My name is Dawn Hayworth I was born in 1954 with Ichthyosis, a congenital skin disorder characterized by dryness and scaling (interesting but a topic for another story). While my skin disorder is not particularly relevant to skin cancer, exfoliating lotions and fair color makes my skin more vulnerable to sun damage and sun damage is relevant the development of skin cancer. Since I have been under the care of dermatologists all my life, I know about avoiding the sun, wearing sunscreen, and monitoring my skin for changes that need to be brought to doctor’s attention. I didn’t always avoid over-exposure to the sun, but I did have early detection and treatment. Not everyone knows the seriousness of prevention, detection, and early treatment of skin cancers. I observed from the beginning when Beca Campos along with her mother and Rita Julien (close family friend) established the first Beca’s Five Fun Run/Walk in 2010, and following that the Blackout Melanoma Foundation during her own battle with Melanoma. She bravely shared her faith, her story, and her dream that Melanoma would someday be eliminated. She showed us what we were fighting against and challenged us to continue the work for prevention awareness. Early prevention, detection, and treatment of skin cancer saves lives. That is THE BOTTOM LINE.
Beca was a determined young woman. She was a hard worker and set goals that would make your head spin. Then she would deliver; Bam! She had a faith in God and His promises that never faltered and was eager to share with others. She was a lot like her mother, Aneta, my BFF. But Beca was strong willed, would keep it simple, set her ideas out clearly and say, “That’s the bottom line”. She made me laugh. I loved to tease with her and her heart would dance all over me like the sparkles from her eyes. Then she would be off to get something done. What a beautiful crew. Aneta and I had two children each about the same ages who were just stepping into adult shoes. Our dogs even enjoyed each other. Doors were always open.
I remember wondering how I ever came to live next door to them in the first place. I had a whim and sold my house just short of that dreaded “empty-nesting” thing happened. I wondered what I was doing buying a condo and cried a little as the furniture was being squeezed into its small but handsome rooms. Aneta caught me in that moment as she knocked on the door and introduced herself offering friendship and encouragement. She is still my ‘Rock’. It wasn’t long before I understood better that I surely landed next door because we needed each other. In fact, I needed her whole family and the richness of their love and faith which spilled over into the lives of all fortunate enough to know them.
I remember when the dizzying diagnosis came and monsters entered the story. They came in the form of poorly organized and rapidly growing tissue cells in Beautiful Beca’s perfect body…well, almost perfect. There was that one sore lump behind her knee which puzzled and pained her until she couldn’t wear the Barbie shoes or enjoy dressing-up as much anymore. There was that lump and too many questions that went unresolved. The news came to me softly and gently from Aneta’s father, Mack Shults (known as Beca’s grandpa Shults), as he looked into my eyes holding back a well of tears.
The news was folding my knees; but I straightened to be there for Mack, a real man of God and he knew from where his strength would come and I knew too. It was fear. Aneta and Beca were not home yet, so we talked for a moment. I wanted to run and scream, try to think of the right words, manage to give them their privacy, stop barging in all the time. Of course, Aneta and her family would let me because they were not the kind to say, “This is not a good time for your barging in; maybe we could call you later”. Nope, they would always bless me.
As time went by and Beca weakened, but she was Aneta’s Rock, Beca was hers. They were always like best friends. I knew they were both shattered and I surely wished there was something I could do. I did what I could, you know the things, but Beca had to carry this illness and Aneta had to watch with every impression of bravery and strength she could master for the sake of her children. She delivered. Our bedrooms were against the same wall and our beds were butted up against it head to head. I felt her tears over there and I lay sobbing for her pain, a mother’s pain. Like no other, is a mother’s pain. Beca began sleeping upstairs too and it was good having them so close there in the next condo just through the wall. It was easier to pray for them somehow. I found ways to not barge in so much by pressing my palm against the bedroom wall above my headboard.
There are so many stories I could tell. Aneta gave permission to share them. For now, I would tell you this much…Beca and her family came to terms with circumstances of their physical lives and they lived in the Spirit of Holiness, never giving in to the poor prognosis and always believing in a cure. They still do.
Beca’s mother and family know she is alive in their work, the work issued by determined Beca. Continue the work of teaching and spreading awareness until melanoma is no more.
I wouldn’t trade Beca for awareness, I am ashamed to say. I want Beca back. I want her mother to never have lost a child. I want those memories erased and replaced with memories of fancy jobs for Beca because she worked her way through college holding three jobs. I want Beca’s body and smile still dropping jaws. I want babies for Beca and a family with her children chasing butterflies and rainbows. I want Romeu’s and Aneta innocent again of the things they saw; except for Beca’s strength and faith, of course. They were so proud.
Yes, I have written much less on the Caring Bridge than anyone might have expected given my proximity to the situation and closeness to Aneta. I have pulled the covers over my head and hidden from the pain associated with reliving the Campos tragedy by writing about it for the foundation…and I want her back. I remember Aneta’s fragility about medical things. Beca took over and her mother assisted. I remember the mountains of bandages and how Aneta grew stronger about such things. Aneta asks me to write from my experience and heart as a friend and neighbor in hopes that it will make someone put on that stinking sunscreen. She has her daughter’s determination and is devoted to the bigger picture.
Details are Aneta’s story to tell. However, I will tell you that it was Hell and on top of it all, people had to work, clean house, buy groceries, pay the bills and manage daily lives that never stop. There were the loved ones across several continents …good, loving people…phones and computers which never rested. Everyone kept in contact, visiting and loving them. So many prayers needed prayed. Aneta and her family stretched return comfort offered them. There were so many people to love back. It was beautiful and amazing. The doors were always open and God gave them willingness to give up many of the quiet moments I wanted for them. Aneta’s gift of hospitality was at its peak. Just thinking about the outpouring of love makes me smile.
The Campos and our God are so much bigger than my small part next door. I am amazed they want me to write about it at all. Let me tell you that it was not all bad. There are blessings to spite those monsters. I want you to know about lives touched for the better, too.
I will tell you again that Beca worked hard in her darkest hours to research her disease, came to terms with her new reality, and helped her family find some worth in it all. What a noble young woman, what a Christ like vision. She was totally immersed in finalizing all paper work for the Blackout Melanoma organization. She wanted to save lives through education and awareness. She never blamed anyone, least not her Lord God. She is being Jesus for others by her example to encourage others to help end ignorance about Melanoma and work until it is no more.
Tell everyone you know that early detection and treatment saves lives; but that prevention is the cure for melanoma…and that’s the bottom line.
Dear Friend, neighbor, volunteer at Beca’s 5K events, and proud sponsor for Blackout Melanoma.