As I mentioned in my last post, now that I have my three year scan behind me and the news was great (no evidence of metastatic disease), the challenge is to begin to put the cancer behind me. As a step in that direction, I took melanoma off my blogs title where it used to be in the description line. I wanted to keep some kind of description under Carver's Sight or is that Site and for now I've settled on Photography and Rambling Prose from my Secret Garden and Beyond its Borders, to replace the old description. It's one tangible way I have to draw a line in the sand. On the other side of the line was me, a melanoma patient. On this side of the line is me, three years out without a recurrence, deciding that I'm done with it. It's a little bit of bravado but hopefully in time it will be a new reality replacing the one I've had for the past three years.
In my blog profile, I kept the fact that my blog was inspired by the blogs of other melanoma patients who I got to know through the MPIP. I don't want to change that part of my profile because it explains why I started this blog in the first place. I have a page with links to some of the blogs by melanoma patients or their caregivers. I haven't updated it recently but it includes some of the first blogs I visited, as well as ones I found later. I never would have started this blog and I certainly would never have participated on a bulletin board if I hadn't been diagnosed with a life threatening cancer. If I hadn't had severe nerve damage, an extended time with a surgical drain (9 weeks), peripheral neuropathy, balance issues, and ongoing pain, I never would have stumbled on the MPIP while doing research. I arrived on the MPIP and decided to ask a quick questions to see if others had experience with, or information about, some issues I questioned.
I was amazed at how quickly several people responded to me and what a welcoming, kind, and often fun as well as supportive group of people I found. All of us fighting the same cancer. I'll never forget when I was frustrated with being passed from one specialist to another and someone said, what's the matter with those idiots. Although the doctors in question were doing their best within the system they worked in, to have someone respond in such a definitive way to my frustration made me feel better. I remember when BarbaraGA, Kim from Iowa, and Jackie Doss mentioned their blogs and laughed about how hip they were to have a blog at their age (all were around my age). I went to their blogs and thought I'd give blogging a chance, much to my surprise. Before then, I'd never understood the idea of a blog. Keeping this blog and participating on the MPIP has been a great outlet through some of my most difficult times. It has not been without heartbreak. I have been privileged to be inspired by some of the most courageous people I've ever known who have shared their last months with honesty and humor. I am also inspired by people who are facing, each in their own way, living with cancer and side effects from treatments they've done. I am grateful for the people who have become my friends, many of whom I haven't met except through reading their posts on the MPIP, in some cases blogs, and email. I've been lucky to get to meet a few of my MPIP friends in person, and I hope to make it to one of the big bashes in the future.
I think what I'm laboriously working around to is that although I am not going to forget what prompted me to start this blog, and I don't ever want to lose touch with the friends I've made because of cancer, I am also ready to stop thinking of myself as a melanoma patient. This started as a melanoma blog or a way of dealing with my diagnosis and lingering health issues which began after surgery. It was where I vented about the endless doctor appointments, scares, worrisome scans, physical therapy, and pain management. Over time, I've found myself writing posts that have nothing to do with cancer or health issues and that feels good to me. I doubt I could have written much in this blog at all without the calming effect of writing around my photography.
At first I posted mostly old flower shots I took when I was making garden cards (garden glimpses was a line of cards I did mostly for fun roughly five years ago). Then I started taking more and more pictures because I was running out of old shots to use and I found it easier to write if I posted my photography. At this point, my blog is more and more a home for my photography, and less and less a place where I deal with the frustrations about my health issues. I've also enjoyed discovering many different kinds of blogs and getting to know people from all over the world. Most of us won't ever meet beyond our online sites, but that doesn't mean that we don't connect in meaningful ways.
I want to end this babbling brook of a post with a thank you to the people I've gotten to know through the online community. Some through the MPIP, some through blogs, some through photohunters and weekend snapshot. This is starting to sound like a goodbye which isn't what I'm saying. I'll be around. I'm sure I'll continue to have posts from time to time about melanoma, cancer in general and related issues. However, I'm more and more finding myself wanting to close the door on thinking that I'm at a high risk for recurrence or even thinking of myself as a stage III melanoma patient. I want to move towards thinking of myself as a slightly cantankerous curmudgeon standing in the middle of the road to get the sun setting on the trees at the bottom of the court. Daring the car that's approaching to honk when it's obvious that all I need is 15 more seconds to get the shot.