Last night I was catching up on Facebook and I heard some horrible news. One of my friends posted that her 23 year old daughter Jillian, who has been battling stage 4 melanoma, was told that her treatment was not working. They were recommending hospice. I can't explain the exact feeling I got when I read that, but it was close to being punched in the gut and having your heart literally tear in half. I know that her family, especially her mother, Susan, (who is the sweetest, toughest lady ever) had to have had that feeling magnified by a zillion. I can't imagine. I wanted to just hug them. I wanted to take all the pain away and make the doctor find the cure for her. I wanted to unhear the words.
I have never met Jillian, but I feel like I know her. I did have the pleasure of meeting Susan and her son Jonathon, at a benefit for another melanoma warrior last year. She is amazing. She has done so much for melanoma awareness. She has fought hard to educate on the dangers of tanning. She has a non-profit organization called Jilly's Jems. She makes the most beautiful bracelets and prayer beads that I have ever seen. The profits go to melanoma awareness, with a small portion going toward a local soccer club in Jillian's name, to help kids that may not have the chance to play.
Jilly's Jems on Facebook
I was so upset last night by the news, that I posted something on my Facebook wall, not just my melanoma page either. I had taken to just posting things about melanoma, only on my melanoma page. I was tired of people ignoring the posts and tired of people thinking I was losing it. I didn't care last night. This is what I posted:
"I know a lot of you don't want to hear that
tanning causes skin cancer, or melanoma. I know it is much more fun to
lay out or go tanning to get that "healthy glow". There is NOTHING
healthy about a tan. I will forever live with the fear that it can come
back at any time, attacking my brain,lungs,liver. My heart is breaking
tonight for a young 23 year old woman, who has been fighting so hard.
She found out that the treatment has not been working. Please, for the
love of God, DON'T TAN. It CAN happen to you."
Every time I think back to laying in that stupid tanning bed, I just want to vomit. When will it stop? When will people get it? Tanning and overexposure to UV rays causes skin cancer and melanoma. How many more people need to get melanoma before the world gets it? How many young lives need to be lost because they wanted that healthy glow? This is why we in the melanoma world are so passionate about educating about the dangers. Because no 23 year old woman should ever hear the words, "We have done everything we can." No mother should have to see their child struggle with this horrible beast. All for a tan.
We can't change that we got melanoma, and we can't change the fact that once we were the naive ones that didn't want to hear that we could get skin cancer. That melanoma was caused by the very thing we loved. We are speaking from experience. We are using our stories to prevent others from doing the very thing that gave us melanoma. Please listen.
Please keep Jillian and her family in your prayers as they continue on this journey. I am still praying for a miracle cure, but if that is not what is meant to be, then we will accept that, as hard as it may be, as God's will.
Susan, Jillian's mom wrote tonight,
aren't promised anything fair. It's just the world we live in. I
hate it for Jillian, for me, for my family and all of you who are
currently battling this dreadful disease. I am choosing to love Jillian
through this, to have no regrets, and to move through this somehow. We
all die someday. All of us. And some sooner than others. What we do with
our lives today matters. I will make sure that Jillian's Journey will
be shared, that your journey will be shared, and that the time spent
here on earth matters and we make a difference. I promise you this."
Love and peace Jillian and Susan (a.k.a Momma Bear)