It’s pretty crazy how you can feel such a strong connection with someone you’ve never physically met.
A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon a 22 year old’s Instagram channel and clicked the link in her bio. I found myself deep in her Caring Bridge website and quickly realized we had one very large thing in common: we were both diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. As we connected and began talking, we realized just how similar our situations were: from timelines, to treatment and hospitalizations. But most of all, when I read her words and posts about her experience, it was almost as if I was reading my own. Somehow some girl on the complete opposite end of the country was someone that understood me better than my closest friends. We just “got” each other and it was nice to not feel so alone during one of the most isolating times of my life.
Although we shared very similar experiences initially, we seem to have had completely different responses to the (limited) metastatic melanoma treatment options. I don’t pretend to understand why and to be honest, it angers the hell out of me. It’s not fair that she keeps being thrown back into the hurricane that is metastatic melanoma. It’s not fair that she has been thrown more curveballs than I can even keep track of. It’s not fair that she's 23 years old and has to go through this. Yet, “unfair” seems like such a weak way of describing it, but I don’t know what other words to use. How about, “so fucking unfair” — hmm, that’s a little bit better.
With all the insanely difficult news about Grace's cancer, I found myself struggling to be positive. But, it’s just like Grace said, I could choose to be a lot of things. So, for you, Grace, I’m choosing to remain hopeful.
Grace, I’m hoping that the radiation is actively shrinking your awful tumors and I hope you're in less pain each day. I’m hoping that you gain back some of your independence. (Also I hope you get some more puppy snuggles from adorable Zuri). And, once you accomplish those things, I’ll hope for bigger and better things for you — because you deserve that.
Grace, your story isn’t mine to tell. And I’m not pretending that it is. But what I do know is that you need all the strength and support you can get and this is my way of finding that. Your voice, vulnerability and never-ending strength has touched so many in the cancer community — including me. You are one incredible human being and I’ll never stop telling you how inspiring your spirit is.
So friends, please help me and support this beautiful soul. Prayers, positive thoughts, whatever you’d prefer. Bottle them up and send them all the way to DC.
And if you’re feeling like you have more to give, the hospital she works at has started a melanoma research fund for her oncologist. Details can be found here.
Grace — I sure hope you feel the love from AZ. 🖤