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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Awareness Despairness

I just couldn’t think of a more fitting song for the eve of melanoma awareness month than the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX6FsTIq6ls&feature=related

I can't seem to raise up the black facts
I'm tense and nervous and I
Can't relax
I can't sleep ‘til tan beds on fire
Just skin C it’s a tanner’s pyre


Psycho Killer
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away
Psycho Killer
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away


I speak of Black C nation they can't even fathom it.
I’m talkin' a lot, but they’re not getting’ anything.

When I have nothing to say, my C is healed.
Say something once, and say it again!


Psycho Killer,
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away
Psycho Killer
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away


Mel-la-no-mas, end Black C
Pray cancer’s beat, pray for all
Reality’s my despair
Tanners tanned, all aglow ... OK
They are vain and they are blind
I hate people when they're not too bright


Psycho Killer,
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away
Psycho Killer
Just skin C
fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry, fry lesser
Sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun away
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

May Days Craze

Our very own awareness month is almost upon us, and I suspect that a whole lot of folks at the Hotel Melanoma are going to say it loud and say it proud. The Paler Nation doesn’t yet have anything going for it like the NFL in ‘Pinktober’, shamelessly pandering to broaden its fan base, but we’ve got something a whole lot more powerful than Tim Tebow in pink cleats: real people, telling real stories, with real honesty and emotion. And, I must say, I think we have better songs.


For all of you mole mates working grassroots to build awareness, a new version of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ1UqDnY7as



Well East coast mates get drips
I really dig those trials they dare
And the Southern mates for the AIM they walk
They’ll rock me out when I'm down there


The Mid-West bad ass warriors really make Black C take flight
And the Northern mates with the way they diss
They’ll give Mercola cause for fright


I wish we all could see melanoma
I wish we all could see melanoma
I wish we all could see melanoma cures


The West coast has the sunshine
But our girls don’t get so tanned
I dig a pale sunscreener, on no fryin’ island
Under a palm tree in the sand


I look all around this Big C world
And I see all kinds of cures
Yeah, and I just can’t wait to ‘get black’ with my mates
And find the fastest cures in C world


I wish we all could see melanoma
I wish we all could see melanoma
I wish we all could see melanoma cures


I wish we all could be melanoma
(Cures, cures, cures, yeah I dig the)
I wish we all could be melanoma
(Cures, cures, cures, yeah I dig the)
I wish we all could be melanoma
(Cures, cures, cures, yeah I dig the)
I wish we all could be melanoma cures

Friday, April 27, 2012

Waiting

Not a day goes by when I don’t see a post from a mole mate who’s experiencing the agony of waiting. Waiting for scan or biopsy results. Waiting to hear whether they’ve been admitted to a clinical trial. Waiting to find out whether that trial is working for them. Or not. Waiting to find out whether their insurance company will or won’t pay for a potentially lifesaving treatment. Or, all too often, waiting for their pain or that of a loved one to finally and forever end.

I’m in sort of a holding pattern myself now and probably will be for the next several days and, to be honest, I’d forgotten how bad I am at playing the role of the patient patient-- even though I’m quite optimistic things will turn out just fine. For all of you fellow waiters, an ode to the medical profession to the tune of Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrzzR-3PPqw

So long, they’ve been looking too hard, I've been waiting too long
Sometimes I don't know what they will find
I only know it's a matter of time
When you wait a ton...When you wait a ton...
It feels not right, but always new, I’d like to know that you feel it too
(Aaah-aaah) maybe I'm wrong
(Aaah-aaah) won't you tell me if I'm wanting something wrong?
(Aaah-aaah) this heart of mine has been hurt before
(Aaah-aaah) this time I wanna be sure
I've been waiting, for a call from you
(Ooh-ooh-ooh) what seems like all my life
I've been waiting, for a call from you
(Waiting for a call) and the news that all is right


I've been waiting (I've been waiting) for some good news
(News) To make me feel alive, ah-ah
Yeah, waiting for a call from you (waiting for a call) to tell me all is right
(Aaah-aaah...Aaah-aaah...)


