In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, last week I shared a picture of the pink ribbon on my personal Facebook page. Thanks to one of the new features, I can see that it was shared 3 times. As I have mentioned before I have been involved in Breast Cancer Awareness events in the past several years. There are personal reasons for this, I lost a dear friend/family member to her second battle with breast cancer, her mother is a two time survivor, another family member and her mother are both survivors. It is an important cause.
Well, a few days later I get an email that says "with all your skin cancer stuff, I thought you were over the breast cancer thing now" What? Are we only allowed one cause at a time? No. I also support Diabetes and Heart research/awareness/prevention. Also because someone I love has been affected by these.
They are all important causes, and the support of one, does not negate the support of the other. Yes, right now my primary energy is towards melanoma. Why? Quite simply, everyone knows about breast cancer, everyone knows the risks for diabetes, heart and stroke, and they are getting attention. I want that attention towards Skin Cancer and Melanoma awareness too. Looking back, for a while Lung Cancer and Emphysema got a lot of attention for a while as everyone fought the tobacco companies. I remember a period of time when Diabetes research got a lot of attention. The cardiac organizations go through their stages where they get a lot of attention. Thanks to a brilliant campaign, Breast Cancer is now getting attention.
All the while, the Skin Cancer organizations are struggling to get the same name recognition out there. It has been more of a word of mouth campaign. Those affected, share with those they know. There are various events around the country, some organizations use an orange ribbon, most a black ribbon, one even uses a white ribbon that has black spots. Information is spurratic, sometimes too medical. I even came across a site recently that disputes everything that the skin cancer awareness campaigns stand for, and in a very convincing way. It is understandable after reading that site, how the tanning industry has been able to have their customers see the world through rose colored tanning goggles.
I see good things happening though. California just passed a ban on tanning for anyone under the age of 18, many others are passing legislation restricting usage to parental consent. The FDA has new guidelines for sunscreen manufacturers and labeling. In my personal life, I am encountering less people who think skin cancer is just cut out, and more who are, vaguely, aware that melanoma is in a different class than other skin cancers. I'm very encouraged by this, I hope that even though it is a frustrating road, that my fellow warriors are also encouraged by the baby steps. Slow and steady..