The AAD tried to change our color from Black to Orange. It enraged the melanoma community, but it also brought attention to melanoma and all we stand for.
We have had movement in getting bills passed in several states which would ban minors under 18 from using tanning beds. Oregon just passed the bill into law, being the third state in the United States. Illinois and Texas are right on their heels, just waiting for their Governor’s to sign the bill into law. People have been working hard to make this happen.
There have been numerous awareness walks, honoring our warriors, and remembering those no longer here with us.
And then there are the Billboards all across Grand Rapids, Michigan showing Jillian’s smiling face, along with her beloved pup, ”Chancy Pants”.
Indeed, these determined warriors have been busy this month. But at what cost?
I was having dinner with a friend last night when the waitress noticed my blue bracelet and asked me what it meant. It was one of the rubber bracelets with the inscription, “Jillian 9/24/89-12/29/12 Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight”. I looked up at her and said, “This is in memory of my daughter who died from Melanoma”.
She stuttered a little bit as she apologized for my loss. I felt the familiar lump rise in my throat as the stinging tears threaten to fall. Looking across the table, my friend said, “That must be very hard for you…what you do”. I didn’t understand what he meant. He explained, “ Your cause. Always the constant reminder”. I tried to explain without breaking down that this helps me with my grief. It helps me to keep Jillian’s name alive. It helps me to fight her enemy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this exchange. It reminded me that I am not the only person working hard for a cause. There are real hurting people that stand, holding tight to their passion, whatever that may be. We applaud their efforts, congratulate them on any advances, without really realizing what it means for them. What does it mean to be constantly reminded their loved one has cancer, or some other illness? That their loved one is no longer with us? What does it mean for the person holding a placard with the face of their loved one? There are times when I’m sure those people wonder, what am I doing here? I don’t want this. What is the cost for sharing their stories?
I sure don’t have those answers, but I want to be more aware that there is a price, and to acknowledge their selfless efforts.
So, thank you, my warrior friends for having the courage, the voice, and the determination to continue on this journey towards awareness, in spite of the pain.
~Peace and Hugs~