Monday, December 31, 2012

the time has come...

I am sending a prayer up right now before bed: Please, Lord, please let 2013 be a year that beats 2012 in every way possible. My family, friends, and I cannot handle anymore stress, ailments, loss, or sadness. I just want a year that will open my mind to everything the Universe has to give me. I want an open mind, and an open soul. I wish desperately that my dad could be ringing in the new year with us, but he will be in Heaven with his friends and partying it up like crazy. He deserves it. 

This year was so hard on me. I had a ridiculously hard surgery to overcome, my dad got sick and was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and he died in July after being diagnosed for 5 months. He fought so hard and he kept a smile on his face the entire time. I wouldn't trade my last moments with him for the world. I just hope nobody else has to endure that ache and pain in their lives in the new year. Please send up a prayer of happiness for those who need it, health for those who need it, and love for those who need it. 2012 is so done. I am ready to say goodbye and shed the skin and bad energy off of me that the year has draped over me. It is done.

 I am surrounded by a white light of beauty and protection and love and I know my loved ones are as well. We deserve all the best in the world and it is coming for us. Stay open-minded and the universe will bring you what you want...even if it isn't something you necessarily need right now. Go with it. Accept it. Everything happens for a reason and if we don't understand what the lesson is that's being taught, keep asking questions and keep asking for help. You will find the answers in unexpected places. Just hang on to your beliefs and resolutions. Something good will come to everybody this new year. 

You all deserve it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad.


This is in Corvallis where RJ and I spread some of my dad's ashes. It's not at the Wildlife Refuge which was my first choice, but due to the weather conditions we chose to go to Peavy Arboretum, which is another place my dad used to take my sister and I. It was raining but beautiful. We walked to the lake (which we have dubbed December Lake) and found this perfect spot. It was amazing. I cried, and prayed for him. I could feel him there with us. The mist coming down with the rain was ethereal. I love you dad. Rest in peace. You are my hero, my inspiration, and forever my dad. Happy birthday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Update on health and my dad's birthday.


Well my IBD friends, I did indeed have a Remicade allergy. My poor mouth is chapped and split from the swelling, but it's getting better. I am doing 20mg of prednisone for 3 days to help the allergy reaction. My GI has finally agreed to do a colonoscopy (will be picking a date tomorrow) to see if I do in fact have active disease. I know in my soul that it is my Crohn's; he thinks it's IBS, which is bullshit because with IBS you don't fucking bleed when you use the bathroom unless it's from an external cause. 

I asked my PA what she thinks my next course of action is now that I have literally exhausted every option when it comes to Crohn's medications. She said if I do have active disease, the last medication I can try is Tysabri...which is scary and not available locally, so I'd have to drive every 4 weeks to the large hospital over an hour away. It's where my dad had his chemo infusions and where he died :(

Speaking of my dad, tomorrow is his birthday. He would have been 58. I haven't really processed these emotions yet and I am just so sad. After school RJ and I are going to  go to the wildlife refuge where my dad used to take Kim and I (my twin) on walks ALL the time. We called it Walking In The Woods. I will be spreading some of his ashes there. It will be very sad but I think he'd be happy with that choice. I will post pics tomorrow and write more later. 

Just please, everybody, be sun safe. Wear sunscreen or makeup/moisturizer/lotion with an SPF EVERY SINGLE DAY, EVEN IN WINTER. Melanoma (and skin cancer in general) can strike whether you tan once a year, or you have never a day in your life. Know your risks. Melanoma Research Foundation has amazing information that can literally save your life, as does AIM for a Cure, which is the organization that is hosting the Melanoma 5k in 2013 I will be helping with and participating in! Check them both out, read the stats and facts, learn your risk factor(s), and please-if you are able-donate to both. Any amount helps. Also check out these blogs that will not only give you inspiration, but it may change your life: Adventures With My Enemy Melanoma is written by my friend Chelsea who is a Melanoma survivor and has amazing insight and spirit. Pretty In Pale is a blog written by my friend Katie and she lives in Oregon and is the amazing Melanoma warrior hosting the Melanoma 5k I am participating in in Oregon! Happy reading, and have a wonderful night!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My heart is broken...

The holidays this year have been extremely hard and I am struggling a lot with the death of my father. I knew this time of year would be hard, but I didn't realize just how much it would hurt. I haven't heard much from my dad's side of the family (except for my cousin and one of my aunts, out of eight aunts and uncles) since he passed, and actually since even BEFORE he passed. I've sent emails, texts, and nada. Nobody will contact me or anything. On Thanksgiving I sent a lovely email and text to the entire family and only two people bothered to write back. Two out of eight. Since Thanksgiving, not a damn word. So I sent the following verbose email to my family last night at 11pm in hopes of getting answers, expressing my feelings, and letting them know that I am not happy with the way I have been treated during all of this. Here is the email, in its entirety.

"Hello there!
This email has been sitting in the back of my mind for quite some time now. I have not wanted to send it, but since it hasn't changed I have decided to go ahead and do so.

I sent all of you emails and texts out at Thanksgiving that were genuine, from the bottom of my heart, and real. Out of all  those who the emails/texts went to do you know how many of you have replied? Two. Just two of you. Since my dad's East Coast service you had for him, I haven't heard basically a word from anybody. There are a couple of people who do keep in routine contact with me, and for that I am so so happy and grateful for, but I haven't heard from anybody else. Why? What I have done that is so wrong that NONE of you will acknowledge my existence, or even say 'Happy Thanksgiving' in return? Am I not a Stewart anymore? 

Every single night I cry myself to sleep-and I am being 100% literal here-because I feel like none of you want anything to do with Kim and I anymore. I am going through scenarios in my brain where we could have done something so heinous as to warrant this behavior but we haven't done anything. We lost our dad-we didn't lose his family, and yet it feels like you all died with him. Do you know how much this breaks my heart? Some of you I haven't heard from AT ALL since well before he passed away. 

