12 November 2015

Get Busy Living!

For those that may (or may not be keeping tabs), I did have scans a few weeks back.  Results look pretty much the same.  Actually the small lymph nodes I've had left have actually shrunk further since stopping Keytruda in May. From 88% reduction to a 91% reduction in size of the tumors since starting the clinical trial in January 2013.  So we continue to head in the right direction!  There was something minor noted they want to keep an eye on in the small intestine, but they didn't seem too concerned.  

Earlier this week I was traveling and catching up with some folks.  Its funny how recently I seem to get comments like - you look so good!  I'm not sure if that's because I looked pretty bad for awhile?  I'd like to think it has a little to do with my hair finally fully growing back in and a little less anxiety showing up in my face about this journey.  

Don't get me wrong!  There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about melanoma.   It's hard not too when you have folks that started this journey with you fighting for their lives!  As many of you know my dear friend Julie has had a hard time lately.  She has an amazing support system and was finally able to head home again after WAY too many days and surgeries at Sloan!  So keep sending those prayers to Heaven @ Seven for her!!  They seem to be working! 

All of this makes me think about surviving vs living.   For the last 5 years I've just been trying to make sure I do everything I can to survive.  I finally feel like I've gotten to a place where I can say I'm living.  Ok...ok... Some may claim I've always lived life large (I mean I did have 3 trips to Mexico this year, 1 to Montraal, and a dozen other states...).  Even thru treatments it didn't really slow me down from traveling the world and staying fairly active.  But I think as long as kept moving, it meant maybe cancer wasn't wining?

Like I took an opportunity this week to watch the Veterans Day Parade here in NYC even though I was a little exhausted from an already busy week!

You see so many folks that struggle past a cancer diagnosis.  5 years ago I sat in a medical oncologist's office who didn't have any good news or hope to share.  But luckily, very shortly after being diagnosed the world of treating melanoma started to change!  It's pretty amazing!

So happy almost Friday folks! Don't forget to protect the skin you're in!

13 October 2015

5 years of Melanoma and counting!

This week will mark 5 years since being diagnosed with nodular melanoma.   I've approached cancer as more of a speed bump than a stop sign in living my life.  

I was talking with some folks about my cancer diagnosis and how I've dealt with it over the years. The question came up about where do I see myself in 5 years.  I chuckled because it reminded me of an interview question...  My first gut reaction - alive.  That is the #1 priority!   

Those that know me, know I'm stubborn and highly independent.  I'd like to think that is part of the reason why I've done well with fighting this.  In almost 5 years there has been a very little period of time when I ever felt like and considered myself a cancer patient.  And honestly, I didn't like it one bit!  

I continue to move forward.  It would have been easy for me to pack up and go home when I was first diagnosed.  I know my family would have appreciated that.  But in my mind that was letting cancer define who I am and win.  

So what's changed?  I get asked that question a lot also.  We all think we are invincible!  Nothing is going to slow us down or stop us!  I can't say that this has changed me a lot (I'll leave that up to my family and friends to comment on haha!).  But I will say that there are some thing's that I view and approach differently.  

1.  CAREER WANTS AND NEEDS: I was very ambitious with my career.  Partially because I enjoyed what I did and partially because I wanted to be successful.   When you get a slap in the face reminder that life is short, you stop and reevaluate that.  Do I need the long hours, stress, etc?  Is a large paycheck worth it?  Is a big title worth it?   The answer is yes and no.  I think you just have to find the right balance and environment.  And remember that without good health, none of these matter.  

2. ENJOY THE MOMENTS:  there were a number of times in the past I could remember skipping out on things with family and friends to do work.   I try and remember my priorities!   Work will always be there.  

(At a packer game in Green Bay 10/11/15)

3.  HEALTHY LIVING:  I am totally guilty of putting off annual physicals, taking the easy meal vs the healthy meal, skipping the gym for about any excuse I could think of.  I'm still not great, but getting better!  Ok, ok, I still skip my annual physical, but let's be honest - I was getting blood work every 3 weeks and scans every 3 months.  That's WAY more through than any other physical I've had!  

4. TRUST YOR GUT:  we know our bodies best.  Go with what feels right!  Fight for what you deserve!

5.  BE HONEST: no sense in holding back in what you think or feel.   Share that with others.  

6.  BE HOPEFUL AND OPTIMISTIC: I've never been much of a Debbie downer.  Ok cancer, it sucks!  There is no sugar coating it.   I share my story and experiences because I want people to be hopeful!  (And maybe proactive in taking care of yourself!).  Melanoma is highly treatable if caught early!  There has been so much change in the last 5 years of treatment of melanoma!  And more things coming every day!  

