Being A Hero When Faced With A Villain

My Name is Katie Ostrovsky, or my_melanoma_world. I'm 39 years old and I've been married since 2005, to an angel. His name is Benji and he really has done everything for me and our family. We have 2 girls, 17 and 11 years old.

My oldest is my strength, she’s strong, sassy, and smart. My youngest is my comfort, she’s sweet, witty and smart. We have the best dog, he’s an Australian Cattle named Sid. He’s very energetic and sweet and crazy. He brings such love into our home, we all race to get to him first after coming home from just about anywhere. We are a typical family with friends, lots of sports, and family time. We all love to be together, have fun, laugh, and make fun of each other. We have grown into something special due to cancer. Yes, I said cancer Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma.

I was diagnosed in 2006, with a discolored, dark, risen mole under my left forearm. I heard the word cancer when it was removed but didn’t feel like it was me that it was happening to. My world blew up. I was scared and nervous but for some reason very positive. Two weeks later, the results were in: Stage 2A Melanoma skin cancer. Soon after, I was sent to a surgeon to see if the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I didn’t understand that skin cancer could spread, it was eye opening. Lots of doctors appointments later, my surgery was scheduled. After the surgery was completed I came out with good news, my cancer had not spread. I was safe. I was one of the “lucky ones.”

Life went on, I got regular skin checks and kept sunscreen everywhere. This family became a sun safety bunch, it was an easy change really, apply sunblock and reapply again. I got pregnant in 2008, and within two weeks of her birth, a tumor showed up in my left armpit. My oldest was just starting kindergarten at the time. 

From this point on, my life was spinning around me, and I was looking in from a distance. Mayo Clinic is a special place with an outstanding reputation. We were determined for me to find the best oncologist and I’m positive, we did. It was one surgery after another, more and more chemo and radiation treatments. It was scan after scan for years along with radiation treatment running through my veins. It consisted of flying to L.A. and back every three weeks, in hopes oof receiving therapy. It was double-blinded, meaning neither the doctors nor the patient knew if the patient was getting the treatment. Back to back tumors in some months and long recovery times in others. I was sick and hurt all the time. I was lonely and depressed, I didn’t have any outlets to turn to, no social media and no cancer friends to relate with. It was scary, my husband did his best to soothe me and help me but things were crazy. He was on top of things with the family home and daily needs, girls homework and getting our kindergartener to school. He worked a 40+ hour job with a 40min drive to work. He never complained and never skipped a beat. I was taken care of and so were our girls. He sacrificed so much time and promotions at work to be able to take care of his sick wife. He was the best, always!

I fought every day for my family, my daughter, my husband, my siblings, my friends, and myself. I did not accept anything less than 100% from my doctors. I demanded that they listen to me when I felt my chemo wasn’t working. I was always for surgery. I wanted the tumors out so that they wouldn’t grow for a second longer. Things didn’t always go my way. In 2010 my oncologist told me they were trying to turn my weeks into months. My journey was hard, long, and brutal, emotionally, physically and I was terrified for most of my 10-year battle. Lots of sleepless nights! My tears were uncontrollable leaving me breathless. I don’t know everything about surviving Melanoma but I do know where I've been and what it felt like.

In 2020, 13 years from my diagnosis, I was given my 6-year cancer-free diagnosis. I say diagnosis because I feel I have a whole different type of journey now, to heal. To heal emotionally and physically. I’m so proud of how I believed in myself. That I would get healthy and be with my girls. To become stronger! I am not the same, I'm better.

I am an advocate for Melanoma. Sharing my story, being raw and real. Holding nothing back. I want others to know that miracles can happen. That hope goes a long way, with the power to believe in yourself. By being your own advocate during your journey. All of these things are so important during your battle against Cancer!

I am proud to say I am a Melanoma Skin Cancer Survivor!

I’ve been through so much over the years and continue my struggles daily but I’m a survivor! I made my promise to my two girls that I’d always be here for them. I had hope the entire way, kept being me and not letting cancer take over my soul. It had already changed so much of me and I wanted so much more from my life!! I’m proud of the way I handled the difficulties and hurts it brought me. My two daughters had a normal upbringing and don’t even remember mommy being sick. They don’t remember mommy missing any moments of their lives. They know I am a survivor and that I battled for them and my family. Courage is within us all! 

We are all heroes when we are faced with a true villain” ~> Katie Ostrovsky