I've been trying to keep up to date with all the news about Hurricane Sandy, while outside my own window the weather alternates between sunny and warm, dreary rain, and actual snowflakes arriving with the drop to minus 5 degrees Celsius this morning.

Such devastation.  Such tragic loss.
Sharks in New Jersey?    Well, I don't know the truth of that one, but the other - I have seen flicker across my TV screen.

But I also know that heroes will emerge.  Common, everyday, decent people who no one probably gave a second glance -- will do something amazing and courageous in the face of tragedy.

Who is your hero?
Share about someone who has inspired you and how. Or someone who had a big influence on you at some point in your life.


As you probably know, October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and now this month had become more commonly known as "Movember"; bringing awareness to Prostrate Cancer.

I am sitting back with my cup of coffee and opening my blog doors to a very special guest today.   Someone whose story has inspired me.   Someone I consider a hero - her story will explain why.

Please welcome Kisma from Sounds Like Life to Me as today's Special Chat Guest - who has a very important message to share.  I know there is much information, but it's important because you may have to be a hero some day too.   then you will be glad of her courage to share today.




Hi there! My name is Tiffany or for those that already follow my blog, I go by Kisma.  Here is my link-­‐ Stop by, would love to chat-­‐ 


I started following Les a few years back as I was still creeping into the blogging
world. I literally just wanted an outlet for my thoughts and this worked well. It is amazing how the Internet can connect us with people we would otherwise never meet much less relate too! 

So, that being said, Rory approached me some time ago about doing a guest post to her fun blog about something very important; both near and dear to my heart. 

Once October arrives, it is the month of breast cancer awareness.  So the world explodes in a mass array of PINK!!!!  OMG-­‐ let me say how much I hate dislike that color.  Not because it represents this form of cancer, just because I don’t do pink.
 

Back on topic-­‐ the color for the month I prefer is Black, which represents a form of
cancer many people are unaware of which is Melanoma
What’s that you ask??? 
It is the deadliest form of skin cancer especially if not caught early.  Read that line again…. I’ll wait. 

Now before your brain allows you to say “ it’s just your skin” let me share with you
that your skin is your largest organ that surrounds and protects all the things on the
inside of your body. 

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports the following:

“While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The
American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women. “
(http://www.skincancer.org/skin-­‐­‐information/melanoma)

Catching it in the early stages requires little treatments and is 99% curable but requires treatment none­‐the-less. Catching it later in the stages of II and higher requires a bit more aggressive measures.  

So you must be wondering why I am so interested in this particular form of cancer? 

On July 17 2002, I was diagnosed with borderline Stage I-­‐II melanoma. Due to my husband pestering me about a mole on my back, I went in to a dermatologist to have it looked and removed. I thought nothing more of it. A few days later I got a call that would forever change my life and send me down a road I wish no one had to travel.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones because I did what many haven’t and that is caught the cancer in its early stages and all that was required was a “simple” surgery to remove the spot. Many folks have heard the term, “cut it out”. I hate that term. It’s painful-­‐ and leaves scars.

Since that day here is what happened to me:

   I went through numerous check ups and scans to ensure nothing else was lurking about after the initial diagnoses.
      Once cleared on the above, I was put on a check up schedule of every 3 months to examine and remove what would later result in multiple cases of basal cell carcinoma (which is the most common form of skin cancer but not as deadly)
   Within the first year of my diagnoses I had 10 surgeries’ to remove moles, spots and areas of concern from my body.
   I learned that due to my family history, fair skin and excessive moles, my chances of developing Melanoma are higher than the average individual.
   Since that original diagnoses, I have had melanoma once more, again, caught in the early stages.
   My body has more scars then the average teenage boy.
   I have basal cell on my face twice, which requires a more specific procedure that only certain doctor can perform known as MOHS surgeons.
   I have been battling this disease for a decade and have beaten it again and again.
   I continue to see my doctors every three months and have done so for the
last decade. When we tried to give me a break and push the check ups out to six
months, that is when my second melanoma was discovered.
   I consider myself one of the lucky ones and I use the term loosely because I don’t think any of this is fun at any level. I have never had to go thru chemo or radiation. I know many who have; I also know many who have been taken from us because of this disease. Skin cancer is a BIG DEAL!!!
   To date I have lost count of how many biopsy’s I have had. I stopped counting at 100, and simply pray that I don’t have to go back in for more surgery. I
have had over 25 surgeries to remove cancer from my body-­‐ (two melanoma, the rest Basel cell.)


