Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Smallest Detail

Despite knowing me my entire life, my uncles and cousins still address my Christmas card to “Allen” or “Allan.”  Um…it’s Alan.  That’s one reason I sometimes go by Al…it’s hard to misspell a two-letter name.

When I go to a restaurant and put my name on the waiting list, the hostess rarely pronounces my last name correctly when I’m called.  I still answer the call to the table of four even when misstated.  After all, I know they mean me, but they just got the name a little wrong.  I’m a patient man, but after awhile, especially after a long hard day, I want to say, “No…that family is not here…did you in fact mean THIS family?”


People have the best of intentions and mean no ill will when they get a slight detail wrong.  Still, imagine if you won an Academy Award and they got your name wrong!  I’m sure you’d be a bit peeved.  The smallest detail can mean so much.

The American Academy of Dermatology wants to paint the nation orange on Monday, May 6 in order to raise skin cancer awareness.  That particular Monday is known as Melanoma Monday.  One has to appreciate the AAD’s efforts to raise awareness.  This organization has supported many state legislative acts to ban tanning, and has always taken a front line in fighting skin cancer.  However, they made a slight mistake when picking the color.  The color associated with skin cancer may be orange, but the color for melanoma is black.  Asking the public to wear orange on Melanoma Monday is like having your name mispronounced at Applebee’s.

One reader of their Facebook page stated, “Who really cares what color ribbon is worn as long as it gets people's interest?”  She has a point…the focus of this day should be increasing awareness.  But I have to wonder if this particular person has been touched by melanoma?  When you’re touched, you embrace the black color.  Sure, others use the color for mourning and other causes, and maybe black is not as bright and cheery as orange.  But the literal meaning of the word “melanoma” is “black tumor.”  It’s a dark, nasty disease with no real cheerfulness about it.  Black is the most representative color this disease could have.

The entire month of May is designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month…and melanoma is considered by most as a type of skin cancer.  Other forms of skin cancer can be deforming and even deadly (one person dies of squamous cell carcinoma for every three people that die from melanoma).  But with an entire 31-day month to share the news about sun safety and skin exams, why couldn’t the AAD have picked one other day to don the orange?  What about “Don’t Fry Friday” which is the Friday before Memorial Day?  Surely wearing orange leading into the unofficial start of summer would better match the cheerfulness of the coming season.  Any day but Melanoma Monday.

I’m not asking for people to ignore the Spot Orange campaign.  If you have more orange than black in your wardrobe, by all means sport the orange and make sure to tell people why you’re wearing it!  As for me, I don’t have a stitch of orange in my closet.  I “joined” the Spot Orange event in spirit as I plan to make others aware of Melanoma Monday.  However I have plenty of black and melanoma-related attire, and I plan to wear it on May 6…Melanoma Monday.  As a result, I’ve also joined the MelanomaBlack Monday event.

Raise awareness all month long.  But don’t forget the darkness of melanoma.  It’s an important detail.


  1. well said, Al :)I will be donning my black on Melanoma Monday

  2. Stage 3 here and I couldn't care less what color is used. I just appreciate the awareness.