a man gives an open gift to the viewer. Out of it flows doves and suns and sunblock and other objects from his life

Thirty Two and Counting: A Holiday Perspective

I owe a lot to the lady at the pool party.

In the summer of 1988, I was in Whittier, California, minding my own business, when melanoma walked into my life. “Black Death” as it was described to me barged in and left its mark. The lady at the party was a nurse who happened to notice the dark, ugly mole and brought it to my attention. I made an appointment with a dermatologist and the rest is history.

Opportunities to live

I am thankful overwhelmed by gratitude this holiday season because “Black Death” has not robbed me of the following since that fateful summer.

It has not robbed me of:

  1. The opportunity to enjoy 32 subsequent Christmas seasons.
  2. The opportunity to live overseas twice and travel to 48 of our states.
  3. The opportunity to get my first job and many since.
  4. The opportunity to get married and enjoy my bride for nearly 30 years.
  5. The opportunity to be a dad to two wonderful children.
  6. The opportunity to attend kids’ games, recitals, plays, movies, etc.
  7. The opportunity to see graduations, survive driving lessons, shoot baskets.
  8. The opportunity to love my family by providing for them emotionally, financially, and in so many other ways.
  9. The opportunity to earn a master’s degree.
  10. The opportunity to earn a black belt.
  11. The opportunity minister to students, the homeless, refugees, and professional athletes.
  12. The opportunity to travel with the New York Jets as their team chaplain for eleven seasons.
  13. The opportunity to work at Tom Brady’s first game in Foxboro and Dan Marino’s and John Elway’s final home games.
  14. The opportunity to attend the enshrinement of Curtis Martin and Kevin Mawae into the Pro Football Hall of Game in Canton, Ohio.
  15. The opportunity to minister to the New York Mets and provide chapel services for visiting teams for five seasons.
  16. The opportunity to sit in the dugouts at Shea and Yankee Stadium.
  17. The opportunity to pursue acting and work with Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Jeff Goldblum, Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Blythe Danner, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Denzel Washington, Bonnie Hunt, and so many other interesting folks.
  18. The opportunity to enjoy sunsets, Lake Effect snow, bike rides, ball games…

Black Death has not robbed me of these things. I have been blessed. I am one of the fortunate ones. The lady at the pool party gave me these opportunities because she spoke out. She was my advocate when I needed it most. She gave me the most amazing gift that summer, the gift of opportunity. Take stock of what opportunities you have been given, too.

My wish for you

I wish for the same for you this holiday season, an amazing life free from skin cancer. I wish for fulfilled dreams, contentment and peace. My admonition to you is to get your skin checked by a professional on a regular basis, do self-checks, use sunscreen and incorporate safe skin practices as part of your daily life. And what can you do for others?

Be a part of their wish

Advocate for others. Get the word out and educate the community. If you see something unusual on someone’s skin, say something, sensitively. Be a friend when others are getting treated or in recovery. Lobby in your state senate for laws that protect our children. You CAN make a difference. Be a part of someone else’s holiday remembrance story. Give them the gift of opportunity.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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