Not a Mother’s Day passes that I don’t thank God for giving me our two wonderful children. Not only have I been blessed with these extra years but I am also one of the lucky ones who found their melanoma early enough to survive. When I was diagnosed, my oldest was only 18 months old. When I walked to the MRI and Cat-Scan clutching my son’s lion blanket, all I could think was “there has to be more time.”
After we made it through the diagnosis and treatment of the original cancer site, my Oncologist told me he didn’t feel having more children would be the best choice without additional testing. You see, my family has quite a nasty little cancer tree. What is a cancer tree? My oncologist asked me to outline every relative that ever had cancer, how old he/she was and what kind of cancer it was. Sadly, Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer both thew red flags in my family cancer tree. What I didn’t know about Melanoma at the time is that it is an Estrogen fed cancer, so the more Estrogen in your body, the more fuel for the fire. With the family history of Breast and Ovarian cancer, combined with recent studies linking some Melanoma to the BRCA 2 gene, any hopes we had of having more children rested in my mother’s hands (or genes). We asked my mother to get genetic testing to see if she carried the BRCA 2 gene. Since she is a survivor of breast cancer she was the closest link in my cancer tree to give the best likelihood of my genes harboring BRCA 2 and thus causing the Melanoma. It’s a tough conversation to have with your mother and a hard reality to look in the face.
We had always wanted two kids. I knew in college I would be a mother to two boys. It was one of those things I just knew, but now that second son was slipping out of my hands. If my mother’s tests came back positive, not only did that mean my dreams of a family were gone, but so were my ovaries and breasts, as well as every other woman in our family. Talk about a horrible can of worms to open. How was I going to explain this to my sister and her two daughters. The waiting was challenging but luckily the test came back negative for BRCA 2 and we got the green flag to try for number two.
Twelve months later out came our second beautiful little boy and my heart sighed with relief.
My greatest blessings in life are watching these two boys grow up and enjoying the love, laughter and down right silliness they sprinkle through my days. I wish for every mother and woman wishing to be a mother the same love and happiness, health and longevity.
This Mother’s Day, give yourself and your family the gift of life and schedule your full body exam at a Dermatologist. When skin cancer is found early it is treatable and if you receive a clean bill of health then please incorporate the sun blocking protection tips I provide at Sunality so you and your family can live a long and healthy life free of skin cancer.