lethargic, I have been feeling good. My side is finally not sore to touch and undergarments are once again part of my wardrobe. Nothing to tight or with wires, but I'm so happy to be able to wear something without the pain.

This week we will be getting ready for Todd's family who is coming to town for Thanksgiving. They arrive next week. Courtney, Mike, Alec and Brian fly in Sunday night and then Penny and Paul on Monday evening. We are very excited for their visit.

Teya has been in dance and she is really enjoying it. It is a program at her school and is once a week right after lunch - 1:00 on Fridays. I went to watch her this past Friday and I know I am her mom, but she did great. Below are 2 videos (click on the arrow key to play).

Teya warming up

video

Teya dancing

video

Monday, November 10, 2008

More good days

I have been feeling good. Besides a rash at the injections site, I have had no other cranky side effects from the treatment. Thank goodness as I have been busy with holiday cards. Most of you know, but I have a custom made stationary business (cards, invitations, announcements, etc.) called Party Essentials (http://www.party-essentials.com/). I have a few holiday orders already and it is so great to be back in business doing something I love to do.

Todd, Teya and I went to a Lymphoma Walk yesterday at the Phoenix Zoo. A co-worker of mine, Alicia, has lymphoma. She has been a real support to me since I found out about my reoccurrence. I didn't even know about her cancer until my returned. We had a lot of fun at the event. Teya loved seeing the animals. I made it through one lap around. My lungs felt good and thanked me for the workout and my body thanked me for the extra oxygen. My side was sore with all of the movement and I still cannot wear a bra of any kind so that didn't help, but it was all worth it.


Alicia and Me







My friend Pete started his treatment last Wednesday and I am happy to report that he did not have a reaction to the drug or extreme side effects. We still do not know if he is getting the drug, but he is a trooper and is going forward with a positive attitude. Thanks to all who have sent him positive thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good day

I am happy to report that the ugly side effects of my treatment happened while I was sleeping. I did wake up to chills and body aches throughout the night, but was still able to get some pretty good sleep. Thank goodness, when I woke up this morning all was well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Round 2

Tonight I begin Round 2 of my treatment. As soon as I am finished posting this entry I am going to give myself a shot and then get in bed. My hope is that I will not experience the same negative results as I did the first 2 days of round 1 (drop in blood pressure, bone aches, chills, etc.) I'll let you know tomorrow.

Also, I had an appointment with my oncologist on Monday and all looks well so far. I had an appointment with my dermatologist today and my skin looks great. Good news there!

Some of you are following my friend Pete's story - thank you & he appreciates the well wishes. I had lunch with him on Monday to celebrate him getting into the trial. We went to Oregano's, which is a fabulous Italian restaurant. The weather was awesome, in the upper 80s, so we sat on the patio.

He is traveling down to Tucson first thing tomorrow morning for his first treatment. He will spend the majority of the day there as the chemo & drug are given through an IV drip and it takes 3-4 hours. He will then need to stay for an additional 2 hours after for monitoring to ensure that he doesn't have a reaction. His mom will then drive him home, which is about a 2 hour drive. I am praying that he gets the drug and that he does not have an allergic reaction to any of the chemo. Also, I hope he has an uneventful drive home. If all goes well, I will hear from him on Thursday.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Teya on TV

Teya and The Sutton Kids (Reed and Rachel) were on 3 TV news (a local tv station) the morning of Halloween. Janie received an invite from one of Reed's friends from school for them to be a part of the station's morning Halloween segments. Janie invited us and so we headed on into the station at 7:30am not really knowing what to expect. Well, it was worth getting up early. When we arrived we were told the segment was being broadcasted from their set. I am a 3 TV watcher, so it was pretty cool to be on their set and meet the hosts.

The kids were front and center stage. It was so cool. All three of them sat on stage and were very well behaved. Teya was a Care Bear - Cheer Bear, Reed was Batman and Rachel a cat. They raided the candy stash before they were supposed to, so Teya and Reed were both enjoying their lollypops at 7:50 in the morning. Below is the first segment. Listen closely to Reed when asked to speak - he says "You Goofy Head!" to the announcer in response to him saying dress the kids in goofy outfits. Classic response for Reed! Everything ends in head (same goes for Teya). (To play video press the arrow key below the video.)


video


After the first segment, we were asked to stay for the Trick-or-Treat segment, which aired at 8:11am. Of course we said yes. Well, the kids stole the show as you will see. Watch closely and you will see them sneak to the front of the line.

video

Oh, at least one of the lollypops the announcer is referring to is from Rachel. She loves those lollypops and has to have more than one at a time. She is too cute!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My friend Pete

A friend of my Pete, is also Stage 4 melanoma. I met him 2 years ago when I was undergoing my chemo. He started 2 weeks after me. Then while I was in the hospital recovering from my surgery, he was admitted to the same hospital for stomach/digestion pain. After his surgery, he was told that the pain was caused by a tumor in his intestines. The tumor was melanoma, it had spread. Unfortunately, all of his cancer cannot be removed. The good news is that he has been accepted into a clinical trial down in Tucson (STA-4783).

This clinical trial has been very promising for melanoma. This is the first time in over 20 years that there has been a drug that the melanoma team down in Tucson at the AZ Cancer Center have been excited about. This drug has proven to reduce melanoma tumors by at least 50%. Some patient's tumors have completely gone away. This is so exciting I get emotional every time I think about it.

The trial is a combination of chemo and a new drug. The only downside to the trial is that some patients will receive a placebo instead of the drug. He will still receive chemo, but the drug they are testing along with chemo he may not. Pete is a pioneer and hero to all of us affected by melanoma. I ask for your prayers for Pete to receive the drug as his participation in this trial could not only shrink or get rid of his tumor, but if the trial continues to be successful, it could one day do the same for many other melanoma patients.

Thank you all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back to work

I made it back to work yesterday and it was wonderful! My kids remembered me and we had a great day. It felt really good to get back to doing something I enjoy and not feel like a patient. I am not working today, but will be back tomorrow. I wanted to start slow just to make sure I was not rushing things. If all goes well, I will be back Tuesday - Friday.

