I'm sure many people would be just as scared as I would be upon hearing that diagnosis. But I had a particular flashback that kept me up at night. The flashback was of my cousin Tom, who lost his battle with melanoma in 2005. I think about his family everyday - how much they loved him-- how much they miss him.
I pray every day that my family doesn't have to watch me suffer and live without me. I can't imagine Gerry raising our girls alone, or Maria and Naomi growing up without a mom. Just typing it here brings tears to my eyes.
(Read the email I sent to everyone when I first found out here. This was from pre-blog days.)
Even though mine was caught early, my chances for getting it again more than doubles. Family history plays a huge role, as well. Shortly after my cousin passed away, his mom, (my aunt) had a skin cancer diagnosis on her nose. My dermatologist and oncologist both have told me that they are more concerned about heredity, in my situation, than sun exposure.
Needless to say, this has become a huge part of my world. Melanoma is on my mind, night and day. I can never get away from it. I not only worry for myself, but I worry about my daughters, too. Any first generation relative of mine, unfortunately, has an increased risk because of my diagnosis.
I constantly remind my friends and family to use sunscreen. I know they are sick of hearing it, but I will not stop.
It's hard to educate without being a nag.
It's hard to inform without being nosy.
It's hard to explain without being pushy.
But I am all of these things because, just maybe, something I say might save someone's life. And that makes it worth it.
(Read my email to everyone one year later here.)
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
More than 20 Americans die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma. One person dies of melanoma almost every hour (every 62 minutes).
Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15-29 years old.
One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
A person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns at any age.
Please visit http://www.skincancer.org for more info.