You're so good, when you don gloves, look under hood
It's more than your touch or the words you say
Only in dreams could I heal this way
When you wait a ton...Yeah, really wait a ton...
(Aaah-aaah) now I know it's right
(Aaah-aaah) from the moment I wake up till deep in the night
(Aaah-aaah) there's nowhere on Earth that I'd rather be
(Aaah-aaah) than waiting here, eternally


I've been waiting, for a call from you
(Ooh-ooh-ooh) what seems like all my life (life)
I've been waiting, for a call from you
(Waiting for a call) and the news that all is right
I've been waiting (I've been waiting) for some good news
(News) To make me feel alive, ah-ah
Yeah, waiting (waiting) for a call from you
(Waiting for a call) what seems like all my life


Oooh-oooh, oooh-oooh, I've been waiting
Aaah-aaah, (waiting for you) oooh-oooh, oooh
(Aaah-aaah) oooh-oooh, I've been waiting
(Waiting) I've been waiting, yeah
I've been waiting for a call from you, I've been waiting
Won't you come into my life? (Life?) My life?
(It's been so long) I've been waiting for a call from you
I've been waiting, (I've been waiting) oh-oh

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bring Black That Lovin' Feeling

It’s checkup time for me tomorrow and I’m planning not to break my long streak of boringness. But I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, I’ll leave you with the Hotel Melanoma version of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEkB-VQviLI

You never show inside anymore when docs poke and probe.
And there's no tenderness like before in my old lymph nodes.
You're trying hard not to show it, (Black C).
But Black C, Black C I know it...


You've lost that livin' feeling,
Whoa, that livin' feeling,
You’ve lost that livin' feeling,
Now you’re gone...gone...gone...wooooooh.


Now there's no concerned look in docs’ eyes when they check for you.
And now I’m starting to fantasize that I’m born anew.
It makes me just feel like flying, (Black C).
'Cause Black C, something in you is dying.


You lost that livin' feeling,
Whoa, that livin' feeling,
You've lost that livin' feeling,
Now you’re gone...gone...gone...woooooah


Black C, Black C, I got down on IVs for you.


If you would only leave me like you’re s’posed to do, yeah.


I’ve had some drugs...some drugs...some drugs you won't find everyday.


So don't...don't...don't...don't let them raise co-pay.


Give please (give please), give please (give please),
I beg of you please...please,
We need more bucks (We need more bucks), We need more bucks (We need more bucks),
So we can beat black (So we can beat black), we can beat black (so we can beat black).


Bring black that lovin' feeling,
Whoa, that lovin' feeling
Bring black that lovin' feeling,
’Til it's gone...gone...gone,
and I can't blog on,
noooo...


Bring black that lovin' feeling,
Whoa, that lovin' feeling
Bring black that lovin' feeling,
’Til it's gone...gone...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Any Tee Beats An IV

I got out on a beautiful spring morning today and played a very sketchy nine holes of geezer golf. But I had a few competent moments out there that were enough to remind me that my worst day on the golf course beats the heck out of any day during the aggressive melanoma treatments too many mole mates are undergoing right now. So I’ll go back tomorrow and perhaps do better. Or not. But whatever happens, I’ll try to remember to be thankful that I’m stepping onto a tee box and not into an IV box.


I’ll sign off with the Talking Heads’ “And She Was”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmaVK1E-VKQ&feature=related


And he was driving in the rough
And he could hear the bogeys breathing
And he could see the nearby green through trees
He's making sure he is not cheating
Out of sight of the pro’s clubhouse
Now score’s starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And he opens up his eyes

The swing was grooving he was right there with it (and he was)
The swing was grooving he was gloating about it (and he was) and he was

And he was drifting through the back nine
And he was making quite a mess
And he was swinging very slowly
Rising balls above the earth
Curving into the universe
Drifting this way and that
Not touching greens at all
Hit into back yards

The swing was grooving he was right there with it (and he was)
The swing was grooving he was gloating about it (and he was) and he was

He was glad about it... no doubt about it
He isn't sure where C’s gone
No time to think about this Hotel then
No time to think about hole that’s done
And he was

And he was looking at himself
And swings were looking pretty groovy
Shots had a pleasant elevation
Shots moving out in same direction

The swing was grooving he was right there with it (and he was)
The swing was grooving he was gloating about it (and he was) and he was

Still in the world of living persons (and he was)
Golfing enough to hit some right (and he was)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beatlemania

Just because it’s a Beatles day at the Hotel Melanoma and I know I can't ever get back to the old days before checking in, here's a new version of 1969’s “Get Back”…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoMi8aWLDCs


Boomer flunked some scans and thought he was a goner
Doctors knew he couldn't last
Boomer left his home for Hotel Melanoma
Drugged with biochemo fast


Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, boomer
Go home


Get back, get back
Back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Back to where you once belonged
Get back, son


Sweet old days of bronzin’ brought him to the onc man
But he’s now a paler man
All mole mates around here say he's stopped his sunnin’
But he sneaks rays when he can


Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, mole-no-ma
Go home


Get back, get back
Get back to where your oncs be gone
Get back, get back
Get back to where your oncs be gone
Oooh...


