Today the Dear Melanoma Facebook Page reached the big 10 000!!! It would be silly to not recognise and celebrate this milestone.
Over the last two years Dear Melanoma has become a very important part of my life. The blog has given me purpose and something to concentrate on when the world around me felt like it was falling to pieces.
I was diagnosed with advanced cancer after returning from working in East Timor for a year – I was only 22. I had no workplace surrounding me that could support me and allow me to continue work. If I did want to work, I would have to go in being honest about everything that came along with having cancer, terminal cancer. Dear Melanoma has become my job. Even though I do not receive a salary, it has given me the structure of a job. It has given me the pride and the aspirations that come with a career. As the blog has grown, so has the roles that have come with the blog – speaker, advocate, published writer, fundraiser. The blog most definitely keeps me busy and limits the time I spend in the ‘woe is me’ frame of mind.
On a more emotional level, Dear Melanoma has been my chance to make something pretty special out of an amazingly shit situation. It has given me the ability to somewhat ‘forgive cancer’. How can someone be truly 100% angry about cancer when it has given you so much? It has given me purpose. It has given me confidence in my writing. It has made me realise my passion for advocating, especially speaking to young people. And, most importantly, being faced with death has allowed me to learn what is most important in life and that is to live with purpose and to know love.
Dear Melanoma has connected me to a community of love and support. I am so proud of the community that I have created. Although I am very open with my life on the blog, I am also very private. This is mainly a protection mechanism – I can’t let myself get too close to melanoma patients because I get scared that something might happen and I wouldn’t cope. This may surprise many of you. I apologise to those who have tried to reach out to me on my private Facebook page, please understand that I am not strong enough to potentially lose friends. However, you can’t always be ‘sensible’ and there have been a few people that I have allowed myself to become close to, melanoma patients and people that have lost their loved ones. I am so thankful that I have met these few people and let them into my life. These friendships are so special and in some cases they are the only people I can be truly 100% honest about how I am feeling.
The now ten thousand of you who make up the Facebook community have given me so much strength. Whenever I am having a rough time, which has been quite often lately, I know that, beyond my loving family and friends, I have you all there to lift me up, pray for me, cry with me, and be there when it is time to celebrate.
You have most definitely made my life easier. In return, I hope I have made life that little bit easier for someone else, or maybe even helped save someone’s life.
So, I thank you.
Thank you for helping me share the seriousness of melanoma and the need to be sun smart.
Thank you for helping me fundraise for Melanoma Institute Australia.
Thank you for being my strength and support.
Thank you for laughing and crying with me.
Thank you for being part of my life.