My firstborn, David, was born on July 13, 2005. I had just turned 24 years old. When the nurse was checking on me, she noticed the mole on the front of my left thigh and suggested that I have it checked before I left the hospital. I was in new mama bliss and didn't do anything about it.
My life kind of goes in fast forward sometimes...I think a lot of it has to do with Chris and I always moving or getting into new adventures. We get really busy and are both guilty of not taking the time we need to take care of ourselves. Having a mole checked was one of the last things on my mind.
I found out I was pregnant with Lillian soon after I had started working with the Lima Trinity youth. Several months later it was December of 2006 and I saw a segment on The Today Show where Matt Lauer went to a dermatologist to have his skin checked. The show followed him through the process and listed some things to look for that might be signs of melanoma skin cancer. I listened closely and immediately started looking at the mole on my leg to see if I had any of the symptoms. Uneven edges- check. Uneven color- check. Equal to or larger in size than a pencil eraser- I found a pencil and held it eraser side down on my thigh. The mole on my thigh was exactly the same size as the pencil eraser. That's when I accepted that I should go get it checked. If I had the symptoms, I had to, just in case. For a sense of peace that everything was ok, if nothing else. I had no idea.
I made an appointment with a dermatologist nearby, explaining to the receptionist that I needed a mole checked. I was about 6 months pregnant with Lilly. When I got to the appointment, I was nervous and I just looked through a celebrity magazine. An older guy in the waiting room had a bandage on his face. I felt sorry for him, and just as much as ever, didn't think it would happen to me. I was young and healthy, pregnant with my baby girl. God doesn't do things like that to people like me...
I showed Dr. White the spot on my leg that I had assumed was an ordinary mole and he did whatever dermatologists do. I was really looking forward to having the appointment done and moving on. Dr. White told me that he was concerned about the mole on my thigh. He was getting ready to go on vacation for the holidays and urged me to allow him to remove the spot that day...right then....at that appointment where I was just supposed to get checked and then go on my merry way. Wait...what? Removing it...sending it for a biopsy...results later...
Being 6 months pregnant and since I had been at the office for awhile, I had to pee really, really bad. I asked the nurse about going before the procedure. She pointed me in the right direction and said "I guess we really scared it out of you!" She was teasing me, of course, but all I could think of was......"She thinks I have reason to be scared. This is serious." It was like walking through a dream or watching a movie about someone else.
Dr. White removed it and it didn't really hurt much. He said I would hear from him when he got the results. I wanted to know a million things, but also didn't. I had a million questions, but I didn't know what they were. I wasn't prepared for my life to be turned upside down. Are we ever?
Sometimes life changes in the blink of an eye. When you least expect it. Like, when you are in a new job and pregnant with your 2nd baby and married to the greatest guy on earth and then you go to the doctor and he says it could be cancer.
I will continue my story in my next post. Until then, check out this information which is similar to what I learned on The Today Show in 2006 and consider any spots or freckles or moles on your own body. (My mole looked very much like image E in the diagram)
Real Life RachyBurns....Here's one I don't talk about very much. I'm bringing it to you today because the message is important.
Recently, my family was eating dinner at a Subway which had a tanning salon next door. I was sitting facing the parking lot and watched teenage girls and young women enter and exit the salon throughout my meal. I saw myself in them.
I don't know why anyone would ASK FOR something that I would have given anything to have taken from me.
I don't know why someone would take the chances.
Here's the thing...I was not a year long tanner. I got a suntan in the summers from playing outside. I went to the tanning salon for 3 years in the spring time so I would look good in shorts or a swimsuit. The doctor told me that those things may or may not have had anything to do with the cancer and not to feel guilty. But, I know what I did and that if I had made different choices that I may not have gone through that...or at least wouldn't wonder.
I knew the risks, they were printed on the back of the door in each tanning booth, but I convinced myself that the rays were good for me and that the truly dangerous rays came from the sun, not a light bulb. Dark skin made me feel more confident, prettier, even healthier.
I asked for something that I would later have given anything to have taken from me.
I took the chances because I didn't think it would happen to me.
Today, if someone asks about my scar, I am happy to tell them about it. Or, if the subject somehow comes up I will openly share my story. But, I don't typically confront people who seem to be at risk or who talk about using tanning beds. Even though inside it feels like a slap in the face. So, I'm telling my story here, because it's important for others to know.
It's the age old story of judgment based on skin color- just in a different way than we are used to seeing it.
And- it's the age old story of a sick mixture of vanity and poor self image.
This is part 1 because I don't want to sell this short. I want to really tell you about it and I hope that you share it.
It's important. Stay Tuned.
