I read the BEST post ever as I was scrolling and catching up on Facebook and Twitter tonight! My sister wrote, "Today I am thankful for my daughter's teacher who taught the kids about melanoma. This of course is very near and dear to me and my family ever since my sister was diagnosed with it. I hope that after this lesson kids will think twice about tanning and learn to love the skin they have."
BIG, HUGE smiles!!
I was doing the daily " I am thankful for_____ " on Facebook,and then I just stopped. Not sure if it was just that I didn't have time in the morning to post it, couldn't think of anything that wasn't being said by everyone else, or I just wasn't thankful for anything...(probably not the case!) But, I stopped a few days ago. Today, I really have something to be thankful for. I am so thankful for this teacher for teaching about melanoma to high school students who don't want to hear that tanning is dangerous and can cause melanoma. That teacher spends every school day with these kids and what better person to teach them about dangerous things like melanoma, than their teacher! Teenagers don't want to hear that something they like is bad for them, and most choose to do what they want, and ignore the facts, thinking "It won't happen to ME." Well, all of us that are living with melanoma know that it CAN and WILL happen to you. When you least expect it.
I have not spent a lot of time teaching my nieces about melanoma. I don't want to lecture them. They have seen my scars and they know what melanoma is and they know to protect themselves and not to tan. I know that my sister has taught them well. I know that my niece has spoken up several times in dance class, to tell the older girls that were going to tan for upcoming dances, about the dangers of tanning and about me, her aunt, who has melanoma. She is my little melanoma advocate! I know that my story has touched my family and has taught all us girls in the family to take better care of our skin and to STOP tanning. I know that my story is reaching people every day. It makes it all worth telling my story and showing my scars, that not so long ago, I was so ashamed of.
I am not afraid to show my scars, because they tell a very important story. They are a part of me, and they make me stronger.
My niece has a friend who has melanoma and she is not doing very well right now. I remember when I was first told about her. "Too young" is the first thing that came to my mind. But, melanoma doesn't discriminate against age, skin color or social status. It doesn't care if you are black or white, short or tall, male or female, 1 or 50. It is pretty sneaky like that. Striking when you least expect it.
So to all of my fellow melanoma warriors....Don't be afraid to show your scars and share your stories. You may never know who listens and you may not get to change everyone's mind about tanning, but you put the thought in their mind and maybe the next time they slather on baby oil to lay out in the sun, or go in a tanning booth, they might just think about YOU. And remember YOUR story. And SAVE their life. Just think about how many lives that my niece's high school teacher may save, just by educating about melanoma.
And YOU can too.