Monday, May 26, 2014

Focus on Remembering

Memorial Day is a national reminder to set aside time to salute our heroes ... the ones who have fought for our freedom. We remember; we reflect; we honor and thank them. It's also a special holiday weekend for making lots of wonderful memories and welcoming in Summer ... and practicing sun safety. No one will get sunburned, right? (Shame on you, if you do! You need to go back and read my blogs about the dangers of tanning ... and yes, there will be a test!) But with all the talk about "remembering" and "heroes" and "brave young men and women who died," I can't help but think of those we have lost to melanoma and other cancers ... and of course, my Jaime.

I don't mean to diminish the meaning of Memorial Day, and we should all be grateful to those men and women who served our country and even made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could be free. To expand on that, we have other heroes in our lives ... policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc ... and we should also remember and thank them for all they do to keep us safe and healthy and educated.

And then we have our own special "heroes" who bravely fought a disease like cancer ... and those warriors who continue to fight. They are heroes not simply because they have or had cancer or a particular disease or disorder; they are heroes because of the way they have dealt with it. They have taught us courage and showed us strength. They have fought hard not only for their own lives, but many have participated in clinical trials or taken experimental drugs to pave the way for better treatments for future patients with that particular disease. We also have patients who have donated tissue for research ... like to the AIM at Melanoma/Skin of Steel Melanoma Tissue Bank. (I'll tell you more about that in a later blog) Researchers and doctors have learned from them ... these heroes have helped save lives even if not their own.

My daughter Jaime is my special hero. She fought melanoma for her entire adult life (20-29 years old) and never complained. She was brave beyond what I ever could have been, and that beautiful smile never left her face. From her diagnosis to her last breath, Jaime showed determination and a positive spirit. She confronted cancer head-on but didn't allow it to stop her from truly living. One of her doctors said she reminded him of a pansy during our Texas winter. Even though it gets covered by snow or encased in ice, it continues to live and thrive, spreading joy and beauty.

Jaime was a "lab rat" in several clinical trials; none of which benefited her, unfortunately. But in the 7 years since Jaime's death, five new treatment drugs have been approved for melanoma, and what was learned from her melanoma case might have helped in some way. At least they learned from Jaime and others what treatments are not successful and can be abandoned! (The importance of patient participation in clinical trials is a topic that seriously deserves it own blog so that will come at a later time.)

So as my heart goes out to the parents of all servicemen and women who made their final trip home in flag-covered caskets, I also remember, as I do every minute of every hour of every day, my own little soldier who fought one hell of a battle with an evil enemy but didn't make it out alive. I am a rememberer ...

I miss you, Sweetie Pea! ... and you will never be forgotten.

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

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