Here's how it goes down:
1. Light Sensitivity
2. Headache/"My Forehead Hurts"
3. Upset Stomach/Throwing Up
I took my daughter to the doctor today because I couldn't figure out why she was tired all weekend, wouldn't eat, was sensitive to light, threw up, and had a headache. C'mon! My son has been getting migraines for at least 4 years. Why I didn't realize that was what was going on is beyond me. My kids are 8 1/2 and almost 7.
What is it with migraines? I need to do some more research. For David, we think that he gets them when he has been active and not hydrated properly. He loves to run and play hard and he sweats a lot, so it doesn't take long for him to dehydrate which leads to a migraine and throwing up. He knows the signs now and we are getting better at preventing them, but they still happen.
I didn't get headaches when I was a kid. I never had a migraine until after I had kids and they are not as intense as what I've seen other people go through. Chris gets horrible migraines.
Is this something that is more common then it used to be or are we unique? Does anyone else have experience or advice for kids with migraines?
Looking for the image for this post was uncomfortable. Like, it made my eyes water and my nose tingle. I think my armpits might start itching. Is that weird?
I really like pop. Really, really, really! It's SO good! I like the fizziness and the SWEETNESS and the caffeine and the cold-ness. It is just so refreshing and yummy and wonderful!! The sweeter, the better, and that's why I LOVE Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke. I think Vanilla is the sweetest, so it's my favorite....I could go on and on.
I understand that pop isn't good for me. I started gaining extra pounds when I turned 30, so I decided to drink Diet pop. That didn't make me lose weight and I'm concerned enough about aspartame that I switched back to the good stuff. My weight has leveled out and I'm *usually* okay with my new 30-something figure, and I'm totally convinced that my figure has nothing to do with my pop addiction.
But, Ash Wednesday happened.
The service at church was really pretty good. I thought about it all very seriously and decided that I should deny myself something that I really loved during Lent. Pop was the easy answer and so that's what I went for.
It is wrong to whine and complain about wanting what you gave up for Lent, so I'm not going to do that.
Did you know that Sundays during Lent are "mini-Easters"? Well, my dad says they are and he is a for-realskies-ordained reverend, so it must be true! That means I can drink all the pop I want on Sundays.......so I AM!!! It is sooo good and it reminds me that Jesus is also soooo good. It's really a win-win situation.
This is Chris and me at Aladdin's after church last Sunday. It was about 2:00pm and I was close to 3 pops in. Do you see the satisfaction in my eyes? I do. I can see it.
The pop had a great effect on me at that meal. I was a little silly.
This silliness from pop is something I haven't experienced in more than a decade, so I'm grateful.
God is good.
Any Lenten stories out there?
Yes, we like our house.
No, we don't know how long we will stay.
Yes, we plan to buy eventually. We don't know when or where.
Just thought I would answer some common questions.
2 biggest deals in my life right now:
1. Lilly will be a munchkin in the Beck Center production of The Wizard of Oz.
2. David has begun the orthodontic process. Oh, and he is quickly outgrowing size 10 jeans. I bought 12's today. He's 8.
Just thought I'd do a little update. :o)
I love flavored cream in my coffee. It's so good. The types I usually get are full of crazy ingredients which don't line up with my attempts at making healthier choices.
Yesterday, when I was making my grocery list, I wrote "coffee creamer?" I was hoping to find some kind of healthier alternative.
I found it!!!!! I was skeptical of it, of course, but I am happy to report that it's great!!
I used the same amount as I did with the other brands and it was perfect.
I am happy to be making a positive change....even if it's just with my coffee!
But, there are others, too. Like, I got rice chex with almond milk and sliced banana for breakfast instead of 2 giant bowls of honey nut chex with 2% milk.
Happy new year's eve!!!
I seriously don't know what I'm going to do. I'm an over scheduled person who just wants to be lazy. I have the worst time figuring out food for my family and exercise may as well be trigonometry....impossible.
I used to eat and sleep as much as I wanted. That simple routine worked wonders for my figure until I turned 30. 30 is like an evil spell that steals your metabolism, gives you lines in your forehead and neck, & doubles your number of chin hairs. What the HECK! The worst is the lack of metabolism. Having been in my 30's for 2 1/2 years, I have added 35 pounds to my once curve-less figure. I can't decide how I feel about it, besides confused, and I definitely don't know what to do about it.
I'm still in the "healthy range" for my height but the line that divides healthy from unhealthy is a little too close for comfort. I'm afraid that I'm on a slippery slope and that laziness will keep me from digging in my heels and climbing back up.
Dad has told me over and over again, "Hang on and keep climbing." The problem right now is just being brave enough to start the climb.