Get back, mole-no-ma
Bad t-cells waiting for you
Bearing their high-yield blues
And they’re Black C’s getter
Get back home, mole-no-ma


Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Get back
Oh, yeah

Here Comes The Fun

It’s checkup time for me this week, and I’m still working on the soundtrack for the road trip and the inevitable waiting time. From The Beatles, “Here Comes The Sun”…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldt6f7gleDI



Here comes the fun

Here comes the fun, and I say
I’m alright

Mela doctor
It's been a long, cold, lonely winter
Mela doctor
It feels like years since I’ve been here

Here comes the fun
Here comes the fun, and I say
I’m alright

Mela doctor
The smiles returning to our faces
Mela doctor
It’s now eight years that I’ve been clear

Here comes the fun
Here comes the fun, and I say
I’m alright

Fun, fun, fun, here it comes
Fun, fun, fun, here it comes
Fun, fun, fun, here it comes
Fun, fun, fun, here it comes
Fun, fun, fun, here it comes

Mela doctor
I think it’s nice when tumor’s melting
Mela doctor
It seems like years since I’ve felt fear

Here comes the fun, here comes the fun and I say,
I’m alright
Here comes the fun, here comes the fun and I say,
I’m alright

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yervoy For The World

It’s not exactly breaking news at the Hotel Melanoma that the ‘new kid in town’ melanoma treatment drugs Yervoy and Zelboraf are horrendously expensive. There are valid business and economic justifications for their high price-- like the high research and development costs of finding effective new cancer treatment drugs, the relatively small market of patients who will receive and benefit from the drugs, drug patents that expire after twenty years, and the lack of competing treatment alternatives. But none of them provide any consolation for a mole mate struggling with the potentially devastating financial impact of this black curse; in a word, it just bites.

Maybe we all ought to start buying a weekly lottery ticket and pledge to use any windfall prizes to help those struggling with treatment costs? Meanwhile, I wish Genentech would shave a few bucks off the cost of Zelboraf rather than spending money advertising the drug on my Facebook newsfeed page. Not holding my breath for either of those dreams to come true, I’ll sign off with a new version of Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf-d-Ka30EY&feature=fvst


Melanoma was a black fog
Was no good kind of time
I never understood a single word docs said
But I took their clinical trial
And they always have some mighty fine trials

Yervoy for the world
All the boys and girls
Yervoy for the clinics that will treat you free
Yervoy for you and me

If I were the king of the world
Tell you what I'd do
I'd throw away those tans and bad scans for new plans
To make free meds for you
Singing...

Yervoy for the world
All the boys and girls
Yervoy for the clinics that will treat you free
Yervoy for you and me

You know I loved my ray days
Loved to have my sun
I'm a sunlight shyer and a midday hider
A sunscreenin' son-of-a-gun
I said a sunscreenin’ son-of-a-gun

Joy for C world
All the boys and girls
Joy for a treatment that will kill Black C
Joy for you and me

Joy for C world
All the boys and girls
Joy for a treatment that will kill Black C
Joy for you and me

Joy for C world
All the boys and girls
Joy for a treatment that will kill Black C
Joy for you and me

Joy for C world
All the boys and girls
Joy for a treatment that will kill Black C
Joy for you and me

Joy for C world
All the boys and girls
Joy for a treatment that will kill Black C
Joy for you and me

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Wait


Levon Helm, the legendary drummer and vocalist for The Band, succumbed to cancer this past week. Rest in peace, Levon, your music will always be a cherished part of the life soundtrack of an entire generation. I’ll be making my semiannual trek to the lovely and festive Anschutz Cancer Pavilion next week and need a few more songs for my checkup soundtrack, so I hope you wouldn’t have minded my borrowing one of The Band’s greatest, “The Weight”…



I pulled into Anschutz place, I was feelin' about half past dead;
I just need some place where I can slay my dread.
"Hey, doctor, can you tell me where a man might find some meds?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "Yo!" was all he said.

Take my load of Black C, check those moles for me;
Take a load of IVs, and you put the load right on me.

 I put on my hat, I went lookin' for some shade to hide;
When I saw Doc Oz and Mercola talkin' side by side.
 I said, "Hey, Doc Oz, come on, you know pale’s sound."
 He said, "I oughta know, but my friend makes bread from brown."

Take my load of Black C, check those moles for me;
Take a load of IVs, and you put the load right on me.

Slow down, Doc Lewis, there's nothin' left to say
It's just ol' Rich, and he's waitin' on his Judgment Day.
"Well, Rich, my friend, what about your N.E.D.?"
He said, "Do me a favor, son, won't you stay and be N.E.D. just for me?"

Take my load of Black C, check those moles for me;
Take a load of IVs, and you put the load right on me.

Biochemo hollowed me, and it caused me some brain fog.
Doc said, "I will kick your black, but you'll think like your dog."
I said, "Wait a minute, Doc, you know I'm a lawyer man." He said, "That's okay, boy, you won’t need brain for that plan."

