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

Monday, September 26, 2011


I’m relatively new to the online melanoma community, but it seems like we’ve lost an awfully lot of inspiring warriors over the past several months. (And how many others who never shared their stories through this medium?) One particular loss has been especially painful for me. We “met” this past February through the Melanoma Research Foundation’s discussion board and quickly discovered we shared the common bonds of the same initial diagnosis, the same treatment center and doctors, and the same course of treatment. Fresh from completing her treatments, she seemed thrilled to have found one of this regimen’s success stories and I was grateful for the chance to be a source of hope and encouragement for her. Tragically, however, biochemotherapy didn’t work for this young mother like it has for a luckier me, and she died this past summer.

I wonder whether folks who’ve yet to check into the Hotel Melanoma find it odd that we guests grieve over the loss of folks we’ve never really met. A theologian I’m not, but I find the fact that we do to be pretty compelling evidence that mankind really was created in God’s image and that all of us are graced with at least a smidgen of his infinity capacity to love others.

The older I get, the less I know, but I firmly believe that we lucky survivors best honor and remember the fallen by choosing gratitude rather than guilt over our outcomes and giving back instead of moving on. And by fighting like hell if our time comes.

For all of the fallen, especially “Shari C”, here’s a new version of Jackson Browne’s “Fountain of Sorrow”…

Looking through some online posts I found on archived boards
I was taken by some older posts from you
There were one or two I’d guess that you might have liked a little more
But they didn't show your spirit quite as true

You were looking back to see what was behind you
And I read your fearless laughter with surprise
But at the moment that my ‘net searching happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your lines

Now the things that I remember seem so distant and so small
Though it hasn't really been that long a time
What I was reading wasn't what was happening at all
Although for a while, your hopes did seem to climb
But when we see through C's illusions, there lies the danger
And our perfect outlook makes us feel like perfect fools
So we go running off in search of the newest rage cure
While the hopefulness seems to spring from our plight
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that pleading sound of your own prayers at night
You've lost your fight for life, but now you're all right
Wish we could just see your smiling face tonight

Now for you and me it may not seem that hard to reach our dreams
But that magic feeling never seems to last
And while the future's there for anyone to change, still you know it seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past
Am I one or two years and a couple of bad scans behind you
In my lessons at C’s pain and heartache school?
Where if you feel too free and you need something to remind you
There's this wariness springing up from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that pleading sound of your own prayers at night
You’ve lost your fight for life but now you're all right
Wish we could just see your smiling face tonight

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light
You've known that pleading sound of your own prayers at night
You had to struggle, you had to fight
To keep understanding and your passion for life
You could be laughing at C, you've got the right
Hope you go on smiling so clear and so bright


  1. Hi Rich,
    I frequently visit MPIP (daily). We have lost so many warriors over the course of the past few months (Sarah B, Eric, Mindy, Becca (young girl), Tina, Nic from Australia, and Shari C. as you noted). I'm sure I haven't honored/remembered them all but I pray daily for their families and for those of us who live with melanoma and the fear of it returning.
    I am happy to report as of Sept. 23rd I am 2 years NED. Hoping to take part in a Melanoma Walk in May in Milwaukee. I need to honor the warrior in all of us and the memories of those taken too soon:)

  2. You nailed it Rich. Maybe one day you can lay your hammer down. Praying for that day!

  3. This was one of my favorite posts. Great job, Rich. I don't know how I would have gotten through my first few months of joining hotel melanoma had it not been for the forums. Even now, life is half way (ha) normal, I still value the information I receive and the relationships I have with those people. The internet has introduced me to so many wonderful people. Yourself included!

  4. Liking this and all of the above. So glad you all were and ARE there. <3