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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Better Living Through Toxic Chemistry

Like I’ve said here before, I would’ve swallowed plutonium if that had been the recommended course of treatment and I chose the most aggressive option that was offered. No regrets. But for all of you mulling over your treatment options, including that “wait and see” option that is so often a rational choice on the too-short menu at this Hotel, all I can say is do what’s right for you and don’t ever second-guess your decision.

And do your best not to whine too much if your chosen course of treatment makes you feel like roadkill, because all that'll accomplish is making yourself and your loved ones miserable.  It’s Friday night, so I’ll leave you with my version of ZZ Top’s “Gimme Me All Your Lovin’” to start cranking up your weekend…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4VFFBCa5Aw



I got to have a shot of what you got until it’s beat.
I got to take my shot, like a boomerang I’ll take a repeat,

Gimme all your druggin', all your hits and misses too,
Gimme all your druggin', don't let up until we're through,

You got to whip it up and hit me like a ton of lead,
If I blow my top will you stop it before I’m dead?

Gimme all your druggin', all your hits and misses too,
Gimme all your druggin', don't let up until we're through.

You got to pump me up and kill it with those toxic goods.
You got to drug me up, beat it like I wish we could.

Gimme all your druggin', all your hits and misses too.
Gimme all your druggin', don't let up until we're through.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

For Chelsea

My blogger pal Chelsea has responded to a diagnosis that knocks most of us back on our heels and turns us totally inward by mounting an inspiring one-woman awareness campaign in the midst of a hellish year. It took me several years to come out of my closet and share my journey with melanoma through silly old songs and cranky rants. But this young woman? Within weeks of her diagnosis she launched a widely followed blog with a message that is, without a doubt, reaching her peers. She recently called out a couple of her former college’s sororities for the supreme idiocy of requiring that members spend time each week in tanning beds; and I’d bet she’ll find a way to put a stop to it. I’m certain that Chelsea’s current campaign is only the beginning of a lot of accomplishments that lie in her future, and I sure hope to be around to watch what happens.

So for Chelsea, here’s a new version of Jimmy Buffett’s “Little Miss Magic”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x37PT-nUXGg


Constantly amazed by the wisdom she shows in her writing
The clever life lessons she gives us can't help but be inciting
She loves to lay into fools with her bloggin’
Says that tanning ages foolish skin
She is my bloggin’ friend

I learn a little more from her everyday
I catch a little more courage on my way
Your parents must be quite proud of the fighter they see
Bloggin’ Miss Magic, what you gonna be?

Sometimes I read her dreamin' and wonder where that finer mind meanders
Is she strollin' along the Shore or cruisin' o'er her broad Virginia
I know this day she yearns to make up for lost times
This day she's gonna take off and fly
Oh that you can’t deny

I catch a little more courage that’s comin' my way
I see those new post lines just start to makin’ our day
Your parents must be quite proud of the woman they see
Bloggin’ Miss Magic, what you gonna be?

Yes she loves to lay into fools with her bloggin’
Says that UV ages foolish skin
She is my wise pale friend

Constantly amazed by the wisdom she shows in her writing
Those clever life lessons she gives us can't help but be inciting
I know this day she yearns to make up for lost times
This day she's gonna take off and fly
That you can’t deny

I learn a little more from her everyday
I catch a little more courage on my way
Your parents must be quite proud of the fighter they see
Bloggin’ Miss Magic, what you gonna be?
Bloggin’ Miss Magic, what you gonna be?
Bloggin’ Miss Magic, just can't wait to see

You’re reigning, you’re soaring
This old man gets boring



And now for you sorority tanning twits, here’s a new version of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY0WxgSXdEE&noredirect=1


Oh! Let's go!
She walks merrilly down the street
With her akin aged and aglow
Ain't no round like a round of blue heat
Tanning beds ready to go

Are you ready hey are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the sunlamp the UVs zip
To the sound of the beat yeah

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust hey
Hey it’s gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

How do you think we’re going to get along
Without you when you're gone
You baked out the only skin that you had
And flamed out ‘fore you were grown

Are you happy are you satisfied?
How long can you stand the heat
Out of the sunlamp the UVs zip
To the sound of the beat look out

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust hey
Hey it’s gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

Hey
Oh take it - Bite the dust
Bite the dust hey
Hey Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust ow
Another one bites the dust he he
Another one bites the dust hay yay ya ya ya
Ooh tanna!

