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.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ripple Effects

Five years ago today I came out of my closet and published my first (rather long) blog post about life as a melanoma patient. Today’s is my 587th post. So what do I think I’ve accomplished with all of this verbiage and song?

I’ve ranted, I’ve whined, I haven’t ever come remotely close to going even slightly viral with a post, and I certainly haven’t succeeded in raising much money for melanoma research. But I’ve bared my soul and perhaps inspired or encouraged a few melahomies to do the same with their own blogs that have had a far wider reach and impact than mine. No one has sued me for defamation or copyright infringement. I may have succeeded in slightly raising melanoma “awareness” (a term I dislike intensely), although as near as I can tell none of my posts have been read by more than a handful of folks who don’t already live at The Hotel Melanoma. (Like, my wife asked me a while back whether I was still blogging.) But I’m pretty certain I’ve put a smile on the faces and a song in the hearts of some fellow Hotel residents, and that’s reason enough to keep on trying.

I suspect I’ll never know or see all of the ripple effects of stepping out of my room and blogging, but I do know one thing for sure. Writing Welcome to The Hotel Melanoma has drawn me into a warm, supportive and welcoming community of mole mates and meeting a whole bunch of really nice people. Thank you all for being here.

Just this once, I’ll leave a fine old song unmarred. The Grateful Dead’s “Ripple”…



If my words did glow
With the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played
On the harp unstrung

Would you hear my voice
Come through the music?
Would you hold it near
As it were your own?

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

It's a hand-me-down
The thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wearing of the 'Screen



Over the years since checking into The Hotel Melanoma, I’ve caught quite a few quizzical looks at my phosphorescent white hide and been teased about covering up outdoors with long sleeve shirts and sunscreen. I bet you have too. And you may have even been told by some quack TV ‘doctor’ that sunscreens are bad for you because they contain dangerous chemicals or their use will lead to Vitamin D deficiency. So let we at The Hotel Melanoma band together like the Irish rebels of old, stand up to the foolish tanned, and proudly wear our sunscreen. Wishing you all a festive St. Patrick’s Day, a day when we’re all at least a little bit Irish, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Wearing of the Green” from The Wolfe Tones…



Oh, Paddy dear, did you hear the news that's going 'round?
The tan block is forbid by docs to flow on Irish browned
Saint Patrick's Day no more to weep, pale color must be seen
For there's a bloody doc again' the Wearing of the ‘Screen.
I met with Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand
And he said "How's poor old Melaland and how does she stand?"
"She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they're slamming men and women there for Wearing of the ‘Screen."

She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they’re slamming men and women there for Wearing of the ‘Screen.

Then since the color we must wear is Tan Land's cruel red
Sure Melaland's sons will never forget the blood that they have shed
You may pull the tan block from your pack and slap it on the bod
Sun 'twill take root and flourish there, though undercooked 'tis mod.
When docs can stop black cancer mass from growing in my moles
And when bare knees in summertime dare endure eighteen holes
Then I will change the color too I wear on hole nineteen
But 'til that day, please God, I'll stick to Wearing of the ‘Screen.

She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they're slamming men and women there for Wearing of the ‘Screen.

But if at last pale color should be torn from Melaland's heart
Her sons, with rage and sorrow, from the dear old white will part
I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea
Where rich and poor stand equal in the white of ‘screenin’s way.
Ah, pale land, must we seek you, driven by the vibrant tanned
Must we seek a doctor's blessing in a strange and distant land
Where the cruel cross of Tan Land shall never more be seen
And where, please God, we'll live and die, still Wearing of the ‘Screen.