My heart aches right now because I feel like every day I am losing him a little bit more...the sound of his voice, his laugh, his mannerisms, and it would be so wonderful to have family to talk to, to encourage me, and to keep me going during my struggle with grief. And yet most of you have yet to even bother to reach out at random and ask if I am okay, or if Kim is okay, or even my mom or Teena. We all love him and miss him and cry for him daily. Thanksgiving was beyond hard to get through without him and not any one of you bothered to call or text or email me back (with the exception of TWO PEOPLE). Do you realize how much that hurts? My heart is completely broken right now and I don't understand what I did to make you guys hate me to the point where you won't even acknowledge my existence anymore.

I am not angry, and I apologize if this email makes me sound so, but I am just extremely hurt and sad. I NEVER expected this from anybody in the Stewart family, and I know for a fact that my dad would NOT want you guys acting this way. I understand that it is hard to write emails, or calls due to the emotions involved, but it hurts worse to be completely forgotten about and ignored. 

His birthday is on the 11th and I was going to send an email out to see how you all were holding up, if you were planning on doing anything special in his honor, or if you were just going to think of him and that's all. Then I decided not to even bother because my last few attempts at communication have been pointless. I miss you all with every fiber of my being. My heart aches for my father and I know all of yours do as well. So why the silent treatment? I need you all more than ever and yet I feel 100% abandoned by everyone. That's not fair and I know my dad wouldn't be happy. He would want us sharing memories, sending updates about our lives, sharing stories, emailing and calling and texting just to keep in contact. We are BLOOD relatives. His blood runs through all of us. It's not fair to shun the ones who live the furthest away. I Just don't get it.

Again, I am not angry. My feelings are extremely hurt right now. I am grieving and the holidays this year have so far been the hardest to get through. I can't do this aloneKim can't do this alone. We need our family, and that means all of you, not just a couple of you. ALL OF YOU. I Just want to know why. Why am I crying myself to sleep every single night? That shouldn't be happening. I thought the Stewart's were tight-knit through thick and thin. That's how it should be and that's how I would like to see it start to be. I don't want to lose you along with my dad. Please, don't get upset or mad at this email. That's not the reason I am sending it. I jsut want to know why we have been ignored and forgotten about. I love you all and I miss you all terribly. I don't want to lose all of you. That would break my heart even more than it is right now.

Love Always,
Missy"

Now how many replies do you think that email has given me, since 11p last night (and mind you, they are three hours ahead of me)....NONE. Not a single person has replied. I am so beyond heartbroken right now. Family is supposed to stick together. Family is forever. This is NOT how family treats each other and I am just heartbroken. My dad's birthday is coming up on the 11th and I won't bother emailing any of them to make sure they are okay. If they can't extend that courtesy to me or my sisters, then why should I extend it to them? I love them and I miss them dearly, but I deserve to be treated better than that. 

In my opinion, Melanoma didn't just kill my amazing dad, it killed my family ties as well. I hate that disease. I hate that my dad is dead. I hate that my own flesh and blood won't communicate with me, and I hate that I feel these ways. I shouldn't have to. Nobody should. I just needed to vent tonight, guys. I'm sorry. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forever Thankful

So many of my friends and family have been sharing what they are thankful for everyday of the month and it is very inspiring, touching, hilarious, and spot-on. I am not going to list 21 (or 22 depending on your time zone) things I am thankful for, just the big ones. I am SO thankful for the love, support, and inspiration my family and friends have shown me not only during this year, but since I can remember. I am so thankful for RJ and his never-ending love and support for me. I am thankful for the opportunity to go to school, have a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. 

I am SO thankful that although I may have my health problems, I know they could ALWAYS be worse. I am thankful for caffeine, junk food, organic food, clean water, my tea kettle (thanks, dad!), my Cricut Cake (thanks, RJ!), and the knowledge to cook and bake my own meals (thanks mom, dad, RJ, and various friends!). I am also thankful that tomorrow I get to spend the day with RJ and his family, and Saturday with my family!! 

Most of all I am thankful for being a Stewart. For having an amazing father who showed my sisters and I never ending love and support. His intelligence, love, compassion, humor and kindness will forever be remembered in not only my heart but in every heart he touched. I truly had the world's best dad. 

Whatever you all end up doing tomorrow (or not doing!) I hope it's a fantastic day spent laughing, drinking, eating, reminiscing and lounging.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The first of many...

This Thanksgiving is going to mark the first holiday without my dad. There are no words to accurately describe the feelings I am having right now. I am so sad, depressed, angry, upset, and just hurt. He should be here. It’s just not fair. His birthday is December 11…that’s going to be so much harder. I just don’t know how I am going to get through all of this. I love you dad. Rest In Peace.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Melanoma Warrior's Blog Post You Must Read!

I just read this and it is just so inspiring and incredible. Her name is Chelsea Price and she is fighting Melanoma (and kicking its ass!) and raising awareness while doing so. Here is a post she put up tonight and I Just wanted to share it with you all. Enjoy!

Adventures With My Enemy Melanoma

Sorry for the lack of updates!

Hey, everybody! I am so sorry it has been so long since I've posed a decent update. I've been very busy with school and homework and trying to maintain my sanity. The good news is that I am doing great, having fun, and enjoying life! I spent the weekend at the coast with RJ and my family and we had such an amazing time. We (RJ and I) drove to The Devil's Punchbowl yesterday which is where my dad used to take my sister and I all the time for picnics. It was beautiful and made me miss him, but I felt him there. Here are a couple pics from the trip!  The first pic is of RJ at the brewery where we ate lunch--he even colored that picture hahaha.

This is RJ and I at the brewery

This is me at The Devil's Punchbowl

This is The Devil's Punchbowl at lowtide! 