Thanks to all of you who have let me know that you have either seen a dermatologist or have made an appointment for a screening and the ways you are being safe in the sun. I am so happy to hear about the steps you are taking to protect yourself and your family.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Skin Cancer Awareness with Olay

Olay has sponsored the SKIN CANCER TAKES FRIENDS campaign along with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and Marcia Cross. This campaign allows you to get a free skin cancer screening.

Please visit and browse their website - http://skincancertakesfriends.org/sctf08/index.jsp. There are videos with great information regarding skin cancer and melanoma. I encourage you to watch the three videos as well as read the articles.

Skin Cancer and Melanoma can be prevented and if caught early are curable. I started this blog to not only keep friends and family updated, but to also educate you. I am hoping that what I am going through will motivate you to get checked and to use safer practices while in the sun. Your primary doctor can look at your moles, however, you really need to see a dermatologist (once a year) as they are trained to see skin cancer and melanoma in their early stages.

If you get your screening either through this campaign or on your own, please let me know. You getting checked will mean a lot to me. Don't feel silly or uncomfortable - get checked! It could save your life.

Some pictures

Thought you might like to see some recent photos.

Here is Todd and Teya playing her favorite game, Hullabaloo. Todd is yelling in victory as he does every time he wins.




Teya and me.



Teya and Share Bear (one of her favorite Care Bears)



Teya and I were on our way to swim class when she needed to have her magic wand.



Teya in her new robe. It is pink of course!



And, a lot of you ask about my surgery incisions. Well, here you go. For reference, my hand is covering my left breast. The long one is where the surgeon went in to operate on my lung. The shorter one to the left is where my drainage tube was and then there is another one further to the left right below my hand that you can't really see in this picture where the surgeon initially went in with the scope.


As you can see there is no way to isolate this area, so as I am healing the area/muscle is in constant motion from breathing and any movement. The location of these is what has made it very painful to wear a bra. I am healing not only on the outside at the incision site, but also on the inside where the sugeon cut through my muscle and tissue to get to my lung and then cut out part of my lung. This isn't a surface cut my friends. Any pressure in this area is painful. It is just now, after 6 weeks, to the point where a soft touch doesn't hurt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A celebration night

I have been feeling better since Tuesday. Each day has been better and last night I got a really good night sleep. Like Sara said, 10 steps forward and 2 back. I am now back to where I was before I hurt myself. I am going to baby my right side to not injure it this time. It won't be easy to remember, but I am going to do my best.

It is picture week at Teya's school (my work) and I went in today and got my pictue taken with my class. I then stayed for about an hour and a half and had a great time with my kids. I helped with snack, craft and circle time. It felt great and I had a lot of fun. I can't wait to go back to work next week.

Tonight I made a celebration dinner for completing my first round of treatment. I wanted to have it Tuesday, but unfortunately I wasn't feeling up to it. And, last night was my cooking class. Anyway, tonight I made a garlic spinach lasagna. It was my first ever lasagna and I don't mind tooting my own horn and saying it was great. Along with my celebration dinner I had a glass of red wine. It also tasted great. It had been about 2 months since I have had a glass. It was a good night!

If you are interested, below is the recipe.
(You could add a cup of artichokes or for a non-vegetarian lasagna add a cup or 2 of diced chicken.)

20 lasagna noodles (whole grain, spelt or rice lasagna noodles)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups fresh spinach – chopped
3 cups ricotta cheese – (I don’t use)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups tomato pasta sauce – (I used 2 jars of organic spaghetti sauce)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese – I don’t use
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese – I don’t use
(Because I am not eating dairy I used a cheese substitue called Veggie Shreds. It is soy based and you can get it in the organic section of Fry's, Sprouts or Whole Foods. There is also another cheese substitute made from rice that is great, but I can't remember the name of it. Both of these cheeses have mozzarella flavoring and they taste like the real thing and melt well. For this lasagna I used a mozarella Veggie Shreds and one that was a mozzarella, romano and parmesan blend.)


DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook mushrooms, onions, and garlic in olive oil until onions are tender. Chop and add spinach. Let mixture cool.

Combine cheese, salt, oregano, basil and pepper in a bowl. Add cooled mushroom mixture. Put a thin layer of sauce on bottom of pan (a 9x13 inch baking dish). Lay 5 lasagna noodles. Spread 1/3 of the cheese/spinach mixture over noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup mozarella cheese. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce over cheese. Repeat layering 2 times.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 50 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Enoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A step back

Well, last night was a painful one. I didn't get much sleep as my side was shooting pain. Needless to say, I was not able to go back to work today. I have been on the couch all day. I did finally get some much needed rest after Teya left for school.

I spoke with my doctor this morning and said there is fluid on my lung and a spot that appears to be scar tissue. I hate the word "appears", but I'll sit with it for now. The fluid isn't anything to worry about at this point. They recommended that I take an Advil with my current pain medication as this could help reduce inflamation as well as use a heating pad. I am now sitting on the couch with a heating pad and it feels good. This does lead me to believe that I did something to the muscle and it is not a lung issue, which is good.

I am a little depressed that I have been forced back on the couch and could not return to work. I am hoping that this will not last long, but I will get as much rest as needed so that I can get back to living.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A better day

Sunday was better than Saturday night. I was much more sore than I had been, but not unbearable. I did have to increase the amount of pain medication I was taking, but at least I could still move around without to much pain.

I had set up a play date with one of Teya's best friends Skyler for Sunday afternoon. Since I was heavily medicated, Linda came over and picked us up. We took the kids to play at the play area at the mall. They had such a good time. I was really glad I was able to go. It was great visiting with Linda and getting out of the house was just what I needed. THANKS LINDA!

