It was shortly after Valentine’s Day three years ago that my 11-year old daughter told our family physician that I had an ugly mole I was neglecting. This action led to a scary diagnosis of stage IIIB metastatic melanoma, three surgeries, immunotherapy treatments on clinical trial, and it quite possibly was the thing that saved my life. My wise kiddo knew the mole wasn’t right, and she made sure I got it looked after, as any loving family member would do.
Since that time, I have heard countless stories of family members noticing something that wasn’t right about a loved ones’ skin – by pointing out a mole or a bump or encouraging each other to prevent a sunburn by applying sunscreen or staying in the shade. Parents protect their children naturally, but children can also help their parents. Siblings, spouses, loved ones of every age and situation can help to save others from a deadly skin cancer diagnosis.
Routine skin exams save lives – and who better to look over our personal spots than someone we love and trust?
On Valentine’s Day many of us take the time to do something special for our sweeties, and in several provinces there is also a February holiday called Family Day. It is no coincidence that it is timed near Valentine’s Day – it provides a needed winter break, and it gives us the opportunity to spend time with the ones we love.
This loving week of the coldest month of the year is the perfect time to look after the things we may not otherwise notice. If our loved one had a persistent cough or a limping leg injury, we would take them to the doctor. Similarly, the skin, our largest organ, needs to be looked over for any unusual bumps or discolourations.
It doesn’t take long; just check it!
My family does now – we check everyone as they come in the door – just kidding! But we are very aware of the importance of skin health as part of our overall well-being. We are a skin cancer family. It’s not a chosen situation, it is simply a fact, as it is for millions of people worldwide who are affected by skin cancer of various forms.
Part of our melanoma support system is the skin cancer family we have met through Save Your Skin Foundation. Many folks in this network I have met through words, by photos, videos, or by voice, and some even in person. They are household names to me now, they are my peers and my friends; we share a bond unique to others in my circle.
I got to see some of my friends this week via a new video put together by Save Your Skin Foundation for presentation to the attendees of the 11th annual Canadian Melanoma Conference (CMC).
It was a poignant compilation of patients and their families having the opportunity to thank the physicians, health professionals, researchers, and industry representatives at the conference. All of these individuals are part of the melanoma family across Canada and patients appreciate them as much as they regard each other. These are the people who help save our lives.
This video, and the presentation by Founder Kathy Barnard at CMC, is another example of how Save Your Skin Foundation represents the patient voice on the national level. Save Your Skin regularly meets with government stakeholders, pharmaceutical companies, and medical professionals to bridge the gap between these groups and the melanoma patient.
Without your support, connections such as this would not be possible. Our melanoma family members are able to help each other across Canada with donations from our generous supporters. All donations go directly to patients and their families who need support while battling skin disease.
For Family Day, for our family and for your family, please do what you can to be healthy. And take a moment to check your sweetie’s skin. If you love them, check them.
Happy Valentines and Family Day!