Friday, June 27, 2008

Kate's Foundation

Last night I was on my Facebook account and saw that I had a friend request. I just love friend requests!

I have never received a request from anyone I do not already know or at least recognize. Most are from the mommy blogosphere. This request, however, was different. First of all, the account was not opened with a person's real name but a sort of pseudonym. Rare Meat wanted to be my friend. Hmmmm....interesting.

I normally would have just denied the request, but I was curious. Something told me to check this one out. Maybe a little whisper in my ear? On Facebook you must accept the request to view the person's profile. I could always remove the "friend" later, if need be.

I clicked on the accept button and proceeded to Rare Meat's profile page. I clicked on View Photos of Rare. There was only one picture. The face was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place the woman looking back at me. She seemed to be about my age. Yes, I know her, but from where or when?

I went back to her profile page and started scanning for other clues. I saw a website address. It hit me.

Quite a few years ago I had heard, through high school friends, that a girl I had grown up with, had passed away from skin cancer. Rare Meat, I realized, was a woman named Amy, the sister of my classmate. She had graduated high school with MY sister. I went back to the picture. It had been over two decades, but it was clear to me now, this was indeed Amy.

I thought back to my school years. Kate, or Katie as I remember her, and I were not friends. That's not to say we were enemies, we just traveled in different circles. We did know each other, somewhat, as we did attend all 12 years of school together. We also attended religion classes in the same parish, in the same small town. I even believe we were cheerleaders together for Pee-Wee Football during 6th grade.

I remember hearing of her passing and thinking how sad her family must be. I thought, "What a horrible ordeal Katie must have gone through."

I clicked on Kate's Foundation link on Amy's Facebook profile. There I read the heartbreaking story of Katie's diagnosis and illness as retold by her father. I also came to know of how strong and giving she was.

Kate began her Foundation before she lost the battle to Melanoma in October of 2000. Amy and her family have carried on her memory by continuing to educate people on the dangers of this horrible disease.

I worry about skin cancer, as I am fair skinned with a lot of moles. I have not always taken care of myself in the sun. I recall many bad burns during my teen years. I never wore sunblock. For God's sake, I used baby oil and a foil covered record album to tan my face!

Thankfully I have taken better care of my children than I did myself. My son, W., has Vitiligo and he also has some pretty large moles, though only 10. I make sure to use sunblock on him and his siblings whenever they are in the sun. W. and I have also been seeing a dermatologist, annually, since he was 6 years old. She is keeping close eye on the large moles he has and has informed me that she made need to take them off in the next few years due to their size.

Now that summer is upon us, please remember to do all you can for you and your children to protect yourselves. Stop by Kate's Foundation and read up on Melanoma Facts, Prevention, and how to perform a Self-Screen (download and print a bookmark to use as a handy reference tool).

Amy, thank you for contacting me. You have opened my eyes and you have touched my heart. Good luck in your remembrance of Katie.


BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

What an incredibly inspiring story and awesome organization (I Stumbled this!)

EE said...

I was a baby oil fan...with the wrinkles to prove it.
Very inspiring story...thanks for sharing.

Leigh said...

Great tips!! Like you, I had poor tanning habits in my youth. Though it was a short window of time (I couldnt tolerate the heat, I did stupid things). I recall one day my friend and I tanning on my rooftop, rubbing on cooking oil and waited to fry up like chickens. Another istance I got a severe burn, bubbled up. People on the beach ( I didnt know) started stopping and telling me. It was grose. And left my chest with small freckles.
When I got to be about 18, I could not tolerate the heat any longer. BSo from time to time I went to the tanning bed. Even worse-no matter what the folks that work there tell ya! I did this off and on for about 2 -3 years and quit.
About 4 years ago, I had 2 dark spots removed from my stomach. The dermatogist told me that they were precancerious. She said, most likely from the tanning bed.
Now, I cover up. I always wear a hat if I am out in the sun for any extended period. I wear SPF lotion daily (lubiderm). And I always always always lather up the fmaily if we are at the beach or pool or outside for any amount of time. And then I reapply.
It really IS scary.

I appreciate you writting this story. I think it can touch alot of people.

Tricia said...

What a great story. A blast from the past with a message. That's wonderful!

Christine said...

Ugh. What a sad story.

Thanks for the virtual kick in the tuchus...I'll be better about hats and spf!

Queen Goob said...

It's always great to hook up with friends from the past, not always great why. This, however, was a great story - thanks for sharing.

Louisiana Belle said...

Great post. I worshipped the sun in my teens, slathering on the baby oil and using reflectors to make sure I didn't miss a ray. Finally wised up by my late 20s, but took up tennis for 12 years. I'm 40ish now and avoid the sun like the plague. It's nice someone is carrying on your classmate's legacy with something positive. They might want to reconsider "Rare Meat" for a moniker, though. :/

"J" said...

I just wanted to say hi! I came over from Leigh's blog! I have melanoma or should I say had...they removed it from my stomach (very small dark mole) and just knowing someone dies from this freaks me out! It's not like I'm sick, or have pain for remind me! But I do have a 2" scare on my stomach! I need to be way more cautious! I think I got it from a tanning bed! I use to lay in them all the time! I also laid out in the sun in my teenage years! Baby oil, oil with glitter in it, even cooking oil...ONCE! That's all it took! UGH!

I just want to THANK YOU for post like this to remind of us to use SPF and protect our skin!!!