Why is this happening?

Melanoma - Joanna’s Story
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Melanoma - Joanna’s Story

It was a beautiful August day like many others. The sun was shining while my husband pulled out of the driveway on his way to trade my big mom truck for a ‘despised’ minivan. We had taken pictures with the truck, and said our goodbyes.  Seriously, it was just a truck! Little did I know that this was when and where my perspective about life would change forever. As soon as my husband left the driveway, the phone call came from my doctor. It was cancer.
 
I was a busy mom of four young children.  Everyone would agree that my life was fairly normal.  My doctor had scraped a mole off my leg a week earlier and although it looked strange, it was not concerning.  Unfortunately, it was confirmed as a melanoma that was deep enough in the skin to warrant a Wide Local Excision to remove the mole and surrounding tissue.  A week later, the oncologist confirmed that the cancer had spread to my lymph system and into my lymph nodes. 
 
The first several trips to the cancer center, oncologist and surgeon, sent me into a downward spiral of grieving.  I knew right then that I needed more information.  I went on-line and googled “melanoma” and found as much information as I could. All I could see was CANCER.  

The next step in my treatment was to go forward with a complete dissection of all the lymph nodes in my groin area.  I began a yearlong treatment of an immunotherapy drug to fight the remaining cells.  The road ahead looked long and I was already worn out and scared. 

Life truly is a gift and no one is promised a tomorrow.  I never imagined that a mom of four young children would have lived her worst nightmare dealing with cancer. But somewhere in there, God showed up in the impossible, and as hard as life is, He brought days of joy and thankfulness amidst the fog. I would never wish a cancer journey on anyone.  It is scary. Melanoma is not curable. 
 
My journey so far through a cancer diagnosis has been a gift, not the cancer, but the things that have come with it. I have learned how to be thankful during the difficult times, and I have learned what true joy looks like.  I count it ALL joy. I have learned what suffering is and how to walk with others through their suffering. I now know what HOPE looks like and realize that we all have a special calling to fulfill. I can truly say that I welcome my special assignment with overflowing gratefulness.

My two best friends and I have started a Non-Profit providing hope and encouragement to others in their cancer journeys, and have been able to use this special calling to bring one another and their stories together. It’s this deep love and this deep connection that has been a gift that you can’t imagine for yourself, or ask for. Find out more about my journey at: 
www.hisradianthope.org 
www.dennstaedtfamily.blogspot.com
 
Story submitted by Joanna Dennstaedt
 
 

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