We had a phenomenal weekend and I am so blessed. I will be posting a better update later tonight about my life and how everything has been going. Thanks for checking in. Love you all!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I lost a friend the evening of October 24th from Cystic Fibrosis. She was only 28 years old. Her life was amazing, and she was a true angel here on earth. I met her through my boyfriend; she was the lead singer of his band, Staller. She had an amazing voice to go with her amazing soul. She was love and light wrapped up in happiness. Like friends, she and I had our ups and downs, but at the end we had some very in-depth, spiritual discussions and she forgave me for things I did and I forgave her. She died 2 days after that spiritual discussion. Because nobody was present to that conversation, and because he didn't wish to hear my side of things, her husband essentially "banned" me from attending her funeral this afternoon. I cried for hours last night when my boyfriend informed me of that. I wanted nothing more than to pay my respects to a woman who has not only helped me during times of strife and hardships, but she helped my dad as well until he died. I had no intention of starting drama (which is what was assumed would happen if I went), I Just wanted to hold my boyfriend's hand, console him, and say goodbye to my friend, Crystal. I was not allowed this.

I wanted to say goodbye. I wanted to see her placed and laid to rest at the cemetery. That's not asking for much. I don't understand how people can be so cruel and thoughtless and careless. Can't people set aside their problems for an hour to let others grieve and say goodbye? It's not about him-it's about HER. Saying goodbye to Crystal. One of the greatest women I've ever known.

My soul is crushed by not being able to have seen her off, but I know she is around in spirit and I can always talk to her spiritually. She and I know that I did nothing wrong. I just wish other people would have been told the truth long before she had passed, and maybe I would have had an opportunity to say goodbye to my beautiful friend.

RIP Crystal. You are going to be truly, truly missed.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BIG NEWS!

I am SO excited to announce that as of today I am officially enrolled in school! I start my Medical Assistant classes on Monday! It's a 9 month course and my graduation date is July 3, 2013! I will be training to for a Certified Medical Assistant career, which means I will take vital signs, do charting, medical receptioning, handling insurance claims, giving shots, assisting with procedures, drawing blood, and lots more! I have been a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) for 4 years now and Medical Assisting pays more, and is a bit more relaxed and less physically demanding on my body than CNA work, so I know I will be able to do this job. It's a great career and if I decide to further my health care education and do nursing, it's an excellent stepping stone!
With this job I can work in medical weight loss centers, medical spas, doctor's offices, clinics, hospitals, Planned Parenthood, birthing centers, dentist offices, surgery centers, and so much more! I will be taking the Oregon licensing exam and then I will be taking the national licensing exam as well, so I can work as a CMA anywhere!
This is a HUGE step for me and I know my dad would be proud :) I can't believe I start school on Monday!! The Medical Assisting program has the best schedule, too! It's Monday-Thursday, 7:30a-1:30p! We have 3 day weekends and 6 hour days, including a lunch break. My tuition also includes a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and lab jacket, including textbooks, that I get to keep!
Obviously I am excited. I can't wait to start and tell you all more about it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remicade Reaction & Realizations

After spending the majority of my afternoon in the ER due to complications from my Remicade infusions, I have made a few decisions regarding my health care and how to go about things from here on out. A lot of patients who get Remicade infusions develop reactions to the drug, either from the body building up immunities to it, or the body rejecting it therefore it doesn't work, or from a basic allergy. It's not ALL patients, but a lot, and some reactions are immediate, and some can take years to develop. I just received my 4th infusion on Wednesday and am having these problems and it's SO frustrating. There is a very real chance that I will be told on the 22nd at my appt that I will have to stop the infusions. I have no options after this...I've been on Humira, Methotrexate, 6mp, Cimzia, Prednisone, antibiotics, Entocort, Asacol, Questran, Librax, pain meds, anti-heartburn meds, Lomotil, a bowel resection that took almost 16 inches of my large and
 small intestines, and finally Remicade. 





Remicade was my last resort-the only medication I literally hadn't tried. It was supposed to be my miracle drug. And now that this is giving me adverse effects, I may have to stop it. I've decided that if I have to stop the Remicade, I will stop all of my Crohn's meds that I am currently taking. I'm going to quit cold turkey, detox my body, and see what happens. Last time I did this 5 years ago I went into remission for 2 years almost, maybe 3. I forgot I even had the damn disease. So that's my decision. I'll be out of options regardless so I may as well start over with a fresh slate. I'm choosing to share this with the "chosen few" of you who can read this for a number of reasons. I value your opinions and support, I love the advice you give, and I know some of you have been in and are currently in my shoes and can help me get through this frustration. Anyway, that's all I have to rant about lol. I am SO frustrated with it all. I Just want my life back.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wonderful Coast Trip

I had such an amazing time in Seaside, Oregon with my best friend, Danielle! Here are a couple of pics :D



We took tons of pics but those will be posted at a later date :) SO MUCH FUN!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Don't Look Away

loveisrespect “Text for Help” service is the nation’s first such program designed to help young people develop healthy dating relationships... and Mary Kay® is the lead sponsor! The resource is safe & anonymous so if you know someone who needs help, send the text “loveis” to 77054. 

Please read the link below! It has some incredible information and if any of you are in an unhealthy/abusive/unsafe relationship this is a great starting resource to get you help! You are NOT alone. Please get help. If you need anybody to talk to confidentially, you can always come to me as well. I promise to help you and keep it between us. You can be safe, and you deserve REAL love. Please don't hesitate to use the resources in the link below (or you can text the number above to receive anonymous help), or you can email me anytime at: mel.stewart87@gmail.com and I can help you find help and peer-to-peer counsel you if you need it, confidentially. You all deserve REAL love, not love that hurts. You also deserve to be safe. Let me help you.

http://www.marykay.com/dontlookaway?cid=mkfb_post_100212

Sunday, September 30, 2012

One of those days....

I found out today that one of my dear friends has a malignant tumor in his colon. He's 30 years old. On October 18th he will be having surgery to remove the tumor...he really has nobody to help take care of him. His former roommate/long-time best friend is too self-absorbed and refuses to help him post-op, and his sister is going to do what she can but that's not much. I told him that I will help him before, during, and after his recovery if he needs it. I just don't know what to think. I feel so awful. 2012 is not the year for good health for my friends. I can only  hope and pray that his surgery will be successful, and he can find a treatment regimen for his cancer that will put him into remission. My heart aches tonight for him, and for all of us who are affected by cancer in all its terrible forms.

