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.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lawyers, Drugs and Money



I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing a slew of cheesy cable TV ads from plaintiff’s lawyers who are soliciting lawsuit clients who’ve taken Viagra and subsequently been diagnosed with melanoma. (Not that they’re talking to me, I might add.) So what’s going on here and why aren’t we seeing a similar volume of ads aimed at melanoma patients who’ve used tanning beds?

A study published this past summer found that Viagra may increase a man’s risk for melanoma. To be precise, the study found that 4.3 of every 1000 men who didn’t take Viagra developed melanoma, compared to 8.6 of every 1000 men who did take Viagra. The study does not prove that Viagra causes melanoma—it only shows a statistical correlation between men who take Viagra and men who develop melanoma, a correlation that may be attributable to some yet-to-be-determined factor common to both Viagra users and melanoma patients.

Compare this single study to the much-larger body of scientific evidence cited in The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer linking UV radiation exposure to an increased risk of skin cancer. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified indoor tanning devices as Class I human carcinogens on the basis of strong evidence linking indoor tanning to increased risk of skin cancer. So why aren’t plaintiff’s lawyers showing a similar degree of zeal for soliciting clients for tanning bed lawsuits?

I strongly suspect the answer is a simple one: relatively easy money. Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer, a deep-pocketed defendant which reported net profits in 2013 of $22 billion. Big Pharma has a track record of paying out large sums of money in pre-trial settlements when confronted with thousands of claims that a drug caused injury, even when those claims are based on less-than-conclusive scientific evidence. Compare the financial lure to a plaintiff’s lawyer of a Viagra lawsuit against Pfizer to that of a melanoma patient who years ago frequented a variety of tanning beds that were made my several different manufacturers and operated by several different tanning salon owners which, relative to Pfizer, aren’t deep-pocketed defendants and may not even still be in business.

But I certainly haven’t given up hope and optimism that the indoor tanning industry will, sooner or later, find itself the target of a large volume of personal injury claims from thousands of former customers who contracted melanoma, lawsuits that may shrink or even sink this carcinogen-peddling industry. There are personal injury lawyers out there who appear to have a strong interest in representing melanoma patients who were injured by tanning beds. Just don’t hold your breath while waiting to see those lawyers advertising for clients on cable TV.

Until next time, here’s The Hotel Melanoma take on Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money”…



They did roam for the plaintiffs
The way they always do
How was I to know
C was in the
Drug pill blue?

He was gagging on Viagra
He took a little risk
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
They'll get him out of this, hyeah

I'm the innocent fried tanner
Somehow I got stuck
Between a blog
And a hard case
And I'm down on my luck
Yes I'm down on my luck
Well I'm down on my luck

I'm hiding in long burkas
I'm a desperate man
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
The shit just hit the fan

All right
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
Huh!
Uh...
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
Uhh!
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
Hyah!
It’s lawyers, drugs and money
Ooh!
Yeah!
Yeah
Yeah...
Uh!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wrinkled Man



No pontificating today, just The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Bad Company’s “Simple Man”…



I am just a wrinkled man, working
On the tanned, oh it ain't easy
I am just a wrinkled man, ‘smirking’
With my scans, oh believe me

Demon is the only thing means
A damn to me, oh you can't bake it
Demon is the only wrong, brings
A song for me, oh we're gonna take it

I am just a wrinkled man, trying
To beat C, oh it ain't easy
I am just a wrinkled man, trying to
Beat C, oh believe me

Demon is the only thing means
A damn to me, oh you can't bake it
Demon is the only wrong, brings
A song for me, oh we're gonna take it

I am just a wrinkled man, working
On the tanned, oh it ain't easy
I'm just a wrinkled man, ‘smirking’
With my scans, oh baby, believe me

I'm just a wrinkled man, yeah, yeah
Demon is the only thing means
A damn to me, I'm just a wrinkled man, yeah

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Wheel



As a melavangelist (and in my former life as a corporate lawyer) I’ve often felt like a rat on an exercise wheel-- working as fast and furiously as I’m able, but getting nowhere. But I keep plugging away at it, and I see so many melahomies doing the same.

