Monday, March 23, 2015

Melanoma Prayer Center Is Four!

And who ever would have thunk it? Certainly not me! I'm not so sure that I thought Facebook would last as long as it has without something newer, bigger, and better replacing it. But, it's still here and so is MPC. It would not be what it is without the support and participation of the most special people in the world, and that's my melahomies! Just as MPC continues to grow, learn, and evolve, so do I.

I have learned that I really am not the the Queen of Melanoma World and I have no dictatorial powers. I can pray, advocate, and educate, but I cannot, CANNOT, for the life of me take the twists and turns out of the road and I cannot level the bumps. Sigh. So that leaves "Hotel Melanoma Chaplain Boss" (or "Bossy" for some).

That would be me. And I'm good with that.

So! Listen up!

Melanoma is cancer. It is not "just" cancer and it is not something to relegate to second-class-cancerhood. Think it's simply skin cancer? Think again. Don't get bogged down on the word "skin" and think "no big deal." And newsflash! Those skin cancers that ARE skin cancer...well, they aren't just skin cancer either! They are scarring and disfiguring. And guess what? They can spread internally and be fatal, too. Their stats aren't as high as melanoma, but stats don't matter when it's YOU!

Don't ever, for even a single moment, think people can cut out melanoma and get on with their life as if nothing has happened and that it is equivalent to trimming your nails. This is so far from "trivial" you cannot imagine. Unless it has happened to you or to a loved one. Unless you have had a "melanoma" diagnosis attached to you.

I am getting mighty tired of reading the pain my melahomies endure because people think they are not dealing with anything major. We have plenty of skin, for crying out loud! Heck, it's not like brain cancer...until it spreads to your brain. Oh yeah. This "skin" cancer that's "no big deal," can spread to your brain. And it's not brain's melanoma that has metastasized to the brain. Name an internal organ. Go ahead. Pick one. Any one will do. Melanoma can begin or spread there. Mouth? There, too. Eyes? Yep, and there. Genitals and rectum? Sure. Finger or toe nails? Check all twenty periodically, because, yes indeed!

Melanoma should not be called or considered "skin" cancer. But it is, especially to dermatologists, because that's the part of us patients that they can see, biopsy, remove, diagnose. But I do wish they would remove it from the "skin" cancer category and that all doctors, of any kind, would simply call it what it is and it is MELANOMA.

Scarring, disfiguring, deadly, no-cure-right-now-exists, melanoma.

Melanoma requires a specialist if at all possible, and it's usually do-able, even if a person has to decide to travel hours to see one. See a dermatologist that specializes in melanoma and skin cancer. See a melanoma specialist oncologist and a melanoma specialist surgical oncologist. (NOTE: when we, in melanoma world, refer to seeing a "melanoma specialist," we are talking about an oncologist. Lately, I am noticing some people asking about a melanoma specialist and they are talking about a dermatologist. Yes, a dermatologist who specializes in melanoma and skin cancer is essential...BUT...not all melahomies are in need of a melanoma specialist oncologist. Though it won't hurt to see one every once in a while to stay on top of your melanoma. It can be confusing when someone asks about a "melanoma specialist" and most think "oncologist" and the one asking is thinking "dermatologist".) Aim at Melanoma maintains a list of melanoma specialist oncologists in the USA and Canada. If you are outside these two countries, check with the melanoma foundation in your country to find a specialist.

If you have melanoma, find support. Plug into the online community. We are thriving on Facebook. If you aren't on FB, Melanoma Research Foundation has a great page of support (click on Find Support). Be sure to share your story with others. Make a difference. Somehow. You matter. Your journey matters. Others need to hear what you have to say. And who knows? You just might save a life or two though you may never be told.

If you have melanoma, give support. Don't just take it, give it back. We all need cheerleaders in our corner. We all need prayer warriors...

Enter Chaplain, exit Boss.

Pray. Pray for your fellow melahomey, yourself, your family, your medical team, open doors to the treatment and doctors you need, research, more and better treatment options, cures (it will take more than one cure since this is a highly individualistic disease).

Work on anti-tanning bed legislation. Raise money for research. Write a blog or a book. Participate in Walks. Create billboards with a message. Get your vehicle detailed with melanoma awareness info and pictures of people who have the disease or have died because of it. Create a website and/or Facebook page that is informative. Be an encourager, but an honest encourager. Give hope.  Get busy, to the best of your ability, and do something. Make an impact and leave your footprint somewhere on Melanoma Road. Seek to diminish that which seeks to diminish you.

That's why I started MPC in the first place four years ago. I can pray. Preachers are expected to do that (insert annoying smiley face). And I wanted to diminish that which seeks to diminish me (and that's putting it nicely!).

What can you do? Find your niche. Everyone has a niche that only they can fill. I have definitely learned that in four years! We all have tools, gifts, graces, and talents at our disposal. So dispose of them for the good of humanity.

Excuse me a minute while I get out my tiara and pretend that I really am Queen of Melanoma World...

Do all this because I have so decreed!