Here is what I want to share-­‐ it is important and many people will disregard this because they will say to themselves, it won’t happen to me.

   If you tan either out in the real sun or worse, in a tanning salon. YOU ARE AT A MUCH HIGHER RISK FOR DEVELOPING MELANOMA!!!
   If you have fair skin, red or blond hair and light colored eyes, you are at risk.
   If you have more the 50 moles-­‐ you are at risk.
   If you endured more then two severe sunburns as a child, you are risk.
   If you have a family history of skin cancer or cancer at all, you are at risk.
   If you are African American descent, you are not exempt; you too are at risk.

All of these except the first and last-­‐ APPLY TO ME!!!


Please see the link below for more information on Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer:

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-­‐­‐information/melanoma/melanoma-­‐
causes-­‐and-­‐risk-­‐factors

Melanoma doesn’t get the attention it deserves. All the focus is on the larger well-­‐ known ones, breast, colon, and lung, etc.… but let me assure you, it is a big deal!  Your skin is what keeps the internal parts of you safe. If your skin develops melanoma, you run the risk of it spreading deep within the realm of your body.  If you ask me, cancer is cancer. It should all be treat with the same respect.

In all that has been listed above, I have continued to live life, more now then ever. I don’t avoid the sun, I embrace it and use my sunscreen and protect my skin. I am smart with the sun. We have come to an understanding. I am a mother of two amazing children and married to my high school sweetheart whom without his insistent to have the spot looked at ten years ago saved my life. I could go on and on about this disease but it is simply my hope that you will click on the links I have provide and educate yourself and take a stand to protect your skin.

Below is a list of links for various websites that will help educate you as well as alink to people just like you and I that have conquered this disease and want to share
their story.



(This gal is truly an inspiration) I follow her faithfully and she is spreading the word.

women-­‐melanoma-­‐rates-­‐on-­‐the-­‐rise
This link can also be found on my blog-­‐ here. http://kismaslife.blogspot.com/2012/04/education-­‐­‐its-­‐best.html

Here are few posts I have done in the past revolving around this disease.

http://kismaslife.blogspot.com/2011/09/three-­‐­‐flies-­‐when-­‐your-­‐having-­‐
fun.html

 

There you have it. Also if what I mentioned wasn’t enough to get your attention: I
have also attached a few photos to hopefully get my point across:





May not seem like a big deal, but the scars tell the story. 
Would you want to endure all this? 
This isn’t even ALL of them. They are simply the ones I can show you. My back has taken the brunt of this disease. Bathing suits and backless dresses tend to present an interesting conversation to those brave or curious enough to approach and inquire with me as to what they represent.


 Thank you so much Tiffany for being my guest today and sharing this most personal battle.  I cannot begin to fathom the depths of both fear...and courage to which you have visited.   I hope that many today will be touched by your story.   As for myself, whenever anyone asks me why I look so young, or what beauty/aging secrets I have.  I simply say:  sunscreen.  Every day ladies.   And that includes the snowy months too for those of you residing in winter climes like myself.    Just like a best friend.....it might just save your life one day!

So who has inspired you in life?   
Tell me about your hero?

NEXT WEEK:   "Lessons Learned"   What's the most important lesson you have learned thus far in life?  Did you "get it" straight away, or did it take a few tries?   Share your wisdom. I'm open to more Guest Posts too; just contact me if you are interested.