Melanoma, what an ugly word. The first time I heard it, I was six. I could barely say it. I wish the story ended there, but it was only the beginning. Graham, my brother, was diagnosed in 2013 with stage III melanoma on his left arm. When I was growing up I knew Graham was different because he had melanoma, but I never knew that he could die.
Usually when bad things happen in families, emotions take over. The emotion we all wanted to have was bravery but that is hard to do when you’re scared. But we were scared together, and that gave us strength.
I watched Graham go through lots of surgeries, and painful tests, and it was hard to think about what might happen if his melanoma came back. We had to be brave together. As I got older, I learned more about melanoma, and that this type of skin cancer can be deadly. Graham’s cancer did not come from a bad sunburn or being out in the sun too much, his was genetic, but most are not like Graham’s.
Once, in 5th grade, I had to write a story about my hero, I picked Graham. I did a quick google search about pediatric melanoma, and Graham’s story was the first thing that came up. I remember sitting in the library crying. It was at that very moment that I realized exactly what this all meant. I took a big breath and thought to myself, I have to be brave for Graham. I can’t do much to change his situation or find a cure, but I can be brave.
Advocacy is one way I can do something to try to help. I try to tell people to wear sunscreen and stop tanning. I am in middle school, so it is hard to get people to listen but if someone in their family had melanoma they would understand the risk. I tell people about skin checks and changing moles. We raise money for research, we go to Washington DC to ask Congress for research funding, we teach sun safety and we share stories. The more I can share, the more I hope I will prevent someone from going through what he has. Graham is not only my brother, he is my friend. I cannot imagine life without him. I wish science would find a cure. Until that happens, I will continue to brave, because sometimes that is all you can do.