Introduction

The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Whack-a-Mole Rock

It’s getting perilously close to the first of the month, when various and sundry melanoma awareness advocates will tell me it’s once again time to perform a skin self-examination. Seeing as how I’m rather frequently donning the blue gown and paying a lot of money to melanoma specialists to do that for me, I’ll take a pass and do my best to squint while looking in the mirror to shave. But just in case you are going to follow this sage advice and take an up close and personal look at your carcass, and then post selfies of any suspicious moles on Facebook, here’s some music for mole-checking to the tune of “China Grove” from The Doobie Brothers…



When the sun comes up on our sleepy little towns
Frown about bad skin tone
And the folks are risin' for another day
'Round about their homes
The people of the gown are strange
And they're proud of where they pale
Well, you're talkin' 'bout find-a- mole
Oh, find-a-mole

Well, the seeker and the peeker
Lord, they're all cautious
They on the stalk of the brown
Then the checkup gets too spyin’
And you ain't fryin'
When the sun comes shinin’ down
You pray that your doctor’s been trained
And dear skin is lookin’ the same
We're talkin' 'bout the find-a-mole
Oh, find-a- mole

But every day there's a new thing comin'
We pray for a monumental brew
The research man’s our buddy
It’s our tanner’s reward
News can even be confusing at times

And though skin’s the start of the ‘noma fate
People don't seem to care
They just keep on cookin' to be creased

Talkin' 'bout the find-a-mole
Oh, find-a-mole

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Human Touch

Once upon a time I was a newly-diagnosed Stage 3c melanoma patient who, like most of us recent check-ins at The Hotel Melanoma, didn’t know a soul in “real life” who’d battled ‘just skin cancer’. And I found it to be a very isolating experience. It’s not that I wasn’t the beneficiary of a great deal of support and kindness from family, friends and co-workers; I most surely was. But I lacked a support network of melahomies who truly "got it" like only those who’ve walked in those same shoes can. Consequently, before, during and in the first years after biochemotherapy treatments, I didn’t have a single melapal who’d previously undergone that ass-kicking regimen to talk to and, so to speak, compare notes. Was my inability to remember simple things like my debit card PIN a normal and temporary side effect of the treatment? Does every NED melanoma survivor climb the walls and yearn for pharmaceutical assistance when waiting to receive scan results? My cancer center wasn’t a resource for connecting with other patients to chat about such matters because I didn’t have a brand of cancer that was ‘popular’ enough to merit having its own patient support group. I was on my own and not much liking that state of affairs.

Consequently, as a co-founder of the Colorado Melanoma Foundation one of my hopes and goals for the organization is that it will find a way to facilitate the formation of a patient support network that is local enough to Colorado to enable folks who are battling the Black Beast to actually meet one another in person if they choose to. The social media-based melahomey networks are a valuable source of long distance support and friendship, but don’t we all sometimes need the human touch of a one-on-one conversation over our favorite choice of beverage?

By the way, if you’re looking to meet some Colorado melapals then come to the Foundation’s Mallets For Melanoma event this weekend. I’m sure there’ll be something cold and tasty in my cooler to share.

I’ll leave you with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch”…



You and me we are the defenders
C gives us all fits some days
In the end what you don't surrender
Well C world just strips away

Girl ain't ‘nuff kindness in the face of facebook
Ain't gonna find no miracles there
Well you can wait on your friendings my darlin'
But I got a deal for you right here

I ain't lookin' for prayers or pity
I ain't comin' 'round searchin' for a crutch
I just want someone to talk to
And a little of that Human Touch
Just a little of that Human Touch

Ain't no mercy on pink streets of this town
Ain't no NED from heavenly skies
Ain't nobody drawin' wine from this blood
It's just you and me to fight

Tell me in a world without pity
Do you think what I'm askin's too much?
I just want something to hold on to
And a little of that Human Touch
Just a little of that Human Touch

Yeah!
Yeah hey!
Yeah yeah!
Whoa hey yeah yeah!

Oh girl that feeling of safety you prize
Well it comes with a hard hard price
You can't shut off the risk and the pain
Without losin' the love that remains
We're all riders on this train

Yeah hey yeah!
Whoa!
Hey!
Whoa!
Yeah yeah!
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahhh!
Whoaaa!

So you been broken and you been hurt
Show me somebody who ain't
Yeah I know I ain't nobody's bargain
But hell a little touchup and a little paint

You might need somethin' to hold on to
When all the answers they don't amount to much
Somebody that you could just to talk to
And a little of that Human Touch

Baby in a world without pity
Do you think what I'm askin's too much?
I just want to see you and your harms
And share a little of that Human Touch
Share a little of that Human Touch
Feel a little of that Human Touch in you
Feel a little of that Human Touch
Share a little of that Human Touch in you
Feel a little of that Human Touch
Give me a little of that Human Touch in you
Give me a little of that Human Touch

Heyyy now!
Oh yeah!
Oh yeah yeah!
(Share a little of that Human Touch)
(Feel a little of that Human Touch)
(Give me a little of that Human Touch)
Whoa!
Feel a little of that Human Touch
Give me a little of that Human Touch
(Give me a little of that Human Touch)
Whoooa whoooa
(Need a bud)
Ohhh yeahhh!
Ohhh yeah!
Whoooa
Whoooa whoooa
Whoooa
Whoa!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Starter Cancer



Yesterday I had my second squamous cell carcinoma excised. On the one hand, the procedure and healing process are unpleasant enough to get the attention of most sentient human beings and provoke some serious reflection about past behavior that led to this self-inflicted wound. (Although in comparison to a wide local excision of a melanoma tumor, neither of my squamous cell excisions have been any BFD.) On the other hand, a squamous cell carcinoma is pretty unlikely to kill you. So the experience has got me to thinking that squamous cell carcinoma might make a good “starter cancer” to convince all of us who’ve had too much unprotected fun in the sun to change our behaviors before we make non-cancellable reservations at The Hotel Melanoma.