There are plenty of ways that you can fake a tan
And bring you to the brown
You can beat it
You can cheat it
You can make it mad and leave it
Put it down yeah
But it’s ready yes it’s ready for you
It’s planning on your self defeat
Out of the sunlamps the UVs zip
Repeating to the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust yeah
Hey it’s gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust
Tanna!

Yeah! Alright!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Ode To Interferon

Regrettably, interferon is still the only FDA-approved treatment for Stage III melanoma patients. Although my biochemo cocktail included interferon injections, I can’t imagine what it must be like to undergo even the first month of high-dose interferon infusions, much less another eleven months of lower-dose injections.

All I know for sure is that my first dose of interferon was a contributing factor to my getting into big trouble with a very kind nurse named Johanna. After kicking off my very first round of biochemo around noon, Johanna took a look at her watch and told me “things would start happening” around 1:30. On her way out the door, she admonished me to hit the call button at the first hint of any discomfort so she could stay out ahead of nausea and fever side effects by boosting the dosage of various medications I was receiving along with the treatment cocktail.

Well, that cocktail decked me in just under ninety minutes with a ‘shock and awe’ assault the likes of which I’ll never, ever forget. It all came on so fast that by the time my wife summoned Johanna I was, among other things, shaking and quaking with a very high fever brought on, mostly, by the interferon. Consequently, Johanna had to try everything she could think of, short of laying on top of me, to get those violent shakes under control before giving up and knocking me out cold with a big shot of Demerol into the IV line. But not before she delivered a rather stern lecture about my failure to hit that call button before things got out of control. Yikes. Trust me, in round two I did as I was told.

For nurse Johanna and all who’ve endured the shakes and quakes from interferon treatments, here’s a new version of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”…


AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long by hushhush112

She was a nurse machine
She kept my PICC line clean
She was the toughest woman that I ever seen
She had the kindest eyes
Tellin' me no lies
Knockin' me out with those nice Demerol highs
Takin' more than my share
Had me begging for care
She told me to call but I was already there
'Cause my bod was shakin’
My bed was quakin'
My bones were achin'
’Cause I was takin' it and you -

Shook me all night long
Yeah you shook me all night long

Pumpin' double time
In my infusion line
It was not very kind, it blew vital signs
Gettin’ no applause
From my chemo nurse
Heard my Demerol plea, and gave me some more
Had to cool me down
Before another round
Then I'm back in the ring to take another swing
'Cause my bod was shakin’
My bed was quakin'
My bones were achin'
’Cause I was takin' it and you -

Shook me all night long
Yeah you shook me all night long
Knocked me out and then you
Shook me all night long
Then I kept quakin' and you
Shook me all night loooong
Yeah you shook me
Well, you took me

You really took me and you
Shook me all night long
Oaaaaaahhhhhh you shook me all night long
Yeah yeah you
Shook me all... night... long
Ya really took me and you
Shook me all night long

Yeah you shook me, yeah you shook me
All night loooong!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remembering

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”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwngpzlN2_s&feature=related


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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

House of The Frying Sun

No ranting about ‘pink fatigue’ today, just a new version of The Animals’ “House of The Rising Sun”…



There is a house in Cancer World,
They call the Frying Sun,
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy,
And God I know I'm one.

My surgeon was a savior,
He cut those margins clean,
My onc doc was a gamblin’ man,
Turned my skin all green.

Now the only thing this patient needs,
Is no bad scans and luck,
And the only time he's satisfied,
Is when his cancer’s ducked.

Oh mother, tell your children,
Not to do what I have done:
To spend your lives in tanning misery,
In the house of the Frying Sun.

Well I got both hands on the keyboard,
’Cause my cause is not in vain,
I'm staying here in Blogosphere,
To sing Black Cancer’s fame.