Friday, September 28, 2012

hey, dad

hey, dad. it’s been 2 months (as of 11:45p on the 27th since it is technically the 28th now) since you’ve passed away. i think about you every day! i love you! i wish i could have told you all about the train concert last night-so much fun! they put on a KILLER show! but i know you were there with us :) during ‘calling all angels’ i felt your love and presence. i miss you so much. i hope you are hustlin’ some angels and “peeps” (as you’d say) up there at pool and chess! love you! goodnight :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Health update on me.

I found out today that I have Esophageal Crohn's Disease, as well as IBS and, of course, good ol' fashioned Crohn's. I mean...seriously. I know it affects every part of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus, but seriously, can't it leave my mouth and throat alone?! I've always wondered why I have had problems now and then swallowing food. Sometimes I swallow food (soft foods, even liquids) and it HURTS. It feels like a giant rock is lodged in my throat and the pain hits deep in my chest and behind my breastbone, in my back. Sometimes I throw up food IMMEDIATELY after swallowing it.  Now I know why-because of Crohn's Dysphagia (sp?)...ugh. I guess it's pretty rare and people can even develop fistulas and strictures in the esophagus. It's so scary to think about! I am just so beyond stressed. When do I get to catch a freaking break?! I need a vacation.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just a few pics!

My Aunt Paula's 60th birthday party was tonight and it was SO much fun getting a chance to meet up with family I haven't seen in years, and some I just saw at my dad's celebration of life! Here are just a few pics from the night!

This is my cousin Annie and I just kicking it outside with our drinks!


 This is some of my family! Annie, me (in the green in the back), my mom, my Aunt Paula, Chrissy (Annie's identical twin) and my older sister Teena.

 I am just chatting with my Uncle Elby whom I haven't seen in well over 15 years.

 And this is just me :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What an amazing 30+ hours it has been :)


I spent Wednesday at the Oregon coast with RJ and we had an incredible time. It was just what I needed :) Today around noon he and I climbed part of a sand dune, slipped under a fence where people weren't allowed to go, climbed down into some tide pools and released some of my dad's ashes into a beautiful cave. Nobody would even know it was there if they played it safe and stayed behind the fence, but I knew it would be great. It was very hard letting even just that small amount go, but with RJ by my side and the cool breeze on my skin, I released him into the ocean. It was perfect. Well worth the sore muscles I am going to have tomorrow :) Here is a photo of the cave where we went. This photo does not do it justice. I love you, dad. I hope the waves take you on many more adventures in your afterlife :)


And as a bonus, here is a great photo of RJ and I on the beach :) We spent the night and now we are home, and although I am sad to leave the beautiful coast, I am happy to be moving forward with my life and grief. Letting that small bit of dad go really has helped me emotionally. It has been amazing 30+ hours :)



Saturday, September 8, 2012

I donated in my father's honor

Every donation counts!! I donated to Stand Up To Cancer in my father's honor. I also had a star launched in his honor :)

If you want write a little something or donate your own money to the foundation, here is the link to do so. It is such an amazing company.

http://constellation.standup2cancer.org/46009

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What my memorial tattoo means!

I have been getting a lot of emails and texts from people telling me how awesome my memorial tattoo is, and the question everybody seems to ask is, "Why did you choose the Alien from the Alien movies (starring Sigourney Weaver)?" There are two stories that gave me the idea for the tattoo. After my dad graduated from college, he decided to treat his mom (my grandma lol) to a movie! And what movie did he choose to take grandma to? Alien. He said it scared her so bad she vowed never to go to another movie with him ever again. Flash forward many years and Kim and I were around 5-6 years old. Dad decided to educate us on different genres of film, so he had us watch the Alien films, then Predator, The Terminator and Robocop. Ever since those movies remained dear in my heart, but Alien was the one that has stuck with me the most. He LOVED that movie. I had an image in my head of the tattoo, and it turned out bigger and better than I ever imagined. It is easily my favorite tattoo and a great tribute to a great man :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Beautiful Memorial Tat

Here is the memorial tat I got today in my dad's honor! It was one of his favorite movies and he had Kim and I watch it when we were around 5 years old. It's my favorite tattoo :)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

I've been taking some "me" time lately

I apologize for being absent and not updating more frequently. My dad's celebration of life was on Aug 23 and I have sort of been in anti-social mode since. My best friend took charge this weekend and we went to a Portland Timbers soccer game, which was so much fun! I definitely needed that.

Tomorrow marks the one month "anniversary" of my dad's death. It still seems so surreal, I can't believe it. The only thing that gives me hope and comfort is knowing that my dad is no longer in pain, and that he's watching over my family from above. I miss him so much but I know he's better now.

Here are some pics from his celebration of life! Many of dad's friends came and shared their memories and stories :) It was so amazing.







Friday, August 17, 2012

I don't even know.

My heart feels dead. I miss my dad so much. It still feels like he's around, and I want to call him all the time but I can't. I pick up my phone, excited to call him and tell him a funny story or to see how he's doing, and then I realize that he won't be answering his phone ever again. It just hurts. It's a weird, surreal pain.

Please, I beg of all of you, get your skin checked. Even if you have absolutely no moles, or if you are covered in them, PLEASE just have your doctor look over everything. It can literally save your life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Eulogy

My family has volunteered me to do the eulogy at my dad's celebration of life. I'm pretty nervous about it, but I know I have my family and RJ to take over for me if I can't get through it all. So here is the first draft! Let me know what you all think,and what should be changed or edited!

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

"All of you are here today because in one way or another, my father touched your lives. He was an amazing son, brother, uncle, father, grandfather,, and friend. His heart was so big and full of passion and love. Everywhere he went, whether it was to the bank or to the grocery store, people knew him and always struck up friendly conversations with him. He was a friend to all who met him and got to know him. My dad was the best father to my sisters and I. He gave us everything and more, and he loved the three of us with every fiber of his being-with every ounce of his soul. He lived and breathed fatherhood, pouring his heart and soul into all of us. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his family or friends. 

