“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,”

Sonny and Linda Salsbury are of a certain age. The age before anybody knew just how harmful the sun’s rays could be.

“We’re both from L.A.,” Sonny says. “We went to the beach constantly and covered ourselves with baby oil and got as dark as we could.

“And, you know what? When I told my dermatologist that he said that he did the same thing!”

If only we had known then what we know now.

“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,” says Sonny, who’s 80. “I’ve also had basal cell and squamous cell (carcinoma).”

After years of back-and-forth between Southern California and Yakima, Sonny, a youth minister, and Linda recently returned to Yakima for good. “We’re back here in our house, a big, old Victorian built in 1904, and it’s our favorite house of all the places we’ve ever lived.”

Sonny figures he has thousands of kids, two of their own and the rest from his years of ministering to young people, some of those years spent at Yakima’s First Presbyterian Church. “Some of my kids even showed up (from both Yakima and California) to help us settle back into our home!”

And he is grateful. Not just for the help settling in, but for the care he’s gotten from Dr. Naseer Ahmad and the staff at Virginia Mason Memorial’s North Star Lodge. “Doctors found a small spot on my liver in fall 2017, and now I get an infusion of Keytruda every three weeks. It’s been great: I’ve had no side effects. In fact I’m going down to Emerald Cove Day Camp in San Juan Capistrano this summer to be the camp granddaddy: lead singing, take the kids on hikes, tell them stories.”

Washington ranks among the top 10 states for the highest rates of new cases of melanoma of the skin. So, what would Sonny like all of his kids and the rest of us to know about the sun and its effects on skin?

“Wear that sunscreen,” he says. “Get out of the tanning beds. And if you’ve ever had skin cancer, don’t miss your checkups: Get your moles checked.”

And finally, he says quietly, “It’s more important to be alive and be the color God made you.”

 

Cured of Hep C

Angel Perez and Macayla Smith work out at the gym. They try to eat a low-carb diet. They have two cars, a nice apartment and enjoy spending their weekends with the kids.

Just another typical Yakima Valley family, right? Not even close.

“It’s so awesome getting up and not chasing the dragon,” says Angel.

The dragon was heroin.

“We were very active in the drug scene,” Angel says. “I was in gangs. I’ve been in prison twice. Macayla and I were on the streets; We were homeless. We used everything from heroin to methamphetamines to alcohol, but heroin was our drug of choice.”

That was almost three years ago, when the couple began their long journey to get off the streets and out of addiction.

“We’d hit rock bottom; I was done,” Angel says. “Ever since they took my little boy it kinda woke me up and opened my eyes. I told Macayla, ‘No, the streets ain’t nothing for us. Our son is our little angel, and we’re going to get him back.”

Angel and Macayla got themselves into out-patient treatment; they go to classes, see counselors. As Angel says, “Whatever it takes, we did it and we did it as a couple. We set some goals and . . .”

“We met them one by one,” says Macayla, finishing Angel’s sentence, holding his hand.

One of those goals included dealing with Hepatitis C. Angel long knew he had Hep C, but “I was kinda scared, and when you’re using you don’t care.”

His doctor referred him to Virginia Mason Memorial’s Liver Clinic, and now the couple can add being Hep C free to their list of accomplishments.

“In the beginning it was hard,” says Macayla of their transformation from homelessness and addiction to being the parents of three with playdates and jobs.

How did they do it? “Well, we fell in love, that’s for sure!” she says, laughing. “We’ve had each other’s backs ever since.”

“We go to Planet Fitness,” says Angel. “I go five days a week. It gets your body back. I feel so good to be getting my health back, you know what I mean? Now, instead of smoking, I get ready for the gym.

“We did an awesome thing. We showed them. We tell other people, you got this, you can do this, too. We got rid of our old friends, but whenever they see us they say ‘Good job!’ ”

Improving your relationship with food…

Are you struggling with healthy eating? Do you find that you are an emotional eater?

Virginia Mason Memorial will be offering a night with licensed expert on intuitive eating. You’ll learn ways to create a healthy relationship with food and with yourself.

Chelsea Buffum, MS, LMHC works with people who want to improve their relationship with food and their bodies.

Space is limited. Please call to register at 509-249-5317. Cost is $5.

May 22, 2018
6-8pm
Memorial’s Education Center, 2506 West Nob Hill Blvd.