The week after having a revelation in church that perhaps the two small spots on my lung are part of the plan for delivering the message I am meant to share, three people approached me, within a couple of days, asking advice and thanking me for sharing my melanoma story.
One lady, diagnosed with melanoma, came to our office asking what I have done to help protect myself from spread of the black beast, after reading my column revealing the latest in my melanoma journey. While I could only share with her, what I feel helped me and the resources I have accumulated and followed in the almost two years since my diagnosis, talking with her, letting her know I understand seemed to be the most important thing for me to do on that busy Monday.
Then within a day or two, I received an email from a teacher whose class I had talked to and told about my journey. Because of hearing what I said, she scheduled a skin examine months before she would have otherwise. That examine came back indicating she had pre-melanoma spots, which could quickly turn to melanoma, if not taken care of right away.
“Thank you, thank, you, thank you! I have two small boys at home and I need to be around for a very long time,” she wrote. “I truly owe ya one.”
That same day, in reply to a Facebook post about the lady who stopped in the office, a friend shared the result of her whole body skin check – basal cell carcinoma. She also thanked me for what I have shared.
I’ve shared my story with whoever will listen in the hopes of people seeing the importance of sun protection and checking their skin on a regular basis. Never had I imagined this sort of impact. As a writer and avid reader, I know the best stories involve conflict and struggle and overcoming odds. Sometimes the most meaningful stories are the hardest to write.
None of us will ever ride into town on a donkey as palm branches are spread on the ground. None of us will suffer to save mankind, but each of us has a purpose, a story, a mission for life that we need to fulfill. I never expected mine to be this, but to consider this melanoma journey as burden to bear rather than a mission to humbly perform, weighs on the soul and deeply saddens the heart.
I’ve never considered my cancer journey a private course. To suffer without trying to help someone else, only adds to what the disease steals. Melanoma has taken much, but it cannot take away purpose and pride and strength, no matter how weak we may feel at times.
I won’t know the next chapter of my story for another month, and even then, it might not be clear, but I do know whatever the next chapter, the next page, it cannot diminish my message.