I am so happy to see so many of his friends here today. You are all the family he made for himself when he moved here to Oregon almost 30 years ago. Each of you made his life special and happy. I am truly thankful for the friendships you all had with him, and the non-stop love and support you have shown him and his family through all of this.

When my dad became sick and diagnosed with melanoma back in March we all knew he had a long, hard fight ahead of him...and fight he did. He underwent chemotherapy, 4 brain surgeries, and radiation therapy. He did all of those things with light in his heart and always a joke and smile to share. He loved to make the nurses and doctors laugh, and all of the staff at OHSU loved his personality and outlook on life. My dad was a good man. 

When his cancer began to worsen my dad fought harderand stuck out the rest of his chemo treatments. He kicked chemo's ass! In the end, the night that he passed away, he was smiling and making jokes. He was a fighter through and through to the very end...he definitely wasn't one to give up easily. Now he is pain free and I know in my heart that he is here with all of us today, comforted to see us all together in his honor, and possibly rolling his eyes at us, wondering why we went all out for him when he can't even be here to eat or drink with us. 

As this is his Celebration of Life, he will always be with all of us in our hearts and in our memories. We are asking anybody who wishes to do so, to please share funny stories, or good memories you shared with him over the years. One of my fondest memories with my dad is him making me watch Predator, The Terminator, Robocop, and Alien with him as a very young child. He instilled in me a very deep love for action and horror films to this day. 

My dad also used to read the Alice in Wonderland books to Kim and I before bed, and those books remain near and dear to my heart. 

I am so blessed to be a Stewart. Being his daughter has been a true blessing in my life. We had the best dad in the whole world-truly. He was not only my father, he was my friend. I couldn't have asked for a better dad. 

Thank you dad, for giving me love and advice when I needed it. For helping me with math problems and science problems. For cooking delicious home cooked meals and making sure we had our batman cereal every morning. Thank you for taking Kim and I "walking in the woods", and for taking us on picnics with homemade cold fried chicken to the Devil's Punchbowl and building sand castles in the sand. Thank you for taking us to Avery park and teaching us about life, plants, trees, and the seasons. Thank you dad, most of all, for teaching me how to be open-minded and to think for myself. For teaching me that individuality is a good thing, and that the Beatles truly are amazing, and that 'My Girl' is truly the best song ever written. 

You taught us love, tolerance, and acceptance. You shaped us into the women we are today, and the women we will become in the future. I love you dad, and there aren't enough words to ever express that to you accurately enough. I miss you every single day and my heart aches for you every single day. But I know all I have to do is look into my heart and you will be there, always and forever, by my side. By Kim's side. By Teena's side. 

Thank you for being the best dad anybody could ever ask for. Thank you all for being here to celebrate his amazing life. I'd like to raise a glass to Scott-May he Rest In Peace and live on forever in our memories."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Part of a poem I am reading at my dad's celebration of life

The last two stanzas of this poem are beautiful and I am going to include them in my speech at my dad's Celebration of Life on the 23rd. What do you think?


The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still 'round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

It is a J.R.R. Tolkien poem and the whole thing is beautiful, but the end is even more fitting and I feel it will be a beautiful addition to my speech. My dad loved Tolkien and I know he would be happy :) Let me know if you all have any uplifting quotes/poems about death/passing on! Please post them in the comments--any type of quotes and poems are welcome so long as they are uplifting/positive. It's a celebration of his life, not a funeral :) Thank you!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Hurt Never Goes Away

There are some moments during my day when I realize that my heart isn't hurting and I am okay. Then there are other parts of my day where all I want to do is scream, cry, throw things and throw up. I get sick to my stomach when I remember over and over again that my dad is no longer in my life. He's dead. That's a lot of weight to carry around for the rest of my life whenever somebody will inevitably ask me about my parents. I know I can speak to him anytime I desire. I can just start talking, or praying, or write him letters. It's just not the same as having him here, in real life, available to hug and kiss and hear his voice one last time.

I was watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother last night on Netflix and it was about Marshall's last words from his father before he passed away. It's easily one of my favorite episodes. It's so real, and so touching. It got me thinking about what my last words were to my dad, and what his were to me. I was leaving the room, after I kissed and said I'd be in there later, then I said to him, "don't give the nurse any hell, dad!" to which he replied, "no worries-only the EMTs!". Then he said "See ya in a bit"...and that was that. He died a few hours later.

After he died I got to spend some alone time with him. I placed my hand on his heart and I kissed his forehead. I told him I love him and that he was and always will be the best dad in the whole world.

I miss you, daddy. I miss you so much it hurts. It causes me actual physical pain. I want to call you SO badly and hear your voice again and I just can't, and it's tearing me apart.

I just needed to vent a little. Please tell your loved ones how you feel about them as often as possible. You never know when they may be your last words to them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Great quote!

I read this and it's one of my favorite quotes. I have a lot to update on but I am going to wait until this evening to write a long post. Until then, here is this great, inspiring quote:

"Cancer cannot destroy peace, suppress memories, silence courage, conquer the spirit, kill friendship, corrode faith, or cripple love."

Talk to you all, soon :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An indescribable pain

The hardest thing for me right now is wanting to talk to my dad. I find myself hearing a joke, or having something happen in my day and I just want to call him and tell him, and I can't. I can't ever hear his voice again, or call him, or leave him a message. It tears my heart in half and it literally stings every time the urge to call him strikes, which is several times a day. Nobody prepared me for that feeling of longing when I talked to others who have lost their parents--it's nothing I was prepared for. It hurts. It's an ache that is impossible to describe. I wouldn't wish this pain on anybody. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dad's Obituary

Here is the final draft of dad's obituary. It will be posted in tomorrow's paper and online indefinitely. He will be so missed. Thank you all for your love and support.



Scott William Stewart
Dec. 12, 1954 — July 27, 2012

Scott William Stewart, 57, of Corvallis died at Oregon Health & Science University from complications of melanoma cancer.

