Monday, August 12, 2013

HM CBQ Tsk-Tsks Fellow Clergy Regarding Melanoma

I'm on a roll, I guess. My melahomies need me to put on my Hotel Melanoma Chaplain Boss Queen hat, again, and issue a tsk-tsk that I regret having to make. This one goes out to some of my fellow clergy. I know there are many who do, indeed, know what melanoma is. They have it themselves or have seen it up close and personal in loved ones. I am not the only person standing behind a pulpit who also lives with this diagnosis. Nor am I the only one with an understanding of this disease. But I know there is one clergyperson who is ignorant, and where there is one, there are more. This post is for the clergyperson whose attitude toward melanoma is...

"not a big deal, people have that all the time, and they will just cut it out." The full context of this is in a comment that was left under my last post. Here's the relevant part, "Honestly, I have not been to church all summer because of the response I got from our pastor when I called to tell her about my melanoma diagnosis. Her response was that it was not a big deal, people have that all the time, and they will just cut it out. I'm tempted to send her a photo of my scar."

If that sounds familiar and is your attitude, please read this post Skin Cancer and Melanoma for Dummies. Read about the different stages at Aim at Melanoma.

And understand this and understand it well: a lack of understanding and compassion for your parishioner who has a melanoma diagnosis, at any stage, may cost you a parishioner, maybe even a whole family. It may cost you your reputation if they bad-mouth you to others and talk about how unfeeling you are. And understand your parishioner may die from this disease. Even if the person first calls you and tells you they are stage 0 or 1a. That can progress to stage 4 within a year. It's rare, but that happens. And once it progresses to stage 4, depending on where it spreads, how aggressive it is, and how well your parishioner responds to treatment(s), your parishioner could die within months from that stage 4 progression. Prayerfully that scenario won't happen. But it can. It does.

Melanoma is NOT the same as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas. Both of which, by the way are scarring, disfiguring, and can be fatal...though rarely, particularly it's rare for basal cell to lead to death but it can happen. Read that post I linked to a couple of paragraphs up and do a blog site search about melanoma. Melanoma is not "just" skin cancer. It shouldn't even be still called "skin cancer" and the more you learn about basal cell and squamous cell...well, they aren't "just" skin cancer either.

I hope that when anyone in the clergy hears that a parishioner has cancer of any kind and any stage that "it's no big deal" is not the response. And frankly, I cannot imagine that it will be. Why is it the response, for some, towards melanoma?

Learn about this disease.

Oh, and by the way, if you're old enough to be in the pulpit, you're old enough to have had a sunburn or two in your past. You may have been in a tanning bed. And since you're human, you have a body. This disease doesn't need skin to start or spread in. A body works well. Got a mouth? Eyes? Ear canals? A rectum? Nails? This disease can literally start anywhere. Any race, age, or gender. And you know another horrible truth about this disease? People who have never had a sunburn, been in a tanning bed, or have a family history of this disease...get it.

So...from one preacher to another...listen to this Southern Mama Preacher with stage 3b melanoma.

I'll be grateful.



  1. Thank you. It's painful enough when anyone doesn't 'get' it, but especially when that person is someone who we have gone out of our way to seek comfort from. This seeking takes strength. Strength we don't always have in abundance. I thank God for you and all those who do get it and pray for those doing the seeking that they find what and who they need.


Thank you.