Saturday, March 23, 2013

Melanoma Prayer Center Turns Two!

I started MPC on Facebook two years ago today and, MY!, how I, and it, have changed! I blogged last year about how MPC came to be, what it's about, and what I had learned up to that point. Here's a link to that post as it's still valid.

Today, I celebrate! To say I love my melahomies would be an understatement! They are the best people on the planet!

Yesterday, as I write, Rich McDonald, Proprietor of Hotel Melanoma, did something he never dreamed he would do. And it didn't prove fatal (as he feared). He penned me a celebratory song using a Meatloaf tune! O Happy Day! It will cost me. In return, I promised him I would donate a nickel for every MPC like to the place that saved his life. So I'll be donating to the University of Colorado Research Foundation Melanoma Research Fund, and as of right now, MPC has 1798 likes. Do the math. I'll also be adding $3 because 60 people liked the MPC post last night (as I write) where I shared his song.

I celebrate the year that has passed! God has graced me with more focus and a sense of direction. He has also brought many more people into my life via MPC; strengthened many relationships; opened a few doors for me to meet melahomies and participate in an Aim Walk in Charlotte, NC; start up a few support groups on FB; and be there as some have left this earth and run their race through God's Gates of Praise and into His waiting arms.

Focus One: WE NEVER lose our battle or race. Never. People who come up against melanoma fight too damned hard to ever have their names in the same sentence with the word "lost." People who say that really need to stop and think about what they're saying about someone who fought the fight of a lifetime, for their life, and fought right up until the second God told them it was OK to stop. Those people are NOT losers! Ever!

Focus Two: To repeat, over and over, to everyone with melanoma and to all who may get it one day...to get in the care of a melanoma specialist! That is crucial, imperative, vital to your fight and to your life! I'm trying my best to get it out there in the medical community to REFER your patients when they are diagnosed with melanoma, any stage, to a specialist...and I don't give a flip if a person has "to drive." I drive over two hours each way to see mine, as do many, and it is WORTH it! We drive anywhere else we want to. Aren't you worth a little time to be in the best hands when fighting this disease? Oh yes. You are! Here is a link to Aim at Melanoma's list of melanoma specialist oncologists. Where you find them, you will, usually find surgical oncologists and dermatologists who are also melanoma specialists.

Focus Three: To get "melanoma" removed from the "skin cancer" category. It is in a league all its own; doesn't need skin to begin, grow, or spread; and calling it skin cancer is a HUGE part of why people don't take this seriously. Until it's too late. Call it what it is and it's "melanoma."  "Malignant" can be dropped as that is what melanoma IS...it's malignant. If it isn't malignant (cancer) then it's not melanoma. We need to step up the efforts in helping people understand that it's just not found in a funky mole. We also need to step up efforts in helping people understand that it doesn't just come from tanning beds or sun-broiling. There's a genetic component, and there are people with this disease who can't point to a reason why they have it. There is still much to be learned. We've got to also do better at helping people understand that this is not just a disease that strikes Caucasians but strikes people of ALL skin tones, heritages, races, ages, and both genders, regardless of tanning habits. Sometimes, we in the melanoma community, can get too narrow in our awareness efforts and focus only on one thing. It's always an important "one thing," but it's never the "only" thing.

Focus Four: We ALL have something to contribute. For many people and for a variety of reasons, their melanoma is "their" melanoma and they don't share their story. Please, know that you've got something to say and you can make a difference in someone's life and maybe prevent someone from getting this disease. This disease robs us all of a lot! Please don't let it steal your story. Claim your battle, place it in God's hands, and watch Him bless it and use it to His glory.

That's how MPC came about. I was diagnosed at stage 3b in 2008. I've learned a lot, heard more, and seen enough to last a lifetime. I know the disease I live with and may, one day, die from. I want to diminish this disease. I want to be part of its demise. I want to be part of bringing it down. I may not be alive when that glorious day happens on this earth, but it WILL happen. Of that, I am convinced. Melanoma is God's enemy and God's enemies never win.

They never win.

Melanoma is going down and I get to play a small part in that.

And I am grateful.

Please, play a small part in that yourself. You won't regret it.

You, and all of us, will be grateful!