May Is Melanoma Awareness Month….This Post Could Save Your Life!

***This was originally posted exactly two years ago, May 3, 2014. Some of the statistics may have changed, but at the time of this posting they were accurate and current.

melanoma placard

The month of May is Melanoma Awareness Month. A month to spread the word about the deadliest type of skin cancer and to encourage people to protect their skin. Many people think melanoma is “just” skin cancer….you cut it off and you are good to go. If only it were that easy. 😦

~ One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 57 minutes)

~ Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.

~ Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. Between 2000 and 2009, incidence climbed 1.9 percent annually.

~ 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.

~ About 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

~ Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men, along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer.

~ Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.

~ Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.

~ Melanomas can also form in other parts of your body such as the eyes, mouth, genitals and anal area.

~ A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

~ One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.

~ Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

~ The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances. Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes, and solar UV radiation.

~ Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent.

~ Of melanoma cases among 18-to-29-year-olds who had tanned indoors, 76 percent were attributable to tanning bed use.

~ People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

Who is at risk for developing melanoma?

Everyone is at some risk for melanoma, but increased risk depends on several factors. These are sun exposure, number of moles on the skin, skin type and family history (genetics).

Sun Exposure — Both UVA and UVB rays are dangerous to the skin, and can induce skin cancer, including melanoma. Blistering sunburns in early childhood increase risk, but cumulative exposure also is a factor.

Moles — People with many moles are at an increase risk of developing melanoma. People with more than 50 moles are at a greater risk. Some people have irregular and unusual looking moles called atypical moles or dysplastic nevi. This increases the risk of melanoma.

Family History — Any person who has a first-degree relative (mother, father, siblings or children) diagnosed with melanoma has a fifty percent greater chance of developing the melanoma than the person who does not have a family history of melanoma.

Genetic risk — A mutation in the BRAF gene, may play a part in causing melanoma. Mutations in this gene can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer. The mutations most commonly seen in familial melanoma occur in another gene, which is p53.

Personal History — Persons with a history of other type of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinomas are at increase risk for developing melanoma.

Skin Type — Fairer skin is at increased risk of developing melanoma.

Immune system — Any person with a compromised immune system has an increase chance to develop melanoma. The immune system can be compromised as a result of chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS or organ transplant.

Possible signs and symptoms of melanoma

The most important warning sign for melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin (known as the ugly duckling sign). If you have any of these warning signs, have your skin checked by a doctor.

The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Some melanomas do not fit the rules described above. It is important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.

Other warning signs are:

A sore that does not heal
Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain
Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule

As you can see, there are many ways to help prevent melanoma, as well as many warning signs. Unfortunately for Greg, there were no warning signs. Did he ever get sunburned? Probably a time or two in his life, but nothing significant. Did he ever use a tanning bed? Never. Did he use sunscreen. Yes. Did he spend hours in the sun when we went to the beach? No. He preferred the shade. Did he work outside a lot? Yes, but he wore sunscreen and a hat most times. Did he ever have anything on his skin that was suspicious or questionable? No.

Greg’s diagnosis came from a tiny, pea-sized growth that he felt under his skin on his left trunk area. Who would have thought that it was melanoma? Not the doctor or the surgeon. Certainly not us! After the surgeon removed the “growth”, he came out to the waiting room and told me, “It was just a cyst….no big deal. But we’ll send it to the lab, just to be sure.” Six days later I got the call from the surgeon…it was melanoma. Talk about shock!

So, there’s not always an explanation as to why someone ends up with melanoma. But, if there ARE things that can help reduce the risk of developing this deadly disease….why would you not take those precautions???? Why would you take the chance of going to tanning beds, or spending hours in the sun? Why would you not use sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc. when you are out in the sun? Why would you not be aware of any changes in your skin and have regular skin checks? As parents, why would you not do everything in your power to spare your children from this horrible disease?

Prevention and early detection are key!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day Four (Tuesday) Part 2

Well, it took me a few days but here is part 2 of Day Four! There are a lot of pictures in this post. I hope that if you are a sponsor family, you will get a glimpse of your child!

We arrived at Hope for the Children orphanage after lunch. School was in session, so we had a few minutes to catch our breath and get things set up. Unfortunately, it was during this time that I started having really bad pain, and nausea from the kidney stone. I was able to find a place to sit where the breeze was blowing and was able to cool off a bit. After about 20 minutes, the pain had eased up and I was able to be with the kids once they got out of classes. I was praying that I wouldn’t have any more pain on the trip.

We had a wonderful afternoon with the children….Bible stories, crafts, singing, dancing, basketball, and Uno! We were able to give each child a hand-made pillow with their name on it. All of them loved their pillows…even the older boys!

