As Peter and I sat in the waiting room for my PET scan today (fingers crossed Keytruda is still working!), I realized that it’s been almost a year since they found the nodule in my lung and I was officially stage 4. In so many ways, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long, and I know I am incredibly lucky that I have lived so long past that “promotion” to the deadliest stage. Melanoma is such a bitch that many people only have a few months after finding out they are stage 4.
I am still really struggling with coming to grips with the whole “hours from death” thing. Lately, I’ve just been feeling so damn good, I can’t even believe it. I know I statistically may only have a few months left, but I feel good enough that I want to make plans for the fall. Things can change in an instant, I know, but I constantly marvel at what my body is capable of doing, in spite of what is going on inside of me. I sort of wryly laugh when I look back on sweet Alicia and how scared I was of her having 3 metastases (not that she should have had ANY, or have had cancer in the first place). I honestly don’t even know how many mets I have all over me, and yet somehow I am able to keep going, and going strong. I don’t know why this is, but I am so deeply grateful for it.
We’ve been going full-steam this summer, and a lot of that is because I know I might feel sick again without any warning. I want to do absolutely everything I can, while having as enjoyable time as I can, while I can. It is very unlikely I’ll have another summer, so I need to wring every last ounce of joy out of the one I have.
There is NO WAY I could be doing any of this without the support of our community. First and foremost is my amazing mom. Not only did she and my dad temporarily relocate here, but she watches Emmie for hours every day, at a minimum, and has been taking her most nights lately while Emmie’s room is transformed (I cannot WAIT to show you guys the final product! We have incredibly talented friends!). We also have amazing friends who help out in other ways, like Matt (who is the object of Emmie’s devotion and the best babysitter you’ve ever met), the many friends who have cooked meals for us when we are all too exhausted to even think about making food, friends who come to visit, my coworkers who have given me some wonderful scarves and hats, and all the friends who are always thinking of us, praying for us, and generally reminding us that we are not alone in this.
I can’t believe how lucky I am to know that Emmie will have this community long after I pass. I know Peter will be loved and supported through what will be the worst time in his life. My mom already has all of my friends’ numbers in her phone and is friends with them in her own right. Even with two parents, it takes a village to raise a child. At some point, Emmie will only have one parent, but she will not be impoverished because there are so many people out there who love her and who will help shoulder the responsibilities Peter will have to carry without me. There are many, many other mothers out there facing the same thing as me who do not have these blessings.
I am so very lucky to be alive. I am so very blessed to have the community I do.