Well, there is a house in Cancer World,
They call the Frying Sun,
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy,
And God I know I'm one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In The Pink

In one of life’s little ironies, my wife and I were nearly trapped last weekend in a pink flash mob. We were staying in a hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon. It came as a Saturday night surprise to us that our hotel was smack dab in the middle of a large section of the city that would be shut in for several hours on Sunday morning for the “Guess Who” Foundation’s race for THE cure with 50,000 registrants. This didn’t fit with our plans for the day, which were to drive south to the Oregon wine country to taste some expensive wines that we can’t afford to actually buy.

So, at a pre-dawn hour on Sunday morning I found myself, without benefit of caffeine, out on the streets retrieving our rental car from the hotel’s rather expensive valet parking and then searching (and paying again) for a legal parking spot safely outside of the soon-to-be-shut-down-to-traffic race zone. After successfully scoring a parking spot and upon embarking on my foot journey back to the hotel, it immediately started to pour down rain and I’d of course left my rain jacket back at the hotel. Upon my arrival back at the hotel, I briefly considered changing into a dry and all-black outfit, carrying a large “tanning beds kill” sign, and crashing the race. But my wiser and cooler-headed wife summarily vetoed this plan.

I surrender. I’ve been sent to a breast cancer clinic because it was the only place that could do a walk-in needle biopsy. I’ve been told I’d have to go on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment for tumor pain because I don’t have breast cancer. A nephew, who has two uncles with melanoma and no immediate family members with breast cancer, recently hit me up to sponsor him in his local pink race for the cure. And now I’ve barely escaped several hours of quarantine with a mob of folks wearing pink wigs. So, I’ve decided to find out if it’s medically possible to convert to that more popular pink cancer. If not, I may just pretend. Wish me luck.

For all of you melanoma warriors (and the battlers of the many other mostly invisible cancer brands) here’s a new version of The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man”…



He's a real nowhere man,
Blogging ‘bout this nowhere brand,
Singing all these nowhere rants
for nobody.

Doesn't have a pinkish hue,
Knows not where black cancer’s news,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere man please listen,
You don't know what you're missing,
Nowhere man, pink world could be your best plan!

Folks are blind as they can be,
Just see what they want to see,
Pink C fans can you see we at all?

Nowhere man, don't worry,
Take your time, don't hurry,
Leave it all till pink cancer land
lends you more fans!

Doesn't have a pinkish hue,
Knows not where black cancer’s news,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere man please listen,
You don't know what you're missing
Nowhere man, pink world could be your best plan!

He's a real nowhere man,
Blogging ‘bout this nowhere brand,
Singing all these nowhere rants
for nobody.
Singing all these nowhere rants
for nobody.
Singing all these nowhere rants
for nobody!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Geophysiopsychology


Pictured here is Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach in Oregon. It was formed some 10-17 million years ago by lava flows emanating from a nearby coastal mountain range along the Pacific “Rim of Fire” that was once actively volcanic but is now dormant. Until the day it isn’t.

As I’ve said here before, I’ve been one lucky fellow during my extended stay at the Hotel. Nevertheless, I still feel like some dormant volcano-- as I’m nearly always wondering when the ever-present anxiety about a recurrence will next erupt and whether a destructive flow of metastasizing melanoma cells lies in my future. And I know I’m not alone in experiencing this ongoing and grating state of paranoia. With gratitude to all who understand this psychic state, and share their own emotions and experiences in hopes of lending support to others, here’s a new version of Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjGHwGkFIFw


Now I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

Well let me hear ya now
I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

Cells they lurkin' inside me
Got ya UV rays out by the sea
Shining orb up in the sky
Pretty soon we start to fry

Hey I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

Now my doc always say to me
Son, you'd better wear your ‘screen
That sunshine comes out strong and hot
You better lova life now or lova life not

See I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

Hey make me onc-free

No time to count what I'm worth
Hey I just love this planet earth
But a' where I go I hope there's fun
Not to worry, more soon come

