Tomorrow I will spend more than half the day talking to seventh graders about skin cancer, melanoma and sun protection. I’m a bit nervous.
I’ve spoken in front of many crowds, enough to not be swallowed in fear like I was with my first forensics speech in high school where I nearly passed out. No, I’m a bit nervous for a different reason.
For two years, I’ve wanted this opportunity, to talk to youth, make them aware, tell them what I wish I had heard when I was younger. Not that I would have listened. That’s what makes me nervous.
I want to get it right. I want to reach them so they want to listen, so they walk away with at least one piece of knowledge that perhaps they will share with one or two other people, multiplying the impact.
I’m nervous because middle school is a fickle time when hormones are stronger than reason, and who wants to listen to an old lady nag on about something that will never touch invincible youth. Except it will. Except it has.
In a way, I’m lucky. I got melanoma when I was “old” in the eyes of a seventh grader. Not so old from the eyes of a 57-year-old with grand babies needing loving and hugs and long talks over popcorn and a movie.
I’m lucky because remarkable strides are being made in melanoma research, giving me a better chance of beating the odds. I’m lucky, because I have lived the 30 some years that some younger melanoma patients will never experience. I’m lucky because I’m strong, because I’m fit.
I’m lucky because I get this chance to maybe make a difference. That’s what makes me nervous.
I’ve researched. I’ve been researching since I was diagnosed. Now it’s just a matter of putting it in order, getting the facts out there that will make seventh graders take notice.
I’m a bit nervous. It might take me til the last hour to get it the way I really want it, but even in that imperfection, I hope speaking from my heart touches theirs.