Sunday, July 3, 2011

Boise leads nation in skin cancer deaths

I'm must be a hot commodity for news stations in Boise! :) Once again, I was interviewed by a local news station to share my story and battle with melanoma and to spread awareness and prevention for it. I have a love-hate relationship with these interviews, because on one hand I want to do everything I can to educate people on this disease, but on the other hand, I really don't like being on video and even worse, SEEING myself on video. Yikes!

Anyways, it went pretty well, but I do have to say that the news reporter didn't get all his facts straight. Like for example, the opening sentence in the article below. Technically speaking yes, I have had cancer in those areas, but the sentence implies (at least to me) that it's currently eating away all those areas. Not exactly the truth. And also, I didn't get my "sun" growing up in Boise skiing and biking. Yes, I know it makes the story more meaningful-but unfortunately, my sun exposure came from good ole' Cali-forn-IA, lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons for 8-9hours a day and for 7 years in a row. Not so good, right? OH well, the message behind the story is still good and I am just grateful that they chose to cover it (and air it during prime time). If I can be a small part in getting the word out, even at my embarrasing expense, then I am happy!

Here is the article they wrote. The link below the article is the video clip...

Meridian’s Christina McEvoy has two kids, a loving husband and a cancer that’s eating away at her skin cells, lymph nodes and lungs.

“The biggest misconception I get all the time is: ‘Oh, you have skin cancer. That’s the easy cancer.’” McEvoy said.

And that’s sort of how a pregnant McEvoy reacted in 2008 when doctors first diagnosed her with melanoma. She then underwent treatment for that cancer on her thigh and got well.

Two years later, it returned. And today, doctors give the 33-year-old McEvoy a four percent chance of survival.

“Which I don’t really pay attention to,” she said.

Christina’s definitely an extreme example, but in Boise, not as extreme as we might like to imagine. The City of Trees has the most deaths from melanoma per 100,000 people in America.

“If you don’t burn,” Meridian dermatologist Dr. Alan Pitt said, “it doesn’t mean that you’re sort of getting away with it.”

McEvoy found that out the hard way.

Even though she has a darker complexion, all the time she spent biking, swimming and skiing outside under Boise’s intense sunshine added up.

Dermatologists like Pitt believe the city’s elevation, those six months a year we spend out of the sun and, yes, perhaps also the outdoorsiness of our population likely contribute to Boise’s astonishing number of melanoma cases.

McEvoy said the prominence of skin cancer here surprised her too, but – then again – so did her diagnosis.


In late June, McEvoy sat at a Meridian Chili’s enlisting support for Boise’s upcoming Relay for Life.

“I’m young, you know,” she said. “I’m not 80 years old. I’m 33 and I still feel like I have a lot of life to live. So for me, this is important.”

Not only does McEvoy have a lot of life to live, but also a group of very important people to live for. Her sons, Austin and Carson, just turned six and three.

“I can’t imagine not being here to see them play soccer and graduate from high school,” McEvoy said. “And it’s also hard for me to think about leaving my husband without a wife.”

Christina is scared. But for a woman who supposedly has just a four percent chance of seeing her 35th birthday, she also seems remarkably calm and put-together.

Christina said she planned first to beat this fourth-stage melanoma and then, to make sure – in an area known for its skin cancer – her story leads to other tales of prevention and survival.

“It’s important for me to be here,” she said.


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