I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

But I don't want to land at MSK place
Don't want to land at MDA (no no no)
Don't want to look at no NIH stay
Don't want to have no scans today (no no no)

Don't want to land at the Anschutz clinic’s
nuclear oncology (no no no)
Don't want to have no more IV tube sticks
In my scarred-up anatomy (no no no)

Don't want to stand no more biochemo
Don't want to stand no more clinic stays (no no no)
Don't want to stand no more melanoma
I got nothin a more to say

I don't know
I don't know
I don't know where I'm a gonna go
If my black cancer blow

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Going Coastal

It’s been way too long since I’ve been groped by a TSA agent, so I’m checking out of the Hotel for a few days to vacation with my wife in Oregon where we once lived. That was back before I checked into this Hotel and our lives were ‘normal’ and cancer-free, so I’m hoping that a few days of basking in the beauty of the rugged Oregon coast will turn the clock back and renew our spirits. Perhaps we can leave the specter of a melanoma recurrence back home and safely locked away in the Hotel safe. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a new version of Marvin Gaye’s classic, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”…



Ooh, I bet you're wondering how I knew
That melanoma makes you blue
’Bout some other life that you knew before.
Between the two of these lives
You know we loved old more.
It took me by surprise I must say,
When I found out that black day.
Don't you know that...

I heard it through the phone line
That no longer will life be fine.
Oh I heard it through the phone line,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

I know that a man is supposed to die,
But these fears I don't take in stride.
Gettin' you could end my life you see,
And it means so much to me.
You nearly stole my old self.
Wish you’d go somewhere else.
Instead...

I heard it through the phone line
That no longer will life be fine.
Oh I heard it through the phone line,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

People say just leave those statistics be,
Son, and laugh at what you hear.
I can't help bein' confused
If it's true please quell these fears
Do you plan to let me go
To the other guy I was before?
Don't you know...

I heard it through the phone line
That no longer will life be fine.
Oh I heard it through the phone line,
Oh and I'm just about to lose my mind.
Honey, honey yeah.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Want Yervoy With Those Fries?

The Melanoma Research Foundation’s blog post of September 2, 2011 highlights the skyrocketing rate of incidence of melanoma in young women. The post includes a rather sad quote from Dr. Darrell Rigel, speaking to The American Academy of Dermatology:

“Twenty years ago, it was rare to see a woman in her 20s with melanoma, and we also did not see a lot among women in their 30s. Now, we commonly see cases in women in their 20s, and every one of them has a tanning history.”

One of the banes of my former life as a corporate lawyer was my company’s marketing department, which surely must have been the inspiration for whomever coined the phrase “your procrastination is not my emergency”. (I mean, c’mon, why should a regulatory compliance review of advertising copy ever, much less always, be a rush project?) But I secretly admired the creative ability of these folks to endlessly spin out delightfully tacky promotional ideas and cross-selling schemes and I can only imagine what they could do in the tanning salon industry, given the known carcinogenic effects of that industry’s sole product. Like “frequent fryer” rewards programs with rewards points redeemable at your local cancer treatment center. Or a free coupon for a 20% discount on the co-pay for your first month of Yervoy if you sign up today for ten tanning sessions. The possibilities are endless.

Boomers, don’t let your babies and grandbabies grow up to be tanners. If you sing better than I do, try the following version of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” to tell them they don’t have to be tan to be beautiful…



Well, just - a look at that girl with the lights comin' up in her eyes.
She's got to be somebody's baby.
She must be somebody's baby.
All the ghouls at the salon stand back and let her tan on high.
She's got to be somebody's baby.
She must be somebody's baby
She's got to be somebody's baby.
She's so fried.
She's probably somebody's only light.
Gonna shine tonight.
Yeah, she's probably somebody's baby, all right.

I heard her talkin' with her friend when she thought nobody else was around.
She said she's got to be young tannin’ lady; she must be young tannin’ lady.
'Cause when the cars and the signs and the street lights light up the town,
She's got to be one tanned up baby;
She must be one tanned up baby;
She's got to be one tanned up baby.
She's so....
She's gonna be somebody's only light.
Gonna shine tonight.
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's baby for life.

