Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Melanoma May: Paint It Black!

It's May!! A beautiful month, marking the end of Spring and giving us hints of Summer. It starts with May Day, rounds out with Memorial Day, and has Mother's Day planted in between. (For a lot of reasons, Mother's Day is not one of my favorite holidays ... but that's another blog all on its own.) May is filled with end of school years and graduations, saying good-byes and looking ahead to new beginnings. It is the month where the cool temps of Spring start to warm, reminding us that the heat of Summer is not far behind. It is bursting with vivid blankets of brightly colored flowers, and ... Achoo! did I mention pollen? May has something for everyone.

So why do I want to see the merry month of May painted black? Because May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and black is the awareness color associated with this evil disease. Melanoma is an often fatal form of skin cancer that seems to have a mind of its own. Melanoma is not full of hope like the month of May, although with new treatment options, hope is shining brighter. It is a disease that is dark, deadly, and foreboding, and unlike other cancers, the cases of melanoma are increasing. And it can, in many cases, be prevented. Melanoma needs to be stopped. Too many hearts have already been broken; too many lives have been shattered.

Although May is shared by many other diseases/disorders as an awareness month, it is melanoma that will get my support this May, as it does every month. You may or may not know that my daughter Jaime lost her life to melanoma when she was 29, so I have a very personal reason for giving this disease all my energy, time, and anger and for wearing the black ribbon to honor, remember, and respect my baby girl during May. She was diagnosed when she was 20 years old, back in 1998. Melanoma has progressed since that time from a disease I, and most people, had never heard of to one that is often in the news. I would love to see black as prominent during May as pink is during October for breast cancer awareness.

Jaime and I used to wait eagerly for her melanoma specialist to return from cancer conventions to learn of any new treatments ... but he was always empty handed. I know that he hated facing us with the same results from the previous years. The look on his face told us without him speaking that there was nothing new or nothing even close to being new. Now melanoma treatments are the highlights of those conventions, but it took a very long time ... too long for Jaime.

At one melanoma walk shortly after Jaime's death, I was asked if I was a survivor (they had special t-shirts for survivors). Without much thought, I said yes. I had fought that damn disease with every breath I had along side my brave daughter ... and yes, I did feel like I had survived even though Jaime did not. It certainly did not seem fair at all, but I had survived whether I wanted to or not. In the process though, I had lost my heart and my life as I had known it. My sons had lost the mother they once had. I was no longer me, thanks to melanoma. And I know that way too many of you reading this understand what I am saying. We MUST work harder to educate and advocate so that others will be spared the pain and anguish that we live with daily.

Your best chance of beating melanoma is not getting it in the first place! So you will be hearing lots more from me this month about melanoma, particularly on Melanoma Monday (May 5 in 2014). I will be sharing facts about melanoma, risk factors, prevention, and detection and information on the other more common forms of skin cancer. Why? Because you need to be armed with information to protect your family and yourselves. Melanoma is unforgiving ... it has no cure. Once melanoma has touched you, it is for life. The fear of a recurrence and the pain of surgeries and treatments involved ... or the fear of it ending your life ... never goes away. Melanoma never goes away!

Melanoma May ... to create awareness, to educate, to honor & remember

So as we focus our attention on the beautiful month of May and all it has to offer us, please support melanoma awareness and/or donate to melanoma research. Matter of fact, don't just support it in May ... it needs your support, your attention, your donations all year round.

For comprehensive information on melanoma, visit

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

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