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.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Fine Day at The Clinic

I’ve been a patient at a big university hospital cancer center for over ten years now and have been ‘seen’, in whole or in part, by a slew of ‘ologists of various and sundry specialties and sub-specialties. They’re all good people of great skill, experience and compassion, but it’s often seemed to me that there’s not a whole heck of a lot of collaboration and communication going on among this gang of ‘ologists. And that’s probably just because each one of my ‘ologists is too dang busy hustling from one exam room to the next to sit down and talk to me about what is or isn’t going on with my care in some other clinic down the hall. But every so often one of my ‘ologists has the time to climb out of his or her specialty silo and take a comprehensive interest in my care at the cancer center, and Friday was one of those days.

It was time for a MRI and visit to the radiation oncology clinic to see if Mr. Schwannoma is behaving himself and a day that involved the standard redundant questionnaire about my metallic jewelry implants, etc. (A Schwannoma is a fairly rare and usually benign tumor of the Schwann cells in the protective sheath surrounding a nerve, and the ‘ologists found a big honking one on the left brachial plexus bundle of nerves branching off of my cervical spine through the first CT scan performed after my Stage 3c melanoma diagnosis. A crack radiation oncologist, who I affectionately nicknamed Dr. No, nuked Mr. Schwannoma in 2007 into a stable state.) They’ve not been directly involved in my melanoma care and treatment, but perhaps because they’ve treated one-too-many melanoma patients with brain metastases, Dr. No and his successor have taken a great deal of interest in my melanoma care and had a lot to say to me over the years about what I ought to be doing for the sake of early detection of any melanoma recurrence. Both have expressed concern that I haven’t been scanned in a coon’s age, and my new radiation oncologist up and ordered a precautionary chest and pelvic CT scan. I’m sure it’ll prove “unnecessary” in hindsight, but I’m nonetheless grateful for her proactive initiative. I just hope my ‘friends’ at CIGNA authorize it.

I never particularly liked this song, only because a college roommate we called Woodstock played it incessantly, but with gratitude to the good folks in radiation oncology here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”…



I have MRI fright
My hand's wet as an eel
There's a voice in my head
That drives mag wheel
It's my rad tech callin'
Says: I read you here
And it's a scan abhorred
In that magnet sphere

When C is mole C
And the growing gets too much
He sends a ray stream
Coming in from a gun
Don't need to groan at all

I've got a thing that's called Ray Doc Love
He’s got the waves if you dare
Ray Doc Love

The waiting room’s playing some old rotten song
Lawrence Welk’s polka gone wrong
These forms have got me hypnotized
And I'm seating into old naugahide

If I get Mole C
And I'm sure I've had enough
She sends her protons
Comin' in from a gun
Don't seem to fret her at all

I've got a thing that's called Ray Doc Love
They've got the time for this guy
Ray Doc Love

No smoke weed, I'm almost bare
Gotta neat blue gown, lotta great care
Scan time on mass, here I go
And the time in jar passed too darn slow

And the waiting room played that old rotten song
Lawrence Welk’s polka gone wrong
And the new scan sang its same song
Once more Ray Doc Love is on

If I get Mole C and I'm sure I've had enough
She sends her protons, coming in from a gun
It don't seem to fret her at all

I’ve got a thing that's called Ray Doc Love
They’ve got the time for this guy
I've got a thing that's called Ray Doc Love
I've got a thing that's called
Ray Doc Love

Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't Tan So Close To Me

Thanks to the billing excesses of certain entities in the medical community, I didn’t make it south-of-the-border this year for a winter respite at a beach resort. But that’s probably all for the good. Why, you ask? Because I wasn’t subjected to any visual assaults from weathered people who look like an old saddle partially wrapped in a strip or two of nylon with me, meanwhile, being all sanctimonious and smug about sporting a phosphorescent pale and mostly-clothed carcass and hiding under a palapa hut. Maybe I’m still just a bit envious of folks who can still bask on a white sand beach without disappearing, but I think it’d be a great marketing ploy if a beach resort offered separate “no tanners” sections on the pool deck and beach where we members of The Paler Nation could enjoy ourselves without feeling like we ought to be handing out our dermatologists’ business cards. A similar policy has worked out quite well for a handful of upscale Utah ski resorts that attract well-heeled skiers by banning snowboarders.

