I suppose it's a good thing when your mortal nemesis has both its own day and month for people to understand the disease and advocate against it, right? Today is designated as "Melanoma Monday."
I think the idea for the first Monday in May to be melanoma-related was by the American Cancer Society, but honestly, I'm not sure where it came from. The ACS? The American Academy of Dermatology? One of the many advocacy/support organizations? Who cares! The origins are not important; it's the message that counts.
May is also National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month, which, according to cancer.net, we share with Brain Tumor Awareness, Neurofibromatosis, Oncology Nursing, Nation Cancer Research, and World Non-Tobacco day. A little crowded on this boat, but with only 12 months of solar circumnavigation, there is little choice but to share awareness space. I covered the melanoma basics in last year's Melanoma Monday post — so after you re-read that (you know you want to), we can skip right to what is being done for Melanoma Monday and Month in 2014.
The Melanoma Research Foundation has their #GetNaked campaign all month – and really, it's great marketing to put an almost-NSFW picture with a provocative hashtag for a very serious message. They are encouraging everyone to do regular skin checks on yourself and your loved ones. "Don't be shy – melanoma isn't" is part of the slogan to push self-examinations. Really, this should be a lay-up… "De-robe your husband/wife to 'prevent cancer'" sounds like a cheesy line from desperate spouses, but when the OTHER benefit of this is avoiding terminal disease, it's a no brainer, right?
Plus, there is a LOT going on in the melanoma world to make sure you all don't end up with a blog on Philly.com about your battle with cancer.
Locally, the Phillies and The Wistar Institute will have a Melanoma Awareness Day next Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. The MIF just completed their Safe From The Sun Walk/5k; I couldn't make it this year, but Mom rallied the troops to a second-place finish in team fundraising – way to go Mom! Miles For Melanoma is underway across the country, and is coming to Ocean City, NJ on May 17th (Side note – you could make it a charitable day at the shore and attend a second fundraiser a few miles inland that afternoon that supports AED placement in schools to help children survive sudden cardiac arrest). The MRA is holding a Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma event in Manhattan on May 20th.
Nationally, Major League Baseball will once again be sponsoring a league-wide Play Sun Smart initiative (details TBA). The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designates the Friday before Memorial Day as "Don't Fry Day."
So for the month of May, I urge you all to be on the lookout for heightened advocacy and educational efforts. Be a part of reaching out and educating others; attend events if you can. Make sure family and friends learn what many of you already know through your experience or mine – sun safety is a very real concern.
One well-known doctor at the MRA Scientific Conference alluded to prevention and early detection efforts being the biggest opportunities to fight this disease. Don't wait until your mother and girlfriend pester you to go to the dermatologist to get that spot checked out (like, um, some Stage IV bloggers you may read); your chances of avoiding melanoma altogether are astronomically higher if you are vigilant about sun safety and early detection.
Protect yourself. Let others know. Check out your skin. And oh yeah, get naked.
T.J. Sharpe shares his fight against Stage 4 Melanoma in the Patient #1 blog. Read more »