So those are a few things I've learned along this journey.  Disclaimer, remember I'm an engineer not a writer haha!!  

Here's a little collage I did showing 5 years of treatments and adventures.  


25 August 2015


Hey Folks - my dear friend and fellow mole-mate Julie is going thru a tough time!  I know some of you follow her blog also.  We met shortly after we were both diagnosed and have been friends ever since.  She's starting her 2nd week of whole brain radiation for new brain mets that showed up a few weeks ago!  Some extra thoughts and prayers her way are much appreciated!  Her family started a Facebook page to provide updates (since Julie and other family members are focusing on fighting!).  Please  remember to protect the skin you're in!  and #JumpforJules!  

1. Create a sign #JumpforJules2. Upload a picture or video of you jumping to show your support3. Tag our pageView ABOUT section to see her story!

I took this picture back at Easter of my niece Jumping!  

Saturday August 29th - Miles for Melanoma NYC

Hello fellow folks in the NYC area!  If anyone is interested - let me know!  Details are listed below!  This is MRF's 1st NYC area run/walk.  I'll be walking (because I don't run haha!).  Ok I might jog a little bit :)  I do this walk for myself and my awesome Melanoma Mole-mates that are fighting hard right now!

Join me in a Melanoma Awareness Walk Saturday August 29th. Follow the link below: register/join team/ Team Name Miles of Hope!


Other Details:
First Annual 
Miles for Melanoma New York City
Saturday, August 29, 2015
at Firefighter's Field
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) invites you to join us for the 1st Annual Miles for Melanoma New York City 5k run/walk on Saturday, August 29th at Firefighter's Field! 

Join us for our inaugural year and help make a difference! 

WHO: You! Join us individually or create a team when you register.

WHAT: A 5K run/walk that will allow participants to help raise funds to support research, education and advocacy for melanoma.

WHERE: Firefighter's Field, Roosevelt Island, 405-425 Main Street, New York, NY 10044

WHEN: Saturday, August 29, 2015
Check-in and Registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
Run/Walk begins at 9:00 a.m.

18 years & over- $30
6-17 years- $20
5 & under- FREE

Register early to save! Early-bird registration ends on Thursday, August 27th at 11:00 PM. Race day registration increase by $25 per person on race day. Credit cards and checks only - no cash will be taken due to security issues.

Can't attend? Participate virtually! If you would like to support Miles for Melanoma New York City from the comfort of your home, choose virtual participation! Virtual registrants have a discounted registration rate. They do not participate on race day but are still eligible for all fundraising prizes (event day Champions shirt excluded). - See more at: http://events.melanoma.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1140792#sthash.UkFcf6LP.dpuf

16 August 2015

Colorado Weekend - Winter Park Brewfest

This past weekend I decided to take the opportunity to join some friends in Winter Park Colorado for a little post birthday celebrating for me and bday celebrating for 2 of my best pals from college.  We are so lucky that Stephy J lets us crash at her awesome place in Winter Park!  Bonus of the weekend was a beerfest right at the park by her condo.  

Colorado is always one of my favorite places to visit.  Love being in the mountains with some great friends!  

Morning hike after a great pancake breakfast. 
Just a little scenery around Winter Park.  Every day is a beautiful day!
Enjoying a little #wpbeerfest!  It's great how they supply these chairs for relaxing in the park.  

Scan Update

May 14th was my last dose of Keytruda.  So July 30th were my 1st scans I've had since stopping.  To say that I wasn't nervous about the results would be an understatement.  Fortunately, I've been way too busy to worry too much. It's amazing how quickly 3 months goes by!  I blinked and May, June, and July were gone!  But then for someone like me that never sits home for too long, it's easy to understand how time flies by when you're having fun!

Ok, first, scans look good!  You'll see in the table below copies of my last scans along with several others like my last 'bad' scan from May 2012 when I found out I had my recurrence.  My last CT scan that showed any growth was December, 18, 2012.  It's been a long journey but seem to still be heading in the right direction!  It was a little odd this time to not have a doctors appointment or phone call to tell me the latest results!  Guess it's a good thing I was super busy with turning another year older and starting a new job! 

Since stoping keytruda, I have noticed my energy level coming back some.  I've also noticed little things like my nails no longer flaking like they were before!  

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  Sorry for the delayed updates!  I've been traveling non-stop for work and personal fun!  


24 June 2015

Mexico City

In May I had the opportunity to join some family in Mexico City!  It was a great week of touring the city and catching up with family.  If you have the opportunity to visit this great city, I say do it!

A brief list of places to visit while there: http://travel.usnews.com/Mexico_City_Mexico/Things_To_Do/

Happy Travels everyone!