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Rosevaldine

Rosevaldine

Stephie

Stephie

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Jonas

Jonas

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Roseguerline

Roseguerline

Our sweet Minerva.

Our sweet Minerva.

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We gave Minerva her very own Story Bible.  One of the older boys who knew some English is reading to her and some of the other children. <3

We gave Minerva her very own Story Bible. One of the older boys who knew some English is reading to her and some of the other children.❤

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Minerva, Emilie and Willy

Minerva, Emilie and Willy

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Many of the children received gifts from their sponsor families. I cannot begin to tell you the anticipation and excitement from these sweet kids as they waited to see if their name was called. They were thrilled to receive a gift! It brought tears to my eyes as I watched the joy that these simple gifts brought to the children. It was amazing to me that these kids know the names of their sponsors and many would bring pictures of their “family” to us and ask us if we knew them. If you are a sponsor, please know that these kids know you, love you and even pray for you! You are a blessing to them! It is so important that you stay in contact with your child. Being a sponsor is so much more than giving a monthly financial gift.

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Bertin

Bertin

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Samuela

Samuela

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Limsly

Limsly

Jean Phillipe

Jean Phillipe

Christopher Louis

Christopher Louis

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Vil

Vil

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Neika Alisme

Neika Alisme

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Peterson Decius

Peterson Decius

Evens Joseph

Evens Joseph

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Jean Lyonelson Balmir

Jean Lyonelson Balmir

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Ketneau Jean

Ketneau Jean

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Djina Alcimeus

Djina Alcimeus

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Ruth Destinvil

Ruth Destinvil

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Cherolsben Ernst Desir

Cherolsben Ernst Desir

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Kervencia Beaute

Kervencia Beaute

These four children are siblings.  The oldest girl is Samuela.  She is with Kevin, Jennifer and Colin....her sponsor family.  I cannot remember the oldest boys name.  At the time this picture was taken, he did not yet have a sponsor.  The youngest girl is Minerva, our sponsor child.  The youngest boy is Sabendji and he is sponsored by our pastor and his wife.

These three children are siblings. The oldest girl is Samuela. She is with Kevin, Jennifer and Colin….her sponsor family. I cannot remember the oldest boys name. At the time this picture was taken, he did not yet have a sponsor. The youngest girl is Minerva, our sponsor child. The youngest boy is Sabendji and he is sponsored by our pastor and his wife.

What an amazing day this was! Sadly, it ended up being the last day for Emilie and I. That evening/night my pain began to worsen and I knew that I was going to need to seek medical attention. So after a sleepless night, Emilie and I caught a flight out of Haiti on Wednesday morning. I hated for Emilie to have to leave early, but I’m so thankful that she went with me. I would have never made it without her help. We flew from Port-au-Prince to Miami. Our flight from Miami to Charlotte was delayed, causing us to miss our connecting flight from Charlotte to Atlanta, which was the last flight into Atlanta for the night. 😦 The airline gave us a voucher for a hotel, but I was in so much pain at this time that the paramedics were called and I went by ambulance to the nearest hospital. After sitting in the ER for MANY hours, I was finally seen by a doctor at 6:45 Thursday morning. It was determined that I have “several good size” stones. We were exhausted by the time we left the hospital that afternoon and a friend took us to a hotel to stay the night. The next day some friends from church drove us home. At this point, I have still not passed the stones, so if you could remember me in your prayers I would certainly appreciate it!

Thankfully, Jacob was able to complete the trip with the rest of the team. It was an amazing experience for all of us and the Lord continues to teach me things through my time in Haiti. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me, Emilie and Jacob to be a part of the Haiti 2016 team and I pray that we will have the opportunity to go back!

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:11-15

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day Four (Tuesday) Part 1

Sorry this has been such a long, drawn-out story of our trip! With the busyness of everyday life, plus not feeling well, it’s been difficult to find the time to sit down and type it out. But…here we are at day 4!

We got up Tuesday morning and got ready for the day. Unfortunately Emilie and I had not gotten much sleep, as I was up a good bit during the night with pain. Since I was up…Emilie was up…it was a small room. :) By morning I was 99% sure that the pain and discomfort that I was having was from a kidney stone. (Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this before.😦 ) The pain wasn’t terrible and I thought I could make it through the day. After breakfast, we headed to another local school.

The drive through town was unbelievable. I’ve seen pictures before, but it was more than I could have imagined.

These were their taxis.  They were always packed with people.

These were their taxis. They were always packed with people.

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They were cleaning all of the garbage out of the gutters because they were expecting rain.  But they didn't actually pick it up...they just moved it into the streets.

They were cleaning all of the garbage out of the gutters because they were expecting rain. But they didn’t actually pick it up…they just moved it into the streets.

