Chrissie Bader
So, it wasn't quite Pivotal Moment #3 but it was definitely a standout moment. Life isn't different forever based on that one phone call but I will, no doubt, remember the phone call the rest of my life. Let's rewind to the night before the call.

I went to bed very, very late as I tend to do because I'm a night owl. While showering before bed I began testing out different scenarios in my mind. How would I react if the results were this? Or that? What would change? What would never been the same again? It began as a preparation exercise and ended in total panic. The thought of leaving my children alone. The thought of our upcoming beach trip having totally different undertones due to it being one of our last as a family. So many awful thoughts flying at me at once. I began to pray. I crawled into bed and looked up scriptures in my Bible app on my phone and fell asleep reciting The Word.

Since our bedroom has been temporarily relocated due to last month's flooding, I don't have a night stand and currently sleep with my phone under my pillow. I don't recommend that, actually, because all notifications go straight into your ear and scare you awake. Anyway, 9am is early for me and that's when the phone started ringing. Typically, I'm extremely annoyed by a phone call. Nowadays, I prefer an email or a text but NEVER, ever call me. But it was an Atlanta number and my heart jumped into my throat.

I answered and, sure enough, it was the dermatologist's office. I can't remember if my palms started sweating or if I lost all sensation in my body in anticipation. I was terrified and anxious about what the next few moments would bring into my life. She asked me if I had time to speak and I answered yes.

"Mrs. B, the pathology came back for the mole on your left thigh as moderately dysplastic which means that the cells cells are changing. Since we already removed the mole we typically just monitor the site and do full body scans every 3 months." Okay, breathe, breathe. I had expected some dysplasia so I'm not shocked; relieved actually that they'll be checking me more frequently.

Then her tone changed. I'm not 100% sure that I didn't imagine it but I'm quite positive that there was a shift in her tone for this part, "The pathology on the mole on your right thigh, however, returned severely dysplastic which is one step before melanoma. It's good you came in when you did. The doctor would like to do a complete excision of this area." My head was spinning and my heart was pounding so I can't even remember if I made her verify "not melanoma" or if I made it up. But I held to the part that severely dysplastic is before melanoma.

So, I caught it in time???!!! My heart was trying to celebrate while my brain was reminding me I still had to have more removed. And another pathology report to wait on. AND I'm now at a higher risk of developing melanoma at any other point in my life. Which means my kids are too. I couldn't celebrate.

I ran to the kitchen to my calendar so I could schedule the excision procedure while I was on the phone with the doctor's office. The first date she gave me was the date we were due to leave for our final beach vacation of this year. I asked her if it could wait an additional 2 weeks and she obliged. So, my excision is scheduled for September 26.

I went back to the bedroom to tell Mike, who had been waiting patiently since my phone rang, the news. He was much more enthusiastic than I was. I, who had been ok the whole time, burst into suffocating tears after I finally got the words out. All of the buildup of fear and uncertainty had weighed on me and all came crashing down at that moment. I wasn't dying. I wasn't going to die soon. My life didn't even have to change a whole lot for now. I need to be cautious, yes. But I can still pursue my dreams full speed ahead. God's promises to me still stood!! I was just overcome with so much emotion.

So, I'm in the waiting again. Waiting for my excision appointment. Waiting for my biopsy sites to heal. That has been hard. Those biopsy sites have hurt, itched, not healed quickly, and generally been awful. It has been HARD. I just needed to say that again.

But I'm ok. In fact, I'm better. I see things differently. I realize that life is shorter than I even thought before. I was still living with the idealistic views of an adult in her 20s when the world is your oyster and you have all this time ahead of you. Now I know that it can vanish and end before you're ready. I have prayed more, been grateful more, tried to be angry less, and tried to be a better mom.

That brings me to today, in the van with the younger two kiddos. Caleb asked me about Heaven. So we had a discussion about it. We talked about what the Bible says about it and what others have said we could expect about it. The conversation came around to when we each die and go to Heaven. I told them that when I die I will be watching over them and waiting for them so we would all be together again someday. Kiki said, "If you died, I would be so sad." Caleb said, "When you die I will want to die immediately so I can keep being with you." Oh. My. Heart! I just can't even. I love those kids so much it hurts me physically. Little did my sweet 7 year old know he described losing a parent perfectly. Even for those of us that are 36 (37 in a week). I imagine the same exact reaction when 'nightmaring' losing one of my parents. I would want to die immediately to be with them. Jesus come get us all!

Anyway, it's better news that I had imagined it might be. Still in a waiting pattern for awhile longer.

Peace out!

Chrissie Bader
The mind is so interesting. How it can choose on its own to be in total denial of the truth. Even when it has been trained to pick up on certain things and knows that it should be alarmed. And yet, it says "no" because you've made plans and you have goals and it knows that if you take time out for "something like this" that you will be sidetracked, or even derailed completely. And you just can't risk that right now. But the mind doesn't properly balance the risk because one thing definitely outweighs the other.

