People in the spotlight have the great advantage of making a positive impact on society. They also have the disadvantage of upsetting a lot of people by comments they make. Today, I physically cringed while reading an article about Mike Schmidt’s cancer. The Ex-Phillies great, Mike Schmidt, was diagnosed with stage III melanoma last August. He is just now beginning to discuss his cancer with the public.
Mr. Schmidt has had numerous operations, radiation, and chemotherapy. The York Dispatch wrote that he is going through the third protocol of three different immune system boost treatments and is about a third of the way through the 12-week process. Obviously, he’s fighting melanoma with all he has. We all understand that, respect that, and we wish him well.
Here’s why I started cringing: the article states that the Ex-Phillies great is becoming an unofficial spokesperson for getting ones skin checked. OK, that’s wonderful. However, when discussing the new chapter in Mr. Schmidt’s life, he says, “I can think of a diagnoses that could be a hell of a lot worse. Cancer is a scary thing. Mine’s skin cancer.”
No joke. I cringed. My shoulders tensed. My jaw dropped.
Let me define stage III melanoma: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “At this point, the tumor has either spread to the lymph nodes or to the skin between the primary tumor and the nearby lymph nodes.” This means it has gone through the skin. In my opinion, if this has happened, the cancer can no longer be classified as “skin cancer.” It’s melanoma. Stage III malignant melanoma.
Mr. Schmidt also said, "I have to have scans every three months. Who knows what and when and where something's going to come up. That stuff travels around you microscopically. Until you have a year's worth of scans that show no residue and they tell you you're cancer free, all you can do is treat it."
We all know that he's going to always need to be followed, don't we? Sigh.
Please feel free to read this article yourself. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to it all and overreacting (wouldn’t be the first time!), but it sounds to me like Mr. Schmidt needs to be educated a wee bit more on the seriousness of his cancer.
Maybe he wants to downplay the seriousness of melanoma to the public? Maybe he’s in denial? Or what scares me the most, what if he just hasn’t been clearly informed? But, he, someone who is speaking about his battle with cancer to the media, is doing our cancer, melanoma, not a lick of good. We’re fighting so hard to have melanoma taken seriously, and to see this article, well, it gave me a clear flashback to the many times I’ve been told, “at least you don’t have a real cancer.”
I do have a real cancer.
And, Mr. Schmidt, so do you.