Anthony Cunanan wrote -
I wanted to take the time to share some awesome news of what I'm doing later this year. I'm traveling to Africa and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro! It's the tallest free standing mountain on Earth and one of the biggest opportunities I've been lucky enough to take on.
Prepping for this climb has been an awesome adventure and I feel really grateful that I'm able to do this. I was inspired to put forth some positive energy and share something personable about myself while helping others at the same time.
I was born with something called Pigmentation of the Conjunctiva - which is a fancy word for a birthmark that surrounds the eye. When I was born it was a small pigment next to my eye that over the first three years of my life grew very rapidly and covered most of my eye, even extending outward to the eyebrow. Luckily I still have full vision in both eyes.
The doctors at Kaiser Permanente and Stanford were worried that this large of a birthmark and the rapid growth rate could potentially be Ocular Melanoma or cancer of the eye. Over 2,000 people a year are diagnosed with ocular melanoma cancer, if not examined and taken care of - the cancer can spread and can be fatal.
When I was 5 years old, I went through a series of surgeries that would remove most of the birthmark. Looking back, my family was so strong and surrounded me with so much love that I had no fear of what was happening. There was even talk of losing vision in one eye but we decided that because the eye was healthy nonetheless that having vision in both eyes would be preferred.
Throughout my life, I have learned the importance of self love and self worth. That being different is ok! That having something that sets you apart from others is a gift that makes you stand out. My birthmark is something that makes me...ME! When people stare on the subway with a look of disbelief... I just send them a BIG SMILE back and 90% of the time I receive a smile back. When people ask me "What's wrong with your eye?", I'm more than obliged to share my story and stand tall with pride of having a definitive quality that makes me unique. Having this sense of confidence and approach on life has led me to a happier life full of glass half full outlooks and has given me the courage to SAY YES to opportunities that will fill my life with happiness!
I still have doctor visits regularly to keep myself healthy and monitor for ocular melanoma but want to pay it forward and hopefully be a helping hand in the research and education of this rare cancer. So I'm raising money for a foundation dedicated in just that!
If you know me - you know how thankful I am for everything and everyone in my life. So whatever you can donate will be highly appreciative and go straight to the Melanoma Research Foundation in Washington DC.
Can you help me reach this goal with your tax-deductible donation today?