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. www.katesfoundation.com. 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 fight....in remembrance of Katie.