Melanoma…It’s Cancer

A little over two years ago, I had a lot to share. And now it’s been ages since I’ve written on here. I recently flipped through my old posts and re-lived memories.  But in the midst of the many entries that I created, not one of them was truly dedicated to educating others about Melanoma.  Intentional? Yes.  At times I was intent on being as ignorant as possible when thinking Melanoma. I have it.  I don’t want it.  I want to live a normal life.  I don’t want to think about it.  Result: No posts about the true hard facts surrounding this deadly disease.  Root?  I am weak.  Thinking about Melanoma and educating others reminds me more than I want to be reminded.

Sure, I’ve been an open book when discussing my own experience with it.  But one being open about their own life is not unatural.  After all, we have turned a 28 year old (Mark Zuckerberg) into a billionare because we like to vainly proclaim each detail of our lives to eachother.  Studying the facts, numbers, and percentages of Melanoma is much more surly.

Dialogue with the peeps

Dialogue with many over the last two years has been mostly encouraging, and yet at times very awkward.  Especially when they run into me burnt or tanned from head to toe.  I quickly sense an inward panic as they conjure up an excuse or fib because they’re embarrassed.  At times, I can tell it’s out of true disgust that they made a mistake of not putting sunscreen on, and they understand the ramifications.  But many are embarrassed because they know it’s a habit, or dare I say addiction.

How did I get Melanoma?

I’m don’t have crazy light skin. I don’t have blue eyes, red or blonde hair. I didn’t go to tanning beds.  There’s no family history of skin cancer.  What gives?

Simple answers: I’m white (i.e. I’m of European origin :0 ).  I also grew up being a typical male who didn’t think twice about protecting his skin.  I played soccer for much of my life, worked outdoor jobs, and enjoyed being in the water while taking part in recreational activities.  I remember instances when stepping into the shower screaming in excruciating pain while resembling something of a human fire ant.

 

Let’s go further than just me.  The top 10 countries for Melanoma incidence are Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United States, Austria, Iceland, and Netherlands.  It doesn’t take a Wolfgang von Goethe to point out there there’s one very distinct common characteristic in the populations of these countries. 

In the United States alone, from the years 1999-2006 there are some crazy numbers!  In that span on a yearly average, there were nearly 45,000 new cases of Melanoma in  the United States (this surveillance data only covers 78% of the US popluation).  42,000 of those cases, were in caucasians  and only 3,000 cases were blacks, Asians, American Indians, and Hispanics.  That’s astounding!  Equally mind blowing is this.  96% of all Melanoma deaths in America are caucasian.

So what’s the deal with our skin?

Melanin is a substance that every human being has in their skin.  It gives our skin and hair it’s color.  One of it’s more important benefits is that it provides protection against the harmful rays of the sun. Other ethnicity groups outside of caucasians have a high melanin density, which reduces the risk for cutaneous Melanoma.   However, melanin does not completely protect you from the sun and people with darker skin are still at risk for damaging it.  Just not nearly as easily.  Darker skinned individuals, (No, I’m not speaking of white people who think they have dark skin) are able to tolerate exposure to the sun for hours without getting sunburnt.  It only takes minutes for a person with lighter skin to get burnt. 

I’ve heard all sorts of crazy thoughts and excuses over the past two years about protecting (or not protecting) their own skin. And I’ve written almost every one of them down.  This one I’ve actually heard this more than once, “It can’t truly be the suns rays that cause skin damage and skin cancer.  Populations near the equator don’t have the skin cancer rates that we do.  They must be doing something right.”  Yeah they are.  God designed them with more melanin and it’s as simple as that. 

…and there is soooo much more to come peeps! 🙂

 

To register for Denny’s Challenge which is a race in July that raises support of Melanoma or to donate money to our fundraiser that goes directly to the Melanoma Research Foundation go to http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jasonnorton/MFMDennysChallenge5k2012?utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=share&utm_source=at-facebook&utm_content=eua#.T9vGkP-70sQ.facebook.   We would love to see you all there!

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