Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life Isn't Fair, Neither Is Melanoma

I have a friend named Susan. I met her through the Bad Ass Melanoma Warriors group on Facebook. I've never met her in person, but she's been a friend for over a year. I've helped her design a few things for Melanoma Awareness, and she's always been there for me and others when we need a virtual hug, or a shoulder to cry on. 

Susan has four kids, one of them is a 23 year old daughter named Jillian. A few years ago Jillian was diagnosed with Melanoma from a mole on her back. Just a mole, something so small. From that small mole, Melanoma spread throughout Jilly's body. At one point it was in her liver so she had half of her liver removed. Now it is in her brain. She's tried numerous therapies and treatments, chemo, everything that modern medicine can try. Susan has been by her side as any good mother would, while still being an advocate in our Facebook community for Melanoma Awareness. She designed t-shirt to wear at walks to raise money for research, and she bought several billboards throughout Michigan and North Carolina. She has a non profit called Jilly's Jems to raise money.

We call Susan "Mama Bear". She is a Mama Bear for her family, her daughter, and for every one of us with this horrible cancer.

Two nights ago this Mama Bear sat next to her daughter's hospital bed and listened while the doctors told her they were out of options. They had tried everything but the tumors keep growing. They suggested Susan take her daughter home and call Hospice.

A few hours later Susan broke the news to our Facebook group. I think I can speak for others when I say we all took it like a knife to the heart, and the tears began to overflow. The only thing I kept thinking was "it's not fair" over and over. She's 23, for God's sake. She just married the wonderful young man that has stayed by her side through all this. She's beautiful, strong, full of life, and surrounded by people that love her, and prayed for by people like me that she's never even spoken to.

She's ONLY 23. It's not fair. It's NOT.

As I was crying with my Facebook group, I said those words, "It's not fair". On one of the worst nights of her life, Susan replied:

"We aren't promised anything fair, Becca. It's just the world we live in. I hate it for Jillian, for me, for my family and all of you who are currently battling this dreadful disease. I am choosing to love Jillian through this, to have no regrets, and to move through this somehow. We all die someday. All of us. And some sooner than others. What we do with our lives today matters. I will make sure that Jillian's Journey will be shared, that your journey will be shared, and that the time spent here on earth matters and we make a difference. I promise you this."

She was comforting ME. I was humbled, and honored.

Susan lost her father a few months ago. Now she is watching her daughter fight for her life. Even surrounded by death, Susan is teaching us how to live. 

I hope I can be a good student today, and when it comes time for my own battle, I hope I can be like Jillian and Susan, and battle this hated black beast with grace... and strength.

...but it's still not fair.



  1. Oh, I agree, Becca. It breaks my heart.

    Bless Susan for her strength and grace. She's a true role model.

    (But damn it. I'm mad for her.)

  2. What a beautiful post honoring Jillian and her Mom.
    Thank you.