May is Melanoma Awareness Month

#Getnaked for Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma is the most aggressive and deadliest skin cancer. One of our Badger & Blade members has volunteered to share his story.

My name is Brian Landers. I’m a 5th grade teacher and husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may know me as mr_eleven here on Badger & Blade. The eleven is a reference to my stage 4 Melanoma diagnosis, as 11 of 24 nodes in the lymph gland associated with my gut were positive for cancer. I also have tumors in my right lung and bladder, yet as you will soon understand I feel that I am a very fortunate person.

Let me present a few facts about Melanoma and skin cancer that you may not know:

  • Every year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Melanoma is the second most common of all cancers in men and woman ages 15-29.
  • 1 in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime and it is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. and worldwide
  • Tanning beds are not healthier than sitting in the sun, and the UVA radiation used in tanning beds is three times the amount of harmful radiation emitted by the sun.

In March of 2014 the tumors in my body took up enough space to fill a stack of credit cards 6 inches tall – today they take up less space than that of dime, and even that dime is expected to go away, hopefully leaving me NED, or No Evidence of Disease. I am the exception however, as there is still a lot of research left to be done on drugs to effectively fight melanoma.

I have seen and been through a lot and understand my great fortune and will never take it for granted.What I want others to understand is that you must be informed and proactive about your health and you must ask questions, and if you don’t get the answers you need keep asking until you do.

What can you do to help prevent melanoma?

  • Be aware of your sun exposure and take steps to limit the sun’s harmful effects.
  • See a dermatologist every year and have regular whole-body skin checks.
  • Tell your law-makers that tanning salons need age restrictions and volunteer at your local hospital or care facility
Melanoma Self Screening Guide

Graphic courtesy of the Melanoma Research Foundation

I didn’t ask for any of this, nobody with cancer does, however I’ve chosen to not let my diagnosis limit my life in any way. In fact the opposite is true in that I now see and indulge life in ways most will never know. It truly is about the simple things – a nice close shave in the morning, a hot cup of freshly made coffee, a great day outside with friends and family, or just a quiet moment on the porch with an old, smooth whiskey.

There are amazing stories like mine and there will be many more, but there are also a lot of people struggling mightily every day with the the most honorable battle there is.

Join the Melanoma Research Foundation’s social media campaign to raise awareness of this disease.