It’s the end of the year and many of us are in the habit of counting our blessings during this time of year. I’d like to introduce you to one of my blessings, my friend Michelle. In August of 2006, Michelle was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Her spirit and fight have been an inspiration to many people in my community and to me, and she graciously agreed to share her story and her thoughts with us.
When you were first diagnosed with cancer what went through your head?
The bottom dropped out of my world. This type of cancer is very curable in the early stage and we were hoping for the best, but after the first surgery in early October 2006, the diagnoses was stage 2b. The FDA approved treatment for this later stage form of malignant melanoma has less than a 10% success rate and the side effects will make you feel like you have the flu for the year you’re going through the treatment.
What or who inspires you?
My mother-in-law Marylou Chism (my 2nd mom) taught me to be a strong, positive person. And another person who was a big inspiration was my former student Mia,
who was battling cancer at that time, too.
Was there a time you ever felt like giving up?
The first six months of chemo the first time around were very difficult, but I had hope that once I got though it everything would work out. The outpour of love, prayers, and support of my friends, family, and the entire Central school family helped me get through the difficult days and weeks. They were always there to pick up my spirits when I was feeling sick and could not lift my head up from the pillow.
What keeps you so positive?
I figure you have 2 choices – hide under a blanket or Fight like hell! I chose the second because I AM A Fighter!
What words of wisdom would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with cancer?
Don’t focus too much on the numbers. My doctors steered away from the odds or the numbers for the most part and I feel that was ok. They are important when trying to decide on a course of treatment but are not the end all be all. Regardless of how bad the numbers look if the treatment works for you it is 100%. I always tried to see myself in that group and not in the group that it did not work for.
Do you believe in miracles?
I believe that it is a miracle that I am here cancer free after five years. It is a miracle that it did not spread to a vital organ sooner, it is a miracle that I was taken into a clinical trial and the results speak for themselves.
Although I’m experiencing a set back right now, I know there is an entire community cheering me on and praying for me to continue to be healthy, and I’m looking for the miracles to keep on coming! I can’t thank everyone who is in my corner enough!
“It’s because of people like my brave friend Michelle and my beloved Grandmother Rose who had her own battle with cancer that I’m dedicated to donating part of the proceeds from the sales of Jing Ai cosmetics to Feel Your Boobies and volunteer with the American Cancer Society in their “Look Good, Feel Better” program, giving patients makeovers, counseling and educating them about the changes that occur to their hair, skin and nails while undergoing cancer treatment – so they can look and feel beautiful.” – Donna
Wishing You All Lots of Pure Love and a Happy New Year!!!!