He was born in Chicago, Ill., to Jack and Jeanne Stewart. They lived in Jenkintown, Pa., most of his young life. Scott graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1977. Following graduation, he traveled across the country, stopping in Corvallis and making that his new home.

He began his culinary career at the Big O Restaurant, where he worked for several years before being hired at Burton’s Restaurant. Scott worked there for close to 20 years before it closed in 2006, at which point he and three of his co-workers partnered together to form Affair Catering, an endeavor which he loved and thrived at.
One of his favorite things to do was to take the girls to Finley Wildlife Refuge. He loved it there and they all enjoyed their nature hikes.

Scott also loved music and enjoyed a vast record collection of well over 300 albums. In addition, Scott was a member of MENSA and the Scottish Society.

Scott was previously married to Lonnie Schwab; they had twin daughters, Kimberly Stewart and Melissa Stewart. Scott also had a wonderful relationship with Teena Peaslee, his stepdaughter. He was like a dad to her and they shared a close bond through the years.

Survivors include Scott’s daughters, Melissa Stewart of Monmouth, and Kimberly Stewart of Albany; stepdaughter, Teena Peaslee, and grandson, Austin Peaslee, of Lebanon; eight siblings, Jack Stewart of Point Marion, Pa., Tom Stewart of West Chester, Pa., Marcy Doheny of Hatboro, Pa., Chuck Stewart of Warminster, Pa., Molly McMaster of Collegeville, Pa., Andy Stewart of Wycoff, N.J., Amanda Stewart of Lansdale, Pa., and Betsy Petrasic of Harrisburg, Pa.; and 13 nieces and nephews.

All will treasure the memories and the loving presence he had in their lives.

A celebration of life ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. Aug. 23 in a private room at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany.

As this is a time to celebrate his life, we encourage everyone to think of their favorite story or memory of Scott and share it with everyone. Also, we would appreciate it if everyone wore bright colors instead of black, as this is not a funeral and it is what Scott wanted.

Donations can be sent to the Melanoma Research Foundation, P.O. Box 759329, Baltimore, MD 21275-9329.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My dad, My hero


This is the last photo we took together. I had to edit it because it was so dark. Now we just look red lol.

I love you dad, so so much. You’re my hero. The best dad anybody could ever hope to have. Thank you for everything you taught me and gave me. Thank you for your never-ending love, support, friendship, and advice.

He fought his melanoma so hard and in the end, it was blood clots that took his life, but he fought during that battle too. The doctor's and nurses who have worked at OHSU for over 20 years all said that they have NEVER seen somebody as sick as my dad who was able to talk, let alone joke around and carry a conversation. They said it was a miracle he wasn't in a coma until his heart stopped. That's my daddy for ya-always beating the odds and fighting. He will be missed by everyone who ever met him. I love him so much.

I miss you so much, dad. There aren't enough words to express that.

RIP Scott Stewart

1954-2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

RIP Daddy

I have very sad news. As of 11:45p my dad passed away. He was admitted yesterday and they found a 12 inch blood clot in his left thigh, and then they discovered 2 blood clots on each lung. This was a shock to all of us. After a hell of a fight his heart was strained too much (from the clots) and he lost his fight. The doctor's and nurses did everything they could. My mom and I were there until the end. The nurse gave us 2 locks of his hair, as well as 4 sets of his hand prints and a beautiful memory box to put pictures and things in. He is no longer in pain and I am so thankful for that. Thank you all so much for your love and support. I am in shock right now, still trying to piece it together. In the end it wasn't the melanoma that got him. We are just...in shock. Truly. Thank you all for your kind words, support, encouragement, prayers, and love.


I love you dad, so very much. You were  my world and you meant everything to me. I know you are no longer in pain and I am so happy for that. I love you. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interesting Article.

This is an article about the chemo my dad just finished (Yervoy) and a chemo pill he MAY be put on depending on what his PET scan shows. After reading this article I really feel it is a bad idea for him to take the Zelboraf. My dad has the NRAS mutation, not the BRAF mutation, and if a patient is given Zelboraf without having the BRAF mutation, it can cause the melanoma to rapidly spread and can cause death. 


http://seekingalpha.com/article/744721-yervoy-vs-zelboraf-melanoma-drugs-battle-for-market-share



