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.



Tutu Brothers

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cloudy Days

So, I’ve been feeling a little glum since removing myself from a volunteer position in the melanoma nonprofit community. (And losing a stroke on my home course handicap hasn’t helped to improve my cranky mood.) Despite the good intentions of all involved in the endeavor, sometimes these things just don’t work out like you hoped they would and you come to the realization that it’s time to move on and hope you can be more effective elsewhere. But this aging melavangelist ain’t givin’ up just yet. I will seek and find another way to be actively and effectively involved in supporting melanoma research, education and prevention. Have blog and black tutu, will travel!

I strongly suspect I’m far from alone in the melahomie community in wanting to do something to defeat the Black Beast but finding it a challenge to figure out how and where and with whom to best do that. If you’re in the same boat, I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and ideas on how we survivors can make a real difference.

Until next time, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of The Eagles “No More Cloudy Days”…


The Eagles - No More Cloudy Days (Live 2005) by olatoniggg

Sitting by a foggy window
Staring at the pouring rain
Falling down like lonely teardrops
Memories of nothin’ gained
These cloudy days, make you wanna cry
It breaks your heart when somethin’ cleaves and you don't know why

I can see that you've been hurting, maybe I've been lonely too
I've been out here lost and searching, looking for mole pals like you
Now I believe the sun is gonna shine
Don't you be afraid to try again, put your hand in mine?

Baby, I would never make you fry
I would never change your hue
I would never let you brown
We would always seek breakthrough

I know a place where we can go where UV never preys
There’s no more stormy nights, no more cloudy days

I believe in second chances
I believe in angels, too
I believe in new advances
Baby, I believe in you
These cloudy days are coming to an end
And you don't have to be afraid to don golf glove again

Baby, I would never make you fry
I would never change your hue
I would never turn away
We would always seek breakthough
I know a place where we can go where UV never preys
There's no more stormy nights, no more cloudy days

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Reaching Out



A large part of why I’m so glad I eventually wandered out of my lonely, single room at The Hotel Melanoma is that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know one of the true gems of the melanoma community, (Rev.) Carol Taylor. As many of you know, Carol (a/k/a Southern Mama Preacher) founded the Facebook community page Melanoma Prayer Center and it’s been a source of comfort, support and inspiration to thousands of melahomies. Carol has lived a life of service to her family, her church, and the melanoma community—which has made it a great honor for a very flawed and less selfless fellow like me to have been adopted as her big (i.e. much older) brother.

Carol has had quite an influence on the musical content of my little blog, e.g. the occasional disco tune which I’d never have done but for her ‘requests’. But today I’ll stick with my roots in Classic Rock. For Carol, who has done so much to remind me that the true purpose of human life is to serve others, here’s Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”…

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

Still, you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

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