What is melanoma?

Someone died. She was not a close friend, and in fact I only knew her through blogging.  I read her blog, she read mine. You never really expect to go to someone’s blog and find that they have passed to another world — that their husband is the next guest post.

She was young, married, and had moved from Holland to the U.S. to start a dairy in Indiana. Leontien was beautiful — sharing her dreams and her struggles, while keeping an upbeat personality. She fought with faith. When I read that she had late stage melanoma skin cancer, I knew it was terminal.

I have lost several friends and family to melanoma, the young and the old. The first was a young man who had just returned from his mission in Ecuador, Scott Gibson. His mother and I are friends, and I well remember the days of hope and sadness. The next was our stake president’s wife. She left young children. Then my father-in-law died — a melanoma that had not been removed correctly years earlier. It’s the most common cancer in the United States. I only know of one 14-year old boy, William Bollard, who miraculously survived. He’s now married with a family of his own.

It runs in my family. Both my parents had melanoma, removed early before it became deadly. The curse of the fair-skinned blondes from the Scandinavian countries (although my dad had the olive skin.) My17 year-old son has an appointment to get one biopsied this month.  All of my kids are regularly checked. It’s one of the cancers that can be detected by looking at the skin. And if caught early, it has a 98% cure rate. But not all doctors are trained in detection. And we don’t always get our skin checked head-to-toe.

I am sad with the news of the young woman, Leontien, who died two days ago. This life is one of joy and grief and somedays I don’t really like mortality. I feel to weep with those who weep. I feel downtrodden by the heart wrenching things that happen here. She believed in heaven, and did not fear death, but worried about her loved ones having to care for her those last few weeks. Without my faith in a life beyond, where families are eternal, I would be devastated. Actually, I would be devastated even with my faith in God. I hope her family will be comforted.

And I guess that’s why Mormons share the gospel and perform proxy baptisms for their ancestors — to provide a link in the family line and ensure we are never really gone, but will come together again. Many faiths share this common hope. I went to the temple yesterday for Jane, one of my husband’s ancestors from Manitoba, Canada.

Everyone should take the time to watch this video on skin cancer detection and visit a good dermatologist.

Skin Cancer Detection Guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology

Spot Skin Cancer

When examining the skin, look for the ABCDEs of Melanoma and make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if any moles exhibit these signs:

A –Asymmetry: One half of the spot is unlike the other half.
B –Border: The spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
C –Color: The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown, or black, or with areas of white, red or blue.
D –Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm, or about the size of a pencil eraser when they are diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
E –Evolving: A mole or spot on your skin that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

Photography of Leontien Credit: Patch36.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06814109921379333571 Deila Taylor

    My heart broke when I read her husbands post that she had passed on. So sad.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06814109921379333571 Deila Taylor

    Yes, I felt the same way. These things have an effect on us even when we are hardly connected. I guess that is a good thing, compassion and that weep with those that weep.