If I'm not especially good at something, I don't like to do it....it's a weakness. That weakness is the main reason why I wasn't a school athlete (I quit softball once and track twice). So, in keeping with tradition, whatever exercise or active activity I need to take on comes with some fear.
About 4 years ago I thought I would do a 5K. I went "running" once.
ugghhhhh....running....I'm so bad at it. It seems like the thing to do, from what I see you all doing on social media. I just can't wrap my brain around it. Listening to music while running seems like it would be helpful, but I'm afraid that taking away my sense of hearing the outside world could get me run over or abducted. Abducted...that creeps me out....I don't want to go running.
The YMCA. I need to go there and put my kids in child watch while I do the elliptical or whatever. Here's the thing....Every time I start up with it, it doesn't last past 1 work out....Maybe more if someone is meeting me there. I'm always super proud after I've exercised and I promise I will do it again and again...but I don't....and I fail. Ugghhh.
So, I need to make a plan, right? Make a calendar for this week with Y time scheduled in. My personality type loves making lists and not doing them.
Wow, look at me with my plan and calendar and list! Wow, look at me, such a rebel-playing on my phone and giving the list dirty looks. MY LIFE!
I'm unhappy with my body. Even though I'm in the "healthy zone" I KNOW I am not healthy. I'm tired. One Just Dance song takes like 15 minutes of recovery.
I don't like it that my wedding ring feels too tight.
Although what people think shouldn't matter, I worry about everyone's thoughts when they see me. Their first thought has to be "Wow, Rachel is putting on weight!" or "She still hasn't lost that weight she put on?!" or....I don't know what.
TRUTH IS.... it wasn't just the dirty thirty that put on the pounds. The last two years for me carried some big emotional baggage. I didn't know how to handle new stress and felt like a failure in a lot of ways. As I mentioned earlier, feeling like I'm not good at something does not make me happy. This time, though, I couldn't escape like I did with school sports. I had to stick it out and realize that I'm not perfect and I really suck at life sometimes. I dealt with these awful feelings in self destructive ways. Too much time on the couch. Too much shopping. Too much time online comparing myself to other people. Too much time being bitter. Too much ice cream. Too much pop. Too much alcohol. It's easy to feel better about sucking at life when you can just put the kids to bed, have a big glass of wine and crash. But, the next morning, the suckiness is still there and a lot of calories have just spent the night turning into sadness and fat.
There was a lot of happiness through that time...my family is amazing. Chris and the kids are like warm sunshine....but I can't deny reality.
I'm happier now and I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone. You know...take risks and all that. Simplifying life and focusing on the joy that is right in front of my face everyday....warm sunshine.
I just need to get healthy. But I don't want to fail again.
So, no promises of work out plans or challenges or diets. Those are all things that could be dropped...quit...left.
I think I will just pursue more life. I'm not exactly sure what all that means. ..it's like a goal that can't be measured...which seems like cheating...but it's what I have right now. Pursing more life.
Did I mention how much I like sugar? I love sugar.
As always, I hope and pray that seeing into my real life is helpful to someone. Fakeness is cheap and unfair. Let's not try to impress eachother...let's just share this crazy life.
I think that the more "traditions" and "special moments" we feel like we need during the holidays, the more stressful everything gets. I have given some stuff up. Check it out.
1. The Perfect Christmas Tree
We did not spend forever picking out the ideal tree. We mostly let the kids pick. The kids also decorated the tree. We don't do a theme because our ornaments are mostly all the kids' creations and family pieces. Actually, I think our Christmas tree imperfection is quite perfect.
We got rid of our fake tree a couple of years ago. It was a huge pain. I hated storing it and I hated it when the pre lit lights didn't light. I also resented eaxh and every branch I had to fluff. ugh!! I love getting and getting rid of a real tree.
2. Coordinated Outfits for Christmas Eve worship
Ok, if I had happened upon a great deal on awesome adorable coordinated outfits, I probably would have bought them. But, I didnt, so I didnt. I got great deals on Lillys dress and Davids shirt and they looked great. ...even tho David wore the wrong shirt...which I didn't mention until now and chose not to care about....He looked great.
3. Baking Cookies
I decided not to bake cookies. I don't know when I decided that or why but it worked out. Lilly ended up baking cookies with some of my awesome middle school girls and brought some home that she and David frosted for Santa. I've been enjoying those. We also got a jar of chocolate chip cookie mix from a neighbor, so we can do that next week if we feel like it. Less cookies+More Time+Less Fat=Less Stress. It's an easy equation.