But the hitch here is that we don’t get the chance to choose a rarely fatal starter cancer as our wake-up call that it’s past time to cover up and wear some freakin’ sunscreen. Instead, we just might find ourselves waking up one day at The Hotel Melanoma—where you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. So please, please be careful outside this summer.

Hoping all you starter cancer survivors have learned your lessons the relatively easy way, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “We Can Work It Out” from The Beatles…



Try to see it my way
Do I have to keep on blogging
‘Til I can't go on?

While you see it your way
Run the risk of knowing that
Your sun may soon do wrong
We can work it out
We can work it out

Think of what you're braising
You can get it brown and still
You think that it's all right

Think of what I'm saying
We can work it out and
Get it pale or pay good price
We can work it out
We can work it out

Life is very short
And there's no time
For sunning and frying, my friend

I have always thought
That it's a crime
So I will ask you once again

Try to see it my way
Only time will tell
If I am right or I am wrong

While you see it your way
There's a chance that C might
Scrawl black art before too long
We can work it out
We can work it out

Life is very short
And there's no time
For sunning and frying, my friend

I have always thought
That it's a crime
So I will ask you once again

Try to see it my way
Only time will tell
If I am right or I am wrong

While you see it your way
There's a chance that C might
Scrawl black art before too long
We can work it out
We can work it out

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Together

I’ve long been convinced that some of the most effective melavangelism work is being done at the grassroots level by us plain old ordinary melahomies. Through social media and in-person encounters we share melanoma facts and the stories of our individual journeys on the melanoma road. Our posts, shares, tweets and blogs reach (and sometimes annoy) people we know in real life whom would likely never be reached by the awareness-building efforts of the melanoma nonprofit organizations but for the fact we so frequently share the great content put out by those organizations. And sometimes, and perhaps much more often than we know, our grassroots efforts succeed in changing the behaviors of a few members of our little circles of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers and convincing these folks that melanoma isn’t ‘just skin cancer’. By working together as the community of credible people who really ‘get it’ because we ‘got it’, perhaps we’ll someday succeed in demolishing The Hotel Melanoma. And what a very, very fine day that will be.

With thanks to my melapal Donna for reminding me of a great song, I’ll leave you with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “You & Me” from the Dave Matthews Band…



Gonna back black flags, nothing small
Wake with our deeds and we’re without fear
In cyberspace we'll be on, on
Our tunes aren’t subpar, can swallow the scars
And then when we get all in motion
We gonna take a road to the end of C’s world
All the way to the end of C’s world

Oh, and when the kids are old enough
We're gonna teach them don’t fry

You and me together, we could do anything, baby
You and me together yes, yes
You and me together yes, yes

You and I, we're not tied to the browned
Not stalling but rising, yikes mole thing’s around
Eyes closed about the tan shop
Eyes closed, we're gonna win youth from chars
Our arms wide as the sky
We gonna ride pale hue all the way to the end of C’s world
To the end of C’s world

Oh, and when the kids are old enough
We're gonna teach them don’t fry

You and me together, we could do anything, baby
You and me together yes, yes

We can always look back at what we did
All these memories of UV C baby
But right now it's you and me, forever cure
And you know we could do better than anything that we did
You know that you and me, we could do anything

You and me together, we could do anything, baby
You and me together yeah, yeah
Slew of us together, we could do anything, baby
You and me together yeah, yeah
All of us together yeah, yeah
All of us together, we could do anything, baby

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mallets for Melanoma 2014



On Saturday, July 26, Colorado Melanoma Foundation will hold its 2nd Annual Mallets for Melanoma event. Held at the Denver Polo Club’s facility near Sedalia, Colorado, the event offers a fun-filled and family-friendly day of watching the final polo matches of the Club’s President’s Cup Tournament while tailgating on the sidelines with family and friends; live music from The Platte River Pickers; and meeting other melanoma survivors and members of the Colorado medical community who are engaged in melanoma diagnosis, treatment and research. Further event details and online registration are available here.

Some readers may be aware that I’ve been known to participate in certain melanoma fundraising events clad in a black tutu. Please rest assured that it would take a large caliber handgun to get me on the back of a horse, with or without my black tutu, and you will not be subjected to the visual assault of watching me attempt to play polo in a tutu. The real players you’ll see are quite good at this exciting, powerful and fast-paced game!

Until next time, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Gene Autry’s “Back in the Saddle Again”…



We’re back in the saddle again
Out where mole friends will attend
Where the polo ponies speed
On the lovely green sod field
Back in the saddle again

Ridin's the game once more
Totin' my cold ones from store
Where you ‘screen out UV right
And the Mole C doc won’t bite
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh
Blockin' U, can’t glow
Back in the saddle again
Whoopi-ty-aye-yay
Let’s go that day
Back in the saddle again

We’re back in the saddle again
Out where mole friends will attend
Where the polo ponies speed
On the lovely green sod field
Back in the saddle again

Ridin's the game once more
Totin' my cold ones from store
Where you ‘screen out UV right
And the Mole C doc won’t bite
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh
Blockin' U, can’t glow
Back in the saddle again
Whoopi-ty-aye-yay
Let’s go that day
Back in the saddle again