I had my doctor's appointment today and all is well. I am still sore and need to use more pain medication, so it feels like a set back. I just need to take it easy for a few days. Also because of the pain I experienced Saturday night my doctor ordered a chest x-ray. He wanted to ensure there wasn't fluid in the lung. If there is anything to worry about, they will give me a call tomorrow. He did approve me to use Benedryl creme for the rash that I am getting. Thank goodness as the itch is pretty bad. Lucy - I would love to hear about any remedies that have worked for you.

Tonight is my last shot for round 1.

I am going back to work tomorrow. I am super excited as I've really missed it. Hopefully the day will go smooth.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The pain is back

I had a really good week. Low amount of pain and minimum side effects to my treatment. The one side effect that has been uncomfortable is I get a rash at each injection site. My stomach and legs have extremely itchy rashes and I'm not talking about a pin prick rash. They are all about the size of a golf ball surrounding the injection site. I do my best not to itch them, but sometimes I forget and itch them. Itching only makes it worse. I am hoping that my doctor might have some ideas to help. Anyway, I have 2 more injections and then I will have made it through my first round. I'll then have 14 days off. I am looking forward to the days off.

I went to my vegan cooking class and got some good ideas and a great cookbook. I was even planning on going back to work on Tuesday as I felt so great. Then last night I got up around 3:15am to use the restroom and had really bad pain in my back/lung - left side where I had my surgery. It was so bad I couldn't breathe. Every breathe I took was like a knife being jabbed into my back. It eventually subsided and I was able to get comfortable and sleep on the couch. I spoke to my surgeon this morning and he said that he thinks I pulled something. It is either that or a blood clot in my lung. He said that as long as the pain gets better he believes it to be an injury. Thankfully I have been feeling better, so that is a good sign that I did in fact over work myself and injured myself. I am going to take it easy and hope to feel better. I have an appointment with my oncologist tomorrow morning, so I will discuss this with him.

I am hoping that I continue to feel better and that I may be able to go back to work on Tuesday. I'll just have to see how I feel tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Well adjusted

I guess my body has adjusted to the drug as I have not had the severe flu like symptoms since Wednesday. The side effects I have gotten since are slight headache, sore throat and congestion. I am also tired. This is probably a combination of the drug and recovery. My insides are still really sore, but getting better each day. I had a check up with my oncologist on Monday and blood work looked good, so I got the greeen light to continue my treatment. I'll have blood work once a week to ensure my body is tolerating the drug. Cancer treatments are toxic and we need to make sure that the drug isn't harmimg my body while getting the cancer killing benefits.

I am going to try to go back to work next week. I am going to start with 2 days and see how things go. For those of you that don't know, I am a pre-school teacher and my class is the 2 year olds. They are quite active as you can image, so I'll need to see how I can manage. I hope I'm fine as I really miss my kids.

This past Saturday we got out of the house and went to a fundraising event for APFED, which is a charity to raise funds and awareness about eosinophilic disorders. CB's niece and 2 nephews are affected by this disease and we were glad to join them for fun and awareness. It was Bingo night and we had a great time. Todd and I both got a bingo and won some great prizes. Teya really enjoyed playing. She had her own card and played all by herself. She was sad that she didn't get a Bingo, but she did not go home empty handed as Todd let her pick a prize when he won. She got a really cute make-up set. She LOVES make-up!

The weather cooled down this weekend and it got down to 70 degrees over the weekend. I know all you non-Arizona folks are saying "down", but tis the life of a Phoenician. The temperature is going back up to the 80s this week. I think the weather lady this morning said it is going to get to 90 mid-week. Ahhhh, I love this time of year.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What a wonderful feeling

I had a great day yesterday with a lot of energy and not a lot of pain. I still can't lift more than 5lbs and I need to be careful of how I move as I am still healing on the inside, but it is great to not be confined to the couch. I was pretty sore at the end of the day because I moved so much. It was well worth it and nothing that a couple of pain meds didn't take care of.

I took my shot last night at 8:30pm and then laid in bed. I became a little light headed, but nothing like I had experienced in the doctor's office. I also got a mild headache, but that was it. I slept all night and woke up feeling great. It is now almost 3pm and I have felt great all day. I am going to follow the same routine tonight and I hope to have the same results.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Treatment

I began my treatment on Tuesday and it really kicked my butt. I had my first shot at my doctor's appointment just in case I had a bad reaction. Luckily that didn't happen; however my blood pressure dropped significantly, so I was there for 45 minutes while we waited for it to rise. On the ride home I got sick - nausea, weak & body aches. The body aches are actually my bones not muscles. The pain is a little worse than the body aches you get from a cold or flu. By the time I got home (20 minutes), I felt miserable. I got something to eat, which helped with the nausea, but the weakness, body aches and chills lasted the rest of the day, all night and through to the morning. The morning was horrible. It was difficult to eat or drink as I was so nauseas. Also, I was trying to make myself presentable, so I was putting on some make-up and even the bones in my face hurt.

Because of my reaction of the first shot, I went to my doctors on Wednesday for the second. Thank goodness my blood pressure did not drop as drastically as the first day, so we were on our way home in about 20 minutes. The ride home was better, but the day was worse than the first day. I was pretty much confined to the couch. I felt like I had been run over by a cement truck all day and then all of a sudden around 9pm I felt fine. It was strange how fast it happened, but I was very happy. I then felt fine all night and this morning. Yippee! I hope this lasts all day.

Due to my good feeling this morning, I decided that I will not go to my doctors for today's shot and will give it to myself. I am going to give it at night before I go to bed. My hope is that I will sleep through all the nasty stuff and wake up feeling good.

I'll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What does it all mean?

I have been asked what it means to be stage 4 melanoma. This is a difficult question to answer. What I can tell you is this, I am stage 4 and there is no stage 5. There is no cure and no specific treatment plan for stage 4 melanoma. The treatment I will be on is experimental. There are published statistics on survival rates; however, I will not place these on my blog as I am not a statistic. I am a young woman who is living with cancer who has her own story.

After I was initially diagnosed with melanoma in 2006 my relationship with the sun changed. I stayed out of the sun or when I was in the sun, I wore sunscreen with the highest SPF available with UVB and UVA protection. I also had frequent (every 4 months) visits with my dermatologist, oncologist and had PET/CT scans. All to watch for a reoccurrence.

