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, May 27, 2016

Forever Young

Next month I’ll turn 63. And in the “I’ll never-grow-old” fantasy world of this Baby Boomer, that’s middle-aged.

During my first decade or so of living at The Hotel Melanoma, my life planning horizon didn’t extend beyond my next 90-day or 6-month checkup etc. at the melanoma clinic. And I don’t think that’s the least bit uncommon among my N.E.D. melahomies who are also living with a high risk of recurrence.

But slowly yet surely over the course of the past couple of years I’ve started to contemplate the possibility that I might, just might, actually grow old. Really old. (Although I’m convinced there will always be the ornery juvenile delinquent brain of a seventeen-year-old trapped inside an increasingly frail body.) And if I do, where will I live when I can no longer manage my two-story home in the often-snowy woods? Will my retirement savings keep me stocked with single malt scotch? Will self-driving car technology keep me mobile? When do I start teeing off from the ladies tees? I know that I’m quite lucky and that I ought to be grateful to have such questions rolling around my chemo-fogged brain, when all too many younger lives have been cut way too short by the Black Beast. Meanwhile, I’m still just a ‘kid’ who’s hoping we all grow much, much older while somehow remaining forever young at heart.

For all of my molemates who’ve been laboring so hard to build melanoma awareness this month, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”…



May God bless and keep you always
May your skin checks show pale hue
May you always do for others
And let others do for you

May you build a ladder from your scars
And climb on every rung
May you stay
Forever young

Forever young
Forever young
May you stay
Forever young

May you grow up to spread whiteness
May you grow up ‘til C’s through
May you always know the truth
And flee tan lights surrounding you

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay
Forever young

Forever young
Forever young
May you stay
Forever young

May your scans always be pretty
May your tweets always persist
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay
Forever young

Forever young
Forever young
May you stay
Forever young

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Just Rewards



Many of we residents at The Hotel Melanoma are all too familiar with ‘Dr.’ Joseph Mercola and his quack claims about the health benefits of exposure to ultraviolet light, false advertising claims made to promote and sell his own line of tanning beds. But it seems that Lyin’ Joe is about to receive the just rewards of his quackery, as this past week the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement of its false advertising lawsuit against Mercola. Settlement terms include making refunds to buyers of his tanning beds in an amount up to $5.3 million and a promise to stop selling his cancer incubators. Read all about it here.

Mercola is reportedly unrepentant and standing by his claims of the cancer-fighting benefits of tanning bed use. So I can imagine him singing this Hotel Melanoma rendition of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”…



Hey, hey, hey, hey
Ohhhhhohhhhhohhhohhhhwooooo

Won't you come see about C?
I'll be a-prone, tanning you know it baby

Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving me everything inside and out and
Small change, I’m still a doc shark
Think of the cancer things that we were working on

Glow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your parts, baby

Won't you, forget about C
Don't, don't, don't, don't
Don't you, forget about D

Will you tan and love me?
Cook my way, never shove me
Rays keep calling, rays keep mauling
Brown, brown, brown

Will you idolize me?
Fall for claims or balk on lies
Rays keep calling, rays keep mauling
Brown, brown, brown, brown

Hey, hey, hey, hey
Ohhhhohhhhohhhohhhhwooooo

Won't you fry and be friend
It's my feeling I’ll win in the end
I won't warn you or touch your pretenses
Vanity, insecurity

Won't you forget about C
I'll be a-prone, tanning you know it baby
Going to take you apart
I'll put us back together at heart, baby

Don't you, forget about D
Don't, don't, don't, don't
Won't you, forget about C

As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
When you walk away

Or will you walk on rays?
Will you walk on fries?
Come on, buy my claims
Will you buy my claims?

I say
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
Blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
When you walk on by, and you call my name

Monday, March 28, 2016

Something Good Coming

Back in the Dark Ages of melanoma treatment, 2003 to be exact, I had a close encounter with a Stage IV diagnosis. A CT scan showed a large mass next to my cervical spine. The initial prognosis was quite grim, as further metastasis to my spine, brain and heart was likely. I was told that the only treatment options available at the time, radiation and chemotherapy, might extend my life a few months but would not commute my almost certain death sentence. Lucky for me, and against all odds, the mass turned out to be a benign nerve tissue tumor, not a melanoma tumor. It’s been one troublesome sonofabitch requiring extensive neurosurgery and radiation treatments (and permanent nerve damage has wreaked havoc on a golf swing that was never pretty) but it isn’t a killer.

The state of metastatic melanoma treatment has so very, very much changed for the better since 2003. Today there is real and thoroughly rational hope for long term survival after a Stage IV diagnosis. And I have to believe that we’re nowhere near done with treatment advances and there is something good coming to The Hotel Melanoma. Soon, very soon.

