Monday, November 11, 2013

Amanda's Story...Michael's Mission

It’s a story repeated all too often in “Melanoma Nation.”  A beautiful young woman finds that an innocent looking mole is actually melanoma.  She discovers that the melanoma is far more serious than “just skin cancer” and enters a fight for her life.  A few such women have been fortunate enough to fight their way to N-E-D status (no evidence of disease) while far too many passed away.  Such is Amanda’s story.

Amanda Faye Brown had a pencil eraser sized mole on her shoulder.  Her husband Michael thought of it as a beauty mark.  But eventually, Amanda saw a dermatologist and it was determined to be Stage I melanoma.  It was surgically removed with the assurance that it was all gone.

It wasn’t.

In November of 2004, a small nodule was spotted on the inside of her thigh as well as a couple on her abdomen.  The melanoma had been spreading within her body for the previous two years. She was diagnosed as Stage IV.  A dozen or so tumors were discovered on her lungs and she was given a few months to live.  She fought on for longer, but died on April 15, 2006 at the age of 31.

Amanda kept a journal of her fight so as to enlighten others of the horror of this extremely dangerous cancer.  Michael had vowed to educate others so as to prevent this same tragedy in other families.  He began speaking at local middle schools and high schools and sharing Amanda’s story.  A few months ago, he published a book called Finding N-E-D, No Evidence of Disease.  The book is a compilation of Amanda’s journal entries intermixed with Michael’s own thoughts and memories.

Tomorrow, on November 12, 2013, Michael embarks on a multi-city tour to speak with over 2,500 students nationwide. He calls the tour “Amanda’s Message Tour.”  He begins in Erie, PA at MacDowell High School.  Today (November 11, 2013), he visited the regional cancer center in Erie where he entertained and shared some fun moments.

You see, Michael is the saxophonist for the legendary rock group Sha Na Na.  He told me of today’s visit to the cancer center, “I played my sax and sang a few Sha Na Na songs.  We played ‘Name That Tune!’  It was a fun moment with awesome patients!”

Michael is doing a great thing…sharing Amanda’s story, helping to cheer up those who are fighting for their lives, and educating kids on sun safety and skin cancer.  But Michael needs some help.  He has a lot of heart to tackle this tour, but unfortunately he has limited funding.  He could use our help.

I know this is a big time of year for charities and holiday gifts, so it’s not always easy to give.  I know the Charlotte AIM for the Cure Walk is upon us on November 16, and so many of you are spending cash to participate or donate.  Still, I ask that you spread the word and continue making a contribution to Michael’s mission.  He had set a goal of $6000 to help pay for the expenses of the tour (he’s driving his own car and looking for modest priced motel rooms along the way).  So far he’s raised $530…not even 10% of his goal, and his tour starts tomorrow!

If you can help, thank you.  If you can’t with a donation, then please spread the word of Michael Brown’s mission and encourage others to make a contribution.  And if you live in any of the following cities, spread the word to local media and consider attending yourself.  Here are the tour dates:

Nov 12                  Erie, PA
Nov 13                  Mansfield, OH
Nov 14                  Cincinnati, OH
Nov 15                  Owensboro, KY
Nov 18                  St. Louis, MO
Nov 19                  Springfield, MO
Nov 20                  Mustang, OK
Nov 21                  Amarillo, TX
Nov 22                  Albuquerque, NM
Nov 25                  Winslow, AZ
Nov 26                  Kingman, AZ
Nov 27                  Las Vegas, NV

For more information on Amanda’s story and Michael’s mission, please check out some of these links:

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