I did everything my medical team suggested to treat melanoma and it came back; almost exactly 2 years after my last surgery when I was “cancer-free”. In June of 2006, I got the best birthday gift; a call from my doctor telling me that they surgically removed all of the cancer. In June of 2008, I got the worst news. It was back and in my lung.

With my reoccurrence and stage 4 diagnosis, I will again follow my medical team’s advice on treatment, which begins this week. It is a year long treatment during which I will be giving myself shots for a year (14 days on –everyday- and 14 days off). I will continue to see my dermatologist every 3 months as well as my oncologist. I will also have a CT scan every 4 months and an MRI of my brain every 6 months. I will follow this regiment for as long as my medical team and I feel is necessary. I say “I” as I take an active role in my treatment.

My reoccurrence and stage 4 diagnoses was also a wake-up call for me. My body was telling me that it needed my help to fight. The one thing I did not change 2 years ago was my diet. Research has found significant links between food and cancer. I’ve done my research and have since made significant changes. In simple and easy to understand terms, I have become a vegetarian - although, I am eating small portions of meat.

Some of the changes I have made are:

1. I have cut out processed foods (for example: no pre-made food, no chips, no lunch meat, etc. and yes that means no McDonalds or any other fast food joint).

2. I have reduced the amount of animal fats (dairy and meats) by removing dairy and only eating small portions (no more than 6 oz of meat per day) of lean meats (organic or grass fed animals and wild fish). Animal fats have been shown to feed melanoma, so it is really important to me to keep my intake to a minimum.

3. I can have sugar; however I will be limiting the intake to 5 – 10 grams of sugar per serving and will be eating protein and fiber (nuts or powder are good sources) with my sugar as this combats the effect. Sugar has also been shown to feed cancer, so I want to watch my intake.

4. I will be eating large portions of organic vegetables and fruits.

With the help of CB and the internet, I have already found some delicious recipes for snacks, meals and desserts. Just in case any of you are interested in trying some of them, I will include them in future posts. Also, there is a vegan cooking class that I will be attending for the next 3 weeks. My nutritionist suggested it and I am looking forward to learning some new recipes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nutritionist

My meeting with the Nutritionist, Teri Taylor, went very well. The changes that I had made were what I needed to do. I was pleased to find out that I could have soy products as well as berries. That opened up my options tremendously. I had cut out most berries as sugar feeds cancer, but Teri taught me that if I am to eat berries or any other type of sugar, then I need to eat protein and fiber along with it. The protein and fiber helps my body breakdown and digest the sugar in a way that doesn't negatively effect my body. That doesn't mean that I will be adding sugary foods such as candy, cookies and soda back into my diet, but it does allow me the flexibility to have a dessert once in awhile and not feel guilty about it. I am now armed with how to combat the effects and it feels wonderful. Especially since the holidays are right around the corner. I am happy to know that I can still have a slice of my apple pie!

She also told me that fats have been shown to feed Melanoma and accelerate recurrences, so I need to be careful about how much fat I have in my diet. This includes the good fat that comes from healthy eating. Teri provided me with the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbs and fiber that I should be getting in a day as well as a list of food and their nutritional information. I never thought I would say this, but I need to add calories to my diet. How times change.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slow Moving

Sorry I haven't written lately. Last week one of my incisions opened and caused a lot of pain and (sorry for the following, but this is what I am dealing with) I was extremely constipated, so I was in a lot of discomfort over the past weekend. Thank goodness things have gotten better.

On Saturday, I heavily medicated myself and attended a close friends baby shower. Chris and Ang Just are having their first baby, a girl, in November. I am very excited for them and I was really glad I was able to make it. Since I can't drive, my great friend CB was my chauffeur and gave me a nice smooth ride. The shower was my first official outing since my surgery and it was great to have a reason to get out of casual clothing.

I saw my surgeon today and he said that I am healing well, but expects another 3 weeks for the majority of the pain to subside and because of this I will be on my narcotic pain meds for a few more weeks. I attempted to wean myself from my pain meds as I don't like to be on so much medication, but he said that I am not ready for that yet. He said that I need to have enough pain medication to keep me moving, which will help me heal. I do agree with him there as I have been more confined to the couch lately. With the heavy stuff I should be able to get back to moving more, which will do a lot for my mental state. I have to say it is frustrating to be in so much pain, so much so that it makes it difficult to walk.

I have a meeting with a nutritionist tomorrow. I am very excited to speak with her and get her advice as well as get my questions answered.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Outings

I had my first outing on Monday since my surgery. Todd and I did some grocery shopping at Whole Foods. It was great to get out of the house for a bit. Tuesday, we went to my doctor's appointment and then to Fry's. Being out of the house is nice, but irritating. I can't walk fast due to the tenderness of my incisions. If I were able to wear a bra it would be better, but my left side is WAY to tender for that. Anyway, it is irritating that I can't walk real fast and people stare at me. The grocery store greeter guy asked me if I wanted one of those go-cart shopping carts. Ugh! I can't wait until I am able to walk, run and play volleyball again. Everyday gets better, but I am getting anxious.

Well, my doctor's appointment went well. It was with my Oncologist. He said that my incisions look great and my bloodwork came back normal. I am still on lifting restrictions of no more than 5lbs and no strenuous activity. I am on schedule to begin my treatment in October. I have an appointment on Tuesday, October 7th to begin. I'm nervous, but also looking forward to beginning the treatment. I'm nervous as side effects vary by person, so hopefully I will tolerate the drug as well as my doctor's expect. I'm axious to begin as the sooner I can start boosting my immune system to help my body fight and kill any cancer cells remaining in my body the better.

