Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time Flies! Two Years of BITNP

In a few hours from now, time will leap ahead one hour.  I think it’s a most appropriate day for me to be amazed at how time flies.  A little more than two years ago, I first put my fingers to keyboard and shared my thoughts in this little blog called “Black is the New Pink.”  I can hardly believe that it has been two years!  In fact, the anniversary passed me by 4 days ago without me even realizing.

While the first year was fantastic, I have to say that year two was even more incredible.  Prior to my first anniversary, I had met the Rev. Carol who is an incredible presence in the online melanoma community.  I’ve been fortunate enough to cross her path a couple of more times since then, but also extremely blessed to have met so many others.  Anne, Timna, Chelsea, Rich, Tara, Donna, Mark…the list goes on!  The first two, Carol and I met while lobbyingfor the anti-tanning bill at the NC Legislative building last year (and Anne continues to be a major force in this year’s campaign!)  The others I met at the amazing AIM for aCure Walk in Charlotte in November.  There are so many others I’ve virtually met online and via Twitter…far too many to mention.  I have highlighted some of these folks in individual blog posts (such as Hillary and Lily) while I’m sure I’ll introduce the world to others soon.  I hope to meet many more in the coming year and beyond!

To “celebrate” my second year of blogging, I’d like to do the same thing I did last year by reviewing my Top 10 most read blog posts from Year Two.  But before I get to the countdown, I’m amazing by the staying power of some of my older posts.  Real People of Melanoma continues to be read almost daily and is still, by far my most read blog.  People still seek out Eric Sizemore and TinaSullivan.  And of course, people still search for my T-shirt.  (By the way, I’m trying to find a cheaper distributor/manufacturer…I’ll share more on that in a few weeks…I hope).

So here’s the Top 10 of Year 2:

I wrote this the day before I joined Carol, Anne and Timna at the North Carolina Legislative Building to lobby the anti-tanning bill (the fight is still going on!).  I had thought that if a representative wanted to know the facts about indoor tanning versus the myths, I could simply say, “Read my blog.”  I’m not sure if anyone did, but I still think it’s a good piece on tanning facts and myths.

I had fun showing a more humorous side…although there’s really not much funny about cleaning up cat poop and pee from previously nice furniture!  (By the way, I have two almost-new bean bags available to give away…please ignore the smell of cat piss.)  Yet the real thrill of writing this piece was sharing some good news of a definitive medical link between UV rays and melanoma.  Previous links were primarily statistical and not as strong…a fact the tanning industry used to jump all over.  But as of this writing, that all changed.  It seems the tanning industry has started to crumble ever since.

I had the great pleasure of meeting with some folks who organized an MRF Walk right here in Apex, North Carolina in honor of their two daughters, Amanda and Corey.  My personal schedule has prevented me from helping out much this year, but I hope to start pitching in soon for the 2013 walk to be held in October again.  I’m pleased that this piece continues to draw in readers, but I have also learned that there’s a Playboy model by the name of Amanda Corey.  Even if that’s the reason Google leads people to this site, it’s a convenient way to spread the word about melanoma awareness!

When I read that the director of the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” had died after a bout of melanoma, I felt it appropriate to honor the Oompa Loompas which have become an iconic caricature of extreme tanners.  I also paid tribute to Rich McDonald who runs the Hotel Melanoma and has an amazing gift of converting classic rock lyrics to melanoma based lyrics.  It took me forever to write one modified verse of the Oompa Loompa song…I don’t see how Rich can knock out so many songs so quickly.  Well done!

I wrote this piece in response to a Today Show segment in May which features Joseph Levy, sun tanning industry spokesperson and guru.  (Yes, the same Joe Levy who nearly killed the bill currently in the NC General Assembly.)  Mr. Levy made a comment that sun is essential, like water…a necessity of life.  I decided to share that water can be dangerous and that sunscreen was analogous to wearing a life jacket.  I doubt Mr. Levy would have listened, but I hope others did.

This was my first “Facebook first, Blog second” posting.  Meaning, I posted a question on Facebook, asking where on one’s body melanoma appeared.  I received a tremendous response and decided to share the results in my blog.  My results came very close to actual diagnosed locations as shared from the Melanoma Education Foundation.  The point of this piece was to make sure you get checked…from head to toe!

This was a “letter” I wrote to the breast cancer community after seeing pink ribbons on tanning products or in tanning salon promotions and after tanning sessions were offered as a door prize at a breast cancer awareness event.  My point was that we all fight against cancer and that I was merely asking them to help fight our cancer by preventing such promotions in the future.  I hope that the high readership of this blog helped to accomplish this.

#3 – Black Salve

This one continues to amaze and confuse me.  I ran across a video where the smarmy girl announced a “natural cure for skin cancer and melanoma.”  This cure is Black Salve…a corrosive compound that eats away the flesh.  There are multiple accounts of the dangers of this product (it’s banned in the US and its primary manufacturer operates out of Ecuador) so I wanted to bring this to light.  Amazingly, most people who’ve read this posting seem to support the use of black salve.  I posted a question on Facebook and several of my readers stated that they’d be tempted to try it.  I’m not a doctor, but based on my reading, I wouldn’t advise using it.  Then again, I don’t have melanoma so I’m not capable of understanding the limits one would go to eradicate the disease from their body.

It’s interesting to see what key words or phrases in Google led people to my blog. “Does melanoma hurt” has been such a phrase that has popped up many times.  I attempted to answer as best I could and many of you shared your insight.  That question still comes up weekly as one of the key words in Google.

Hillary Quinn Kind was the melanoma warrior that was featured in the Stand Up 2 Cancer special on television.  In an instant, she became the face of melanoma.  The entire melanoma community went crazy for her and her story touched so many others.  Melanoma had taken its step to the forefront of the cancer stage beside others and its face couldn’t have been more beautiful.  But in October, Hillary passed away.  I’d never met her or corresponded with her, but I was deeply affected by her death.  Apparently, so were many others as this is the second most popular post I've written overall! The haunting song of “Simple Gifts” that was played during her video on SU2C also has a very personal meaning to me regarding my brother Jeff.

And that’s the reason for this blog…Jeff.  While I wish every day that Jeff was still with us, in some ways his bout with melanoma became a blessing for me.  He inspired me to carry on the message of sun safety.  He inspired me to talk with people I may never have met.  He has given me purpose beyond what I felt I needed.  As I stated last year, I will continue to write this blog and spread awareness of this awful disease. I will write my legislators to ban tanning for minors…not only in Jeff’s memory but to protect my own children.  I will share his story and I will share the story of many other warriors.  I will feel great joy when I hear of a warrior’s…a friend’s…success in fighting melanoma.  I will feel great sadness at word of one’s struggle or passing.  And I will cry every damned time I hear “Simple Gifts”…even when played by the WVU Marching Band.

Thank you for continuing to read my blog and follow me on Facebook.  I hope the day comes when we’ll never have to mention melanoma again.  Until that day, let’s keep fighting…together!

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