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Saturday, June 9, 2007

One Book Finished and an Important Public Service Announcement

Last night, I finished Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb. I won this book during Margo's kidlitosphere tour this March. Yay me! I still can't believe my luck.

This was a quick read and tissues were required only in the beginning and the very ending. Margo explains in the Afterward of her book that she was inspired to write this book because her mother had melanoma and died nine days after diagnosis. Gulp.

So before I start my review, I'm compelled to give you an important Public Service Announcement. Wear your sunscreen. Even if you tan easily. Get yourself to a dermatologist for a yearly skin checkup. If something on your skin looks strange to you, point it out to your dermatologist. And be persistent.

You see, I was diagnosed with melanoma over 14 years ago. I found a strange mole on my foot and my dermatologist told me it was okay, since it was symmetrical and smaller than the typical warning signs, even though it was black and raised.

I don't fit into the parameters of what dermatologists look at when seeing melanoma. I tan easily. I think I only had a sunburn once when I went to Bermuda in my early 20's. And the mole was small, about the size of this @. But, I never remembered this mole on my foot, and I was pretty insistent about that. The dermatologist finally agreed it should be removed by a surgeon. Typically, moles are removed by the dermatologist, but since there is very little skin on the foot, a surgeon was required.

I will never forget the phone call from the surgeon, who wanted me to come into the office to discuss my results. You know the answer is never good when you're asked to come into the office. Thankfully, it was in the early stages, called melanoma in situ. In this Stage 0 (Zero) Melanoma, the cancer is found in the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) only. After a second surgery, with a total of almost two inches of skin removed from my foot from the two surgeries, I found out all the cancer was gone.

If you care anything about yourself and your loved ones, get an annual skin (head to toe) checkup. Sure it's uncomfortable baring all for fifteen minutes or so, but it is well worth it if you can catch anything in the early stages. Keep in mind, melanoma is an easy cancer to treat, if caught early. And remember to slather sunscreen on yourself and your children, especially between 10am and 4pm, when the UV radiation is the strongest.

Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
238 Pages
Read in 3 hours
30 minute review
Total time: 3 1/2 hours

Fifteen year old Mia Pearlman is at a total loss when her mother unexpectedly dies from melanoma twelve days after diagnosis. "If she dies, I'll die," Mia writes in her journal. That line did me in. I was expecting a book that would keep me crying to the very end. Instead, there was refreshing bits of sassiness and dark humor weaved in throughout this book.

Mia deals with her mother's death differently from her dad and sister, Alex. Mia's school work declines, she wears her mother's clothes and she sees her mother in just about everything. But life goes on. Alex leaves for college. And Mia's dad meets and marries another woman, a cancer survivor. Enter conflict and betrayal.

Mia finds unexpected hope in her crush for Cancer Guy, Sasha. "If grief had a permanence, then didn't also love?" Very nice. Turns out, despite the layers of sadness and grief, Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb is an easy, enjoyable read.

- - - -

Book #2 started last night: Beige by Cecil Castellucci


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Wow. I'm so glad you caught the melenoma. I have so many friends and family members who are cavailier about using sunscreen. They're usually the ones I have to scream at to run their hands under cold water for 10 minutes after they've suffered a stove burn).

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks Alkelda. What's scary is that my dermatologist could have just pooh poohed me and I could have listened to him and respected what he had to say. After all, who argues with a doctor?

Thankfully, he broke down and said if it looked strange to me, we might as well take it out.

Melanoma used to be more of an older person's cancer, but teens are getting it now. Nothing like our depleting ozone layer. But that's another public service announcement.

Emmaco said...

Melanomas are scary - I'm glad you stood your ground on your suspicious mole. My state has the highest skin cancer rate in the world so our docs are pretty pedantic about checking for melanomas. I just went and had my yearly checkup as I was worried that when I move to the UK maybe English doctors won't recognise a melanoma properly!

I really want to read this book and am determined to track down a copy soon!

MotherReader said...

I actually passed on the chance to read this book because I didn't think I could take it. When my kids were babies, I couldn't read anything or see a movie where the baby dies. Too close to home. Now I can't read a book where the mom dies. Can't even think about it.

I finished Beige this morning and LOVED it. Glad it's on your list.

EnnaVic said...

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of melanoma per head of population in the world (mostly due to hole in ozone layer above NZ during our summer) so there is fairly good public awareness about it and hopefully the rates will drop as the kids now grow up never having been burnt. I lost my brother in law to melanoma about 15 years ago. He was 27. His melanoma was very agressive and in the end it was an inoperable brain tumour that took him. I am really glad you caught your melanoma early.

HipWriterMama said...

I'm glad you're proactive about the skin checks. You must be so excited about the move to the UK. Can't wait to hear more.

- - - -

Mother Reader,
I'm glad you loved BEIGE. I am so enjoying it and can't wait to finish this book.

- - - -

I'm so sorry about your brother-in-law. That must have been so tough for your sister and your family.

Thanks for commenting and sharing how important it is to be vigilant.

Robin Brande said...

HWM, thanks for the PSA. The part that I really needed to hear was about pushing your doctor. You're right--it is so easy to just trust the professionals. It's so important to go with your gut instead.

Glad you had a happy ending.