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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Today's Flowers and Melanoma Awareness


Tomorrow is Melanoma Monday so I thought I'd combine my Today's Flower's post with my melanoma awareness post. All of the flowers in this post are what is currently blooming in my garden.
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Melanoma Monday is also known as National Skin Self Examination day in the U.S. Starting in 1985 the American Academy of Dermatology has sponsored free skin cancer screenings in many cities on that day.
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There is a lot of information online about Melanoma Monday and you can go to the AAD Site by clicking here for information. The entire month of May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
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The right hand side bar on my site has a label called melanoma and more with posts about my diagnosis and surgery for melanoma which spread to a lymph node. I wrote a post in 2008 about Melanoma Monday and also a 2009 Melanoma Monday post. If anyone is interested, you can click the preceding links for more of an overview. I'm not going to try to give an overview here since I've done that several times in the past.
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If anyone reading this post has melanoma, there are a lot of links on my sidebar with information about treatments, clinical trials, and general information. Also, a friend set up a site called Melanoma Resources which combined her links with mine as well as others. That site is divided into categories with melanoma organizations, information about stages, treatments, etc.
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When I first started blogging, I was inspired by others with melanoma who I'd gotten to know who blogged. I almost exclusively talked about dealing with my diagnosis, side effects from surgery, and also used this site as a way of organizing my research about melanoma.
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I always included my flower and other photography in posts but at that point the photographs were used more as punctuation marks for me to catch my breath. The words were why I blogged but the photography helped put me in a calmer place.
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At this point I rarely blog about melanoma at all. With Melanoma Monday arriving tomorrow there are a few things that I didn't know until I had melanoma that I like to tell people. People with all skin types and all races can get melanoma. Since I tended to tan not burn, I thought I had a very low risk to get skin cancer. I didn't realize until I had melanoma that Bob Marley died from melanoma which spread to his liver and brain. I mention that because if I had known that, I would have realized that melanoma isn't only something blond, blue eyed, fair skinned people need to worry about. I love Bob Marley's music and find it sad that his life was cut short by melanoma.
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My daughter has her Dad's light skin and blue eyes and when she wondered why I made her wear T shirts over her swim suit at the beach and kept reapplying sunscreen to her but not to me, I said, you have your Dad's skin type. The point is since my skin is naturally somewhat darker, I thought I was safe. Ironically, I ended up with melanoma. Also, after I started protecting my skin I realized it isn't naturally as dark as I thought it was since I always had some tan that lasted through the winter. The type of melanoma I had started with a nodular primary which was fairly symmetrical and as it got larger looked almost like a blood blister. The bad thing is that type of melanoma goes deep beneath the skin rather than spreading superficially on the top which means it's more likely to get into the lymph node system and or spread through the bloodstream to organs before being diagnosed. When diagnosed early all types of melanoma have a much better success rate of not spreading.
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All melanoma can eventually spread but since nodular is often not diagnosed until later, the risk can be higher that it will have spread before diagnosed. Mucosal melanoma doesn't even start in the skin but starts in mucosal linings so that type is even higher risk of being advanced prior to diagnosis as is acral melanoma which starts under nail beds. For my purposes here though, I'm primarily talking about melanoma which originates in the skin which is the most common type. I've been very lucky because it has been 5 years since my primary was excised as well as the lymph nodes removed in the basin where it spread. I haven't had any recurrences elsewhere, knock on wood.
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I would like to encourage everyone who hasn't had a skin check to get one because when caught early, the prognosis for melanoma is excellent. However, once it spreads it is often fatal. Also, if you have children with something on their skin which changes, in rare cases, children can get melanoma. Sunburns increase the risk but people who never burn and or are rarely in the sun can carry a genetic mutation which makes them more likely to get melanoma even without UV abuse. Well, I guess I'll stop here. I hope no one minds me piggy backing a melanoma post on a Today's Flowers post. To visit other sites with flowers around the world, please go to the home of Today's Flowers.

26 comments:

Nance said...

A very interesting info, Carver. Thanks for sharing. I have never had my skin checked before...guess I've better have one.
You have a nice garden!

Evelyn said...

