On July 31st 2017 my 17 year old sister was diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious and least common type of skin cancer. In August my sister went into surgery for the first time ever to treat her melanoma. After a long scary day and then a few weeks of waiting, we got the news that she was cancer free and we cried happy tears.
Today my little sister gets another mole removed. This whole process is still scary and uncomfortable but also necessary to keep her healthy. Last night I asked her to write me something about her experience and her thoughts on everything that has happened her senior year of high school thus far. Her words are inspiring and I truly couldn't be more proud. She is strong, brave, and loving harder than she ever has and I am lucky to call her my little sister.
When I was first told that they had found cancer on my arm, it felt exactly how it does in the movies where they cue the sad music and everything encompassing you, but you, suddenly stops.
The cancer was at its first stage which meant we had to act with haste. The following days leading up to my surgery and post surgery, where I was waiting for more cancer results, were days I spent brewing in my own depression and it had seemed infectious to the ones around me. I constantly feared death and my mind made me believe that it was coming inevitably and I was just lying there waiting for it. Although, some days I felt roused to do things that I have been too lackadaisical or scared to do, like chopping off all my hair and exploring Washington. But most of my days were spent in my room, high off oxycodone - post surgery - crying, sleeping, and binge watching Shameless.
In spite of all of this, knowing that there were more people than I expected supporting me, left me feeling a sense of comfort before I went to bed every night. Eventually, the day had come and my results came back clean... so what now? Celebration of course!
When you’re hit with the health train, or the cancer train, it truly compels you to love harder and exist harder. Getting a taste of the deadly disease revolutionized the entirety of my young life. Realizing that at 17, melanoma cannot solely transpire from my environment and that it was hereditary I felt and still feel encouraged to make drastic changes in my lifestyle to avoid a reoccurrence. Going through this has made the little things that I used to worry about seem much smaller when they roll my way again, and it has made my life a little bit easier in that way. I mean, you go from worrying about the fat around your stomach or the girl who said mean things about you to worrying about if your life will be cut short.
Sometimes I still worry about it coming back, but that only encourages me to again, love harder and exist harder every day that I get to wake up and experience life. In high school you are left vulnerable, insecure, and unsure of who you are as a person - but I’ve gone through things that other people might never experience and THIS experience put a lot of pieces together for me where before they felt missing. My passions have been placed in front of me: nutrition/fitness/yoga/travel. I feel more aware of who AnMarie is, and she feels strong & confident. I have more respect than I’ve ever had for myself and my body. Your body is a temple and it is important to give back to it because it does more for you than you know. I like to think that God has silly, or you can say scary, motives that connect those pieces for you. I feel encouraged to live, to be content, take chances, and to love.
AnMarie & Ashley