Thinking of my friend Donna today, I’ll sign off with my take on “Something Good Coming” from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers…



I'm watching the bloggers
Watching the posts
Suddenly I know
What I want the most

And I want to tell you
Still I hold Black
I need some time
Get my life on track

I know that look on your face
But there's somethin' plucky about this place
And there's somethin' good comin'
For you and me
Somethin' good comin'
There has to be

And I'm thinking 'bout Donna
And about her kids
And the way she lived
And the things she did

How she never had a chance
Never caught a break
And how we pay for our skin mistakes

I know so well the look on your face
And there's somethin' plucky about this place
There's somethin' good comin'
Just over the hill
Somethin' good comin'
I know it will

And I'm in for the long run
Wherever it goes
Ridin' the river
Wherever it goes

And I'm an earnest man
Hope’s all I know
You take that away
Don't know where to go

And I know that look that's on your face
There's somethin' plucky about this place
There's somethin' good comin'
For you and me
Somethin' good comin'
There has to be

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Blogoversary Oldie



I’ve been quite the blogging slacker of late, but I’ve been aroused today from my winter torpor because it’s the 6th anniversary of the ‘grand’ opening of The Hotel Melanoma. I often wonder (while my chemo-soaked brain wanders) just why it is that I keep doing this. I guess I do it because I just ‘love’ the Black Beast and every so often (like this past January) I’m reminded by some vigilant medic that I can’t ever breakup with her. And because I feel obliged to continue to stand up and be counted among the ranks of the very lucky, long term survivors of a complicated relationship with this b***h.

Hoping and praying that the next six years is even better for treatment advances than the last six, I’ll sign off with a little ‘love’ song to our adversary. To the tune of “Let’s Hang On” from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons…



There ain't no could in our goodbyein'
New drugs take a lot of tryin'
Oh, my fryin’…

Let's hang up on what we've got
Just let go, girl, we've fought a lot
Got a lot of ‘love’ between us
Hang up, hang up, hang up on what we've got

You say you're gonna go and call it quits
Gonna chuck it all and break our ‘love’ to bits
Break it up (I wish you'd ever said it)
Break it up (oh yo, I’ll not regret it)
That little blip of shining on old scans
Cost a fortune, baby
But you know it stands for the ‘love’, (a love to tie and bind ya)
Such a ‘love’ (we just can't leave behind us)

Baby (don't you know?)
Baby (won't you go)
Think it over and stray

Let's hang up on what we've got
Just let go, girl, we've fought a lot
Got a lot of ‘love’ between us
Hang up, hang up, hang up on what we've got

There isn't anything I wouldn't do
I'd pay any price to get all good from you
Pack it up (give me a second learnin')
Pack it up (don't fuel spots while I'm burnin')

You've got me cryin', dyin' at your door
Just shut me out, ooh, let me out once more
Open up (your arms, I need paroled new)
Open up (your heart, oh girl, I drugged you)

Baby, don't you know?
Baby, no, no, no
Think it over and stray

Let's hang up on what we've got
Won't let go, girl, we've fought a lot
Got a lot of ‘love’ between us
Hang up, hang up, hang up on what we've got

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Sneaky S.O.B.



Last Sunday I was looking like I’d taken a hard punch to my right jaw. (I can think of several people- including my wife- who might want to take a punch at me, but nobody did.) My primary care doc’s diagnosis on Monday was “lymphadenopathy, cervical”. So, after the primary care doc talked to my dermatologist, who in turn talked to my oncologist, I’ll be trucking up to the melanoma clinic next week for a checkup and likely a bonus “fine needle aspiration”, which they always seem to do in the breast cancer clinic where I draw some very quizzical looks from other patients. The initial plan was to do a head/neck CT scan prior to this checkup, but my wonderful insurance company refused to authorize it; but that’s okay with me, I guess, because I would’ve had to pay for it thanks to my sky-high deductible and now maybe I’ll dodge a scan expense.

The strong odds are that my lymph node(s?) are merely enlarged by an excess intake of chocolate over the Holidays. Or single malt Scotch. But then again we all know that melanoma can be one sneaky S.O.B and pop up after years of lying dormant. Be vigilant my friends. No matter how long you’ve been in “no evidence of disease” status, please be watchful and have regular monitoring checkups with a melanoma specialist.

Feeling a touch of melanoma paranoia, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “S.O.B.” from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats…



I'm gonna need some docs to help me
I'm gonna need some body scans
I'm gonna need someone to hold me down
I'm gonna need someone to care
I'm gonna writhe and shake my body
I'll start pulling out my hair
I'm going to cover myself with more splashes of goo
And mole buddies gonna give a damn

Son of a bitch, get me a shrink
One more fright is shaking me
Son of a bitch
If I can't scan clean I'm gonna drink my life away

Now for seventeen years I've been growing them black
Seventeen more will bury me
Can somebody please just tie me down
Or somebody get me a goddamn shrink

Son of a bitch, get me a shrink
One more fright
This can't be C
Son of a bitch
If I can't scan clean I'm gonna drink my life away
Hey, Yeah now

My heart is quaking, hands are shaking
Docs are pawing all over me
My heart is quaking, hands are shaking
Docs are pawing all over me
My heart is quaking, hands are shaking
Docs are pawing all over me
My heart is quaking, hands are shaking
Docs are pawing all over me

Son of a bitch, get me a shrink
One more fright
This can't be C
Son of a bitch
If I can't scan clean I'm gonna drink my life away
Son of a bitch, get me a shrink
One more fright
This can't be C
Son of a bitch
If I can't scan clean I'm gonna drink my life away
Yeah ah