I have continued and will continue a better diet to help my body fight. Many of you have asked about my "diet". Well, basically I have cut out all processed foods and I am eating only organic foods. I am eating food that act as medicine in the body, such as green vegetables and have cut out foods that have a negative effect such as dairy, pasta and the vegetables and fruit that are high in sugar. To go into detail would require another post, so I'll go into detail some other time. This new way of living has been challenging, however, I am moving forward with positive thinking. I try to not think about what I can't have, but rather what I can because this "diet" is what is best for me. I am going to do what is necessary to fight my cancer and if that means giving up some foods so be it. There are more important things that I need to focus on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Out for fun and Special Thanks

Todd and Teya will be attending a birthday party today for Alexis and Atianna (friend's of ours daughters are both turning 1). It will be good for Todd and Teya to get out today and have some fun. I wish I could go with them, but I'm just not ready yet. There is still to much pain and besides, I can't wear a bra ;) My friend Claudia is coming over to keep me company. I am looking forward to her visit.

Speaking of visitors, I wanted to say thank you to CB & Jon and Ang for coming and visiting me in the hospital. It was nice of you to visit. My family appreciated the break and I loved the company. I want to send a special thanks to CB for making me snacks & bringing me dinner! The hospital food was good, but not even close to the food you brought. You have been so supportive with my new "diet" and have given me so many delicious recipes. Thanks!

Thursday night Linda and Skyler came for a visit. Skyler made me a Get Well card. As most of you know, I love home-made cards and his was very special. It was great visiting with Linda and Teya & Skyler, of course, had a great time. The two of them are great friends and play really well together. Thanks for the visit!

Here are some pictures from my hospital room.
Before surgery



This one is the first day out of ICU.



Flowers



And, these were my last day, all showered and ready to go home.





I am behind on my thank you cards, so I would like to send a quick "Thank You" to Bob and Heidi for the flowers you sent before my surgery. They were beautiful and really helped to keep me smiling. Thanks also to all of you who have brought & sent cards and flowers since my surgery. They are decorating my living room and keep my spirits high. The Sweats sent an edible fruit bouquet. What a great idea and very yummy, thanks!









Thanks everyone!

Good-bye to Mom

My mom left on a 7am flight this morning. I was extrememly sad to see her go. There just isn't anything like having your mom around to take care of you. I really couldn't have gone through the surgery and beginning of my recovery without her and my dad. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that the cancer was removed and I am up and moving around - well on my way to recovery.

Here is a photo of my mom and Teya.



Here is one of Teya and Rick playing "snow" in our kitchen.



Here is a picture of Todd, Teya and I that my mom took last night.



My parents will be missed and we look forward to their visit in December for Christmas.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More good days

The pain is decreasing a little everyday and yesterday I spent most of the day off of the couch. I was sore later in the evening, but it felt good to be on my feet. Teya also noticed that I was doing better. When she got home from school she said "Mommy you are walking faster!". She is very observant and too darn cute! This morning, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and she said "But you can't make it, right?". I told her I could and she said "Yea!". She is a great cheerleader.

We had a great visit with my cousin, Samantha, yesterday who just started college at ASU. She is attending the nursing school and is at the downtown Phoenix campus. She enjoyed being away from the dorm and having a home cooked meal. Her family is in Michigan, so she is overcoming her home-sickness. She is a strong gal and I think she will do great. Hopefully we will see her often. She plays volley ball, so maybe she will come and play with us sometime. She is an indoor player, but we may be able to convert her :)

Todd and my mom have continued to be great nurses/aides. My mom is learning all about organic food and how to prepare it. She is doing great. She also has found her way around Trader Joes and Whole Foods. My house is cleaner than it has probably ever been on a daily basis. Nothing but clean air and germ free surfaces around here. Not sure what we are going to do when she leaves on Saturday. She has taken care of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and taking care of Teya and I. What a blessing it has been that she was able to be here.

My follow up appointment with my surgeon will not be for at least another week. Until then, & for hopefully only a short time after, I am limited to lifting no more than 5 lbs and no strenuous activity. Until I am off my pain meds, I am unable to drive and I am doing breathing treatments to open my lung and increase air capacity back to normal as well as to prevent pneumonia.

Next week, I have an appointment with my Oncologist on Tuesday and during that visit we will discuss my upcoming treatment, which I will begin in early October.

My recovery is going great and I look forward to being more active and beginning my treatment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A little independece

What a wonderful morning. I woke up at 6am and have been out of bed and on my feet now for 45 minutes. This is the longest I have been on my feet in a week. My body is achy from sitting and laying so much, so it has been nice to stretch out a little. I also made myself breakfast. What a great feeling to be able to do something for myself again. I appreciate all of the help I am receiving, but there is nothing like being able to get back a little independence.

Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes. They really do help lift my spirits.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's Me and I am home

Hello All,

I am comfortably sitting on my own couch and it feels great. The only thing I miss about the hospital is the bed. Really comfortable and easy to get in and out of. But I would trade it for what I am doing now. Sitting next to Teya while she is watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I'm glad to be home and spending time with her. I really missed her and it lifts my spirits hearing her laugh. The nursing staff was great, but the one I have at home is much better. Unfortunately, my dad left first thing this morning, but my mom will be here all week and Todd will be working from home on some days. They were great while I was in the hospital and a blessing now that I am home. Even Teya has turned into quite a nurse. She helps me get up from the couch and goes on walks with me through the house.

Todd and my parents were a great visiting team. They was always someone with me and when they were there they didn't mind that I would drift off to sleep mid-sentence. I mean this literally. One second I would be talking and the next I couldn't keep my eyes open. I would then wake up about 30 minutes or so later and get back in the conversation. It was really funny, but awesome that they made me feel comfortable enough to do it. Since it is difficult to get good sleep at a hospital, it is good to get some shut eye when your body is telling you it needs it. They were my saving grace in ICU right after my surgery. After 2 1/2 hours of the most intense pain I have ever experienced, they were finally led to my room and within minutes took control to get me the pain meds I needed. I was in so much pain I couldn't speak, I could only sign to them. 10 fingers means extreme pain and I couldn't show them enough. The scale the hospital uses is 0 - 10. It was difficult not being able to speak as I was so angry that I was in so much pain for so long and that my family wasn't with me. I remember feeling relieved as soon as I heard my mom's voice. After that I was on my road to recovery.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes. It is great to have your support. I have heard that some of you do not know how to leave a comment. If you would like to leave one, click on the word "comment" after a post. There will be a box in the upper right corner of the screen where you can write whatever you like. Then if you have a Google account you click that option, if not click Anyomous. You do not have to create an account to leave a comment. I'm not pressuring for comments; however, I hope this helps those that were sure how.

