In our family we have something known as "Wittek Loud", together as a unit we are hard to ignore. Although we would like to think it is because of our smashing good looks, in all honesty, we are just noisy- one louder than the other. Ironically, it is the patriarch of our family (Papa) that is usually the quietest, however his messages are the ones most heard. Whether that is through small side conversations that are happening with one of us while the rest of us are squawking away; through kind, sensitive actions like fixing somethings that is broken and teaching us how to do it ourselves the next time; or by telling us family stories- our families' history- his messages are received.
This year as my (5's) birthday rolled around, I celebrated turning 40, but my husband and I also celebrated being together for 20 years- I have now officially spent half my life with the love of mine. And it didn't take long in our relationship before he introduced me to his whole family, our second date was going to his grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. Nothing like jumping in, and the water was nice. Since then I have grown to love them all and I know 11 would say the same. Being a curious person, and the Witteks were welcoming, soon after meeting them I began asking about their families- which is right in Papa's element. Many of the stories involved two strong women- his grandmother (Grannie) and his mother (Shirley). I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet and get to know Grannie- quite a character- but his mother had already passed. The stories of her are fun, entertaining, and loving. The Witteks have longevity in their family, so I wondered what caused Papa's mother to pass on early- in her 60's. Untreated melanoma. Whether she knew it or not, like her son, she too taught quiet, but well heard lessons. I was just 20 when I heard this story, and although my parents had done a great job making sure I saw a dermatologist as a child, it was this story that motivated me as a young adult to continue to find and spend precious time and money to continue my visits to the dermatologist. Early detection is critical to successful treatment, and I truly feel that this story helped save my life.
Papa has always been very proactive about maintaining good skin health. He wears sunscreen, large hats, but most importantly he too continues to go to the dermatologist regularly. His visits have caught and successfully treated multiple skin cancers, multiple times. Many of his treatments have been unnoticeable to me, but others haven't. As a family, we have seen him with stitches and even infections. They can't be easy, but his attitude has always been of gratitude, and in his families' opinion, brave.
I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of people telling me they have scars, many times on their faces, that they wouldn't have if they didn't go to the dermatologist. What is the alternative? We motivate you to see those scars, like we see on Papa every time he sports a band aid- bravery. And know those scars fade and become unnoticeable, personality and presents is lasting.
Next month is June, when we celebrate Father's Day. 11's husband, a young father, husband, son, brother, and amazing friend, will undergo surgery to remove skin cancer from his head. We are positive this will be nothing but success, thanks to early detection, thanks to lessons taught by our quiet patriarch. Our family encourages you to remind the fathers, husbands, sons, and friends in your life to get into the dermatologist. Not for a a nip/tuck, but for a skin check- bravery.
Thank you for sticking with us through Melanoma Awareness Month, and for all of the kind messages we have received. They mean so much.