Monday, March 5, 2012

Black is the New Pink: The First Year

It’s been one year since I published the first blog post from “Black is the New Pink.”  I could never have imagined when I first started what an impact this blog would have on my life …and I hope it’s had a positive impact on others. 
In celebration, I’d like to turn on the “way back” machine and add some additional comments and insights to my top ten read posts (spoken in Casey Kasem’s voice)…
I have tried to write a mix of strictly informative pieces within the opinion pieces.  This one was such a writing, and I consider it one of my favorites for a couple reasons.  First, it brings to light the story behind the EPA’s UV Index and it showcases some cool graphs and a neat gadget.  Most importantly, it inspired me to write my local TV news station and ask why they didn’t post the UV Index in their weather forecast?  Within a few weeks, this very station started to show the UV Index!  I can’t be sure that my email had anything to do with it, but if it did, it goes to show how one voice CAN make a difference.  I encourage you all to share your voice.
There was a study done that states breast cancer and melanoma could have a genetic predisposition for one another.   I wrote this a day or so before October…breast cancer awareness month when the whole world turns pink.  Here’s a lot of pink envy in the melanoma world (and other cancer worlds as well) so I found it interesting that melanoma world might have a stronger connection than we thought to the pinkies.  Melanoma awareness could use a boost…and riding the coattails of the pink wave might help our cause.  Of course this was prior to the recent backlash of the Susan G. Komen scandal.  
Another reason I enjoyed this bog post was that I attached my first (and only) attempt at a video message, which was silent.  Since “the Artist,” also a silent movie, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, I’d like to think I set a new trend.
A tanning company called Tropi Tan posted the benefits of healthy tanning in the Q&A section of their website.  They refuted the “falsehoods” of why tanning is supposedly bad for you.  This pissed off a lot of melanoma warriors and soon, many molemates started to flood Tropi Tan’s Facebook page.  Eventually, the comments were deleted, but witnessing the swarm of individuals that gathered upon this website was amazing to watch.  As I stated above, one voice can make a difference.  This event showed how many voices can have an even greater impact!
The inaugural posting.  I stated “I hope to add to this blog on a regular basis, sharing Melanoma related links, hints and local events in the Raleigh, NC area and perhaps nationwide.  And in May, which is Melanoma Awareness Month, I hope to share a daily factoid to help others become more aware.”  It seems my mission has turned from local to nationwide and global…and my daily factoids have continued way beyond the one month.
This was written around the time that Dr. Oz made his famous “rethinking tanning beds” gaff.  The greatest “benefits” attributed to tanning beds was Vitamin D absorption.  I did a little reading and shared the facts of Vitamin D, along with some personal commentary.  I didn’t expect this post to have a large readership, but it far exceeded my expectations.  I’m so glad that these facts were shared and that they inspired discussion.
My blog site was initially and continues to be written in honor of my brother.  I’ve written personal stories and accounts of my relationship with Jeff and his struggles with life and death with melanoma.  These are obviously my favorite pieces as they are written from deep within my heart.  I try to be careful to keep an optimistic look in these writings as I don’t want to focus so much on his death.  Instead, I try to focus on his thoughts of saving others from this dreaded disease.  In this piece, I share details of the last weekend I spent with Jeff.  During one of our last conversations, we coined the phrase “black is the new pink” and he insisted that people needed to know about melanoma.  I probably should have titled this, “People NEED to know” as that was the inflection used.  I’m so glad this piece has been so well-read, because people are starting to know.
This is another post of which I was surprised at the growing readership.  My work schedule in 2012 has been off the charts and I was having serious blogger’s block.  After reading all the recent tanning news and posts online, I wanted to remind people that it’s not just tanning that leads to melanoma.  I found some good facts on the Melanoma Education Foundation page and was shocked by what I saw…so I contacted MEF directly to receive clarification of these facts: 
·         Having two immediate family members (parent, child or sibling) having had melanoma gives you a 100% chance of getting melanoma yourself! 
·         Having many atypical moles and having one immediate family member having had melanoma also give you a 100% chance. 
I believe these facts shocked others as well.  I hope these shocking facts extend well beyond the melanoma community and enlighten those who need to know.
I wanted to share the story of Eric Sizemore.  I posted this a few weeks before his passing.  I thought the video series that he and his wife Jill put together was the most incredible testimony to melanoma’s evil rage.  As I state in the blog, their videos were real, raw, tender and difficult to watch.  I still find that this posting gets viewed, even today by people searching “Eric Sizemore” on Google.  I’m sure he’d be happy to know that he made a lasting impact on many.  Also, his wife Jill continues to campaign and has been working hard to get anti-tanning legislation passed in Ohio.
One sense of irony is that another blogger commented on this post.  Her name was Randi and I started to follow her own blog soon afterwards.  Sadly, she also passed a couple months ago.
Here’s another blog about a melanoma warrior who has since passed.  Tina Sullivan was one of the first people to comment on my blog and Facebook pages.  She was a very inspiring woman and beautiful in many ways.  She touched an amazing array of people.  Her family also continues her campaign just as Eric’s family has done.
I am proud to have crossed paths with Eric and Tina, and to have had the privilege to share thoughts on their fight.
Far and away, this is the most read blog post I’ve written.  It has been read three times more than any other.  And I have to admit that I put more thought into this one than any other.  For that fact, I’m selfishly proud.  But I’m also proud in that the message has touched so many.
I have found each of the people presented here to be so very inspiring.  Eric and Tina are mentioned of course, as our others I’ve corresponded with such as Christina, Karen, and Chelsea.  I never met or communicated with Amanda before she passed, but I found her story incredibly touching. 
Truth be told, there are (sadly) many MANY more “real people of melanoma.”  I correspond with a few each day and reach out to many more through this blog and my Facebook page.  I have been SO inspired by those I’ve crossed virtual paths with and am very excited at the chance to meet many in November at the AIM for a Cure Walk in Charlotte.
I hope this posting wasn’t too self-absorbed.  I merely wanted to share a bit of the journey with you and THANK YOU for making Black is the New Pink an online success.  I hope there will one day be no need for such blogs…that melanoma will cease to exist.  But until that day comes, I plan to keep this campaign going!


  1. I am so glad I took the time to read this. Job well done and rest assured, not one person will find gloating in these pages. What I feel in your words are love and sincerity. Thank you for the passion and devotion.

  2. I'm so glad I found your blog- its refreshing to know those of us that battle this horrid disease are not alone.

    Happy Anniversary!