Once upon a time, I was a teenager who worked at the local mall. I had a job at a stationary store. I liked it…sometimes. I hated it…sometimes. Mostly, it was a way to make some spending money. The best part of working at the mall was that there were loads of other teenagers who also worked at the mall. I was not the most popular girl to ever go to high school…so I really liked having somewhere outside of school to meet other local teens, from other schools, and expand my social circle.
One person I became friends with was named David Cornfield. He was a friend of a co-worker who I was very friendly with…and he worked at my very favorite muffin store. David, our mutual friend, other mall people, and I often met at lunch and on breaks for muffins, and cola, and ice cream, and gossip. I remember I once went to David’s High School to see him in a play (I think it was Li’l Abner). By grade 13…I had another job, at another mall, and David and my other mall friends were long forgotten. Remember, this was before the days of the internet, facebook, and cell phones. Friendships were more fleeting then than they are today.
A few months ago, on Facebook, I saw a link to the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. The name jogged something in my memory, so I clicked on the link…and looked at the story and pictures, and my eyes filled with tears. The story of this young man, told by his young wife, and pictures of this beautiful young family…would have made me cry no matter who he was or whether I had known him. The fact that the young man was my old mall buddy, David, made it more heart-breaking. David died in 2005. David died from Melanoma.
I have spent a long time (long before I read the sad news about David) now trying to get my friends, and even moreso the young people in my life, to stop tanning, and use sunscreen. I have even stopped using “safe” tanning alternatives like bronzers and self tanning creams…and tried to embrace the (milky, not pasty!) skin tone I was born with, and encourage others to do so, instead of perpetuating the beauty ideal of tanned skin. Sadly, I have had little success. People are just unable to let go of the idea that a little glow, or a lotta glow, makes one appear healthier and more attractive. People think cancer is not something they have to worry about…I sense they think even if they do get it, it’ll just be something that can be cut out, or they’ll be very old, and no longer care, and glad they enjoyed their youth with the beauty of a tan. They could be wrong though. It could spread. They could die. They could be young when it happens. David was only 32.
Recently, the Fund created a film about Melanoma. Not only is it very informative, it is also heart-breaking, amusing, terrifying, engaging, and just…well…just perfect. It says what needs to be heard. Please take a moment and watch. Share. Learn. And if you can, help.