What do you think? Until next time, I’ll sign off with a new version of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” from The Police…



Old preacher, no subject
Of schoolgirl fantasy
He wants skin so badly
Knows what he wants to ‘screen
Inside him there's longing
For tans of olden days
Mole mapping - C's so close now
His ‘screen is half his age

Don't tan, don't tan so
Don't tan so close to me

His friends aren’t so zealous
You know how tan ‘girls’ get
Sometimes it's not so easy
To be the doctor's pet
Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Met Mohs doc, C's grating
His scars are worn with pride

Don't tan, don't tan so
Don't tan so close to me

Deuce docs in exam room
To cure they try and try
Long words in the staffroom
The gene mutations fly
Skin abuse, C needs cure
He starts to shake tan off
Just liked the old tan skin
That looked like orange improv

Don't tan, don't tan so
Don't tan so close to me

Don't tan, don't tan so
Don't tan so close to me

Friday, March 28, 2014

Debate Restraint

Every so often I find myself in a Facebook ‘conversation’ with a melahomey friend’s friend, whom I’ve managed to seriously piss off without intending to. And I get to wondering whether these people are just angry or looney by nature or if I have some special talent for making complete strangers mad that I should attribute to spending a couple of decades or so in the rough and tumble debating world of law practice. Whichever may be the case, I think I’ll take a break from taking the bait and responding when a melahomey friend asks for opinions about any matter that could even possibly be more controversial than sunscreen brand preferences. Life’s too short to do more than hit the “like” button and post an appropriate emoticon.

To everyone whom I’ve managed to offend on Facebook all I can say is “whatever”, and sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do”…



I ain't lookin' to compete with you
Meet or Tweet or mistreat you
Simplify you, classify you
Deny, de-fry, or euthanize you

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

No, and I ain't lookin' to fight with you
Frighten you or enlighten you
Drag you down or make you frown
Paint you clown or bring you crown

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

I ain't lookin' to block you up
Shock or knock or lock you up
Analyze you, anesthetize you
Standardize you or glamorize you

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

I don't want to straight-face you
Race or chase you, track or trace you
Or disgrace you or efface you
Or define you or confine you

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

I don't want to treat your skin
Make you kin or do you in
Or perfect you or dissect you
Or inspect you or reject you

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

I don't want to stake you out
Take or flake or head ache you out
I ain't lookin' for you to feel like me
See like me or be like me

All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bracketology Rock



Hoping that I’m better at fracturing classic rock songs than I am at picking winners and losers in the NCAA basketball tournament, here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”…



I want to live
I want to give
I've been a whiner
For black art of moles
It's teen convection
I can’t relive
That keeps me searching
For black art of moles
And I'm getting old
Keeps me searching
For black art of moles
And I'm getting old

My blog’s no livelihood
I've felt like deadwood
I got some potions
For black art of moles
I've been skin fry kind
It was a fine time
That keeps me searching
For black art of moles
And I'm getting old
Keeps me searching
For black art of moles
And I'm getting old

Keep me searching
For black art of moles
U keeps me searching
For black art of moles
And I'm growing mold
I've been a whiner
For black art of moles

Thursday, March 13, 2014

If You Could Read My Hind

Just a little song for the unfortunate young dermatology resident who had to perform my last full body skin check and tell me I was in for another whack at a regrowth of squamous cell carcinoma, to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”…

)

If you could read my ‘hind, doc
What a tale my spots could tell
Just like some old-time UV
'Bout a ghost from sun worship spell
With a cancer dark bore some treatments strong
With stains upon my sheets
You know that ghost is C
And I will never be set free
As long as I've a ghost that you can't see

If I could read your mind, doc
What a tale your thoughts could tell
Just like a cancer’s back novel
The times the drugs won’t quell
When you reach the part where the heartaches come
The hero would be me
But heroes often fail
And you won't read that book again
Because the ending's just too hard to take

I'd block the rays like a UV star
Who got burned in a teenage fit
Enter number two
A Doogie green to play the scene
Of carving all the ‘good’ skin out of me
But for now doc, let's be real
I never thought I’d get back this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where C went wrong
But the healing's gone and I just can't get it back

If you could read my ‘hind, doc
What a tale my spots could tell
Just like some old-time UV
'Bout a ghost from sun worship spell
With a cancer dark bore some treatments strong
With stains upon my sheets
But stories always end
And if you read between the lines
You'll know that I'm just tryin' to understand
The feelings that C’s back
I never thought I would feel this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it
I don't know where C went wrong
But the healing's gone and I just can't get it back