"Cancer did not win – it couldn’t win because she wouldn’t let it. Every person she touched, every person that changed their behavior to the sun, to tanning booths – that was a win against cancer. And I applaud you as you also have that strength – to never let it win and to scream it from the rooftops so that everyone is aware – educated – and then we must find a cure."
~A friend of Tina's
I received an email today from a friend of Tina's, telling me that she appreciates that I continue to mention Tina in my blog. After reading my blog post from yesterday she decided to contact me. Initially, I am always a bit uncomfortable when I receive emails from strangers who know the people I write about because I always have a tiny fear they will be offended that I am discussing their loved one. However, we can all see from Tina's blog that she had a plan: She was going to spread melanoma awareness. Just because she is no longer here to do it herself does not mean that we need to stop sharing her story. Like other stories, maybe Tina's will be the one to stop a young mother from hitting up the fake-and-bake salon.
After reading the email from Tina's friend I began to think. I am still in the stage of my melanoma diagnosis where I sometimes forget I am indeed a cancer warrior. I still have to fight the urge to question the receptionist when she calls my name. "Are you sure I am the patient?" There has not been a time that I have walked into Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that I have not read the sign, sighed a big sigh, and wondered how I ended up in this position. Reality never hits me as hard as when the nurse puts the needle in my arm and begins treatment. Yep, either I'm the patient or I predict a huge lawsuit in the future. (Teasing...................If they decided I was incorrectly diagnosed and I do not have melanoma, hey, I would be so happy I would not even consider blaming anyone!)
For the obvious reasons, death scares me. I do not want melanoma to kill me. Not now, not ever. I want to win. When I have talked about other warriors passing away due to melanoma, I have said that they have lost their battle. But, after reading the email today, I realized I am looking at it in the wrong light. Yes, their death is tragic. However, like Tina's friend said, melanoma has not won just because the warrior passed away. If that warrior caused one person to change their lifestyle, if he caused one person to get a odd spot checked by a dermatologist, if she shared her story with her children, melanoma isn't winning... Quite the opposite, in fact.
Melanoma, unlike death, is something we can prevent.
Are you preventing it?