Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bob Marley, Let's Work Together, Make Some Changes, And Stop Calling Melanoma "Skin" Cancer!

I admit it. I've become fascinated with Bob Marley recently. His life, his lyrics, and his death. Death from melanoma, or as some call it, "skin cancer." Need I say,"UGH!"? I'd rather say, "Houston, we have a problem and I think the problem is us."

Marley sang a song Wake Up and Live. Part of it goes like this:
Wake Up and Live Ya Wake Up and Live
Wake Up and Live Now
Wake Up and Live

Life is one big road with lots of signs
So when you riding thru the ruts
Don't complicate your mind 


Hold that thought. As I've read accounts of his death, I've noticed different words and terms used: that he died from melanoma, malignant melanoma, brain cancer, cancer, skin cancer. I've read that once diagnosed with melanoma he kept it secret until he was obviously ill...roughly three to four years after his diagnosis. I've read what appears to be disbelief that he died from "skin cancer."

Houston, I think that's a large part of our awareness problem. Why people don't get that melanoma is a deadly, big deal until they get it. Why people think melanoma is "just skin cancer." Why people think it can be cut off and all is well.

I think we've complicated peoples' minds and thrown up the wrong signs and they're riding through the ruts looking at what we're giving them and it doesn't make sense. We're losing them and  they're lost because of us and how we word this. The more we learn about melanoma, the more we learn it's not just skin cancer, we learn it doesn't always begin in the "skin," and we learn that it truly is a real beast all its own and unique in the cancer world.

Could we call it "melanoma?" Or even "melanoma cancer?" Can we drop the word "skin?" I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to understand how people think what they think. Why stop tanning, either in the sun or in tanning beds, when the worse they think that can happen is "skin" cancer? They've got plenty of skin, it's on the surface, you cut the offending piece off, it heals or get plastic surgery, life goes on and so does tanning. People understand "brain" cancer. They get the seriousness of pancreatic cancer. By comparison, "skin" cancer almost sounds like a sick joke. Until the "joke" is on them.

Don't bury your thoughts
Put your vision to reality, Yeah! (
a couple more lines in Wake Up and Live)


Can we get real about melanoma and help others get real? It will take change and that's OK. We can do it. We can drop the word "skin" when describing melanoma and insist others drop it too. I think it will be a great beginning in changing peoples' attitudes towards this disease. AIM at Melanoma will you help? How about it Melanoma Research Foundation? The Skin Cancer Foundation? Others? Us?

I live in the world of the church as well as in the world of melanoma, and then there's that political world, too. In the church, all denominations, are being told and have been told for a while now, that we must change. "Church" as we know it isn't working for younger people; we must make changes or we die. We see the same need for changes in the political spectrum. The church and countries simply cannot continue to keep the all the same practices and hold to all the same old ways or death is inevitable. Those changes aren't easy; it's often "them" that needs to change and not "me;" proposed changes take time to explore, adopt, become a way of life...if they ever do make it to that stage of being that new way of life. Once rigor mortis sets in, it's too late.

Maybe one simple step to help people understand melanoma isn't just skin cancer is to stop calling it skin cancer. Call it what it is and it is melanoma. Period. When people say anything about it being "skin cancer," we should correct them and say, "No. Melanoma. Let me tell you about melanoma."

I don't know but this makes sense to me. If we can change the perception and image of melanoma, if we can, indeed, put our vision to reality then maybe people will listen and our message will make more sense. Melanoma is not just skin cancer. It doesn't just originate in the skin. It can't be cut out of the skin and then life rolls merrily along. That's not reality at all. So why lump it in the "skin" cancer category?

Cousin Bob, I'm with you. I want us to wake up and I want people to live.

You sing it and I'll be grateful!
(Here's a link to my first post that draws on Bob Marley)