She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they're slamming men and women there for Wearing of the ‘Screen.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Carefree Highway

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.” An Irish Blessing

The rooms and corridors of The Hotel Melanoma are all too often over-filled with suffering and sorrow. The pain of surgery, the grueling sickness from brutal chemotherapy and immunotherapy regimens, and the never-ending grieving over lives cut short by the arbitrary and capricious serial killer that is melanoma. Hoping and praying that all who are suffering will soon catch a break on their long journey down Melaroad, I’ll leave you with my rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Carefree Highway”…



Pickin' up the pieces of my C-shattered dreams
I wonder how the old moles are tonight
The bane was tans and I'll be damned when I recall the waste
C left me not knowin' what to do

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The mournin' after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

Turnin' back the pages to the times I love best
I wonder if C'll ever do the same
Now the thing that I call livin' is just being satisfied
With knowin' I got no one else to blame

Carefree highway, I got to see you once again
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The mournin' after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

Searchin' through the baggage of my mean cancer thief
I wonder if the fears have closed my mind
I guess it must be wanderlust or tryin' to get free
From the good old fateful peelin' we once knew

Carefree highway, let me slip away on you
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The mournin' after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you
Let me slip away on you

Carefree highway, I got to see you once again
Carefree highway, you seen better days
The mournin' after blues from my head down to my shoes
Carefree highway, let me slip away, slip away on you

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day



Our friends at The Skin Cancer Foundation are suggesting we perform a couple's skin exam for Valentine’s Day. And they’re not talking about a twofer appointment with a dermatologist.

This sounds like quite a lot of fun, but I’m guessing it just isn’t happening for me this year. Hoping it does for you, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car”…



Asked my girl what she wanted fourteenth
She said, "Baby, can't you see?
I wanna be faded, a star of sunscreen
But you can do something in between”

Baby, you can jive my scar
Yes, you’re gonna see boudoir
Baby, you can jive my scar
And maybe I'll love you

I told that girl that my doc checks were good
And she said, "Baby, it's understood
Skin checks at clinics, it’s all very fine
But I can show you a better time"

Baby, you can jive my scar
Yes, you’re gonna see boudoir
Baby, you can jive my scar
And maybe I'll love you

Peep peep'm, peep peep, yeah

Baby, you can jive my scar
Yes, you’re gonna see boudoir
Baby, you can jive my scar
And maybe I'll love you

I told that girl, I can start right away
Then she said, "Listen babe, I got something to say
I got no scar and I’m faking that part
But I've found enquirer and that's a start"

Baby, you can find my mars
Yes, you’re gonna see boudoir
Baby, you can find my mars
And maybe I'll love you

Peep peep'm, peep peep, yeah
Peep peep'm, peep peep, yeah
Peep peep'm, peep peep, yeah
Peep peep'm, peep peep, yeah

Friday, January 30, 2015

Help Wanted: Angels

I’ve been a slothful blogger this past month, I guess because I’ve been preoccupied with operating a snow blower, paint brush, and tennis ball chukker. None of which I’m especially talented at. But I had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of representatives of Imerman Angels this past week and was duly inspired to sit down at the keyboard and do something more productive than taking more jabs at Patriots Coach Bill Belichick on Facebook.

Imerman Angels provides 1-on-1 cancer support by matching cancer fighters with a “Mentor Angel” who has experienced a similar cancer situation, giving fighters the chance to receive support from a peer who is truly familiar with the situation. (They also have a program for cancer caregivers.) They have a need for more melanoma survivors of all ages and stages to serve as volunteer Mentor Angels. I’ve been one and it’s a great way to “give back” and help someone who’s just checked into The Hotel Melanoma. And I can sure remember a time when I wish I’d had a Mentor Angel to provide some much-needed help, inspiration and courage, and that time could come again. Please consider getting involved with Imerman Angels; somebody out there needs your help.

Until next time, and who knows when that’ll be, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Help” from The Beatles…



Help, I need some buddy
Help, not just any buddy
Help, you know I need someone
Help!

When I was younger, so much dumber than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My tan dependence seems to vanish with skin flays
And every now and then I need a listener
I know that I just need you like I've never done before

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?

When I was younger, so much dumber than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?
Help me, help me, ooo