I'm now going to go read my baby girl a story and get her to bed.

Thanks!
Tina

Home sweet home...

Well, as Tina describes it, she had one of her worst nights last night with a ton of pain and little sleep. Now that the epidural was out, it was obvious her pain level was greatly heightened. The neighbor was quite, but TJ's pain wasn't!

So we were still waiting to hear from Dr. Goldstein. He said he would be by in the 'morning', which I guess in Doctor speak on a Saturday is "whenever he wants". Well...he did push the limit, so just as 'morning' was running out he showed up. 11:58 a.m. on the dot. After checking her out, he gave the ok to take the tubes out, and in about 15 seconds, out they were! While we were high-fiving, TJ wasn't quite as excited. As she said..."Don't start the parade yet!", as she was still in quite a bit of pain. It took a couple of hours and a nice nap, but after a bit she really started feeling better. The icing on the cake was finally being able to get underneath some water and wash her hair. After 5 days of 'sponge baths', I am sure it was nice to get the real thing...

So with the tubes were out and TJ's pain was in line, the last piece to the puzzle was to get a final chest x-ray to confirm everything was a.o.k. Finally at 6 or so, we got the word. "Get out of here!" We didn't hesitate...

With TJ finally home, no one was more happy than Teya who hadn't seen her mommy in 5 days. It was their longest time apart since before she was born! We kept Teya in the dark with the whole hospital stay...she is incredibly bright, but explaining a hospital stay like this might be a bit difficult. She is happy to have mommy home though, and I am too!

That said, I have to send thanks out to everyone who has emailed, called, or contacted us in the last few weeks. We truly do have a great group of friends/family and we really do appreciate your well wishes. Although I personally haven't been able to get back to many people yet, I do plan on getting back to you. We can't possibly express our thanks to you all for helping us though this...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another day...

Today, some good news was Tina did get her epidural taken out, but it has caused her pain level to increase a good bit. Since she wouldn't have it at home, they wanted to see where her pain level was without it. While it seemed the last few days it wasn't really doing anything, after it was out and the last bit of medicine finally wore off...it was obvious it was doing something :) We still think the tubes are still causing a good amount of her pain, so once those are removed, we hope the pain decreases a good bit.

Oh, the 96 year old neighbor? Seems she was good last night, so Tina was able to get a good night sleep last night. The neighbor did sleep all day, so even the nurse joked that who knows about tonight!

The big thing today was we were hoping that her drainage tubes were going to be able to be pulled today, but unfortunately, it didn't happen. Dr. Goldstein came in and after checking them out, decided it would be best to keep them in for another day. He would come back in the morning and take them out, and she could go home afterwards. With the original plan we thought was going to be able to have Tina heading home on Saturday, but that is kinda up in the air. While Dr. Goldstein said she can go home afterwards, others have said that she needed 24 hours after they are removed before she could go home. Hopefully that is not the case, as we all...especially Teya...really wants her to come home!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ahhh…peace and quite! Kinda…

Well, TJ finally got moved out of ICU and into her own room. Last night, right as it seemed a move wouldn’t be happening until today and she decides to take a nap, and wham! In they come to move her. Murphy’ Law at work again.

She didn’t have any problems getting out of the bed or into the wheelchair to move, but she said it was quite painful to get back into the bed. It is tough for those of us who haven’t been through it to understand, but the tubes she has seem to be the cause of much of the pain and discomfort. She has an IV line in her hand, and IV line in her neck, and drainage tubes going directly into her chest cavity coming out her side. The IV in her neck is suppose to come out today (doctor already gave the ok) and we are crossing our fingers that the drainage tubes in her side come out today too. That is up to Dr. Goldstein…as he said it would either be today or tomorrow for that one. Once those are out, it will be much easier for her to get out and about, which is what they really want her to do.

So her room is tucked back in a corner hallway and is nice and quite, but it seems she had quite the neighbor last night. They moved a 96 year old lady into the room next to Tina’s…and well…I guess she was quite the complainer. Everything the nurses and doctors did over the night she was either screaming or yelling. I guess at 96, you are entitled to do whatever you like…but it kept poor Tina up. While Tina said she got more sleep than she did the previous night, I am sure it could have been better! Word on the street is they are going to move the lady closer to the Nurse’s station…she also like to pull her IV lines out…but I will believe it when I see it…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Got a room for rent?

As it is now about 24 hours after the surgery, Tina seems to be doing better and better as time goes on. She is still having pain, but it is not as bad now, and the drugs are defiantly helping. She had a quite night, apart from the noise and constant in and out of doctors and nurses, and the 5am chest x-ray (seriously...do you really need to take an x-ray at 5am ?!?), but she was able to sleep a bit. She had a great overnight nurse Megan who let Tina's mom spend the night with her, and even helped her get a bed set up with extra blankets and pillows! Why can't they all be like Megan?

We did get a visit from her Surgeon Dr. Goldstein today, and he said she was doing great. The chest x-ray looked great, and he said everything else looked good to. He even said that the drainage tubes that are in her chest/lungs might be able to come out in the next day or so, which would greatly decrease the pain she is experiencing. We had a good laugh when he asked Tina to give a quick cough, and her response was "for real?". She made it through though!

He also gave the ok for TJ to get discharged from the ICU, and finally get into a room, which was awesome...but after the initial rejoicing, we got bad news. No rooms are available. So much for being a big hospital :) Our current nurse hinted that it was actually they didn't have any nurses for the rooms they have, but who knows. Hopefully we can just get her out of this dark cave soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finally some rest...