I try to shut my eyes, but I can't get her outta my sight.
I know she doesn’t know me, but I gotta be stoppin’ this plight.
Well, I'm just gonna walk up to her.
I'm gonna talk to her tonight.
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's only light.
Gonna shine tonight.
Yeah, she's gonna be somebody's baby for life.
Gotta stop this plight, keep her pale for life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pump!

There’s no point whatsoever to this post, just my version of Van Halen’s “Jump”…



I get up, and nurses put me down.
They like to pump. And meds go round and round
And I know, just how it feels.
You've got to roll with the punches to make those cells reel.
Oh can't you see me laying here,
They’ve got me tethered to this pumping machine
I ain't the worst that they've seen.
Oh can't they see I've turned green?

Might as well pump. Pump!
Might as well pump.
Go ahead, pump. Pump!
Go ahead, pump.

Hey you! Who said that?
Doctor how’ve I been?
You say you don't know, you won't know
until my scan’s in.
Well can't you see me laying here,
You’ve got me tethered to this pumping machine
I ain't the worst that you've seen.
Oh can't you see I've turned green?

Might as well pump. Pump!
Go ahead, pump.
Might as well pump. Pump!
Go ahead, pump. Pump!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Learning Experience

Once upon a time during my first week of biochemotherapy, my doc showed up to check me out in the company of a gaggle of students tagging along for hospital “teaching rounds”. After determining that I was still alive and semi-sentient, my doc launched into his teaching presentation to his flock and described the course of treatment I was undergoing, including the various drugs and dosages that comprised biochemotherapy. In the middle of his discourse, one of the students blurted out a question: “But Doctor, wouldn’t this kill the patient?” As you might imagine, this aroused me into a higher state of consciousness and my wife about fell out of her bedside chair. Being something of a comedian, my doc’s response was: “Well, we certainly hope not”, and he got a good laugh from his student audience. Fortunately for me, and my wife, he went on to explain what was being done to counteract the potentially fatal side effects of the treatment. Yikes, but don’t you love the way docs sometimes talk about us like we’re not there?

Which reminds me of a vintage song with some great Eric Clapton guitar licks, Cream’s “Strange Brew”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_NholHANoY


Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

Here’s a nurse all gowned up in her hazmat blues,
In her own gloved hands she's got meds for you.
For you.
Now what you gonna do?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

It’s some kind of demon bearing no good news.
If you don't watch out it'll spread in you.
In you.
Does this sound good to you?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

In a bed surrounded by these kid M.D.’s,
I would pay big green for them all to leave
this floor.
And keep their smart mouths closed.
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

Strange brew, strange brew, strange brew, strange brew.
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Disco Night at The Hotel

I got to thinking the other day that maybe the Hotel Melanoma needs a happier, alternative theme song to my knockoff of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”. After all, there are lots of very nice folks living here and it’s quite the supportive community, despite the fact nobody chose to move in. So here’s a new version of Village People’s “Y.M.C.A”…



Mole mates, there's no need to feel down.
I said, mole mates, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, mole mates, 'cause you're in a new realm.
There's no need to be unhappy.

Mole mates, there's a place you can go.
I said, mole mates, when they've whacked all your nodes.
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.

They have every med that you need to employ,
You can pale out without sun ploys ...

It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.

You can drug yourself clean, you can make cancer squeal,
You can do whatever you feel ...

Mole mates, are you listening to me?
I said, moles mates, what do you want to be?
I said, mole mates, you can make real your dreams.
But you've got to know this one thing!

No mate does it all by himself.
I said, mole mates, put your tan on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Black Cancer Place.
I'm sure we can help you today.

It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.

They have every med that you need to employ,
You can pale out without sun ploys ...

It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.

You can drug yourself clean, you can make cancer squeal,
You can do whatever you feel ...

Mole mates, I have walked in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no one cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive ...

That's when someone came up to me,
And said, mole mate, take a walk up the street.
It's an inn there called the Black Cancer Place.
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place.

They have every med that you need to employ,
You can pale out without sun ploys ...

