SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2007- This date will be important, so don’t forget it.
It’s January, I live in SouthWest Ohio and I had to put SunBlock on today! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that the sun is out on what usually would be another grey & cold day here in the Mid-West. There is something about these breaks in the weather that put a much needed ‘PEP’ back in my Step, yet I am also reminded of other things every time I try to ‘get out of’ wearing SunBlock. I am reminded that Mountain Man’s life literally depends on him wearing SunBlock on a day like today, and EVERY day in between. I am reminded that my kids lives are also dependent upon me slathering them up on days like today and EVERY day in between.
September 14th, 2007– this was the day Mountain Man received the blow that the ‘suspicious mole’ he ignored for 2 years was malignant Nodular Melanoma. No,actually, it was now an advanced stage of malignant Nodular Melanoma- Stage 3B to be exact. He was 33 at the time with 4 young children and a very frightened wife.
“It’s JUST Skin Cancer, right”? This was something we would hear often from well-meaning friends and family. Let me ask you a question- If your Girlfriend/Wife/Mother/Sister/Daughter came to you and said ‘I have Breast Cancer, it is in the early stages and I will have to have surgery to remove it, but no further treatment. I will survive this and have no further complications’- would you look at her and say “It’s JUST Breast Cancer, isn’t it”? NO, you would NOT say that- not even with her good prognosis would you say that, EVER!
Allow me to digress for a moment and tell you about the Melanoma ‘Number System’ and why Stage 3B is such a horrible thing to hear. Stage 1,is obviously an ‘early stage’ and is very treatable and usually requires no Chemo, only surgery and lots of visits to the Dermatologist for the rest of your life. Stage 4, no matter how you spin it, is Fatal. They may not know the exact length of time or how much longer you can hold it off, but IT WILL claim your life.
My husband was at STAGE 3B. Now, go ahead and try to tell me “It’s JUST Skin Cancer, right”? NO! Well, YES, it IS Skin Cancer, but it claims MANY lives each year- here are a few points for you to ponder from the skincancer.org website:
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes).2
- One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.14
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.15
- The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent.16 The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.2
- The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.12
- The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.17 Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually.18
- An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US in 2011 — 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive, with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.19
- Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases,20 but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.21
- Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and sixth most common for females.2
- Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.2
- One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.24
- A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.25
- Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma in their lifetime.
- The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50.14
- One in 39 Caucasian men and one in 58 Caucasian women will develop melanoma in their lifetimes.2,27
- Approximately 39,000 new cases of melanoma occur in men each year in the US, and 29,000 in women.2
- Approximately 5,700 deaths from melanoma occur in men each year in the US, and 3,000 in women.2
- Five percent of all cancers in men are melanomas; four percent of all cancers in women are melanomas.2
- Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men, along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer.29,27
- Caucasian men over age 65 have had an 8.8 percent annual increase in melanoma incidence since 2003, the highest annual increase of any gender or age group.30
- Between 1980 and 2004, the annual incidence of melanoma among young women increased by 50 percent, from 9.4 cases to 13.9 cases per 100,000 women.31
- I hope those bullet points are eye-opening to you!
Mountain Man has been disease free since that time and it is a Miracle because statistics told us that he shouldn’t be here today alive and well. God had other plans for Mountain Man, part of which include his endless ‘torturing’ of ME, his ridiculously awesome wife. God has a sense of humor, yo! ( By the end of this Blog series, I hope to
bully encourage everyone of you to take Sun Protection more seriously- I don’t want our story to be your story.)
As many of you may already know, there is a website called ‘CaringBridge’- it is a blog where people like me can update family members & friends about their loved ones illness. We had our own page there & I updated as often as I could over the course of 1 year. I plan on sharing excerpts of those Journal entries with y’all as well as my own ‘hind sight’ reflections around those entries. Not only was it a year of Cancer treatments & surgeries, but this was the time when I was arrested, he & I were separated more than we were not, and a time of facing demons that we could no longer ignore. You will also meet some new friends we made during this time- Anthony & Rebecca, as well as an old childhood friend who re-surfaced to help us through this journey- Scott , & his wife Cari.
Due to my laziness, I will be revealing our ‘real life’ names as I simply have no desire to edit that stuff out. So, here it goes: Hi, my name is Mollie and this is my wonderful husband Vinnie (as in ‘My Cousin Vinnie). It’s nice to meet y’all. But, you still have to call me GINGERSNAAP because I like that name BETTER!
Today I give you Journal Entry 1-it was 4 days after we found out & when we decided to tell our peeps what was going on. I can remember being in a complete state of shock and I recall bargaining with God & reminding him that the death of my 34 yr old brother on 2001 was enough tragedy for 1 family to handle, and that He COULD NOT also take my husband away from me- that would be too cruel. At the time , we had a German exchange student staying with us and she was a BLESSING as she would step up and babysit often while we worked this new found reality out….
Tuesday, September 18th- 2007