One Woman’s Stage IV Melanoma Cancer Journey And Her Advice For Others

October 20, 2021

Meet the women of the book, “Make Your Mess Your Message – More Life Lessons From And For My Girlfriends.”  

Joining me this week is Shay (Chapter 25), as a newlywed and just 31 years of age, she received a devastating diagnosis of Stage IV melanoma. Shay shares her journey and advice for others on how to move forward in life with confidence following cancer and its often devastating physical effects. 

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Shay’s 3 Tips for navigating life – to build back confidence – as a young woman after a life changing cancer journey:

(1) “Yeah. I mean, such a good question and so much wrapped into that. I think, – you know, I spend a lot of time in prayer and I surrounded myself with some really strong minded people who encouraged me in my faith and in just loving who I am and who God has created me to be. And so, I lost a lot of friends during my cancer journey. Um, and you know, you don’t want to talk about cancer, the C word people don’t, people don’t want to stay around because they don’t know if you’re going to be around and that’s hard. And, um, so I lost a lot of friends and kind of did a friend shift during that time. And it was a huge blessing because I have really surrounded myself with a tribe of women specifically who loved me for me and accept me for all of my flaws and my crazy butchered up lake.

I don’t always look great in a bathing suit, but to my friends and to my husband, they think I look amazing. And that has helped me to love myself more deeply and more authentically and not try to be that perfect body or have, you know, surgery on my scars to try and minimize those or whatever the case may be.”

(2) “So I think surrounding yourself with a tribe of people who love you and accept you,”

(3) “but also push you to be better is super important. I also, um, love participating in like group fitness or, or having a fitness school. And so when I first finished my cancer journey, I did a program called couch to 5k that just kind of, um, got me moving again. And it helped. So because I don’t have any lymph nodes in my left leg, my leg swells pretty often.

And, um, I do have to wear a compression stockings if I’m on a plane – I wore it all the time, going through my cancer. And then for about a year afterwards, I did too. And that helped to kind of get some of that lymphatic fluid, moving back and forth. Um, now I don’t have to wear it as often, but I do have to walk and move my body. Otherwise my legs, I can barely get a pair of jeans on. I wear a lot of jumpsuits. I wear a lot of maxi dresses. You will never find me in a short dress. But I’m just trying to embrace myself more for who I am and I try to be healthy. So, I participated in a triathlon with my dear friend, Cindy, about a year after I finished my cancer treatment.

And that was amazing. My parents did it with us too, and did a 50 mile relay with a team of, of people, um, and just kind of continue to try and participate in those sorts of things. So I have a woman trainer who’s just a bad-ass and she’s been through a lot herself. And so she’s kind of my counselor too. And I love Orange Theory and, you know, I just try to be as active as I can and around people that lift me up. So I think that you got to find your tribe and it may not look like you think it’s going to look, you know, it’s probably pretty different.”

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