4. Attending Every Holiday Gathering
Here's the thing...Chris and I work full time and Chris works RETAIL. I do wish that I could see my cousins and aunts and uncles this Christmas (love you!) but it doesn't work logistically....and I'm not going to stress about it. I also missed a cookie exchange (go figure) and Chris' work party. No shame, more gain....just working with what we've got.
5. Choosing an appropriate holiday greeting.
Is it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays???? Thank goodness we are moving toward Happy New Year---which would be tough to argue with. Seriously- I do wish you all happy holidays. ....happy thanksgiving, Christmas, new year, and everything else. And thank you to all the store people who have wished me happy holidays. That's really nice!
These holidays have definitely been happy. :-) I hope yours have been, too. :-)
My husband is the extrovert....not me. This doesn't mean that I want to crawl in a hole while he parties all night....well maybe it sort of does.
There are actually times when our life looks like that. Chris goes out to a movie with Steve, Chris, one of the Paul's, etc. while I go to bed early. I prefer this set up because he gets to be social and I don't have to be.
Our Core Group is preparing to do a study on personality types and faith so we are all taking the Myers-Briggs test. It's been a while since I've taken it and this time I scored as 100% Introverted. ISFP. Chris is....surprise, surprise...an extrovert. haha!! duh. He is ESFJ.
Life can be interesting with the two of us, but the more that we have understood each others personalities, the better we have worked together. This is true with all relationships!
We went to a Christmas-y gathering with our Core Group at the Pierce's last Sunday. It was a really good time. As an introvert, I escaped twice to....refuel?....and Chris, as an extrovert, didn't notice. When I escape I really, really want to be left alone, so it works out quite well.
Being married to an extrovert is helpful in a lot of situations. When I am overwhelmed by a big event, busy schedule...anything...he carries us through-& he likes it! That's a relief to me.
I was able to help him out a little today when he was trying to figure out why he is so tired. It's the holidays...2 days after Christmas...He is working like crazy while making sure he has time with family. He thinks he should be able to go full force forever and needs reminding that it's OK to slow down.
When we were first married, it was harder. I remember our first Christmas and the gatherings we attended. I was overly stressed with preparations and socialization while at events. He didn't get it, but he was always kind. He never made me feel bad for wanting to leave early or for feeling sick. (anxiety, more on that later)
I'm blessed with an extremely compassionate spouse. My advice to everyone is to recognize the personality traits of the people you live and work with. Praise each other and carry each other, when needed. When you don't understand someone's actions or words, try to understand or just accept it.
I encourage you to look up a simple, free Myers-Briggs online test. Then, read as much as you can about your personality type and those of the people you spend time with. You'll probably laugh at the accuracy and be relieved that you're "normal."
Love all you unique people!!! Happy weekend!!!!
Like an iceberg, what you see on the outside is only 10% of who I am. I'm choosing to drop the waterline. Will you?
I've been working at my current church for over 4 years now and each year I participate as a volunteer for Challenge Day. "Challenge Day's mission is to provide youth and their communities with experiential workshops and programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression." (Quoted from the website.)
One of the "norms" at Challenge Day is to "Drop the waterline." I LOVE this, because it's what I am currently striving to do with my life. The example used is of an iceberg. Above the water, we can only see 10% of the iceberg, leaving 90% out of our view. How could we judge the iceberg based on what we see on the surface of the water? The iceberg serves as an example of the human life. Looking at me, you will see only 10% of me. How, then, can you judge me? How, then, can I judge you? Included in the 90% of me that you cannot see by looking at my appearance are my childhood, my family, my insecurities, my dreams, my failures, my accomplishments, etc. When we drop the waterline, willing to expose more of ourselves, we find that we are more alike than we originally thought. We find out that the people who we thought were perfect...aren't. We find out that the people who seem to have it all together...don't. We find out that we are all in this together.
The huge efforts that people go through in order to try to be as good as or better than people who seem to have it all together is exhausting. If we could put those energies elsewhere, think of the good we could do for ourselves and others. I'm embarrassed about how much of my life I have wasted in exactly that pursuit...I feel extremely self centered.
Your clothes, your home, your makeup, your purse, your shoes, your watch,
your mode of transportation, etc...don't have anything to do with your value. Anyone who thinks they do needs to read my blog, go to Challenge Day, and find a good church. Just my opinion. ;o)
Real Life RachyBurns is exactly that....Real Life. I'm dropping the waterline. I hope that you will, too.
A special note: I would like to say that I'm really proud of Rocky River Middle School for bringing Challenge Day to their 7th graders each year. It is truly a gift to the community. Thank you, Mike and Shannon Cain, for your humble service. You are amazing. Thanks for helping Rocky River drop the waterline.