"Melanoma is the leading cause of death from skin disease. In metastatic melanoma, the disease spreads from its original lesion site to deeper parts of the skin, and eventually to other parts of the body distant from the primary lesion site.
An estimated 68,130 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the United States during 2010 and about 8,700 people died from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
After a long period of stagnation, in 2011 two revolutionary drugs were approved for metastatic melanoma: Yervoy from Bristol Myers (BMY)and Zelboraf from Roche (RHHBY.PK).
Yervoy is a CTLA-4 inhibitor that strengthens the body's immune system and Zelboraf is a BRAF inhibitor.
Since both Yervoy and Zelboraf are cleared for metastatic melanoma therapy, a battle has ensued for dominance in first-line treatment and has stirred considerable debate in the field.
Yervoy is slow to take effect and only about one in four patients respond, but responses can be very long-lasting.
Zelboraf, on the other hand, usually demonstrates a lightning fast anti-tumor response, but it does not last and is often followed by treatment resistance.
Yervoy might turn out to be a better option for patients in earlier stages of disease, when immunotherapy has a better chance for success.
Patients who have aggressive disease or a large tumor burden, however, are not likely to benefit from Yervoy. For them, Zelboraf seems the better option.
In other words, Zelboraf is the drug for patients with a high risk of dying, for whom time is of the essence.
But Zelboraf does have a critical drawback. It can only be used for patients who have the BRAF mutation, which accounts for just half of all metastatic melanoma sufferers. Patients who do not have the mutationshould not get Zelboraf, as data show that it could accelerate their disease.
Yervoy's effectiveness is not dependent on the BRAF mutation.
The FDA has approved a companion test, Roche's cobas 4800 V600 Mutation test, to determine which patients have the mutation.
According to Roche Molecular Diagnostics, testing for BRAF has been ordered for some 80% of eligible patients with late-stage melanoma.
The speed with which doctors have shown readiness to use the BRAF mutation diagnostic test demonstrates how quickly the field adapts to new treatments.
Because so many questions still surround the two drugs, more trials are needed. One trial, co-sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche-Genentech, is underway right now comparing the two drugs.
Administration of the drugs:
Yervoy is infused. It takes about 90 minutes to get a full dose. It is usually given every 3 weeks for up to 4 doses. The doctor may change how often the patient receives it and how long the infusion takes.
Zelboraf is taken in tablets, four 240 mg tablets taken twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart.
These medicines can do miracles but come with a price tag.
For US patients, according to the website destinationrx.com, Yervoy cost $6,480 a month (10 doses) and Zelboraf cost $11,055 a month, for 240 tablets.
The diagnostic test will cost around $120 to $150.
These figures do not include doctor's and hospital fees.
Analysts predict that the majority of BRAF wild-type (BRAF negative) patients will receive Yervoy as front-line therapy, allowing the drug tocapture 60 percent of the US market versus 40 percent for Zelboraf.
Accordingly, consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters Forecast lists global Zelboraf sales of $174.1 million in 2012, rising to $641.9 million by 2016.
Yervoy sales reached $154 million in the first quarter of 2012 and sales in the first 12 months since its launch have reached $514 million.
For the first quarter of 2012, Roche reported sales of CHF 32 million ($33.7 million) for Zelboraf.
Several other new drugs are also being prepared for the market.
Glaxo (GSK) had recently presented the phase 3 results of two of their pipeline drugs, the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib and the MEK inhibitor trametinib.
One downside of the BRAF-blocking drugs is that using them may activate certain growth pathways in healthy cells, leading to non-melanoma skin cancers. It turns out that adding the MEK drug can block the formation of these skin lesions.
Finding out that a second drug can cancel out the side effects of the first "was the cool part," said Glaxo's president. "Usually, when you combine two drugs they increase toxicity."
Approval of the two Glaxo drugs could generate as much as 1.5 billion pounds ($2.35 billion) by 2020, according to Andrew Baum, a London-based analyst at Citigroup Inc.
Glaxo will seek regulatory approval of both compounds later in 2012.
Recently Provectus Pharmacutecals (PVCT) presented final data from their phase 2 clinical trial of the PV-10 molecule, showing strong results.
This is a Rose Bengal compound that has been in use for over thirty years by ophthalmologists to assess damage to the eye. It has also been used as an intravenous diagnostic to detect ailments of the liver.
Rose Bengal has an established safety history, a short half-life in the bloodstream, and is excreted via the liver and kidneys.
The planned international phase 3 trial of PV-10 is expected to include up to 300 subjects with end stage melanoma. PV-10 will be compared with a control arm of chemotherapy with either dacarbazine or temozolomide, with progression-free survival as a primary endpoint.
Enrollment in the 30-month trial is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2012."

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's been a rough day.


So I just left dad's house. He asked me to come out and run errands for him since he is unable to be on his feet today for more than 2-3 minutes. I dropped off prescriptions and picked one up, as well as some gatorade for him. He has lost a lot of weight and doesn't have much of an appetite at all. He didn't want me to stay long and promptly kicked me out after I set his change on the counter. He asked me to come back in the morning to pick up the meds that were dropped off for a refill today. He's very tired, not talkative and he is wanting to rest. He has appointments Thursday and Friday. Thurs he is having his PET scan to look for abdominal/stomach tumors (and all over his body as well), adn after the scan we are meeting with his oncologist to go over those results. 
Friday he is having a new mask made for his brain radiation, as well as an MRI in the brain, and a meeting with his neurologist as a follow-up to the brain surgery. And other than that I have ordered dad to rest lots, stay hydrated, and to call me if he needs ANYTHING at ANYTIME. I met his neighbor across the street, Jim, and he knows about dad's situation so he gave me his phone number and told me to call anytime if we feel that dad needs a wellness check and we can't be there right away. His neighbors and community are so amazing and nice. That's all I have in terms of updates!
I just got remembered that I forgot tell you guys some good news! His leg with the tumor has shrunk significantly! It looks MUCH better than it ever has, which means the radiation is shrinking the tumor!! He was very happy about that. The PET scan on Thursday will show us how much it has shrank since he had radiation on it!

Pics from lunch w/my dad!

Just some pics of my dad, twin sister Kim, and my uncle Tom from lunch yesterday! The first one I had to filter and edit because it was too dark w/out editing it. The second pic is with Kim and my dad and I. The third pic is us with my uncle Tom!





Sunday, July 22, 2012

I've been busy...so quick update


I don't really have much to update on. I have had a very busy week, and the last 2 days I have been pretty much drinking non-stop. Not joking. My best friend's birthday party was yesterday and today my family and I went out for lunch and drinks at the brewery with my dad and uncle. When we got there my dad was barely recognizeable. His face is very gaunt and pale, he's lost weight, his eyes look terrible, he only ate a small portion of half of his reuben sandwich. He couldn't hold a coversation and was in extreme pain. The end of his battle is coming and it's very near.
I am taking time to feel my emotions and to deal with them privately. I am extremely hyper-emotional right now which is why I haven't posted anything recently.
I keep watching the same episode of how i met your mother (SPOILER ALERT WARNING...SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW)--the one where Marshall's dad dies and they are at the funeral. It's so real and honest. It makes me feel less alone in this process.
My mom hired a photographer to take family photos of us with him this week. I'm looking forward to it. He is also having a mask made for his new brain radiation again, as well as 3 appointments at ohsu next week. My uncle is flying out tomorrow and he's been a huge help to my dad.
I'm just really not in a good place mentally, emotionally, or physically. The remicade infusions are helping but the stress is causing more pain than necessary.I'm just in a very dark place right now and I need to sort through all of my thoughts and emotions before I can start posting more.I don't want to be the debbie downer in every post I write lol.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Short update about my dad's visit with the oncologist, and his last chemo treatment.

Hello! All of this was written while my dad was getting his infusion. I am too exhausted to re-write it here so I am copying and pasting it here.

