Vigilance.

I want to talk about health.

Some of you probably don’t take the necessary measures to ensure optimal health and I want to stress the importance of making sure you’re running at 120%. Many eyes read my posts, so I am hoping that at least one person can take something positive away today.

It is our sole responsibility to get checkups and be aware of our bodies. If you sense something wrong, then make that appointment sooner rather than later. It’s better to know than to not know. And it’s certainly better to find catch something in its early stages before it gets out of hand or becomes fatal. I don’t know about you, but I plan on living to 100 and in great shape. I refuse to live a life where someone else has to take care of me, so I plan on being the healthiest 100-year-old little old lady you ever met!

I am an extremely healthy thirty-year-old and I am very cognizant of my body! I recently noticed a small “freckle” on my left ankle and thought to myself while shaving my legs “oh, that would be bad if I shaved that thing off.” It was black and raised; very different from the other freckles and moles on my body. I thought to myself “huh, I haven’t seen you before, where did you come from.” It was that time of year for my annual dermatology appointment, so I scheduled my appointment for the following week (July 2, 2018). I explained to the doctor that the spot showed up within a few weeks time. She was concerned by the rapid growth, color and shape. But, the ironic part is that she was the only one who noticed the shape by looking under a magnifying glass; it was not visible to the naked eye. She explained that just because the spot showed up in the last few weeks, doesn’t mean it has not been growing under the skin for longer than that.

Three weeks later, my first day back from Texas while driving to work, I got the call. “Hello, this is Dr. Blah Blah, I wanted to call and disclose the results from your biopsy- we found that you have melanoma and we need to get you into a dermatology surgeon as soon as possible to ensure the cancer cells do not penetrate deeper and get into your blood stream.” You know that feeling when you have a few too many drinks and you go home to lay down; the ‘room is spinning’ feeling? Or feeling like the world around you is shrinking? Yeah, that’s what happened. I had to ask her several times to repeat herself and asked “what does this mean” over and over. It was a shock that I was not prepared for. How could something so serious be happening and I didn’t even notice it? I felt fine.

Now, remember, if you know me or have read any of my blogs, you will know that I can handle a lot; I can face a lot of challenges and will even say “is that all you got!?” Today was different. We can all preach about strength and praise ourselves for how far we’ve come until you get hit…over and over and over. It’s not easy. This was just one more hurdle I needed to jump over and I was determined to do it. Like I have previously said, we must let our emotions out; cry, run, yell, punch a pillow, whatever it is. But, you must get it out. Holding that shit in is toxic and will eat you alive. So, I screamed, I cried, I had my usual anxious reaction. I went home later that day and meditated, drank a glass of wine (or two) and told myself “you’re going to do this and you’re going to do great.” I told myself that if I had not been hit with a few other health scares recently, then this would have been easier to deal with. But, I am convinced that these things happen to make us stronger. And that’s the freaking truth, I assure you! I take pride in my strength. No one can take that away from me.

So, surgery day arrived. I’m not going to lie, I was scared as hell. The melanoma was located in an area on the inside of the ankle where there is very little meat, just tendons and veins. I thought to myself “what are they going to take- they can’t go too deep.” Well, I made it. I literally have a hole in my ankle now and recovery will take 4-6 weeks. But, I am cancer free! How crazy is that…cancer free. Luckily, the surgeon told me that we caught it early enough that now the worst part is the recovery and since I’m a high-risk melanoma patient, I will have to have quarterly body exams. But, I’m okay with that because I’m all about preventative health.

So, what’s the point of this? I want to address that most people underestimate the severity of sun exposure and getting annual skin checks. Trust me, I underestimated it for most of my twenties. For years I would sunbathe and only apply baby oil to my skin. I have Native American roots from both sides of my family so I would tan easily, rarely burn, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. Luckily the last few years I have become devoted to applying ample sunscreen every hour while in the sun and even as part of my daily morning routine. Not only its this good from a health perspective but also for vanity sake. You don’t want to look older than you are, right? And even with sunscreen, I still tan, so it’s a win-win. Protect your skin! You’ll thank yourself later, trust me.

This goes with all annual exams- please be vigilant in being aware of your health risks and take action. We can’t rely on others to take care of us, that’s our responsibility. This is the only body you have in this life so take good care of it.

Live well.

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