Sunday, February 2, 2014

With this ring ...

February 2nd -- Today my only daughter Jaime should be celebrating her 12th wedding anniversary with the love of her life ... but melanoma had other plans. It stole her dreams, her hopes, her happiness, her future. It is a horrific and evil disease that was an uninvited guest at her wedding, and I HATE that it shared in her most special day!

Jaime was a very organized young woman (not taking after her mom, for sure!), and for 2 years Jaime had meticulously planned out every detail of her wedding. It was to be perfect ... a fairy tale wedding befitting a princess. It started with the date ... 2/2/02. Jaime was into numbers, and this was the date she claimed for her most special day. 

Everything was going according to plan ... except that she left the groom unsupervised at his last haircut before the wedding. When he appeared sporting his much-too-short haircut (and if I recall the story correctly, to make matters worse the hair stylist who did the deed was an ex-girlfriend) ... well, to say Jaime was furious would be an understatement, and the marital bless almost ended before it had even begun! But love won out and the wedding was back on track.

A couple days before the wedding, she was trying on her wedding gown. I was buttoning her up in the back while admiring her beauty in that gown ... and my heart skipped a beat. I felt a lump in the middle of her back, like a pea under the skin. I didn't want to alarm her, but as calmly as I could, I told her about my discovery and suggested that when she returned from her honeymoon in a couple weeks, she have her oncologist check it out. It was almost time for her annual visit with her surgical oncologist at Dallas Baylor anyway.

You see, Jaime, who had regrettably visited tanning beds frequently in high school and college, had been diagnosed 4 years earlier, when she was 20 years old, with Stage IIA melanoma, an often fatal form of skin cancer. However, it had been found fairly early, and after the initial surgery to remove it from her upper back, it had not reared its ugly head again. Her prognosis was great. Matter of fact, her doctor had declared her "cured" at her 3-year visit ... but that was wishful thinking because melanoma is never cured.

Well, the wedding went off perfectly. Jaime was glowing as she became Mrs. Jaime Regen Rea, and as far as I know, everyone had a great time. But no one else knew what I did ... that it was not only the radiant bride and her daddy walking down that aisle. Melanoma was tagging along as well ... as unwelcome as it was.

Now I have to admit it ... I am a crier. I cry at funerals, weddings, bar mitzvahs, births, graduations, award ceremonies ... and I have even been known to cry when my son scored a goal at a soccer game. Any time my heart is bursting with emotion (either good or bad), my eyes become waterfalls! Jaime's wedding was no exception. 

My tears were contagious, and soon tissue boxes were circulating among the bridesmaids. Even the groom had watering eyes. Theirs were crying tears of joy ... but mine had more meaning than they or anyone could possibly know. My tears were tears of love and pride, and they were falling because I was grateful to be sharing my daughter's happiest of days ... but they were also streaming down my face because I knew that her cancer was back. I had no idea the extent of its return ... but I knew the Black Beast had returned and I was very, very scared!

Turns out, my fears were confirmed, and all those bittersweet tears were just the first of so many more to come ...

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna)

Twitter: @melanoma_mama
Facebook: (Remember Jaime) (Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds)
Etsy: (Jjem Creations)
Ebay: (Jjem Creations)


  1. I just found your blog. I too am a mom to a melanoma warrior daughter. My Chrissy was only 24 when she lost her battle, after 9 months of fighting the black monster in Jan 2010. Hugs to you, and every other family member who has been affected. I hate cancer, I miss my daughter, I appreciate you fighting! I have signed on to follow your blogs. I have a need to know other parents who belong to this terrible club of grieving parents. Once again, hugs to you.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that you lost your precious daughter Chrissy to melanoma. I do know your pain. If you would like to join me on Facebook, I have many friends who have also lost their young sons or daughters to melanoma. Take care of yourself ... this grief journey is beyond hard!