Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Don't Be Merely Informed, Become Aware

I think we’ve all encountered this person at one point in our lives.  It’s the person that moves into the neighborhood and talks about how everything is better “back home.”  It’s the new colleague that just graduated and is full of all the theories that’s been learned and how your years-of-experience is all wrong.  It’s the good friend that seems to berate all that you hold dear.  They might have great intentions …but they don’t REALLY get it.
Now you probably think I’m getting ready to rant about those who don’t listen to sun-safe advice…the ones that visit tanning beds despite the increased notices that it’s a dangerous and deadly practice.  Sure, they can fall in this category. But in this case, I’m talking about…well…me.
I started this blog a few months ago as a way to deal with the grief associated my brother’s passing.  I figured if I continued telling others of the dangers of tanning as he had done, it would somehow make it all better.  Honestly, it hasn’t brought him back, but it has made me feel better.  But I didn’t really know what he went through.  I didn’t understand the worry he had when he had melanoma 6 years ago and had it cut out.  (That’s all you have to do…right?).  I didn’t fully understand melanoma it reappeared bad (Stage 4) last autumn.  I had hoped that he’d get better, but I didn’t really understand the cruelty of the disease.  I learned to hate it, but I didn’t REALLY get it.
Still, I decided to start my BITNP campaign.  I wanted to tell people about the dangers of UV rays.  I wanted to warn people so they’d not have to experience it.  So I read articles and browsed the web and found all I could about melanoma and skin cancer.  I didn’t learn it all, but I gained plenty of pertinent facts and figures.  And I started to post them.  I made this blogsite and I made a Facebook page so that I could tell everyone exactly what’s what with melanoma.  But then I encountered something that I didn’t anticipate.  I crossed paths with people…people who did understand…people who got it…people with melanoma.
I guess I naively thought I’d reach out to those that needed to be warned, and didn’t even think I’d be meeting those who actually experienced this damned disease.  In fact, I’ve come to realize that everyone that reads this or my Facebook has probably been touched by melanoma directly.  They appreciate that I’m sharing information, but I appreciate what they have to offer more.
I have followed several blogs of melanoma warriors and survivors closely, some closely and some sporadically.  Each time I read an account of their lives…of their experiences…it taught me so much.  I do know that melanoma can take someone you love away from you as it did my brother.  But I’ve witnessed through others’ words the joys of remission very closely followed by the terror of reoccurrence.  I have read stories of incredible support from friends and family, and I have felt sadness when some relationships faltered due to the stress of the disease.  I have read how people laugh in the face of melanoma and continue to live life to the fullest, and I have read as some…well…can no longer live as they desire.
I still feel the facts and figures are important and I’ll continue to share, but I don’t think people will understand the true seriousness of melanoma until they read the real stories.  Your stories.  So to those that don’t read my blog, please click some of the links to other blogs I offer here, read them and learn.  And to those that do read my thoughts, continue to share yours.  It’s not bitching or whining…it’s not merely venting after difficulty or being boastful after success.  It’s sharing the entire true experience of melanoma.  It’s making people aware, not just informed.  It’s helping and making a bigger difference than you know.  Thank you for sharing.


  1. I think you bring up a point that I sometimes lose in my ranting about the facts and figures around Melanoma. It’s the personal stories of people that others will connect with. Those of us who have this disease or people like you have had to watch a loved one battle this monster understand the numbers all too well. Last night I got caught up on Pale Skin Is In and Tina’s current struggles. Like you I am angered by this disease. I think of her and her family and what this must be like for them. This blog is an amazing tribute to your brother and you are getting the message out which is the most important thing. I was inspired by many blogs, including yours, to start my own. I have really enjoyed it and like you I think I find it a good release even if I am preaching to the choir sometimes. Anyway, I have been meaning to write you for some time and compliment your work in getting the message out.


  2. Thank you for your comemnts Paul, and I made sure to add a link to your blog. Reading blogs or talking to people that have taken the emotional roller coaster ride that is melanoma is the best way to make one more aware. Anyhow, I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and reading yours. Thanks again!