By: Cheryl Adams
My son Graham was diagnosed at the age of 9 with pediatric melanoma. At the age of 9, you really do not know what the impact of a cancer diagnosis means. Now, at the age of 16, he knows. We all know. We have adjusted to handle the unexpected turbulence in life and stay brave so we can support Graham and be a strong voice in the melanoma community.
As any parent knows, it’s easy to become distracted by emotions, which generally leads to fear and can make any situation more difficult. We focus on what we can do, collaborate with others in similar situations hoping that we can lift each other up by sharing common stories. There is a calming effect when you know you are not alone.
As the mother of the founding family of the Be Brave campaign, our hope was to tell our story and be part of a platform that would allow people affected by melanoma to form a circle of strength in which patients and caregivers could share stories that inspire us and together we would all Be Brave.
Fear, is the opposite of Brave. I am quite certain Graham has fear. I have fear for him. His family has fear for him. He, however, is alive and is living in such a way that the world knows he is afraid, but he loves more than he fears. My fear is that cancer will win and he will lose his bravery. His bravery is inspirational and for that I am grateful.
So, as we enter the third year of the This is Brave campaign, I challenge you Find Your Brave! Here are a few suggestions…
- Speak Bravely. Tell your story. It will inspire someone. It will help someone
- Ask Bravely. Have the strength to be your own advocate. There is power in knowledge. Collaborate with others in the melanoma community and surround yourself with people who can direct you to the right resources, research, educators and advocates. They are out there. Be brave enough to ask.
- Connect Bravely. Connect from your spirit and from your soul, with others who lift you up and give you extra strength.
- Serve Bravely. If you are able, give back and support the greater good.
On a personal note to my sweet Graham; life is not fair. Melanoma did not allow you to have a normal childhood. I watch you suffer. I watch your siblings and your family worry. I watch you struggle. I watch you hurt. I also have the privilege and the honor to watch you Be Brave. A Brave that I never knew existed. A Brave that is beautiful, vulnerable and innocent. My wish for you is that you will always Stay Brave.