Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"...Worse than the sun?"

Excuse me for my lack of posting lately. I had forgotten how busy the real world can be! How can you Momma's & Father's be a Cancer Warrior + parents + employees, +total kick ass people? I have a hard enough time taking care of little ol' me!

It would be very easy for me to end my melanoma awareness campaign. I could build a new life with new people who know little of my past. I could joke with people about their need for going to the tanning bed. I could simply pretend like this experience has not happened to me (well, besides appointment days, scan days, and treatment days....) Maybe that is healthier for some people. Not me. I refuse to let melanoma win. This cancer may abuse my body but I am determined to work on killing it by spreading awareness. Yes, it is work and sometimes it is upsetting reliving the worst moments of my life. However, if hearing my less than pleasant memories causes one person to stop and think, well, then it is worth it. That is exactly why I write this blog, post my pictures, and why I am participating in this walk.

Yesterday a new acquaintance randomly came up to me and asked a question that had apparently been on her mind for the last week:

Acquaintance: "So do you have a family history of melanoma?"
While doing 5 other things: "Nope. I'm the first....But I tanned during high school and college."
Long pause.
Acquaintance: "Wait...are tanning beds worse for you than the sun?"

Stunned silence.


It is easy to forget how far we still have to go with our melanoma awareness campaign. With melanoma being mentioned a few times on the news in the last 6 months, I thought people were truly becoming more aware. Some are! Then there are others who are absolutely clueless. This person had a melanoma removed from her arm and, as she said, "they just cut it out and that was that!" How many people think that? The majority!

In a way the lack of knowledge is frustrating to me. Then I take a step back and realize that less than a year ago, I was also not educated on the seriousness of melanoma. I was also the person who thought "Hey, it's JUST skin cancer." Although this cancer now takes up a great portion of my thoughts, I have to remind myself that this is not a known cancer to most people.

Y'all know I did not let her keep on thinking that tanning beds are safer than the sun. Instead, I educated. I started dropping statistics. Then, I did what always gets the attention.......I showed her my scars.

Needless to say, I don't think she will be using the tanning bed anymore.

My hope for you who read this: Please take the opportunity to educate others about the seriousness of melanoma. With winter on its way ladies (and men!) will begin using the tanning beds. Politely explain to them why melanoma is not something to ignore. Share the videos that are available. Melanoma warriors, I know some of you don't want others knowing your stories, but maybe your story will be the one that saves them. Don't be ashamed of this cancer.

If we all stay quiet, will others learn before it is too late?


Anonymous said...

God bless you, Chelsea! You are doing great things every single day, and I know you are saving lives with your story. I pray that every other cancer warrior has this same motivation and determination as you do to spread your story. Every cancer has risk factors, and education is by far the absolute most important part we can help with!

Keep on doing your thing, girl!

I can say that it's because of YOU that I wasn't out in the sun baking this summer. I steered clear of tanning beds. I lathered myself in sunblock if I had to be out in the sun. I was the palest I've ever been in my life, but I was certainly decreasing my chances of developing The Beast.

Thank you for your perseverence. Thank you for everything you have done in your campaign. It's reaching people, and you are saving lives. God BLESS you!

Kris said...

I am not ashamed of my scars, but I never thought of them as a way to further educate people beyond my words. You've given me courage and strength to show off these scars that I proudly, and gladly, earned in my effort to rid my body of this nasty disease. Thanks for being the "mirror" in my life today.

Rich McDonald said...

Don't you dare end your campaign-- lots of people will listen to you who'd never listen to me! I almost got trapped last weekend inside a Komen race with 50,000 registrants. Maybe someday a fraction of that crowd will show up for melanoma walks and runs. Take care.

Becca said...

Way to go Chelsie! Another one educated!!

Shannon Fielding said...

You go girl! One of my favorite expressions, when I see a friend or relative with a sunburn, or they say that they don't use sunscreen, is "Do I have to show you my scar!" Although my niece still doesn't use sunscreen, (on herself, she does put it on her young kids) I was able to talk her out of going to the tanning salon. One small step at a time.