Thursday, November 15, 2012


I believe that every moment has an effect on every other moment of your life.  The fact that I just corrected a typo (one of many no doubt) may not have any significant impact to my future, but I’m convinced that action and all others lead to certain pivotal events.

For instance, I’ve always joked (sorta) that had my dad not taken me and my brother to a WVU football game when I was a kid, my children wouldn’t be eating their breakfast right now.  How so?  My family had a few hours to kill before the game, so we walked around town.  This is back when the football stadium was tucked between two hills in the downtown campus area and the term “tailgating” was still years away.  My brother and I were both in awe of the campus and student center.  The electricity of the game itself had a magic all its own.  I decided right then that I would attend college at WVU.  Fast forward to many years later when the job I got out of college lead me to Raleigh, North Carolina.   A small group of local WVU Alumni decided to form a local chapter and we gathered at Chi Chi’s to watch a Mountaineer football game on TV.  While there, I met a girl who eventually became my wife, which of course led to the two kids chowing down on waffles right now.  All because my dad wanted to go see a game.

Some moments aren’t so pleasant, but they still have a profound effect.

Two years ago today, my dad called me as I was driving home from work.  I knew what the call was about before he even spoke.  My brother Jeff had passed away an hour earlier after a horrid battle against melanoma.  My mind was reeling and I never had one thought of how that moment would shape my life.  But it did.  It led me to ask questions.  What was melanoma?  How can someone get a clean bill of health in early August (except for a complaint of blurred vision and memory lapses) and be dead in just three months?  Was it possible that I could get melanoma?  If so, was there a way to prevent it?

I spent many evenings in my crowded little computer room reading all sorts of websites.  I browsed through a large variety of information, but stuck mostly with the traditional and respected resources such as the Skin Cancer Foundation, AIM at Melanoma, and the Melanoma Research Foundation.  I was receiving technical answers, but I was still missing something….something inside.  I started to read the site forums, and contacted one or two folks that had suffered from the disease, and they in turn invited me to read their blogs.  (Thank you Andrea Heitker, aka, Melanoma Girl).  I was once told that in order to find something inside, you had to free it, so I started to write.

I not only wrote about my thoughts and feelings about melanoma, I shared the new knowledge that I discovered.  When new medicines were approved by the FDA, I shared the news on Facebook and within my blog.  When I felt a tug of sadness while missing my brother, I shared it.  And with absolutely no intention of establishing an audience, people started to listen.  As they listened, they shared…and I started to listen.  Before I knew it, I was a part of a community with one common bond.  We had all somehow been touched my melanoma.

I sit here now, two years after my brother’s death, still seeking and sharing information from this cluttered room.  I still feel those tugs of sadness, especially on this day.  I also marvel at the path that was forged from the unfortunate event of Jeff’s death.  Don’t get me wrong, I would trade every good moment over the past two years to have my brother alive today.   But the moment did happen, and here I am today.

Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling to meet some of the folks within the melanoma community.  We’ll all be participating together on Saturday in a walk to raise money for melanoma research and awareness.  Fighting the disease is the goal…walking with these incredible people will be a great side benefit.  As one (yet to be met) friend stated, “You’ll see a little bit of everything…running, walking, sitting, hugging, and crying!”  I would be willing to bet plenty of smiles, too.

Every moment leads to another moment.  Every action has a reaction.  Every decision defines your future.  One tragic moment that occurred two years ago today has led me with great anticipation to a joyous event in two days.   Who knows how many incredible moments will be forged for the future this weekend?

I miss you Jeff.  And thank you.


  1. Sending love your way. This is a beautiful post about something I know is difficult to write. Have a wonderful time this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing pictures! Thank you for everything you do to spread awareness and keep me inspired :)

  2. By far your most beautiful post.

    See you soon!

  3. Here is some comfort for your heart. If God would have given you an option to have a different brother. A melanoma free brother, would you have traded Jeff? I think I already know your answer. <3 Judy O'Connor King