When Life Gives You Cancer, Make Lemonade.

Well let me just begin by saying this is not an easy post to write. Let me also say that there is nothing fashion or outfit related in what you're about to read so if you're not interested in a personal story, I'll stop you right here.

Now let me preface by saying I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not looking for pity. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. That's not the purpose of this post AT ALL. The purpose of this post is to share my story, express myself (I mean that is why I started a blog in the first place), and hopefully help someone else out there by sharing this.

We've all heard the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well the lemons life gave me are cancer lemons. That's what this is about. I have cancer. I've been diagnosed with metastatic (stage IV) melanoma in my lungs. It's not very common that skin cancer grows inside your body, but it is possible. It's called melanoma from an unknown primary. Definition: when melanoma cells of any kind have spread through the lymph nodes to distant sites in the body and/or to the body's organs. Translation: it's freaking terrifying. What's worse? The words 'unknown primary' means I'll never know where this started and how melanoma ended up in my lungs. Neat!

I'm not going to lie to you, this is scary as all hell. The initial shock can't be described, and it feels like you just got hit with a death sentence. How do you process this information? One day you're complaining about your boyfriend not calling you back soon enough, the next day you're told you have stage four cancer. That's something I'm still trying to process. How on earth did this happen to me? I've had a lot of angry moments and there have been A LOT of tears. This isn't the first bad card I've been dealt, so it's been hard to process and I really can't help but ask, "Why me?" However, I've quickly learned I can't keep asking questions I will never have answers to. I'm not the most religious person, but I do believe things happen for a reason and everything works out the way it's supposed to. So I have to believe that there is a greater purpose to this. There has to be.

I've officially been diagnosed and undergoing treatment for almost two months, and every single day has been it's own battle. Whether it be physical or emotional, this has been hard. Every day I wake up reminded, "Wow. I'm fighting cancer." However I can say with 100% certainty that my faith in humanity has been restored like I never thought possible. I have old friends reaching out and reconnecting, new friends checking in on me daily that I never expected to hear from so much, strangers writing me the most thoughtful cards because they heard about my story from someone, and just an overwhelming amount of love and support coming in ways I never expected. And I can't tell you how much that means to me, especially on the really hard days. There are truly some amazing people out there. It's true what they say, when life gets tough you find out who your friends are. Well I'll tell you this, it turns out I have some pretty rad friends and a killer family. Shout out to my friends and family reading - THANK YOU. Also, and most importantly, shout out to my amazing parents who have stood by me through every single second of this, gone to every single doctors appointment and been nothing short of amazing through this journey. I'd be nothing without them and wouldn't be able to get through this without their love and support.

Another big lesson I've quickly learned is that attitude is EVERYTHING, and with challenge there is always opportunity. I try to make 'light' of my situation in any way that I can. Humor is a powerful thing and I try to use it any way that I can. It would be so easy for me to crawl into a hole and wallow about this unfortunate diagnosis. But that won't get me anywhere (and let's face it, no one really likes a constant Debbie downer). So I've decided I won't let this bring me down, I won't let this define who I am, and I'm going to continue living a happy and positive life the best way I can. We are very much in control of our attitude and how we let things affect us. Sometimes you have to just pull up your boot straps and keep moving, no matter what the circumstances. 

So what do I want YOU to take away from this? Cancer can happen to anyone, and it's a lot more common than you think (roughly 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be affected by cancer). Melanoma from an unknown primary is a very real thing. Someone can be fighting a cancer battle and you may never know it (aka it may not be physically obvious, and that's ok). GET YOURSELF A SKIN CHECK. Like now. Melanoma can be lethal. And most importantly, attitude is everything. Life is what you make it. We only have one shot at life and you never know what cards you'll be dealt, so no matter what hand you're given, make the most of it. 

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Thank you Brandon Hill for taking these photos

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