Acting on advice could save lives

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2005

By Staff
Two words that scare me the most are cancer and hurricanes. This week I heard those two words used simultaneously in one conversation.
My 66-year-old father was diagnosed with Leukemia a couple of years ago. Prior to his diagnosis, he has had several surgeries where a doctor had to remove melanoma from his body.
Every time I go home I mentally scan any visible skin on his body. I had noticed a small mass on the left side of his temple months ago. When I told him he needed to get it checked he just shrugged and said it was nothing. It appeared that he had been picking at it and not saying anything to us so we wouldn't be alarmed.
As Hurricane Katrina barreled onto land, I spoke to my mother on several occasions, and we mainly talked about their preparation and what they were going to do in the event the massive hurricane hit Mobile, where they live.
Like many Mobilians, they weren't going to evacuate. My parents knew Katrina was going to be a serious threat to the area and they felt they were prepared enough to stay throughout the storm.
While we were speaking, my mother casually mentioned in the conversation that my father had just had surgery. The doctors removed melanoma from his left temple, and also removed a lump located on his forearm. The lump, they think, wasn't cancerous, but they sent it off to be examined.
The hurricane, my parents thought, wasn't going to be as serious as previous hurricanes they have witnesseed. In the meantime, the two oak trees in our front and back yards slung huge limbs the size of regular trees against the house. Another tree split and landed across the driveway. All near-misses but still too much damage for my over-60 parents to clean up themselves.
The word think can go in so many directions. Many people think, but we all want to KNOW. The only thing we can do is rely on others. We rely on the meteorologists and their forecasts, and we rely on the fact that doctors know what they are doing - otherwise they wouldn't have a degree, right? They can only predict so much so far in advance. The rest is up to us waiting and relying and following all the precautions we can.
What people in hurricane-prone areas should realize is that when a mandatory evacuation is in effect, or when emergency officials tell us to prepare for a possible hurricane, we should take action immediately and stay prepared for the full season. Instead, it seems as though people were tired of evacuating only for a hurricane to miss the area.
Now, hundreds are feared dead in hit states and it looks as though the damage is going to cost in the billions. We need to listen when we are told to evacuate. It's hard and not everyone has the means, but there needs to be a gameplan.
When a doctor tells us to get checked regularly for cancer and other diseases, we should follow their advice and do it when the time is appropriate, especially if a disease runs heavily in the family. Don't hesitate and get checked on at the last moment.
Waiting too long could prove to be too late.
Mary-Allison Lancaster is the Managing editor of the Brewton Standard. She can be reached via e-mail at

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