Tuesday, July 29, 2014 consisted of events I can only describe as the bestowal of unexpected gifts. These surprises, ones which prompted goose bumps and produced tears, were given by The U.S. Surgeon General.
Gifts that cause tears and goose bumps? And delivered via the Surgeon General?
Here’s how that went…
Tuesday morning, Dr. Boris D. Lushniak, U.S. Surgeon General, along with Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary of Health, and others, presented The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer to the public. This webcast was chock-full of facts, plans, goals, inspiration, and the like, which can be read in The Executive Summary.
Top: Dr. Howard Koh
Bottom: Dr. Boris Lushniak
I believe the most important part, or word here really, is ACTION. We were presented with personal stories, programs that are successful thus far in the schools (SunWise), the 5 goals set forth (a MUST read!), the fact that this is a multi-sector call to action, a public health issue, and more. After a two year preparation for this Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, “the real difficult part begins,” stated Dr. Lushniak…the part that requires the action.
What caused emotion in me during this webcast? Hearing from all of these dedicated people is what stirred me to tears, and the details of what they proposed is what roused the reaction of goose bumps. All of this came as such a surprise. I had no idea that would happen. I was unaware such thrilling information was coming. But hearing there is proposed action to be taken, and that this action IS going to happen, was most incredible.
Needless to say, my head was spinning (something that typically happens to me after being overwhelmed with joy…or fear…or sadness…) after this. I felt a sense of being listened to, being heard, being taken care of, a feeling of invigoration, a spark to act…more. More action!
Speaking of more action, Tuesday afternoon was the Stakeholder’s Call with the U.S. Surgeon General, which happened to be by invite. When I got my email invitation, I actually thought is was spam of some sort. Why/how on earth would I get an email from the Surgeon General’s office? I still have no idea how I landed in that pool. But after finding out it was legit, I became quite eager to participate.
The phone call was similar to the webcast, in terms of delivering the information described in The Call to Action. It had a more informal feeling to it, maybe because it was all audio, and no viewing of these people dressed up and standing next to the American flag. But what it really did for me was, confirm that what I had heard earlier in the day, was not a dream! It was real.
Here are some of the many pivotal things I heard:
~Dr. Koh (ASH):
“…specifically, there are troubling trends for melanoma, compared to other cancers.” “We are facing a rising tide of skin cancer.”
~Dr. Lushniak (TSG):
“We need to do something about this.”
“Now is the time to protect yourself.”
“Have that fun, but take care of your skin.”
“We must change social norms about tanning….from how ‘healthy’ you look, to…how damaged you look.” “This is a year round issue.”
“Be a role model for sun safety.”
“You have a stake in this…being part of this incredible call to action.”
“The time for action is now.”
Talking about the tanning industry- “We have a movement out there that is allowing exposure to a carcinogen.”
“Let’s take this mission seriously.”
~Stacy Escalante (mother, reporter, and stage 3 melanoma survivor):
In reference to melanoma- “No one is immune.”
“If only I had gone to the doctor when I first noticed that spot.”
Am I getting excited over just words? Empty talk? Political fluff? No, I think not. I believe that when the United States Surgeon General (a doctor with a dermatology background) presents the country with a call to action, that ACTION will take place! And as Dr. Lushnik said in closing, while talking about promoting the health and safety of our nation, “Join me in that endeavor when it comes to skin cancer.”
You know I will.