Well we just finished talking with his oncologist.
He wants to do another PET scan in two weeks. My dad has been having severe stomach pain and he wants to see if there is any new tumor growth anywhere else, primarily his abdomen/stomach. If there is he and my dad will decide the next course of action.
This is his last Yervoy dose. The Dr said it could take up to two months to see any improvement though. He is very tired and his head hurts from surgery but he has a great attitude. He is also going to see a neurologist about meds for seizures and his hand that moves on it's own, and he should be hearing from his radiologist about when he will start radiation on his brain where the new tumor was removed.
And last but not least if he can stay tumor free in his brain for 3 months he will be eligible for a phase 1 clinical trial new pill for melanoma-but he won't be eligible if he gets any new brain mets in the next 3 months..my fear is that he won't be alive by then :( 



Melanoma is horrible. Just horrible.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is a very important appointment for my dad up at OHSU. We have to be up there by 9a and he's meeting with his oncologist. My dad is supposed to get his last infusion of Yervoy tomorrow, but I'm not sure if he's going to or not. It is a very major appointment...if they decide not to do the last infusion, that means my dad is literally out of options. He isn't eligible for any clinical trials, nor is he eligible for any other types of chemo. The Yervoy was it. It only has a success rate of about 10-20% so we knew going into it working on him was a long-shot, it's just frustrating knowing that there is nothing else on the market to help him. Yervoy is a miracle drug for patients who can receive it, but we need MORE options for stage 4 patients. It is unacceptable to me that there isn't anything else my dad can take or try. I know finding a cure of melanoma isn't going to happen in the near future, but it seems like there should be more treatment options available to him. It's just extremely frustrating and maddening. My dad did everything right and now he is dying from it. It doesn't make sense. Please send your prayers, positive thoughts and love tomorrow morning. We need all we can get. Thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I am so angry.


I just wanted let everybody know that my dad is home now and resting. He got discharged earlier in the afternoon and he's very happy to be home! He is having his last dose of radiation on his leg tomorrow morning, and then on Monday he has an appointment with his oncologist. He's also supposed to get his last dose of chemo (Yervoy) on Monday, but since it so obviously isn't working we don't know what the dr will want to do. He is literally out of options--Yervoy was the only chemo he was eligible for due to having stage 4 (with brain mets) and having the BRAS mutation. He isn't even eligible for any clinical trials, ever. This was supposed to be his miracle drug..and now that it's not working, he just gets to die. 
He is on 3 different seizure meds and we are hoping he won't have anymore. His prognosis is still not good even though they caught this brain tumor. He's having some major short-term memory problems that may be associated with the seizure, or it may be associated with the melanoma. Nobody knows. He has been calling me 'Alissa', not Melissa. He can pronounce the letter 'm' with no trouble so we have no idea why he is calling me by that. He's been VERY grumpy and mean today but the RN told us his steroid that he's taking for 4 more days causes roid rage, which is what is happening. I got him home and helped set up his medications so he'd know when to take them and how often. He's not very happy that he has to take so many new drugs, but I explained that they should prevent more seizures, so he seemed okay about it after.
I talked to his wonderful next door neighbors and they gave me their cell numbers so in case I can't be out there visiting, they can check on him if we feel he needs a wellness check.
Overall I am just exhausted in every way possible. I"m extremely angry over the whole mess right now. Why my dad? Why can't he go into remission? Why didn't his fucking primary care doctor find that fucking leg tumor almost 2 years ago? My dad is a good man. The literally best man I've ever known. There are so many other people who deserve to die more than my dad-rapists, murderers, pedophiles, etc. Why my dad? Why do those awful people get to live long and full lives, and my dad has to die before he turns 58? Where is the fairness in that? He did EVERYTHING right to protect himself from the sun and yet he still fucking got melanoma. It's just not fair. Why can't he catch a break? I just don't get it. At all. It deeply deeply angers me and saddens me.

                                      On another note, here is a pic my mom took of us on Tuesday!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Just a pic!

Here is a pic I snapped of my dad this morning at OHSU. The nurse made that little hat for him because his other stocking on his head was too tight and causing too much pressure on his incision. His right eye and mouth was twitching when I took the pic so that's why it looks like he's winking. We are hoping the twitching goes away in a few days. Thank you all so much for the love and support and prayers.

Please think of my family before you go tanning. Having a bronzed body isn't worth your life. Pale is BEAUTIFUL and HEALTHY. My family's tragedy doesn't have to be yours. Wear sunscreen, seek shade, wear protective clothing and hats and sunglasses. Do it for yourselves and for your family.


Dad's surgery updates

Dad had the tumor removed from his brain yesterday. Everything went very smoothly and great! It was the size of a jellybean and came out with no problems. He is being transferred off the ICU today and into a regular patient room, which is great! He still has his eye twitch and numbness in his right hand, but occupational therapy is working with him on it and the twitch/spasm should clear up in a few days on its own! Overall a great operation!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Remicade Rundown

Everything went well today! I had no adverse reactions to the Remicade and it took 3 hours! My second loading dose is in 2 weeks on July 19th, and my third loading dose is on August 16th! I am SO exhausted from the infusion, and that’s supposed to be normal. After I post this I am going to go to bed! Tomorrow I should expect some flu-like symptoms, headache, joint pain, fatigue, and that’s about it! I am so hopeful that this medication will be the one that puts me into remission. I felt bad for the RN who had to start my IV and hook up the Remicade bag. Because it is mixed in the pharmacy with other toxic chemotherapy drugs, she had to put on a full length paper gown, as well as a face mask and gloves. The Remicade itself isn't that toxic, but you never know what's on the exterior of the bag....it made me a little nervous lol. Everybody at the infusion center today I met was extremely friendly, compassionate, knowledgeable, and nice! I have no complaints, other than the facility could use a little more sprucing up. I had a private room with a flat screen and cable! So that was nice! Here are a few pics from my first infusion! Have a good night, everybody!
Gotta love IV's!

Remicade in all its glory!

After the infusion! Do I look Crohn's-free yet?