Thursday, May 31, 2012

The End Of Melanoma Awareness Month Is Only The Beginning!

And so it is that today brings Melanoma Awareness Month 2012 to a close and what a month this has been! Billboards! TV interviews! Blog and magazine interviews! Testifying before various committees to push for tanning bed bans worldwide! New websites! A very real push from the melanoma community to be seen and not heard only. We're putting real faces on a real disease! Ideas are circulating and plans are being made and implemented to keep the momentum going and growing. This is an exciting time to have melanoma or be touched by it in some awful way.

Wait. Did I say that? Well, as odd as it may sound, yes, I did. See, we've got it. No matter how it happened, we've got it and we're going to give it our all to make sure this disease gets stopped in its tracks. We've got it and, for now, we know our numbers are going to grow and more people will die from it...but...we're working towards the day when that's no longer the case. We're doing everything we can to rally the troops and make sure our story doesn't replicate itself in other families in the future.

God is at work and making us part of bringing this disease down! He's using and redeeming this truly God-awful killer in our lives and, with that, God is using us to build a strong, thriving grassroots community that's bonding and working to bring down the Tanning Industry. We're also bonding and working to talk about the genetics of melanoma, how this disease operates, and we're getting quality information out there. We're building support mechanisms and communities, all of which are vital to bringing this disease down. And we're bonding and working together to spread safe sun practices. The sun, per se, isn't an enemy like the Tanning Industry is. The sun is part of God's creation and absolutely necessary for life on this planet. But we've got to be smarter when we're out in it and exposing our children to it. The sun is what it is and it's not going to change. We're the ones who must change.

Now, the Tanning Industry is another matter entirely! That's an entity made up of people who can, will, and do get melanoma and/or basal cell skin cancer and/or squamous cell skin cancer. The problem is they sell the means and the lies by which a growing number of people, often young people of ALL races and both genders, get these diseases. But I've blogged plenty about the Tanning Industry. We just need to remember it's made up of real life, breathing people who just don't seem to understand who they're up against.

Melanoma is one helluva motivator let me tell you! But it's not all-powerful like God is. There's a strong core of us, and we're growing, who are people of faith who live with melanoma in some way. Many of us have it. We may be NED, like me, or we may be battling active disease. We may be the parents of a child with the disease or the parents of a child who died from melanoma. We are the spouses and the siblings and the children and the close friends of those who fight and of those who have died. We are bound together by melanoma and by faith and a determination to place our journeys in God's Hands praying that He take how this disease has manifested itself in our lives, break the control it has over us, bless our fight, and use us to bring it down.

And we see signs all around us that God is doing exactly that and we're excited to witness good things happening! When a person lives with a disease like melanoma, we need to see good things happening and we need to be a part of those good things. We bear strong witness to the tolls this monster takes. We need to see beauty rise from the ashes and witness that melanoma will not have the last word. The last word always belongs to God and that last Word is always one of truth, love, hope, and victory.

Lies abound in the world of melanoma and I've blogged about those, too. So does hope! Death abounds in the world of melanoma. So do miracles and so does life! People who peddle instruments of melanoma (tanning beds) abound. So do people who who push for truth, research, and legislation against those awful coffins.

As I think about the strides we've made and how God is moving and raising us up and blessing the battle and using us, I am so often reminded of David and Goliath. I am so often reminded of how God has always, ALWAYS, stood with the least, the last, and the lost. God has always stood on the side of truth and life and God doesn't back down from earthly "kings" and "authorities" and "feel-good gurus of all kinds" and "peddlers of instruments of death and destruction." God doesn't care about, nor honor, their pedigrees or names. He's not looking at the number of "likes" on their Facebook pages. And God cowers before no human being no matter what their TV rating.

But God does care about them as people. As God is surely bringing down melanoma and is surely bringing down the Tanning Industry, God's going to make sure the people get the message. And as some of them will get melanoma...the odds being what they are, God already has a community in place to embrace them. We understand they bought the lie. They bought the lie before they could sell the lie. Many of us bought that lie as well and understand how beguiling the lie is. As they join our community there's a place for them at the table to work with us to spread the truth they will have learned the hard way: Tanning beds kill.

Not practicing safe sun, kills. Not understanding what little is known about the genetics of melanoma, kills. Not understanding that melanoma is an equal opportunity cancer that doesn't discriminate, kills.

We've got our work cut out for us and we're up to the challenge. We see opportunity and we hear it knocking. God seems to have decided we're up to this and because we know He is even when we have weak, discouraging moments, we are accepting this task with an "in it to win it attitude."

Failure simply is not an option. And since God has sounded forth this battle call, "failure" isn't in the cards.

As we say "good-bye" to Melanoma Awareness Month 2012, we say "hello" to Melanoma Awareness Day, all day every day.

Hello MAD. Yep, that's us. MAD. Melanoma, you and your minions are coming down.

We've been called into battle and our "General" is undefeated. Melanoma, you're coming down. It won't be today or tomorrow, but it will happen.

And I am so dang grateful! Thanks be to God Who gives the victory.