Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Rules Do Apply

My co-worker was reading the local newspaper this afternoon during her lunch break when she came across this heartbreaking letter to a local doctor. Apparently the young lady mentioned in the article had a biopsy of a mole years ago, continued to tan despite knowing the risks, and died at age 33 of melanoma. 


The letter left me feeling a lot of emotions: sadness over this loss of life, frustration that this may have been prevented had she learned with the early biopsy, and anger that there is so much more that we need to do to make people aware that melanoma is not just skin cancer.

I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who had to have a biopsy, everything came back fine, and I was able to continue on with my life as before. Would I have embraced the pale skin? Would I have refused to step foot in the tanning bed again? Would I consider buying stock in sunscreen since I buy so much of it? Of course I don't know the answer to that. I would like to believe I would have had the shit scared out of me by the experience and by my doctor so I would have made the necessary changes, but who really knows the answer? Considering how uneducated I was on the seriousness of melanoma, maybe I would have been just like this girl. Maybe, I, too, would have believed the rules did not apply to me.

Dr. Camardi responded to the letter perfectly. He expressed his sympathy, yet he used this opportunity to educate our little town on the seriousness of melanoma. Dr. Camardi fully explained the ABCDE's of melanoma, and states: "The challenege in all of this is to 'get it right' and biopsy only the cancer. Frankly, that's impossible. I'd rather do 10 normal biopsies to find one melanoma and treat it at its earliest stage."

Yes, Dr. Camardi, I agree! As a patient, I would rather have 10 brand new scars if that means we catch the one melanoma in the earliest possible stage. Don't get me wrong, I don't like scars--didn't even have any before all of this melanoma craziness began--but scars beat cancer any day! 

While it is important to biopsy any suspicious mole, we have to agree with Dr. Camardi, prevention is the best medicine. Lather up the sunscreen, seek shade between the hours of 10 and 4, and throw on a fancy hat and some big shades! No one is saying you have to avoid the sunshine. We just suggest that you safely enjoy it!

This young lady, this free spirit who loved people and loved life, was obviously loved by the author of this letter. While it hearts to think of another life taken from this cruel disease, it breaks my heart for the author who is so right when he/she wrote: "She just did not have to die so young."



Unknown said...

What I've found in my limited time with this is that a lot of folks do not want to "hear it." They think it won't happen to them. My husband pointed out that we never thought it would happen to us! I am embarrassed to say that I was in a tanning bed on occasion until 2012 and I was a daily sunbather from May-August every year. If I had not had my diagnosis in April of 2013, I would have been right there back at the Y pool every day this summer. The good that has come from this? I am now being safe; but more than that, my children are being safe. I hope what we have done is enough to save them from having to deal with this at some time. This is a very sad story, and I'll bet it happens more than we know. My saving grace is that I went to a dermatologist every year as an adult. I've had biopsies each year; they've all been negative. Each year, the derm tells me to use sunscreen. I didn't do it. I'm paying the price for that now and wondering if this will come back, show up somewhere else, if I've already "done the damage" so to speak. Hindsight is 20/20. But, I, too was what my mom calls a "bonehead"...you couldn't have told me to stay out of the sun a year ago or 40 years ago. Boy, if I only knew then what I know now...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mama Steg. I had many biopsies and they all came back neg for melanoma (but many basals!!). The next few weeks I would be sun safe and swear it off---then I would quickly fall back into my hours/days at the pool. It wasn't until April 11, 2011 that I received my Stage 1 diagnosis that I stopped "cold turkey". I then spent the next several years (still!) beating myself up over it. Would've, could've, should've. Take it from me...the TAN IS NOT WORTH IT. I look at my 2 young girls daily and hope and pray that I am teaching them the importance of their "scun-screen". I hope they don't fall into the lifestyle I did (tanning) and ruin their beautiful skin...it is a matter of life and death for them. Literally.

Jack and Chloe said...

Hi Chelsea!

Earlier this year I got married. All was well until the local medical centre offered free mole checks.

I dragged my newlywed hubby and my bridesmaid along with me and we all got checked. I was told I needed two moles removed. I was very terrified but I decided I'd get it done ASAP.

That long week wait to get the results back was absolute agony. I googled like crazy (and discovered your blog then! I love it!) and I freaked myself out.

I'm a naturally pale person, never have had a fake tan before but tend to get nastily burnt in the harsh sun every summer. It took me years to find a natural (expensive) sunscreen that I don't burn with so I can still enjoy the sun with my Nanny girls and live life without constantly being stuck in the shade all the time.

My results came back negative for melanoma thankfully but I made a massive promise to myself that next summer (this Dec - I live in NZ) I will be constantly applying sunscreen.

I just thought I would let you know that yes, I am in the position you may have been in years back and yes, I am changing my habits. I will do anything in order to prevent the fear I felt that week whilst waiting and waiting for my results. I also made a post on my Facebook for all my friends to GET CHECKED!!


I hope you have an amazing wedding day in October! I am so glad you get to have your special day. I will give you two pieces of advice: 1) it goes SO fast so enjoy every moment of it 2) find a new perfume smell and save it for your special day because after your special day whenever you wear it it will bring back all the special memories for you :)

Love and Best Wishes,