Thoughts on being diagnosed with Melanoma…

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January 15, 2015 by texashekmans

Long story short: Yes, I found out that I had Melanoma in my leg just three days before Christmas2014. It was classified as “in situ” which means it was not spread anywhere else, and my dermatologist was able to fit me in for an outpatient surgery to completely remove it the next morning. So in less than 24 hours, I found out that I had cancer in my leg, and then it was gone! Praise God! All I was left with was a big bandage and an incision on my leg to prove it.  Well that, and a new awareness that my body is now especially prone to developing skin cancer, and all the thoughts that come with that sobering piece of information.

For the sake of transparency and general self-reflection, I just want to summarize the main thoughts/convictions/takeaways from this fairly minor, yet always kinda major, cancer experience:

  • I am now really really so deeply thankful for my health. It was a big theme of the year 2014 for me for sure, as we also watched Ezra struggle a bit with his health/physical development. I’m now newly aware of what a gift it is to be able to wake up each day and not face hospitals, therapy, wound care, or really anything related to physical ailments. Honestly, I can’t stop thinking about what a blessing it is that I have been cancer-free and disease-free my entire life. I completely took that for granted for the past 29 years and I don’t think I’ll be able to as easily anymore. The way that cancer just dropped into my lap without any warning or symptom was a harsh reminder to me of the fact that no one ever expects these things to happen to them. Yet it will happen to all of us at some point, most likely multiple times as we age. Our bodies are a gift to us, but they are temporary, they are all aging and they are all imperfect. I was humbled by this diagnosis and convicted that I want to be a better steward of the body that I believe God has given me as a resource for His glory for only a short amount of time. I am praying that God would help me to truly appreciate the resource He has given me in the gift of my health. And I’m praying He’ll help me to steward it well for His glory, since I truly believe that is the purpose for it, really both in sickness and in health.
  • A deep conviction about my diet. I’ve known for awhile that I have gotten into pretty bad eating habits, specifically with regards to sugar and carbs! Or as my sister-in-laws call them, “breadysugars.” I love them, and have really let myself get out of control in terms of eating them often and usually far too much. However, I KNOW that having an elevated blood sugar level is a problem for many many reasons but most of all, the likelihoood of cancer and/or diabetes is perfectly clear. So I am convicted that I need to drastically reduce my consumption of sugar.  To be specific, one of my goals for 2015 is to really stop eating breadysugars at all, and limit myself to only one day a week where I’m eating sweet treats. I don’t plan to truly diet or detox at this point but I do plan to limit my sweet treats and try to avoid added sugars in all of the foods I’m eating.
  • A deep conviction about my lack of exercise. The truth is, I don’t really like exercise. I never have. I love to go for a walk, or do yoga, but consistent high intensity cardio/weight training just isn’t my idea of fun. But I’m trying to be a grown-up about this now, and realize that this is part of healthy life whether I think its fun or not.  My goal is to exercise daily, whether its going for a brisk walk, doing a cardio video or going to the YMCA, I want exercise to be a part of my daily life so that I am sure to be taking care of my heart, muscles, and overall body strength. This won’t be easy, but I’m more convinced than ever of how important it is. {Sidenote – I’m prevented from exercising while recovering from the skin surgery I had in December, and another one in January. But as soon as I get the a-ok, I will make exercise an actual daily activity.}
  • An even stronger dedication to covering up from the sun. I’ve always been good about putting sunscreen on when its clear that I’m at risk of getting a sunburn. Because I get burned quickly, and its painful! But if I’m just going for a stroll around the neighborhood or am going to be just in/out of the sun, I’m usually pretty carefree about it, assuming its okay. Because honestly, I hate the idea of obsessing over always needing sunscreen, and also its really time-consuming to get every square inch of my skin covered by either clothing or SPF! But being carefree about this is no longer an option I have. Not only will I probably boycott wearing shorts (DID YOU KNOW THE MOST COMMON PLACE FOR WOMEN TO GET MELANOMA IS ON THEIR LEGS? Yes!), I’m also going to go ahead and boycott wearing a regular bathing suit in the sun. Call me crazy, but yes, I literally I bought some UPF swim CLOTHES the other day. I will basically look like I’m wearing a big huge wet suit from head-toe while playing with my kids in the pool this summer. But at least I’ll be able to just jump right in the pool, and not stress about spraying endless amounts of sunscreen all over the place.

 

Overall, I want to remember that the best thing that has come from this experience is not just a deeper conviction about protecting my health, but a deeper hope for my future in heaven and a heightened awareness of my need for a Savior. This whole thing has served as a reminder that my body won’t be healthy forever, if ever. And with that, I am so thankful that I believe my soul will be always and forever loved by God and saved by Jesus. This is my hope! My hope is not in my ability to fight cancer and/or control my health with eating/exercise/sunscreen. My hope is only in Jesus, who I believe is the Son of God, and who died to pay for my sins, give me God’s forgiveness and invite me into a loving relationship with Him forever. My hope is in this Gospel, and in response, I want to honor and care for the body God has chosen to give me for as long as He does. Thank you God for each and every day in this body, this life, and for the ways you’re encouraging me to also consider and anticipate the unprecedented joys awaiting me in your Kingdom in heaven.

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