You have a nice garden.
Lots of sun lotion... Skin cancer is quite common in Australia.

Leora said...

I love the way you weaved the melanoma information among your lovely flower photos. Best wishes.

Pat said...

Gorgeous flowers! Thanks for all the melanoma info. I have skin that tans easily and in my teens I was a "sun worshipper." Now at 62 I'm paying for it with age spots and big dark moles. So far, no melanoma, but I keep my eyes on one or two of those moles to check for any changes...and I use sunscreen on my face. I guess I should use it on my arms & legs, too, but I'm too lazy to do that every day.

chubskulit said...

Very informative! Lovely collection too!

My share for Today's Flower

eileeninmd said...

Thanks for the Melanoma info. Your blooms are just gorgeous! Wonderful series of photos!

ramblingwoods said...

I am linking to this post..so important and I am so happy that you are here to help educate the rest of us...Michelle

EG Wow said...

Thanks for all this great information, Carver. Melanoma seems to be getting more and more common so the more who know about it the better! I's glad you have gone five yeas without cancer and hope you go many, many more!

http://graceolsson.com/blog said...

its very difficult to say which flower is the best...so..I will take all.
thank u v ery much for your vsiit and comment

noel said...

aloha carver,

thank you also for sharing this post and information...i'm glad you noted that people of color also have the same issue with getting this and its also evident here in hawaii.

best wishes

noel

Denise said...

Thank you for all this very important information Carver. The more we know about these things the better for us all. Gorgeous flowers in your garden, a beautiful series of flowers.

Squirrel said...

Wonderful post!! And a great way to spread the word about melanoma.

Beautiful selections of flowers as well.

SandyCarlson said...

So much in your garden is so very beautiful. Sure do love the irises!

Autumn Belle said...

This is a good way to promote meloma awareness since it is quite closely related to gardening. Your flower pictures are so bright, vibrant and gorgeous. Keep up the good work!

eden said...

Such a beautiful garden you have, Carver. I love all your flowers. Great shots. And thank you for sharing the information about melanoma.

girasoli said...

Great post. I really abused my skin for years and am finally much more careful although I suspect the damage has already been done. Good info to know about the different types of melanoma. So glad to hear you are doing well. And I loved the flowers.

Naturegirl said...

As I too am a survivor of two primary cancers I know the relief you feel.Your warnings to others is good advise. Thank you and continue on your road of wellness!
hugs anna

gengen said...

wow they are pretty flowers...happy TF!

Johnny Nutcase said...

good info in here and beautiful photos, so many colorful flowers- all in your yard, how nice!

Suzi Smith said...

lovely photos and a a good way to promote awareness... it is something that we tend to take for granted, or think we know. Blogging is such a healing journey for so many people isn't it? Glad to hear things are going well.

Dave said...

I love the photos and invaluable info about melanoma.

Laura Hegfield said...

thank you for all of this valuable information!!! My father is an oncologist and my mother has had some lesions removed...and well me, my husband and daughters are all quite fair skinned, so we have to really be careful. I understand so well about you blog, writing and photography being a place of healing...it is so for me as well. Congratulations on reaching 5 years cancer free...your colorful blossoms and sharing of your story is a perfect way to celebrate!!!

Mar said...

I love your flowers, Carver. And what a beautiful way to decorate your post, thanks for the information and the message of awareness, I guess it cannot be said too much.

Short Poems said...

Beautiful collection,you have such a nice garden :)

Marinela x

AscenderRisesAbove said...

Such beautiful photos combined with some sad facts. I especially like the one with the little petal in the center. You do have a beautiful garden and would love to come and sit a while and listen to the birds.
Thanks for the reminder to check out those moles and skin tags.

Carole Meisenhelter said...

your filtering of melanoma awareness in amongst the flowers is nicely done. Melanoma sadly took my husband's life in 2010; it was a long haul, working within trials, many surgeries and the various stages of progression, and heartache. Thankyou for your showing to others how important it is for us to keep up, the check-ups.

My 'dedication' is here:

http://dragonfly47.blogspot.com/2010/10/des-meisenhelter-life-enjoyed-but-not.html