I think I keep doing this because of the inspiration of folks like my melapal Donna, who just in the past few weeks has undergone a craniotomy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and open heart surgery to whack melanoma metastases that keep on popping up. And for people like my melahomies Sandy, Tara, and Cindy, who participated today in a melanoma fundraising walk/run on a chilly late fall morning.

Perhaps the general public will soon come to realize that melanoma really is cancer and begin to take the commonsense preventative measures that just might keep them from checking into The Hotel Melanoma. One can only hope. And try.

For Donna, and all of you who work tirelessly to increase melanoma awareness, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Jerry Garcia’s “The Wheel”…



The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the sunburns don't get you then the light things will

Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more
Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more

Browned, browned toxin, shun the browned
Gotta get black a new theme song
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before

Small wheel turning by the fryin’ squad
Big wheel turning by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the sunburns don't get you then the light things will

Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more
Won't you try just a little bit harder
Couldn't you try just a little bit more

Friday, November 7, 2014

Paling



Summer is over now, and I’ve successfully maintained my pale-as-a-Supermax-prison-inmate look. (And this is despite the fact that I spent a lot of time this past summer ‘on the beach’ at my favorite local golf course trying to learn how to consistently hit a proper bunker shot.) This is a very good thing because it’s about time to talk myself into getting naked at the dermatology clinic. A golfer tan and semiannual melanoma checks by a dermatologist just don’t mix, it seems.

Entering the season of ski goggle tan avoidance (it’s a tough life I lead), I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of a song that has always made me gag-- Christopher Cross’ “Sailing”…



Well it's not far down to terrified, at least it’s not for me
If the skin is white you can pale away and find tranquility
Oh the tan-less can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me

It's not far to leather, leather land, reason to defend
And if the skin is white you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh the tan-less can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me

Paling, takes me away
From where I've always spurred biopsies
Just sunscreen and pale skin to carry me
Soon I will be free

Vanity, it gets the best of me when I'm paling
All caught up in the leathery
Every cure is in infancy, won't you believe me?

Paling, takes me away
From where I've always spurred biopsies
Just sunscreen and pale skin to carry me
Soon I will be free

It's not far back to tanning spree at least it's not for me
But when the skin is white you can pale away and find serenity
Oh the tan-less can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me

Paling, takes me away
From where I've always spurred biopsies
Just sunscreen and pale skin to carry me
Soon I will be free

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Cancerversary Song

Next month I’ll see my 11th “cancerversary” of completing biochemotherapy treatments after a Stage IIIc melanoma diagnosis and beginning a very blessed long run of NED status. But I doubt that I’ll be in a celebratory mood. All too many of the friends I’ve made at The Hotel Melanoma haven’t been as fortunate as I’ve been. Too much pain, too many unsuccessful treatments, and too many young lives cut short. And the utter unfairness of it all makes me want to ask God “WTF are you thinking?” Oy.

So when my cancerversary arrives, I don’t think I’ll know quite how to mark the day. Maybe I’ll just lay low, contemplate the journey and the roads I’ve traveled, and try to think of one good way to demonstrate gratitude for my dumb luck.

Until next time, I’ll sign off with an un-altered new song from Bob Seger, “All of The Roads”…



All of the roads I've run
All of the faces I've left in my wake
Hopin' to leave my mark
Hopin' I gave and I didn't just take
Climbing a mountain many are left behind
Chasing a dream and seeing the world takes time

If you were in my world
If you could feel all the things that I feel
Maybe you'd understand
Every mirage has a certain appeal
After the thrill it's off to indifferent rooms
After the lights the darkness is coming soon
I've done it all before
And I have gone through every door
And I've been right down on the floor and more

All of the roads I've run
All of the years that have fallen away
Light from a distant star
Crossing the void and arriving one day
Oceans of space defending the great unknown
Sooner or later all of us head for home

All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run