The traffic was crazy!  People were going in all different directions.  Motorcycles were weaving in and out. There are no stop signs, no red lights, and LOTS of horn-blowing!

The traffic was crazy! People were going in all different directions. Motorcycles were weaving in and out. There are no stop signs, no red lights, and LOTS of horn-blowing!

This guy came up to the bus selling plantains.  He had the greatest smile.  :)

This guy came up to the bus selling plantains. He had the greatest smile. :)

There was garbage everywhere you looked.  If you look close, you'll see a pig.  We often saw them roaming around eating the garbage.

There was garbage everywhere you looked. If you look close, you’ll see a pig. We often saw them roaming around eating the garbage.

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We drove through what was once a slave market. It is now used as a marketplace to sell food and clothing. Sometimes they would spread blankets on top of the garbage to set out their things, but sometimes it was just on the ground on top of all the garbage. There were people everywhere, along with goats and other animals.

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We arrived at the school and were met with a warm welcome! We spent the morning teaching the children about Jesus through song, dance, Bible stories and other activities. The children were adorable and a delight to be around!

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Around lunch time, we loaded onto the bus and headed back to Hope for the Children orphanage, where we would spend the remainder of the day.

I’ll try to post part 2 tomorrow!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day Three (Monday) Part 2

We finished up our time at the school, ate our PB&J’s for lunch, loaded back onto the bus and headed to Hope for the Children orphanage to spend another afternoon with the kids there. As I mentioned in my Day Two post, I had decided to sponsor a little girl named Minerva. We didn’t know which child she was, so we were anxious to meet her as we returned to the orphanage today! We asked around for her and quickly found her. I was excited to find out that we had made a connection with this little girl the day before….she was the sweet, little one that had been singing in my ear! How cool that the Lord gave us that connection before we even knew that she would be our sponsor child!

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Isn't she adorable??

Isn’t she adorable??

This little boy, Limsly, became Jacob's best buddy!

This little boy, Limsly, became Jacob’s best buddy!

Some of the girls using my phone to take selfies. :)

Some of the girls using my phone to take selfies.:)

Each of the girls received a dress that was made by some ladies in our church.  They loved them!

Each of the girls received a dress that was made by some ladies in our church. They loved them!

Lots of the children would come up to us with pictures of their sponsor families and ask if we knew them.  This boy asked me to take a picture of him with his pictures to give to his family.

Lots of the children would come up to us with pictures of their sponsor families and ask if we knew them. This boy asked me to take a picture of him with his pictures to give to his family.

We had a busy afternoon of teaching the children bible stories, singing, doing crafts and just spending time together. Then we loaded up and headed back to the Guest House. We ate dinner, had our evening meeting and called it a night. Unfortunately, this was the night when I first began to suspect that I had a kidney stone. Not much sleep for me (or Emilie) this night. 😦

Coming up….Day 4!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day Three (Monday) Part 1

*I’m dividing day 3 into two parts, since I have so many pictures to share.

Monday morning we headed to a local school to visit with the children and do some VBS type activities. We shared with the older kids the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. The younger children learned about Creation. There was also singing and dancing and picture-taking and card tricks and of course…candy!

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Some of the classes met outside.

Some of the classes met outside.

Clay and Lyn setting things up.

Clay and Lyn setting things up.

Jacob, Roxie and one of our translators.  Getting ready to tell the Bible story.

Jacob, Roxie and one of our translators. Getting ready to tell the Bible story.

Another one of our translators.

Another one of our translators.

They were cooking and washing in this little area.

They were cooking and washing in this little area.

These people were grinding corn almost the whole time we were there.

These people were grinding corn almost the whole time we were there.

Hanging on the walls of the school.

Hanging on the walls of the school.

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Looking into one of the classrooms.

Looking into one of the classrooms.

Waiting for the children.

Waiting for the children.

The sweet little ones as Jennifer taught them about creation.

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God made the sun.

God made the sun.

God made the fish.

God made the fish.

Coloring the days of creation.

Coloring the days of creation.

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Roxie and Jake hanging out with the kids.

Roxie and Jake hanging out with the kids.

All the kids loved Jennifer!

All the kids loved Jennifer!

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The kids loved having their picture made and taking pictures of themselves.

The kids loved having their picture made and taking pictures of themselves.

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The girls loved dancing with Roxie.

The girls loved dancing with Roxie.

Clay doing card tricks.

Clay doing card tricks.

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One of our translators with Mary Claire, the director of the school.

One of our translators with Mary Claire, the director of the school.

What a blessing these sweet children were to us. Please pray for Mary Claire and for the funds needed in order to keep the school open.

