See Something, Say Something

I barely remember her. I think she had long, straight, light brown hair. Nothing more really stands out. I remember that she was a nurse. About her, I knew essentially nothing, but today I owe her almost everything. She was the lady who said something. She told me that she thought that I had “black death”. That took guts! You see, we were at a pool party in Whittier, California. I was at a friend’s house and this lady was the friend of my friend. Who wants to hear that their life may be in jeopardy, especially in the middle of summer sitting in a Jacuzzi tub? Looking back, I did most certainly.

The stranger who saved my life

The nurse guessed that I had melanoma. As this was 1988 and I was 24, I had no idea what she was talking about. Skin cancer was not on my radar. Girls, being tan and fit, were. I ended up seeing a dermatologist in Pasadena and having a couple of surgeries and I am still here thirty years later and I owe it in the large to that lady who had the courage to say something to a complete stranger. She saw something and she said something.

Pointing out melanoma signs to a stranger

Move ahead to a couple of months ago, my wife, Kathy called me and said that she had spotted what she thought what may have been a melanoma on someone standing in line at a store. She wanted to know what I thought that she should do. This was a “no brainer” for me. My immediate thought was, “Save his life!” I felt very strongly that she should say something. I went back three decades in my mind and I concluded quickly that it was appropriate, even dutiful, to do this. Kathy felt the same way, but wanted to get my thoughts before acting.

Some sage advice

But, what about you? How do you feel about it? Maybe you are a skin cancer survivor or a current patient. Maybe you are a caregiver or simply an interested community advocate. How should you handle this? Well, here is some advice from a physician found in an article addressed to hairdressers that aligns well with my thoughts. Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff MD makes it clear:

“If you see something, say something! Any lesion, spot, bump, or funny-looking mole should be brought to the client’s attention. Don’t worry about offending your clients, but try not to alarm them, either! Simply point out the suspicious-looking spot, then suggest they have a dermatologist look at it.”

It’s Ok to save a life

I love this. There is care and concern. There is reality without over-dramatization. There is good advice in pointing a person to a healthcare professional. The risk of embarrassment and feeling obtrusive is outweighed by the possibility of saving a life. We, Americans, tend to be independent sorts. Understandably, we don’t want to intrude or press ourselves on others. But sometimes inserting yourself into a situation is worth it, whether it be at a pool party or standing in line for groceries.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America survey yet?