Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Is "Truth" In Melanoma World?

Remember Jack Nicholson's (Jessup's) testimony on the witness stand in A Few Good Men? Here's the dialogue with thanks to wikiquote:
Kaffee: Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?!
Judge: You don't have to answer that question!
Jessup: I'll answer the question. You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I'm entitled.
Jessup: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessup: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom! You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like "honor", "code", "loyalty". We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "Thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!
That speech resonates with me and brings tears to my eyes just reading it. There are those of us who are on the wall in the world of melanoma. It's not just "honor" and "loyalty" to our fellow warriors that moves us, we don't just follow our own inherent "code," we are driven by truth.

There are hardcore truths in our world. Truth isn't always pleasant to hear. But those of us on the wall have to speak it. The world and our fellow warriors need us on that wall and we are needed because we know we'll save lives. Maybe our own. Maybe not. Maybe yours. Maybe not yours. THAT will depend on if you can handle the truth.

And so it is that we have to ask ourselves if we can handle it. A major truth we need to face in the world of melanoma is there is no cure. Not right now. Prayerfully there will be one day. An actual cure. Right now, there isn't one and an actual cure doesn't appear to be on the horizon, though research can have a startling breakthrough at any time. But research is providing new treatments that are extremely promising and working wonders for many of us.

No cure. That's a mighty hard truth to face. But I would rather know the truth about something than a lie any day. I don't have the time, resources, or life to invest in a lie. Who does? To face the truth doesn't mean we have to like it but it does mean we have to live with it and move forward within the boundaries of that particular truth. As someone who is stage 3b melanoma, though currently NED, I must know the truth of how this disease operates and accept the facts of melanoma or I cannot fight against it. Truth becomes a weapon in my arsenal. Lies are weapons used against me.

Lies abound. Lies that sell "cures" for melanoma. I choose not to lift up these sites but a simple Internet search for "melanoma natural cure" and similar searches will reveal sites that tout natural "cures." Not preventative measures but cures.

For the record, proper nutrition is vital in helping prevent cancer and in the survival of cancer. It will not cure melanoma or any other cancer once it has been diagnosed.  The Cancer Project is a reputable source of information on this topic and recommended by Aim at Melanoma. And remember, reputable sites about nutrition and cancer will not promise a cure after the diagnosis.

Lies also abound as to the causes of melanoma causing mass confusion and death. Look for sites that aren't pushing product. Look for sites that are reputable. Any ol' site isn't good enough when looking for information about melanoma prevention, awareness, advocacy, and resources for active disease. And all sites are not created equal! Sites that do not display good language skills, spelling, and grammar aren't good sites for info. Don't confuse glossy and glitzy with factual, either. That sounds like common sense, but when people are desperate for info that sits well with them and gives them a straw to grasp at instead of giving them truth, well, glossy and glitzy can be spellbinding when bound together with lies and misinformation (which is a PC way of saying "lies").  That means read what is actually on the site. Is it true? Does it stack up with what Aim at Melanoma, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute say about melanoma? If not, keep looking.

Or, better yet, stick with the tried and true sites. Personally, these are my favorite, go-to sites for melanoma information:

Aim at Melanoma
Melanoma Research Foundation
Skin Cancer Foundation
National Cancer Institute

Notice that none of these sites sell tanning beds! Any site that sells tanning beds or advocates using them is not a reputable site in the fight against melanoma. Read what the World Health Organization has to say about tanning beds.

I can't write about truth in the world of melanoma without tackling this one last arena. We have got to be very discerning people and look at as big a picture as we can before lifting up sites and information. I'm aware that there are people with melanoma who are fans of Dr. Oz and Dr. Joseph Mercola. I'm aware that their articles and videos about nutrition, exercise, and all kinds of topics are regarded as "gospel" and circulated. I am also aware that they may have information that may be helpful. They haven't attracted the positive attention they've gotten for no reason. I'm aware of that. I'm also very aware that when it comes to melanoma, one borders on dangerous and the other is dangerous.

Dr, Oz has gone on record and has yet to retract it that he has "rethought" his position on tanning beds and they, in his estimation, have a place. Dr. Mercola, a man, who wears the "doctor" label actually sells tanning beds on his website and consistently writes and tweets misinformation about melanoma and its causes. These men fly in the face of research, melanoma specialists, facts, and all things reputable when it comes to melanoma. And they do it with "Dr." as their label and they should know better.

When sharing articles and information by these two, please, please consider that people may stumble on very real misinformation about melanoma and its causes and think they are getting truth when, in fact, they are not.

Can we handle the truth about melanoma? Whether we already have it; or are prime candidates for it; or are human, therefore, it can happen even if we don't belong to a top demographic for it, we have certain facts we must face.

I'm a Methodist preacher. In the Bible, the Book of my faith, in John 18 Jesus is brought before Pilate and they have a well-known conversation which ends like this:
                 
Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to  testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

What is truth? For Pilate, Truth was standing right in front of him and he failed to recognize Him.

For us in melanoma world, truth also exists in the form of facts and our own stories. For we testify to the truth we live out each day about melanoma. Truth is right in front of us, too. Do we recognize truth or run from it?
Can we handle the truth?
Those of us on the wall provide truth. We aren't looking for "thanks"... just being listened to.
When and if our voices of truth are listened to and when we make a difference in lives
We are the thankful ones.