Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lies, Lies, and More Damn Lies

We all tend to believe what we want to believe, especially if it's something directly applicable to our lifestyles and especially if some self-appointed guru says it's just the thing to do. Me included. Whenever I see something in the news touting the health benefits of strong, black coffee I say, "Oh yeah!" and go perk a pot. When I see something that says it's cancer-causing, I say, "You don't know what you're talking about." The fact that I already have cancer, melanoma to be exact, doesn't enter into my one-sided discussion. Coffee didn't cause my melanoma. Authorities back me up. Quacks don't. I'm just waiting for someone to study the obvious health benefits of cheesecake so I can point to it and say, "See, I told you so! I was right all along!"

I think we're all like that about something, to some extent. If it's something minor we can laugh it off. When it's something major and people are dying and will die because they choose to believe lies because the liars boost what they want to do, and because the liars are well-known gurus, well, it's time for this pot to call that kettle "black." Black C to be exact. Melanoma.

I'm a reformed "pot." I tanned courtesy of good ol' Sol in my teen years. I'm 52 as I write. Do the math. We're not talking yesterday. More precisely, I basted until I turned a nice bright red. Johnson's Baby Oil was perfect for the job. On occasion, I feel asleep in the warm sun and burned to a nice crisp. It didn't happen often, but when I was diagnosed with melanoma, at 48, I was told "once is enough."

Lie number one: "I played outside all the time growing up and got lots of tans and burns and I'm X-years old now and no sign of any skin cancer, much less melanoma, so I don't have a thing to worry about. If I was going to get it I'd get it by now. Besides, I don't have a family history and I don't have any weird places on my skin. Leave me alone already!"

Hello Kettle. You bought a lie. Stay vigilant. Melanoma doesn't care how old or young you are when it attacks. The damage you did is there and is permanently recorded in your skin and body. I know of an 83 year old man who recently died of melanoma. I know of a 90 year old woman who was recently diagnosed. Nobody expects to live an otherwise relatively healthy life and think they'll die from old age only to have melanoma rear up and bite them in their golden years. Kettle, protect your children. Don't let them sun and burn. Learn safe sunning practices and teach them well. I know of a three year old with melanoma and two other children under ten with it. Pediatric melanoma is rare, but when it's YOUR child, statistics don't matter. For the record, sunning isn't associated with pediatric melanoma and neither is family history. It's origins are truly unknown at this point. But it happens. Keep a check on your children's skin and moles and have anything checked out, removed, and pathed if you are concerned. Just like it shouldn't happen to our elderly, it shouldn't happen to our children and teens. But it does.

Lie number two: "I just love my tanned self and how great I look tanned so I tan all the time! When the sun's not shining you can find me at the local tanning salon. I love tanning beds so much I might just buy my own! They're good for you! The health benefits are enormous and I'm helping my body make so much vitamin D that I just can't stand myself! Dang but I'm awesome, my tan is amazing and life is so good because of my tan and tanning beds! Hallelujah thine the glory, revive us again!"

Hello Kettle. You bought, and are still buying, a lie. Since you apparently like the "finer things" in life, you'll be happy to learn that melanoma is expensive! You're buying a costly cancer. Better stop your ways or it will cost you your life. It still might. Even if you stopped the tanning bed habit today, you've already damaged your skin and body beyond repair. And I really hate to tell you this, but you don't look as fabulous as you think. You look fake. Those of us in melaland can spot your tanning ways a mile away. And if your skin doesn't already look like a piece of leather, it will. Give it a little time. I will say that I'm praying that leather-look is the worst price you pay. You really don't want to go whole-hog and experience the costlier side-effect of tanning, namely melanoma. Leather isn't cheap. I hope that's the most you pay.  But, let's face it, it probably won't be because you bought...

Lie number three: "I'm a tanning salon owner and I'm here to tell you that these babies are safe and magnificent! Yeah, yeah, I know the anti-tanning hype. Blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. They can't prove a thing. They know tanning is really good for you; they're just mad they've got melanoma and they've got to blame somebody and we're convenient. Trust me, I wouldn't lie to you! Not only can I sell you a great tanning-package, but thanks to me, you'll tan safely and look great and your body will be healthier and this tanning bed experience will keep your body manufacturing plenty of vitamin D, and you know how much you need vitamin D, don't you? Trust me."

Hello Kettle. You bought a lie because they bought a lie. Like I said, we all tend to believe what we want to believe. You want to believe tanning is good for you and the tanning bed owners and sellers want you to believe it, too. The World Health Organization wants you to believe the truth. This will get you started with plenty of links to follow. The FDA has, also, stepped up to the plate and issued information in support of the WHO statements. Again, there are plenty of links available. But just like there are plenty of links to truthful information...well, there are still plenty of tanning beds available. They aren't illegal. Just recognized carcinogens. But let's downplay that little fact because there are tanning gurus who do. And I'm not talking about tanning salon owners. Nah! They're small potatoes now that Big Guru To Way Too Many, Dr. Oz, has stepped up and offered ...

Lie number four. Dr. Oz actually stated on his show, with guest Dr. Joseph Mercola, he is "rethinking tanning beds."   You can find videos of this televised conversation on youtube.  He states it. Dr. Oz is rethinking tanning beds for "health benefits". Later, when the American Academy of Dermatology and AIM at Melanoma called him out and demanded a retraction, he did address the issue and concern on his blog. It is not a retraction at all but a lame attempt at appeasing people who dare to call him out and say he's wrong.  He has yet to retract his statement in his blog. He has yet to retract himself on his TV show. He probably won't because his guest, Dr. Mercola, sells tanning beds on his website. Tanning salon owners and private owners of tanning beds are having a field day thanks to Dr. Oz's statement! A simple search and you'll see the results yourself. People who hang on Dr. Oz's every word and trust him have been handed ammunition to tune deaf ears to the melanoma community and ignore our pleas and stories not to use tanning beds.

Hello Kettle. Newsflash. Ammunition is deadly in the wrong hands. Ammunition's primary purpose is to kill. Ammunition doesn't look at its victim and can't because it's neutral. It's a tool. It can stay in that gun and be a threat or someone can pull the trigger and that ammunition turns the idle gun into a smoking gun and trouble ensues. "Someone" causes harm, injury, or death.  Unfortunately, this time the "someone" is a doctor that has quite a following and because he said what he said and they heard what they heard they're going to believe the lie, his damn lie, and keep tanning and our melanoma community will keep growing.

We all want to believe what we want to believe. Garden peas! God's trying to get through to people about these dangers, but who wants to believe Him? Who wants to believe us? They say "a picture is worth a thousand words," and I can show you pictures and videos of real melanoma on real people but folks still aren't going to necessarily believe. It's a shame. A crying shame. But God's at work. Just this morning, I logged on knowing I was going to write this, and guess what? Melissa had "lies" on her mind! As I've been writing this, Rich had Groundhog Day and how nobody understands us until they are us on his mind!

You know, at the end of Gone With the Wind, Scarlett tearfully implores, "Rhett, if you leave, where shall I go? What shall I do?"

Rhett looks at her and responds, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

That was in the movies. This is real life. We're surrounded by lies, lies, and more damn lies about a lot of things, melanoma being one of them. We're also surrounded by people who know the truth, live the truth, and do their best to share the truth. "Where shall you go?" We'll tell you. "What shall you do?" We'll tell you that too, but you need to hear us, listen, and do like we say.

Because we do give a damn.

And I am damn grateful.