So, you're probably wondering what in the world I'm talking about; or maybe you're even a little frustrated that I'm being vague. Let's rewind....

The last week of June, my mom and I went to Young Living's Convention together; a wonderful, incredible, memorable mother/daughter adventure. We have had several over the years but this one might be the best because it wasn't just for me that we had gone out there. My mom and I are building a business together and we went out there as a team to meet our team! We learned together. We grew together. We cried together. We gained passion and enthusiasm together. It was awe-inspiring. I will have to do a whole post just to describe the amazing week we spent in Salt Lake City together. But this story begins there.

Wednesday night of Convention week, Mom and I were sitting on our beds in the hotel room applying Cool Azul sports gel to our legs and feet after spending the whole day at the Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona, UT. It was almost 100 degrees that day and, dry heat or not, it was HOT! We walked a lot that day. Like, A LOT! And even after soaking our feet in the icy cold stream that comes down from the mountains (that despite being nearly 100 degrees still had snow which is crazy to this southern girl) and runs through the farm property, were still aching and sore. So we went to the farm store and each purchased the amazing Cool Azul sports gel which is like aloe with wintergreen and peppermint oils. And we were massaging our feet and legs with the minty goodness after our blessed showers that night and oohing and aahing over how wonderful the gel was when my mom noticed the dark mole on my upper right thigh. The mole I've had my whole life that's always been darker than the rest and so, even though it had recently gotten darker and different looking, I had paid it zero attention. That is, until the look on my mom's face shook me out of the denial I had been in.

She adamantly told me to have it looked at as soon as we got home from Convention. So, I looked at it and agreed I would. And I wondered why my trained eye had not caught it sooner. I obviously knew that it had changed but hadn't, myself, been alarmed about it. How long had it been? I'm an esthetician and electrologist by trade; I am TRAINED to notice skin abnormalities. I have even referred several people to the dermatologist to have a spot looked at, yet failed to recognize it on my own body. Did I fail to recognize or did I just fail to act because I didn't want to be inconvenienced? And oh boy, the inconvenience. But what may it have cost me in the long run now that I have waited? And how long did I truly wait? I honestly can't remember how long it has been since I noticed the changes. The level of my own stupidity amazes me. I still waited another 3 weeks after getting home from Convention to call around to some dermatologists offices and get an appointment. And once I made the call, it was another 2 weeks of waiting for the appointment date. Of course, once I had the appointment scheduled, that's when I started freaking out about time. Because I know how quickly things can progress and how important time is in cases like this.

So, while I waited, I took pictures of all the moles on my body that I definitely wanted to point out to the doctor during the full body scan I had scheduled. Obviously, I wanted her to look at the dark one on my right thigh that Mom had pointed out but I found a couple other suspicious looking ones, also in moles, and on my thighs. I had two that were particularly concerning to me and as I counted down the days until my appointment, my mind that had previously been in total denial caught up quickly to the terrifying reality of the situation. And let me tell you that things got REAL. The "M" word was popping up everywhere! I couldn't get away from it. The father of my closest childhood friend passed away during this time of waiting....from the "m" word after having only been diagnosed 7 months earlier. In an attempt to hide from reality I began binge-watching Grey's Anatomy (great choice, right?) on Netflix and Dr. Izzy Stevens was diagnosed with Stage 4 "m" word during one of the seasons. I was horrified.

My mind went to some horrible places. Some dark and scary places. I began to imagine life for my husband and kids without me in it. What would happen to them? I homeschool my kids for very specific reasons and beliefs. Would they have to go back into the public school system? And oh God, my precious daughter, Reagan!! Legally, I still share joint custody of her with my ex husband who has been absent from the picture for almost 5 years without word. Would she have to go live with him? Would she be absorbed into "the system" if they couldn't find him? After everything we've been through and all the progress we have made with her, my heart sinks and I grow nauseous thinking of her life being suddenly turned completely upside down. She wouldn't just lose her mother but her whole family. This thought alone inspires me to take major action despite the outcome of my situation. This needs to be taken care of because it's an issue if anything happens to me, not just "m" word.

Adding 'find an attorney' to my massively long To Do List (which is massively long because of crazy home repairs due to the disastrous month of July in which our septic tank backed up into our house, flooding our master bedroom right before the AC went out during 95 degree weather causing the flooded carpet to mildew, resulting in our ripping out the carpet and relocating our whole bedroom into the second living room and having to install a door and new flooring. Then World War III with ants in the kitchen and throwing away nearly everything that was in the pantry cabinets. And oh, let's not forget when the pipe under the bathtub began to leak and then burst, flooding the underneath of the tub in the master bathroom, resulting in Mike having to bust the tile to get to the pipe in order to repair it. So, now total master bed and bath renovations are under way.) Whew! No wonder I'm so incredibly tired lately. That could have been its own post! I think I need a drink and a nap!