Black Cancer Place
It's fun to stay at the Black Cancer Place
Mole mates, mole mates there's no need to feel down
Mole mates, mole mates pick yourself off the ground

Black Cancer Place
then just go to the Black Cancer Place
Mole mates, mole mates we are all in same shoes
Moles mates, moles mates I said, we’ve been down and out with the blues.
Black Cancer Place

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mistaken Identity

On the occasion of my first visit to an oncologist, this well-meaning doc commented on how nice it was that my daughter could join me that day. Well, in fact it was my wife who’d come along on this merry new adventure. And I’m talking about the original model, not a younger trophy wife version 2.0, and she’s less than a year younger than me. If a somewhat weathered, newly-diagnosed 50-year-old melanoma patient needed one more reason to abandon sun worship and consider using a good moisturizer, this was most certainly it. As you might expect, my wife will never, ever let me forget this incident.

Guys, don’t let this happen to you. Protect the skin you’re in! Since it’s too late for this proud member of the Woodstock Generation to do more than preserve his already-weathered timbers, I’ll leave you with a new version of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Wooden Ships”…



Stills: You look pale to me, I don’t understand
'Cause tanning’s something everybody everywhere does
to look like baggage.
Crosby: I can see by your tan, my friend,
you're from the leather side,
There's just one thing I got to know,
Can you tell me please, when’s done?
Stills: Say, can I have some of your UV ray block?
Crosby: Yes, I've been using it for six or seven years now,
haven't got burned once.
Stills: Probably keep us both alive.

Tanning sheep to the slaughter, scary free and easy,
Easy, you know this way’s not supposed to be,
Bronzing people on the shoreline, let it be,
Talkin' 'bout scary free and easy...
Horror grips us as we watch you die,
All we can do is echo your anguished cries,
Stare as all human feelings die,
We are preaching - you won't heed us.

Go, take your children then, by the hand,
lead them away from this tanning band,
Far away, where we might laugh again,
We are preaching - you won't heed us.

And it's a fair skin, pale is norm,
Out in the sun, ‘screen on my shoulders,
Guess I'll hit the course and golf...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lab Rats


A lot of we guests of the Hotel Melanoma have participated in clinical trials. Although I didn’t fit the protocol for my docs’ study of “neoadjuvant” biochemotherapy for my Stage III melanoma (at least the one they published a journal article about), I was nevertheless offered the trial treatment and jumped at the chance to receive it.

I’d by lying if I claimed that I had any altruistic motives, like doing my part to advance melanoma treatment research. The truth is I just wanted to give myself a better chance to survive. And if it didn’t work then, well, I wanted to know I’d at least taken my best shot. During the pretreatment disclosure process that was supposed to form the basis of my “informed consent” to treatment I paid about as much attention as I had while watching one of those continuing legal education videotapes required to book the minimum number of mandatory legal ethics credit hours and get a better rate on the firm’s malpractice insurance. Just let me sign the papers and let's roll, docs!

For all of you who’ve elected to be lab rats, particularly in blind trials involving a placebo, here’s a new version of Neil Young’s classic, “Heart of Gold”…



We want to live,
We want to give.
We’ve been the lab rats
for a cure so bold.
Got those infusions,
Felt like a sieve.
We’ll keep on searching
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old.
Keep on searching
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old.

It’s not like Hollywood.
We looked like dead wood.
Some crossed the ocean
for a cure so bold.
We’ve had IV lines,
it was a fine time.
We’ll keep on searching
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old.
Keeps us searching
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old.

Keep on searching
for a cure so bold.
We keep on searching
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old.
We’ve been the lab rats
for a cure so bold.
We like getting old!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pale Is No Travail


According to a recent post by The Skin Cancer Foundation, fashion and beauty insiders agree that tanning is no longer in style. (As a wannabe metrosexual, I’m so relieved.) I’ve no idea what these “insiders” had in mind when declaring that one’s natural skin tone is “in”, but they just may have unwittingly performed a public health service.