Well, Tina is finally out of surgery, and resting in the ICU. It wasn't always comfortably, but at least it is now resting!

After Tina's Mother, Father and I sat in the waiting room for over 2 1/2 hours before they 'remembered' we were there(even though we told them a few times!), we finally were allowed into the ICU to see Tina, and man, was she in pain! She couldn't move, talk, or even breathe without the pain over taking her. When we got there, it seems they were very slow to administer meds to her while they were waiting for the meds from the surgery to wear off. The poor girl...the nurse said she had been there for over 45 minutes! We immediately got her to get a couple of morphine shots (as well as the epidural she was receiving), and the 3rd dose finally did the trick, she finally was at least able to at least tolerate the pain, and was able to get an hour or two of sleep. As Tina's mom said...that was why we were there...to make sure she got taken care of!

After her little nap, she was MUCH more with it, and got a bit more morphine as the pain was returning as the earlier shot wore off. Her oncologist here in Phoenix, Dr. Donovan, showed up and she even asked about eating, even though she wasn't hungry. No mistaking she was still in a ton of pain, but at least now it seems bearable...

Since ICU has a 2 person limit right now, we have been shuffling people in and out all day as she slept. She will be here for 24 hours or so before they move her to her new room. It was surprising how LOUD the ICU was! There were only a couple of people in the ICU with her, but with the way the nurses and doctors talk, laugh, etc...I don't know how anybody could sleep. It wasn't the 'library' I was expecting...

Not too long after we got to see her, Rick took off from the hospital and picked up Teya from school, and of course he spoiled her with Ice Cream and swimming afterwards. Typical Grampie...with that kind of treatment I don't think she noticed we weren't there! :) I took off a bit early to give Rick a chance to take a nap (we have all been up since 4 or so), and we are all getting kicked out at 6:30 so they can change staff. After dinner, we will again start the 2 person rotation while someone also stays home to take care of Teya. While we aren't allowed to sleep bedside, Rose is going to pull the night shift and stay overnight. Hopefully tomorrow she will have her own room early and the rules change a bit...

Anyway, so we are so happy all went well, and TJ is now cancer free! It is so tough to see her in the pain, but hopefully it gets better over time. I am sure even she would say she would make the trade any day :)



Out of surgery!

Good News! It was a long morning, but just got word from the doctor that Tina has finished surgery and he said she did awesome!

The procedure basically entailed making a small initial cut in her left side about 6 inches or so below the arm, and scoping it to see if he could visibly spot the tumor. He was not able to do so as it was buried a bit inside the lining of the lung, so he had to enlarge the opening. He was then able to cut out the small tumor, and took out a healthy margin around it of clean tissue. He was very happy with it, and said the procedure went very well...

As of now, she is currently recovering in the Intensive Care Unit so we have yet to be able to see her, but hopefully within the hour. She will stay in ICU for 24 hours or so, and then be moved to a room which will be her new home for the next 3 or 4 days...

Anyway, good news from this end. Once I talk to TJ, I will drop you all another quick update...stay tuned...

Todd

Monday, September 8, 2008

AWESOME RESULTS

My MRI came back clean and clear! According to my doctor, I have a brain and it is healthy! I am so relieved. Thank you everyone for your prayers and positive thoughts. I can now concentrate on my surgery tomorrow. As I sign off for tonight, I am in high spirits and am ready as I can be for tomorrow. We will arrive at the hospital at 5:00am and my surgery is at 7:30am. Todd will update my blog as soon as he can regarding the surgery and how I am doing. I am looking forward to tomorrow when I wake up after surgery and know that there is no longer a tumor in my lung. What a glorious feeling that will be!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stand Up 2 Cancer

Many of you have asked how you can help. Well, there is a new organization that has been created to find a cure for cancer. It is called Stand Up To Cancer. Some of you may have heard of or even watched the televised program that aired Friday night (9/5). This is an outstanding organization that will bring together experts from around the world to work together to find breakthroughs in cancer research.

To read more about SUTC or to make a donation, please visit their website - www.standup2cancer.org (you can click on the blog title above to be directed to the website)

Here is some information about the organization from their website:

The goal of SU2C is to raise money to fund the most promising cancer research projects and unite the best scientists who are on the verge of critical discoveries that can provide direct patient benefit in the shortest time possible. SU2C is founded on the belief that currently, in the field of cancer research there is a strong understanding of the basic science of cancer, and with the technologies available, now is the time to take that understanding to the next level by translating this knowledge to the clinic, to real advances in patient care and cancer prevention.

Stand Up To Cancer's innovative approach will bring together the best and brightest investigators from leading institutions across the country and internationally to work in collaborative, multi-disciplinary "Dream Teams" that will pursue the most promising research, accelerating the discovery of new therapies for cancer patients and/or advancing efforts in cancer prevention research. Stand Up To Cancer monies will also be used to support high-risk, high-impact, innovative cancer research proposals which are often not supported by conventional funding sources.

THANKS!
Tina

Friday, September 5, 2008

MRI

I had my MRI today and it went well. I wasn't fond of the small cave they put me in or the loud noises that came from within. It is funny, the lab lady tells me to relax and think of sitting on a beach. I'm not sure what beach she goes to, but the beaches I have been to have not had someone banging extremely loud on metal. I had ear plugs and pillows on each side of my head and the machine was still loud. Crazy with all our technology today that they cannot make a machine that is quiet. Anyway, I should have the results on Monday. Please pray for the results to be clean.

My parents arrive tomorrow morning and I am looking forward to spending the weeekend with them before my surgery. It is great that they will be here. It would have been difficult to go through this surgery without them. I am staying positive, but deep down I am nervous about the surgery, so it helps to have them here. Also, all of your offers to help are truly appreciated and I will let you know what we need.

