Blogging through Mount Melanoma

Today I talked to high school kids about blogging, about the personal experience of cancer. What do I know about blogging? I’m a journalist. I blog because I have cancer. I blog for survival, for awareness. Up until now, I didn’t think I had much to share or say to anyone who I couldn’t speak to face to face.

But cancer changes that. It creates an awareness, an urgency you’ve never felt before, like you have to get it all out before it’s too late. It creates a writer’s flow I hope none have the privilege of experiencing because once you are in this club, there is no canceling your membership, there is no backing out.

How do you explain all that to 16 and 17-year-old kids who, hopefully, haven’t been dealt the horror of, the words, “it’s spreading”? How do you explain the passion that follows NED (No Evidence of Disease)? How do you explain the depth of love you feel when you were at risk of losing it all? How do you explain the intense fear, the desperate anxiety that comes with a cancer diagnosis?

I compared it to mountains and valleys. Little did I know that up until now I had been living blissfully in the flat, beautiful plains of life where gentle breezes brush smiles on your face and you gaze into the never-ending horizon thinking storms will never reach your porch.

Cancer plunges you to the depths of Death Valley, then, if you are lucky, bungee cords you up to the peak of Kilimanjaro where you witness all the glory of nature in its richest colors with clarity the best Nikon lens can’t match. Until the cord drops you back down, almost allowing you to hit bottom again before springing back up. It’s the fastest mountain hike you will ever experience. And the most exhausting.

If it weren’t for my melanoma diagnosis, I doubt I would be blogging. There are so many bad blogs out there, why add one more? I’m not in it for glitz or glamour, thus the sparse, dark layout of the blog with no added photos to compete with the message. I might get to that point. Afterall, I am a photographer too.

Melanoma is a dark, ugly beast. There is no glamour.

However, there is hope. Hope that by talking, by blogging, more will know, more will understand, more will take action to prevent the deadliest of skin cancers, to prevent all skin cancers.

What do I know about blogging? Not much. I do know I wish I could share this message face to face, but if I can’t, blogging is the next best thing.