It is difficult for humans to change the way they do something when they have been doing it the same way for a long time. New research on the often deadly cancer, melanoma demonstrates this frustrating tendency as described in the Bible.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23 (NKJV)
"A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud." 2 Peter 2:22 (NIV)
"As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Proverbs 26:11 (NIV)
Melanoma is the most deadly of all skin cancers. It is often mistaken for a common dark mole. Melanomas that are ignored often spread rapidly throughout the body. If detected early, the cure rate for melanoma is better than 90%. If detected when the cancer has spread throughout the body the 5-year survival rate is only about 15% to 20%. Fortunately, recent advances in the therapy of melanoma promise a greatly improved survival rate in the near future.
Risk factors for developing melanoma include, prolonged exposure to sunlight and the use of tanning beds. People who have had one melanoma are at an increased risk of developing a second melanoma because much damage to the skin has already been done.
Protection of the skin is the key to preventing further melanomas. Survivors of malignant melanoma are advised to limit exposure to sunlight and to use sun blocking lotions when working outside or going to the beach. Tanning beds are off limits forever.
Most melanoma survivors are more careful about sun exposure than the general public but there are some melanoma survivors who ignore all the warnings. These people return to their old habits even after having a brush with death.
A recent study of 171 melanoma survivors found that 15.4 percent of melanoma survivors still reported rarely or never staying in the shade when outside. Another 27.3 percent reported never wearing sunscreen when going outside on a warm, sunny day. Perhaps most surprising, was the finding that 2.1 percent of melanoma survivors continued to use tanning beds during the previous year.
Not all is hopeless for melanoma survivors–or you and your struggle to change bad habits. Jesus can help you change your harmful behaviors. This was understood by Ellen G. White a 19th century reformer observed. “We must look to Christ for strength and grace, and we shall gain the victory as surely as Jesus died for us” (Sanctified Life, page 93).