Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lack of Knowledge (Why?)

What causes melanoma? Do you know?

I have heard many answers to these couple of questions. "Melanoma is caused by an unsanitary/dirty tanning bed, right"? "It's from them people that spend too much time in the sun" is another gem. Oh, I've also heard, "Oh you know if you go to those tanning salons and not lay out in the sun you protect your skin so when you do go out into the sun your skin is already used to it and you won't get burnt". Nice.

When is the last time you actually went to a dermatologist? Why?

Even more good ones from those questions. "My family doctor doesn't ever tell me I need to do it". "I'm only 29; only teenagers with acne and old people with moles need to go there". "Don't those guy do face lifts and nose jobs"? (I actually heard that at a mall while talking to a young girl at the food court; you could obviously tell she went tanning regularly).

Normally these would be funny. You would see stuff like that on Jay Leno's "Jay-Walking" segment on the Tonight Show.

These are in all reality NOT funny. These ignorant answers are a sign that not enough is being put out to the younger adults and children (most of whom are women) about the dangers of tanning beds and lack of knowledge of skin care (not just putting your Bath & Body Works Lotion on your legs silly).

Why is it that melanoma is the fastest growing cancer among women under the age of 30 IN AMERICA? Not only are we ignorant of the causes of melanoma and the ways of preventing it, but, we also have no idea how to ensure that we aren't "infected" or "inflicted" or whatever you want to call it.

Do you know what the ABCDE's of melanoma are? More than likely you don't (click on the link and it will take you to the Skin Cancer Foundation Website's explanation). They're not something you see on a carton or pack. They're not something you see in the places you go to tan. I have never seen anything on TV or heard anything on the radio concerning them. Again, this is the NUMBER ONE/NUMERO UNO growing CANCER in WOMEN under the age of 30 in the entire USA! Ya think we would hear, before I move on to some juicer stuff, here are the ABCDE's in order:

A - Asymmetrical. Is the mole asymmetrical, meaning perfectly round, or is one side small and the other oblong? In other words, if ya took a pen and drew a line in the middle, would each side look alike? If they don't, GET IT CHECKED OUT ASAP by a Dermatologist!

B- Border. Does the mole have irregular borders? Does it have smooth edges or is it ragged around the outside? If the borders are uneven, it is a good sign to go the the Dermatologist NOW!

C - Color. Has the mole changed colors lately? Is it multicolored? Has it turned blue or black, or is it two shades of brown? If so, you know what to do. DERMATOLOGIST!

D - Diameter. How big is the mole. Is it the size of a pinhead? Is it bigger, like let's say the size of a pencil eraser in circumference? Granted, some melanomas may be smaller when they are first developed, and even some larger, non-melanomic moles may be bigger; but if if the mole is bigger than that pencil eraser tip, and especially if it has some of the other characteristics mentioned in the ABCDE's, I would call my family doc and schedule an appointment with the Derm dude like right now.

E - Evolving. This is a not too much heard of and honestly a newer addition to the group of letters of warning of the beast we call melanoma. If the mole changes; any of the A's, B's, C's, or D' is time to be worried. Normally a mole that is a source of melanoma with change (or evolve) in color. It may itch. It may grow in elevation. It may itch. It may bleed. If any of these things happen, get it checked out, please?

Now, I want to share with you another point of view I have been shown by a special friend over these last few weeks. It revolves around something I hear quite often. I assume it is something people say because they are a little uncomfortable around a widow/widower, or they just don't know what to say. What can I say, talking to a widow can be weird to some folks. They will say: "Oh, honey/sweetie/kiddo/Ricky, etc., Everything will be okay. It will be okay. You will be okay. Just give it time". Well, ya know, this good friend of mine who lives near Charlotte, NC, who lost her husband at a young age said it best: "You know what? It will never be okay. Ever. It's not okay that someone we loved with all of our heart is gone from our life this early. It never will be okay. It will just always be different". When you think about those few sentences, most folks would be thinking that they come off as cynical or pessimistic. But think about it. Are you happy Rach is gone? Is it "okay" to you that she is not here with us anymore? Most if not all of you probably answered "no." So, is it different now that she isn't here? Has life changed? You're damn right it is and has. So, it isn't OKAY. It is DIFFERENT. Thank you, Pami.

This long road I have been traveling lately has brought me into contact with some very special people, not just in my family and circle of friends, but also a large group of folks who have gone through what I have; losing a spouse at a young age. I have found a bulletin board by way of a suggestion from a friend through Facebook (thanks, Anna!) called What an awesome group of supporters. This bulletin board is made up of all kinds of people like me. I have been saying consistently that the reason I am able to deal with this entire situation is because of the support I am getting. I am getting support from folks in person and online, and you all kick some serious butt.

Keep reading; next time I will try and pop some more vids and maybe a few songs in here, mixed of course with some scary tanning/melanoma stuff too! God bless you all!

(By the way, please all of you pray for Linda Ramirez and her family. Please click on her name to read her blog. I see her story as something very similar to what Rach went through. This is such a bad disease and it truly takes some very special people away from us. Many of you offered your prayers to Rach while she was very sick, and I ask you to do the same for Linda and her beautiful family. Thanks again for your prayers and support.)

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Maribel said...

Hi Rick, I followed you from Linda's blog...thank you for the "shout out" to Linda. I'll take some time to read your story..the little I've just read is heartbreaking and you will be in my thoughts today.


Rick Possert Jr. said...

Thanks Maribel. Your words mean more to me than you'll ever know. God bless, hun.

Rachel C. Cano said...

I just want to say that you're an amazing person and I know that Rach is very proud of you! I've passed your blog to some friends of mine and they all admire all that you do! As nursing students, we're very well aware of the madness that melanoma is but it is sad how many people are not aware of this disease and some of the simple measures to prevent it. I think you're doing a great job in informing people about melanoma so keep up the good work!

Carver said...

Hi Rick, Thank you for visiting my blog. I am so sorry for your loss. It's good that you have this blog to educate people about melanoma and to tell your wife's story. Best wishes, Carver