On melanoma

Years ago a friend of mine wrote me about a melanoma she had had, one that doctors had operated on, one that she'd been lucky enough to get diagnosed in time and whilst she had medical insurance (it was in US). I was pretty ignorant at that point, to me melanoma was "when a mole grows bigger" so I acknowledged that she had had a problem, acknowledged that it was no longer a problem and left it at that.

It wasn't until I moved to New Zealand that I realised what a melanoma is. And then I sort of went... "Oh."

New Zealand and Australia have the highest melanoma rates in the world. My understanding of it is limited, but from what I know:

  • when melanoma gets deep enough that it enters blood stream - game over. 
  • Melanoma can grow under the skin without any visible marks on top of skin, or symptoms, and when it gets deep enough that it enters blood stream - game over.
  • Melanoma can grow quickly, in between yearly "mole checks" that are quite common in New Zealand, and when it gets deep enough that it enters blood stream - game over.
And I don't have much more to say about it than... "Oh."

I know children who no longer have some parents - because of a melanoma. I know people who no longer have some siblings - because of a melanoma - or wives/husbands - all because of a melanoma. Young, otherwise healthy people who've gone from happy to dead in a year.

And it makes me shudder, to think about it, and not in least because I'm that person who has fair skin, burns quickly and has lots of moles all over. 

Some of them have changed size/shape in the past few years and every now and again my GP has a look at them and records the size - and that's a healthy thing to do, but even then, it doesn't really guarantee anything!

And I have a problem with things that I cannot really help.

I'm self-reliant and I'm used to being self-reliant, so when something's wrong or uncomfortable or whatever, I'm used to fixing it; whereas in this case I can just do my best and then leave the rest to, well, life.

And to me, that's a big concept to swallow. 

But regardless of that - when a 9-year-old kid goes to his mother's funeral, it pisses me off. It's unfair!

Melanoma's unfair.

1 comment:

  1. Yes - it's cruel and unfair and all the things we can't wrap our minds around. I stopped being out in the sun unless I don't have to and since we live in Las Vegas I now try to wear sunscreen on my face and exposed body parts every day. Last year one of my moles started to change shape and I freaked out and had it taken out. it was fine. now i have a scar to show for it )).