People love this pic! It has created our company image. (Cute, right?!?) When this was taken about 5 years ago, you can see a small red spot on my right forearm. See it? That little spot turned our lives inside out, one year ago, December 2018.
Hi reader :). The idea for this pic was created by me! It’s a fun take on the Green Acres TV show. (HI!!!!! I am Sabrina, the wife of Garden Guy) We shot this picture with a friend’s help about 5 years ago outside in Missouri City and it came out better than we all expected. The response when we began using it for advertising was immediately positive. People just loved (love) it. Curiously too, Todd gets noticed so many times when we go grocery shopping or running errands. Folks always come up to him and say, “Hey, aren’t you the guy in the picture? I recognize you because of your beard!” We laugh and of course, enjoy that folks know us, recognize us and that our marketing idea sticks. And so was born the image we have curated and promoted that has become the face of our little mom-n-pop business, Garden Guy.
Take a close look at my arm in this picture and you’ll see a small red spot.
Fast forward to November 2018 and my dermatologists recommendation to re-excise a spot that had previously come back clean. I honestly resisted, not wanting another excision and not wanting to wait for it to heal. I took up boxing 4 years ago and loved it so much. I knew this would hold me back and keep me from training. Seems silly now to think of that, but it’s true. I am an all or nothing girl and love a challenge. Also, exercise had become a break for me from cleaning, cooking and taking care of our home.
I did, of course, agree to the biopsy and then we all waited for the results. Three long weeks later, I got the call that would change it all. The suspicious red spot was cancer. I had stage IIB melanoma on my right forearm. Hello to the cancer gut punch no one is ever ready for. Along with this, my lymph nodes were inflamed and felt like small knots. This was serious and we were stunned. I told Todd when he came home from work that day outside on the front porch. We hugged and stood there stunned. We talked about how to tell the children and the family.
From here I was on the fast-track to consultations and a surgery date. My oncologist ( never thought I’d have one!) had an opening New Year’s Eve. Did I want this opening? Sure. Put me down, sigh….
People said many things to me when I told them I had melanoma. Most of it was out of ignorance and much of it I took too hard and too personally. I was obviously in a very frightening place! I had never had any kind of cancer before. I would soon learn that melanoma was not one of the cancers for which you could get a solid listening ear or much sympathy.
Was melanoma not a ‘scary enough’ cancer? Nope. Not according to many people that we mentioned this to during our journey. To me this was “real cancer”. Why did I write “real cancer??”. I wrote that because so many people brushed off what was happening to me. One day at Kroger, while I still had 17 sutures in my forearm and was still waiting on the lymph node biopsy results, we got the brush off from an old friend when she quipped, “OH, you’ll be fine. It’s just skin cancer!” Gulp, smile, walk on….. The church where we had attended sent no one on my surgery date and did not check on me until seven months later and then there were the people who claimed there was a cream that would cure it. Excellent news!! Send me this cream!! I’d bathe in it if it were true!
I have learned from this not to expect strangers and even some family members to truly understand what you are going through. I also learned people, even kind people, can say crazy, hurtful things to you. I’m okay with it all now. I know who has compassion for me and who doesn’t. I know that difficulties bring new insight. I know who loves me. The people who love me deeply were there on my surgery day and came to the house to love on me. Just so you know, skin cancer in this form is deadly and disfiguring. It’s not “just skin cancer” and just because you didn’t have chemo, doesn’t mean that you were not devastated by the diagnosis, surgery and follow-ups.
My story ends well and on this first anniversary of my diagnosis and surgery we celebrate! We caught this cancer in time. It did not spread. I did not need immunotherapy, which is offered to melanoma patients. I am thankful for the faithfulness of my family, team of doctors and God who quietly came up underneath us, quieting us all, caring for every need emotionally and financially.
Here are some pictures, I’d like to share with you of my journey.
My surgery removed all of the cancer and Thank GOD, all 7 lymph nodes came back clear too.
So here we are today, New Year’s Eve 2019. I have check-ups every 3 months now and for the rest of my life.
I was petrified when I first learned of my on-going risk, but I have settled into it. As any person who has had cancer will tell you, you must continue to live. Time does not really heal all wounds, but time creates a buffer, helping you see things more clearly.
And then there’s this guy, the Garden Guy, as some of you know him. He’s really good at making your yard gorgeous and thank God we can make a living with his skills. But before any landscaping comes me and our 5 children. Todd walks the walk. He loves us and this cancer scare cemented that truth.
So!!! That’s a peek inside the life behind the photo. I hope you enjoyed reading my story. I’d like to hear about YOUR cancer story below. And if you haven’t done so, please have your skin checked at least once per year by a dermatologist.
If you’d like some more peeks into our real life, sign up below for updates from me, Garden Gal: Sabrina
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And a little melanoma info for you and someone you love!!!
Learn more here: https://melanoma.org/
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Melanoma claims the lives of more than 7,000 Americans every year.