So, one month after my surgery, I will begin my next round of treatment. It is called Leukine (GMCFS). Basically it is supposed to activate cells that help the immune system recognize cancer cells and then kill them. I will be injecting it myself (yep shots again) everyday for 2 weeks and then I'll have 2 weeks off for a year. I'll also be visiting my doctors for blood work and getting CT scans every 3 months and most likely frequent MRIs. I'll also continue to see my dermatologist every 4 months as reoccurances can also be on the skin.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been much progress for treating Stage 4 Melanoma, so there are not a lot of treatment options and all are basically experimental. Because of this, I have incorporated a healthly diet to help my body fight. There is a tremendous amount of information relating to proper nutrition and it's cancer fighting capabilities. I have been on my new diet for 3 weeks and it feels good to be able to do something for my body. After surgery, I will continue with a healthy diet, positive thinking and begin exercise and stress relief regiments. On another day I'll let you know about what my new diet is consisting of. Now, I need to get some sleep.

Updates

First I want to thank you for your prayers, positive thoughts and offers to help. I can't put into words how much it means to me to have your support.

I met with my surgeon (Dr. Andrew Goldstein) last week and received some good news. I passed my Pulminary Function (evaluation of how well my lungs work) with flying colors and my CT scan showed only the one tumor on my lung. That was the best news to receive. It was fantastic to hear that the cancer is not effecting the function of my lungs and that it has not spread throughout my lungs.

This past Wednesday, Todd and I went down to Tucson to meet with the Melanoma specialist (Dr. Hersh) at the Arizona Cancer Center. I didn't feel comfortable waiting until after my surgery to meet with him. I really needed to know what he thought about the surgery as well as my treatment afterwards. As we were walking up to the clinic, all I could think was "Here we go again". I was hoping that I wouldn't be seeing them again, especially so quickly. But, I am thankful that there are Melanoma experts so close to home.

While talking with Dr. Hersh, he agreed that I should have the surgery to remove the tumor, but before I do he wants me to get an MRI of my brain to ensure that there is nothing there. The two most common places Melanoma spreads is the Lungs and Brain. It is unlikely that the MRI will show anything as my PET/CT scan was clean, however, we would rather be safe than sorry.

I have the MRI tomorrow and should receive the results on Monday and then my surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, September 9th. Everything is moving fast and I am grateful for that. I will feel a lot better once this is out of my body.

For the surgery, my surgeon is hoping to be able to do the surgery with a scope (small camera). He will intially make a small incision and look to see if he can find the tumor by looking at the outside of my lung. He said there hopefully will be a bump or scar on the outside which will indicate where the tumor is. If he is unable to see anything, he will need to make a larger incision and feel my lung to determine the exact location. Once he is able to locate the tumor, he will remove that section of my lung. My surgeon said that because of my current health, that removing this portion of my lung should not impact my lifestyle. I should be able to do everything I had done prior to my surgery. I was really happy to hear that!

I will be in the hospital for about 4 days and then recuperating at home for about 3 weeks. My parents are coming into town for the surgery and then my mom will be staying through September 20th to help. Todd will update my blog while I am in the hospital.

One month after surgery I will begin my treatment. It is really late and I really need to get to bed, so I will post information tomorrow regarding the treatment.

Thanks again for the support,
Tina

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Blog

Thanks for coming to my blog. I thought about creating this for awhile and I finally decided to go ahead and do it. I liked the idea of having a place to not only provide updates, but to create a journal of my thoughts & experiences and most importantly spread awareness of Melanoma.

Most of you know that I was diagnosed with Melanoma in April of 2006. Within 2 months I had 2 surgeries and found that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes under both of my arms. At that point I had Stage 3 cancer and went through a year of chemo called Interferon, which consisted of giving myself shots 3 times a week for 11 months. The first month I went to my doctor's office everyday and received the drug through an IV. I won't go into all of the details, but luckily, I tolerated the drug very well and did not suffer to many side effects. Now that the cancer has spread to my lungs, I am Stage 4. After my surgery to remove the tumor I will undergo another year long treatment. I will go into more detail in my next post with all of my medical updates.

First I would like to provide some facts regarding Melanoma that you should be aware of:

*Skin cancer is the #1 diagnosed cancer, and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among women 20-39 years of age.
*More than 90% of skin cancer is caused by sun and tanning bed exposure.
*Each hour, one person dies from skin cancer.
*One in 5 people will be diagnosed with it.*One in 41 men and one in 61 women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
*The rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has more than doubled between 1973 and 1996.
*Melanoma is more common than any non-skin cancer among people between 25 and 29 years old.
*An estimated 7,400 deaths from melanoma and 2,200 from other skin cancers were expected in 2002 and more than 7,800 died from melanoma alone.
*The death rate from melanoma for men is almost twice that of women due to late detection
*Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. here have been no significant advances in the medical treatment or survival rate in the last 30 years.
* One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
* Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
* On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.
* New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UVR that can be as much as 12 times that of the sun.
*In women 25-29, melanoma is the primary cause of cancer death, and in women 30-34 it is the second most common cause of cancer death.
*In the U.S. your chance of getting melanoma in 1940 was 1 in 1500. By 2004, it was 1 in 67. By 2010, scientists predict it will be 1 in 50.
*The incidence of melanoma has increased 690 percent from 1950 to 2001, and the overall mortality rate increased 165 percent during this same period.
*If caught in the earliest stages, melanoma is entirely treatable with a survival rate of nearly 100%. If untreated and allowed to spread, there is no known treatment or cure.

Doctors don't regularly screen for melanoma and patients often find their own so be sure to watch your skin. What to watch for:

A change in size, shape or color. The features of change to watch for in moles are the A, B, C, D & E of detection.

Asymmetry — Two halves of a lesion that are not the same
Border - Borders of a lesion are irregular, scalloped or vague
Color - Color varies from one area to another, including shades of tan or brown as well as black, blue, red and white
Diameter - A lesion that is greater than 6 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser
Evolution - Lesions that change or evolve, or is ELEVATED or raised above the skin and has a rough surface

You should also watch for the following skin changes:

A mole that bleeds
A fast-growing mole
A scaly or crusted growth on the skin
A sore that won't healA mole that itches
A place on your skin that feels rough, like sandpaper