Melanoma – a form of skin cancer that develops when melanocytes grow out of control, anywhere on the skin including the scalp, eyes and mouth. Melanocytes are skin cells responsible for producing the pigment in our skin, or what gives the skin its color.
I never thought this word would become so loaded for me. Thinking about the loss I’ve experienced from melanoma makes my heart sink. When I lost my brother to melanoma, my world shifted in an unbearable way.
Joseph Steven Evans Reichardt – Son. Brother. Friend. Husband. Father. Uncle. Coach.
Joey was born the second of five children, quickly securing his place in the family as the quiet, albeit scheming brother. Find a reason to party, throw in some healthy competition and Joey was in his element. “That’s Joey” we would say to each other when he would organize a game of spoons for the whole family. Or “That’s Joey” when I showed up to high school one day to see my 16th birthday party invitation plastered all over the walls, inviting the whole high school to the sweet sixteen my brother was throwing for me.
His love for adventure seemed to have no bounds, like when he would pick me up from school to take me to a concert or football game, which we did not have tickets to. Oh, or the time he dropped by with a turtle in his car cup holder. “I saved it for you,” he told me. That was explanation enough. “That’s Joey.”
For those that knew Joey, we enjoyed 34 years of adventures and schemes. But above all, we got quality time with each other and memories to cherish for a lifetime. We really lived life in those moments together, and after experiencing loss, I think you realize that is what life is all about.
When cancer touches your life, you realize two things pretty quickly: prevention is everything and a cure is non-negotiable. While I can’t make sense of my loss, I can take a cue from my brother… Live life to the fullest, pay it forward and spread awareness about melanoma prevention.
To better understand how you can prevent and protect against melanoma and other skin cancers, read more here.