Today as I was reading a message from a stranger I remembered something that happened to me.
There I was, a middle school (possibly high school) student, standing in line at a Hardee's in Salisbury, MD with my Grand Mom, when this stranger walks up to me.
She touches my left shoulder.
"You really need to go have a dermatologist look at that."
I can not remember what else she said to me that day, but I remember feeling offended. Who was this woman? Why did she feel the right to walk up to a stranger, a young girl, and tell her she needed to have a mole examined?
I ignored her. Really, who was she to warn me?
Maybe she was a mother to a young girl fighting for her life thanks to skin cancer, maybe she was a Melanoma Warrior herself, or maybe she was a dermatologist determined to share her knowledge with anyone in her path.
Whoever she was, she was right. I should have had that mole examined...It turned out to be the one that tested positive for melanoma.
It has probably been ten years ago, but here I am...fighting.
I could beat myself up. I could question why I tanned before proms, weddings, vacations. I could ask myself why I laughed it off when my older sister warned me against the dangers of melanoma.
Where would that get me?
I would only feel guilt that I can do absolutely nothing about now.
Instead I can be like that woman. I can throw melanoma into the faces of everyone I know. I can use the internet to promote awareness. I can leave dirty comments on status updates about tanning (Teasing...unless you find me on a really bad day!) If people hate me for sharing the truth with them, well, they can delete me from their life.
I will face my fears of my surgery by knowing that I am doing the right thing...I will have the "beauty marks" that will always remind me of my battle, but I will also have the knowledge that I am doing everything in my power to beat this beast.
And...I will have scarves until I feel confident enough to show the world exactly what I am going through.