With the notable exception of the well-publicized fruitcake who blames her continued tanning on her “tanorexia” addiction, we all left our tans at the door when we checked into the Hotel Melanoma. And since there seems to be but one exit door at this Hotel, we’ve long ago embraced our paler looks as a part of the new normal. Now we know we’re once again one of the cool kids!

This puts me in a celebratory mood, so here’s some party rock and roll for your holiday weekend, The Allman Brothers’ “One Way Out”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TVTNl2C2iw&feature=related


Ain't but ... one way out, baby ... Lord, We just can't go out that door
Ain't but ... one way out, baby ... and Lord, We just can't go out that door
We left our tans out there ... might need tan bans I don't know

Lord, you got me trapped doctors ... up on the chemo floor
If I get through this round I won't be ... trapped no more
So raise my dosage, baby ... let it drip out soft and slow
And Lord, our children, hope they won't be
Takin' this stuff that they don't know ... no!

Oh!

Whoa!

Lord, I'm foolish ... to be here ... in the first place
I pray no one’s gonna walk in ... and take my place-uh
Ain't no way in the world ... I'm goin' out that one door
I left my tan out there ... might need tan bans ... I don't know
I left my tan out there ... might need tan bans ... I don't know
I left my tan out there ... Lawd, it just might happen to be last tan
Oh, and it juss-a a might be last tan ... mmm-mm-mmm-mm
Lawd, it juss-a might be last tan
Oh, baby, I just don't know

Oh, you tell me!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unsightly Visions

I recently learned of the availability of do-it-yourself mole mapping software, which will compare two digital photos taken of my naked self at different times and flag new or changed moles. Who knows, this software may be a very effective tool in expert hands. But this is one of the many, many things I’m not going to try at home. It’s hard enough for me to get through that morning shave mirror image of myself without triggering a paranoid mole survey, so I’m just not going to sit at my high definition computer monitor and study my ubiquitous moles. I (and my dear insurance company) pay good money to good docs for their expertise in spotting suspicious moles, and yet I still feel like I should apologize for asking them to inspect my weathered and scarred carcass that closely. My unsolicited advice is don’t try this at home; and if in doubt, check it out with your docs and let them use whatever technology they deem reliable and effective.

Hoping you have a great (and sun safe) Labor Day weekend, I’ll leave you with a new ditty to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells A Story”…



Spent some time feelin' inferior
Standing in front of my mirror
Scoped my moles in a thousand ways
But they came out looking just the same

Doctor said, “son, you nearly left this world
I didn’t blame you when you declined to leave
But remember one thing don't lose your head
To a cancer that'll kill you dead”
So I paled out

Palm trees are a place you can hide from rays
If you feel that pale skin is in
Tanning freaks never give me no peace
They claim I am a pasty person
Down along the sea in shade of my own
Was knocked down by a tanning stampede
Got arrested for impeding a peaceful fry out
When all I wanted was to be tan free
I was accused
I moved on

Back at home I started searching too much
For the moles that end a boomer’s old life
Prognosis stunk but I fought my funk
At a time when I was near out of luck
Getting strangest looks indeed I was
Looking like some toxic reaction
Oh my dear I’d love to get out of here
This Hotel ain’t no tourist attraction
I wasn't ready for this, no no

I live here out west yeah!
Had times that weren’t merry, I’m still feeling wary
Hoping that my luck’s still here
I keep on writing dumb blog posts daily
Staying right with those oldie tunes
Had my thrills, doctors gave me chills
They claim that it’s up to nature’s will
They scare me all to heck ‘til I’m a wreck
Oh doctors I sure hope you find cures
Oh yeah I sure hope you find cures

I firmly believed that I didn't need anyone but me
I sincerely thought I was so complete
Look how wrong you can be

The software I've known I wouldn't trust to give true clues
I wouldn't give it my life to save
But those sharp eyed doctors you can’t really beat
God I sure hope they find cures
And wish I had the words I could tell to you
To help you on the way down this road
I wouldn't quote you no Dickens, Shelley or Keats
'cause it's all been said before
Make the best out of the bad just laugh it off
You didn't choose to come here anyway
So remember, every picture tells your story don't it