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day Two (Sunday)

We got up Sunday morning and had breakfast at the Guest House.

Colin and Jacob

Colin and Jacob

Roxie

Roxie

Henry, Rhonda and Emilie

Henry, Rhonda and Emilie

Jennifer and Kevin

Jennifer and Kevin

Jake, Lyn and Dave

Jake, Lyn and Dave

Emilie and I ready for church

Emilie and I ready for church

Our church sponsors Hope for the Children, an orphanage in the town of Santos. We were blessed to be able to attend a church service there with the children.

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LOVED hearing the children singing!!

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Jacob was one of two people on our team who shared about a difficult time in their life. I was so proud of him for agreeing to do something that was really hard for him, with the hope that it would encourage these children. It’s hard to hear, (especially with the dog barking :)) but hopefully you can make out what he’s saying. You might have to use headphones.

Steffie....this little girl is all attitude!!

Steffie….this little girl is all attitude!!

Some of the kids "fixed" my hair.  :)

Some of the kids “fixed” my hair. :)

Some of the boys playing basketball

Some of the boys playing basketball

The boys LOVED Kevin's watch!

The boys LOVED Kevin’s watch!

The girls loved wearing my sunglasses.

The girls loved wearing my sunglasses.

This little girl, Roseguerline, attached herself to me the first day I met her! She took Emilie and I into her room, climbed up on her bed, lifted her mattress and got some pictures that she had drawn. She gave one to each of us. She then led us into one of the school rooms, closed the door and locked it. She wanted to use my phone and made some pictures of herself and also pictures of me and Emilie. She found some music on my phone and proceeded to do a sweet dance for us. Roseguerline was quite possessive of me and didn’t want me giving any attention to the other children. At one point, we were sitting outside on a bench and another little girl came up beside me. Roseguerline kept pushing her away. Finally the little girl, got very close to me and began singing in my ear. She then went over to Emilie and did the same thing. It was sooo sweet!

Roseguerline

Roseguerline

Emilie and I with the pictures that Roseguerline gave us.

Emilie and I with the pictures that Roseguerline gave us.

The little girl who sang in my ear.

The little girl that sang in my ear.

Jacob and Lemsley became best buds!

Jacob and Lemsley became best buds!

Emilie and Steffie

Emilie and Steffie

We were served a delicious meal!

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We had a wonderful day meeting the children and spending the day with them! As I mentioned before, our church supports this orphanage. There are 62 children and each child is sponsored by a family in our church. Once we returned to the Guest House and had our evening meeting, we found out that three children did not yet have a sponsor. I decided right then that we needed to sponsor one of these children. Kevin and Jennifer also chose to sponsor one of the children…Samuela. Samuela’s sister, Minerva also needed a sponsor, so we chose her. We didn’t know many of the children’s names yet, so we were looking forward to seeing them again the next day and finding our new “family member”!!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Haiti Day One (Saturday)

We arrived at the airport bright and early and eager to get to Haiti! There was some concern that the bags might be over the weight limit because of all the supplies that we were bringing with us, but there ended up being no problem. The flight to Miami was uneventful, as was the flight to Port-au-Prince. Our bus picked us up and we headed to the hotel. For those of us who have never been to Haiti, the bus ride through the city was quite eye-opening. People everywhere. Rubble everywhere. Cars everywhere. Roadside vendors everywhere. Goats and chickens everywhere. Trash everywhere. All of these things in the midst of a country with beautifully colored flowers and banana trees and mango trees and a beautiful view of the mountains wherever you look! Such a contrast.
We arrived at our hotel and freshened up a bit……well, as fresh as you can get in Haiti.:) After dinner and a meeting discussing the plans for Day 2, we turned in for the night.

First leg of the trip was Atlanta to Miami.

Emilie and Jacob

Emilie and Jacob

Me and Emilie

Me and Emilie

Clay

Clay

Roxie

Roxie

Waiting in Miami to board the flight to Port-au-Prince

Jennifer and Kevin in Miami airprot

Jennifer and Kevin

Jake and Emilie

Jake and Emilie

Roxie and Clay

Roxie and Clay

Rhonda....our fearless leader.  :)

Rhonda….our fearless leader. :)

On our way to Port-au-Prince!

Emilie

Emilie

Jacob

Jacob

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

On the bus to Villa Mamika.

Jacob

Jacob

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Emilie and I shared a room.

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Relaxing before dinner.

Ludwig, Roxie, Dave and Clay

Ludwig, Roxie, Dave and Clay

Jennifer, Kevin and Colin

Jennifer, Kevin and Colin

Jacob, Kevin, Jennifer and Colin

Jacob, Kevin, Jennifer and Colin

I’ll try to post day 2 tomorrow!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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