Appointment day arrived finally and Mike went to the appointment with me, thankfully. I was scared and not sure what to expect so I was very happy for the company. The "m" word doesn't run in my family. My mom has had several basal cell carcinomas excised and one squamous cell carcinoma. Pretty sure my grandfather had some basal cells or squamous cells removed as well. But no one in my family that I know of has ever had the "m" word. So, during the appointment the PA examined my whole body (I have many moles and freckles due to being the whitest person on the planet). She looked at my moles under a handheld magnifier with a light on it. The two moles of greatest concern to her were the same ones I had identified which confirms my training. I was right.

She biopsied them that day. The shots hurt SO bad! I was really glad Mike was there for me to hold his hand during all of this because once the epinephrine from the shots hit my bloodstream I began shaking and feeling nauseous which kicked my fear up a notch and the tears began to flow. I didn't actually feel her removing the moles. In fact, I felt nothing in those areas for many hours after which is a definitely blessing because one of the biopsy sites is deep. The first one she mentioned to her assistant "dysplasia" which is what I suspected too. The second one, the one my mom noticed, and the worst of the two, she used the "m" word when speaking with her assistant. That is in no way a diagnosis until pathology comes back, of course, but it hasn't helped my fear level in the least.

So, now we wait. They said 7-10 days and it has been 4 so far. I have been changing the dressings on the biopsy sites twice a day and applying essential oils to them. I have been alternating Ravintsara and Frankincense oils for healing. Today, they hurt less than yesterday and the day before. But if I stand too long, they begin to ache. Here are some photos for those who may be going through something similar and are curious. I know I was when I was scouring Google Images for photos of biopsy sites and moles; anything that was similar to mine that I might read about someone else's journey and get hope for a positive outcome. There aren't many stories out there of hope that I was able to find. Hoping mine will be one of many to come.

Mole A from my left thigh just above my knee. Notice the dysplasia and that it's slightly raised. I've had this one my whole life but it began to change in the last year or so. 

Mole A the day after biopsy after removing the original dressings. I applied Ravintsara oil to the site and recovered with bandages. 

Mole A, day 3 after biopsy.

Mole B, the one of most concern, on my upper outer right thigh. Notice the borders are uneven, and the very dark splotchy colors inside the mole. 

Mole B the day after biopsy after removing the original dressings. It looks like part of the mole was left behind but that's actually where the doctor cauterized the flesh to stop the bleeding. 

Mole B, day 3 after biopsy.

I have found some healing and positive scriptures to hang on to during this period while we wait for that call from pathology. I try to remain positive and hopeful, to speak faith over the situation. But sometimes it's hard and the darkness creeps in. I wait in dread of the phone call and wonder if it will be one of those calls where I rejoice over the good news and then proceed with my life. Or will it be a call that becomes one of those pivotal moments in life. Ya know, the moments where right before, in the seconds before, life is normal and everything is as it should be, and then your life as you know it is over. Everything is changed and can never go back to the way it was just mere seconds ago. Curious and strange, those moments. Pivotal.

I have had exactly two of those moments so far in my life. The first is when I woke up one July morning in 2003 and peed on a stick just for the sake of my sanity because I was late and I wanted to rule out pregnancy. But there were two pink lines where I was expecting only one. The moment that preceded my looking at that stick was my old life. The moment when I saw those two lines was my new life. It was a very strange moment and I grieved for that old life for months after. I hadn't wanted that old life to end; I loved it and didn't want it to change. I didn't adjust well to the new life and neither did my marriage.

Enter pivotal moment #2: New Year's Eve 2005 in the car with my husband on our way home from a New Year's Eve party. I opened my mouth and spoke the words that had been haunting me for months. I wanted a divorce. Once you say those words, you can't take them back. Everything was different from that moment. The atmosphere in the car just moments before those words was lighter, more comfortable, and the new normal that our lives had become since pivotal moment #1. Now it was dark and sad and scary. Life has never been the same for any of us since that moment.

We have adjusted and moved on and life is good. Life is really good right now. We are dreaming and planning for the future. We are steady and happy despite our money pit house situation (think Tom Hanks and the bathtub scene). We have a church family, Reagan was baptized, we tithe, we pray. Literally, my dreams are coming true and I get to watch it happen. Life. Is. Good.

And I currently live in fear of pivotal moment #3. I hope it's a long way off. Like, a really long way off. I need more time. I'm not done yet. There's so much left to do and see and experience. I'm not done. And God said that He had plans for me, to prosper me and to give me hope and a future. So, I'm holding fast to that promise and fighting against the dark places every day. Sometimes every minute.

Peace out!