Melanoma caregiver: The three-month check-up

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Martin1314.jpgBy Jennifer Martin

Ever since my husband Steve's melanoma diagnosis two years ago, I have poured my everything into building melanoma awareness. From research to fundraising to sharing our story, we've done it all.

But after all this time, I began to feel worn out. So, in September, when Steve's last scans for his melanoma treatment revealed that he showed no evidence of the disease (NED), we decided our family should celebrate by forgetting about melanoma. Well, at least trying to forget about melanoma.

Taking a step back from melanoma
I stepped back, but not completely away, from melanoma. I'm not sure when I last posted on Facebook about tanning legislation. I can't tell you about the latest research.

Instead, we lived life. We had a new house built. We spent more time with family and friends. Steve and I took several weekend getaways to reconnect as husband and wife. That connection is so important, and it's so easy when dealing with a cancer diagnoses for the relationship to turn into patient and caregiver.

I still read about our melahomies, our friends going through melanoma treatment. But for the most part, I was absent from it all. I felt a little guilty, but I just wanted to forget it all.

Melanoma follow-up appointments: Returning to reality

But now, we're back again. The months passed, and it was time for Steve's three-month check-up. The three-month check-up sounds so routine, so uneventful, so simple. But for Steve and our family, it was anything but.

The three-month check-up brought us back to reality. For us, and our many friends affected by melanoma and other types of cancer, the three-month check-up is a daunting reminder of the life we live now, the new normal.

Steve had two days of appointments: scans one day, followed by another set of scans the next day, a dermatology appointment and then an appointment with Kevin Kim, M.D., associate professor in Melanoma Medical Oncology, for results.

As we prepared for the appointment, my mind flooded with questions, and the scanxiety set in. Our life stood still once again: What would tomorrow hold for us? What will next week hold for us? Do we get to breathe for another three months? Or will Steve have to begin melanoma treatment again? Will a surgery be in the near future? So many unknowns that all fall in the hands of the three-month check-up.

Renewed hope for 2014
After hours of waiting, the doctor revealed Steve's results: NED. We're so excited and relieved.

There are lots of exciting things happening for us in 2014. We will be moving into our new home mid-January, and after two-and-a-half years of being a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, I'm going back to work.

We will continue to bring melanoma awareness to our community, and we plan to host a blood drive benefiting MD Anderson. But we hope that we will not have melanoma in the forefront of our lives in 2014.

Read more posts by Jennifer Martin

Melanoma is one of the cancers MD Anderson is focusing on as part of our Moon Shots Program to dramatically reduce cancer deaths. Learn more about our Melanoma Moon Shot.

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