I probably use this word at least 30 times a day. It simultaneously feels normal and horrible.
It’s my job.
I work for a childhood cancer foundation where we provide financial assistance to families of children with cancer. I’m truly proud of what I do because I know that we are making a difference and maybe, just maybe, changing the world.
Isn’t that what every little girl dreams of doing? I know I did. That’s quite a feeling to have at age 25.
Pondering how to change the world. Or my hairstyle. No such luck, as the mullet lasted another 3 years.
I read lots of stories from families. How they found out their child had cancer. What tipped them off. How they just had a feeling that something wasn’t right. Or how things went wrong far too quickly. A bad day at my job means that we aren’t just paying for chemo or helping a family with their electric bill. It means we are helping a family to pay for their child’s funeral.
It certainly puts things in my own life in perspective.
[Childhood cancer absolutely needs more attention in the media and more importantly, more funding! But that’s another story for another day.]
And up until recently, everyone in my family was in good health and “the c word” was mostly said during working hours only.
(warning, graphic image ahead)
If you can’t handle the surgery scenes on Grey’s Anatomy, this will do you in.
The person attached to this leg is 6’6″. That puts into perspective just how large this wound is.
And what on earth is this a picture of? It’s where melanoma used to be. That’s cancer. The deadliest type of skin cancer. On my step-dad. The man who raised me. Who read every essay I ever wrote. Who made me eggs and toast before every 6am cheerleading practice. And who has loved me as his own. It’s effing terrifying.
And yet, in my position, should I be surprised? Cancer is what I do all day! But when it hits your family, you are surprised. Blown away no matter what.
Now you might ask, why did she show us that gross picture? Here’s why: Your tan is killing you.
None of us are invincible. But the more time I spend in the world of childhood cancer the more all cancer seems like it’s another “c” word: a Crapshoot.
One day you might be healthy and the next some cell mutates and tag! You’re it! Or maybe, like my great-grandmother, you could smoke a pack of Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes every day of your life and live well into your 90’s. Who the hell knows.
But I know one thing: I’m wearing sunscreen.
A big thank you to Mike for letting me show the world this amazingly gross picture.