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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.