Running with the Skin Cancer Warriors
Last Saturday, in the driving rain, I ran with a small but determined group of skin cancer warriors. As the Melanoma Research Foundation organizers and speakers repeated so eloquently, "Cancer doesn't stop for the rain, and neither do we."
It didn't get off to a very auspicious start. The idea of leaving my cozy apartment, finally cooled from the hot summer days, to enter a squall at 7am seemed downright nonsensical. Did I think about staying home and having another long cup of tea? You bet. I admit I half hoped it was canceled. When I rolled into the lot and saw the price for parking, my mood sank even lower.
It was the sight of several families and friends decked out in memorial t-shirts that finally lifted my mood and reminded me why we were here. One particular person stood out. I wasn't able to snap a picture of him before he sprinted off, so I'll have to describe. He sported a Cure OM t-shirt for MRF's ocular melanoma campaign, a large rainbow umbrella fixed to a hat, and cheerfully bopped around to the music. His joy struck me, and as I gazed at the other faces in the crowd, I realized everyone buzzed with chatter and energy.
Even in this rain, I thought, even when we're brought together by something as evil as melanoma! Here we are, celebrating the shared passion for change, the shared passion for remembering the strength of those we love, both those surviving and those passed. Advocacy can mean campaigning in DC or writing letters to local leaders. It can mean following your local organization and donating when you can. It can be as simple as signing up for a 5K (preferably on a dry day).
And most importantly, it can mean telling your story. On the bus, to a friend, posting online. The guest speaker, a young woman in the running for Miss Pennsylvania, spoke to the importance of talking to others about risks and urging them to get checked. It was striking to see someone so young having already dealt with melanoma. I was reminded of our advocate Anna. They are both helping their generation to practice better prevention.
Public events like this raise awareness and funds. They also bring something to participants - hope. I didn't feel angry, but I wondered what those who downplay melanoma and skin cancer would think of this. I wished we could beam them in. Just being there, feeling the energy, could go a little way towards changing minds. To showing the world that this fight wasn't and isn't a little rough weather.
Have you entered our Skin Cancer Awareness Month Giveaway?