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Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day and start of Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month

Happy May Day. I always associate May day with a maypole and dancers. I also associate May with flowers and all the shots in this post are recent ones from my garden. May Day is also International Workers' Day and Mayday is a distress signal. There are many more events associated with May Day. The entire month of May is a national (U.S.) Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness month. One reason some campaigns say skin cancer and melanoma is because some forms of melanoma do not originate on the skin. I'll discuss that more in upcoming posts. The first Monday in May is Melanoma Monday and the origin of that was to have free skin cancer screenings. Many universities, as well as other centers offer free screenings on Melanoma Monday. There are also similar campaigns in countries besides the U.S.I recently followed a link that someone on the MPIP left about how lip gloss can invite skin cancer. I had no idea of that so I thought I'd mention it on this first day of skin cancer awareness month.

“These lip glosses can make more of the light rays penetrate directly through the skin instead of getting reflected off of the skin’s surface,” says Dr. Christine Brown, a dermatologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. (You're covered, however, if you wear lip gloss with SPF.)

Since most of the links and information I usually post are about melanoma, the cancer I have had, I thought I'd mention that Skin Cancer Net has a lot of information about all of the skin cancers. There are many other sites which are useful but I picked one for brevity sake.
I started thinking about how so many skin cancer campaigns feature blond, blue eyed, light skinned people. It is certainly true that those are the characteristics of people who are often at a higher risk for skin cancer. The problem is too often people who have darker skin tone, eyes, and hair, think they are in the clear which isn't true. I am caucasian but I thought I was at a low risk for skin cancer because I tend to tan not burn and don't have a particularly light skin tone. Below is a shot of me around 1988 and as you can see I'm not blond and my skin isn't porcelain toned but I did end up with melanoma.I didn't know until I had melanoma that an artist whose music I admired died from melanoma, Bob Marley. He had Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM). Only 5 percent of all diagnosed melanomas are ALM but 50 % of melanoma which is diagnosed in Asian and people with dark skin is ALM. Of course that means that 50 percent of the people with dark skin have other forms of melanoma. I mention that because there is sometimes a misconception that the only form of melanoma or skin cancer for that matter which non caucasian people are at risk for is ALM which isn't true. For the start of Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month, I thought I'd give you the music and face of Bob Marley below.

Bob Marley's melanoma began in an old soccer injury on his big toe. Part of what makes ALM so deadly is that it's often diagnosed later than other melanomas and skin cancers. I've read that if it's diagnosed when it's at the same depth as other melanomas, the prognosis is similar but too often it's diagnosed later. I'll be mentioning some of the other manifestations of skin cancer and melanoma which often have delayed diagnosis in posts here and there throughout the month.

9 comments:

ellen b. said...

Happy May Day to you and thanks for this great info on skin cancer, etc. I just was at a dermatologist this week and will have a full body check in a month. I've bought some new products to use on my face and body as I've just developed Vitiligo. (white patches due to pigment loss) Protecting ourselves from the sun is an important message...

Carver said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting Ellen. I appreciate that. I have read that there has been research into the " Transfer of efficient anti-melanocyte T cells from vitiligo donors to melanoma patients as a novel immunotherapeutical strategy". This specific paper was by researchers in Italy but there have been others. I think the point is for the same response which causes vitiligo to be used with melanoma patients to fight tumors.

the teach said...

Carver, I didn't realize you have had melanoma. I support with donations a nephew who was diagnosed years ago and every year he runs in upstate New York. I should be hearing from him soon! :D

Mar said...

Happy May Day!! love your 1988 picture...
I didn't know about Bob Marley's melanoma, thanks for all the information and links, Carver (also for the future ones!), it's such an important issue!!
Lovely pictures as always :)

Carver said...

Hi Mary (the Teach), That's great that your nephew does the run for melanoma although I'm sorry he was diagnosed with it. I hope that he is doing well.

Thanks Mar, I had no idea that Bob Marley died from melanoma either, until after I was diagnosed.

Dee said...

Carver,
I continue to enjoy how you manage to weave pretty photographs of flowers with learning more about whatever it may be - melanoma, Earth Hour, etc. It's important and I think you really help bring about awareness. I appreciate your support - and your emails! I'm sorry - I haven't yet answered the long one which was about gardening, I think. Hope you're having a good night!

the donG said...

wow May Day is indeed filled with events and special day of dedication and commemoration.

i also like bob marley's song but i didn't know how he died. thanks to this post.

jmb said...

Happy May Day Carver. I did not know the Bob Marley died of a melanoma.

Remember, slip,slop, slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat.

Carver said...

Thanks Dee, I really appreciate that. Sometimes I think my blog is such a hodge podge that I'm not sure if it works at all so I appreciate you saying what you did. My memory is so shot that I don't even remember the email about gardening, ha. I also appreciate your support a great deal.

Hi DonG, It is interesting how many different events are associated with May.

Hi JMB, I think the Australian slip, slop, slap slogan is great. It's easy to remember which is always great for any awareness effort.