Take a load of Black C, check those moles for me;
Take a load of IVs, and you put the load right on me.

Hang that IL-2, now, to drip on down PICC line
 My bag is gettin' low and I do believe it's time.
 To get back to my tanning, you know it was fun in sun.
 It sent me here with its regards for everyone.

 Take a load of Black C, check those moles for me;
Take a load of IVs, and you put the load right on me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Playing For A Cure

Regular readers of this blog know that I enjoy playing golf, despite the fact that my low-skilled geezer game bears zero resemblance to that of a professional golfer. Perhaps that’s why I admire pro golfer David Henry on a couple of levels.

David started his “Playing For A Cure” campaign for melanoma awareness in 2008, after his mom Chris was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma. And David himself was recently diagnosed with Stage I melanoma. He’ll be playing again this summer in the Greater Cedar Rapids Open and, thanks to David’s inspiring impact on tournament organizers, this year’s tournament will benefit melanoma research at The University of Iowa’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center .

In my book there won’t be any “losers” competing in this year’s Greater Cedar Rapids Open, regardless of where a player may finish on the tournament scoreboard, nor are there any “losers” among the warriors battling this cursed disease, regardless of the outcome of their fight. With thanks to David and best wishes for success in his golfing career, here’s my version of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5kisPBwZOM


Well it’s a real tough Black C with a long history
Of breaking tanner’s’s hearts, like the one in me
That's O.K., let’s see how you do it
Put on your spikes, let's get down to it!
Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Why Don't You Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Fire Away!

It comes on from the sun’s bronze, it don't fight fair
That's O.K., see if I care!
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again!

Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Why Don't You Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Fire Away!

Well it’s a real tough bastard with a bad history
Of breaking tanner’s hearts, if they’re sunscreen-free
Before it puts another line in this boomer’s face
You better make sure you drive C into space

Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Come On, Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Fire Away!

Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Why Don't You Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Hit C With Your Best Shots!
Fire Away!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Take It From Jim Morrison

Just my version of The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm”…


Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
From UV days C’s born
Into C’s world we're thrown
Seein’ docs long way from home
Gene factors have been sown
Riders on the storm

There's a killer in my moles
These days I’m ‘screening down to soles
Take a beach holiday
Hide from sun all day
If I go and tan my hide
Sweet DNA will cry
Killer in my moles, yeah

Girls ya gotta stop your tans
Girls ya gotta stop your tans
Take them by the hand
Make them understand
Their cure on you depends
End life at Hotel M
Gotta stop those tans, yeah

Wow!

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
From UV rays C’s born
Into new world we're thrown
Like a dog who’s lost his home
We’re patients on our own
Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lovely To See You

It’s checkup time for me next week and, although I expect to once again be a very boring patient, it’s always good to have a new soundtrack just in case I find myself in need of distraction on these clinic days. (Or should that be “daze”?) I’m hoping my doc and I will spend more time commiserating about our poor golfing skills than talking about the purpose of my being there. We’ll see.

Just a slight variation on “Lovely to See You” from The Moody Blues…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T62FDHh56A


A wonderful day for probing away.
Knock on my door and tell me the score
With your eyes.

Lovely to see you again my friend.
Talk along with me how our drives bend.

Dark cloud of fear is present today.
Now that you're here, I’m starting to pray
'Cause it's

Lovely to see you again my friend.
Talk along with me ‘bout Black C’s end.

Tells me what you see in future days’ still hidden plans.
Can tumors still roar back from tans?

Wonderful day for ‘screening from rays.
Knock on my door and tell me the score
With your eyes.

Lovely to see you again my friend.
Talk along with me like I’m on mend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Contenders

I’m just a Stage IIIc slacker living in the Great State of Remission. And I’d just as soon keep it that way, thank you very much. So I really do wish that Facebook would stop placing Zelboraf ads on my news feed page. That’s just plain creepy.

With my cap off to all the badasses enduring grueling Stage IV treatments and dealing with the cruel side effects, expense, and time away from home and loved ones, here’s my take on Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQiXQUGbac0&feature=related


I'm going to find myself a trial
That’s just made to put C ‘way
I'm going to pray a bunch in the morning
And go see docs each day
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

I want to know what became of the changes
I waited for meds to bring
Were they only the wishful dreams
Of some better new shape of things
I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end there’s a light that’s so bright
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen

Caught between the longing for life
And the struggles with the healthcare vendors
Where telephones ring and the bills mail brings
And the claims man pounds you tender
Where C veterans dream of new fright
Wide awake in the dead of night
And the patients solemnly wait
For a nice scan render
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Contender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the warriors
As they post through the night
Leaving something for the others
Good to draw on for fight
And tear at C world with all their might
While the meds bearing their dreams
Wade into fight

I'm going to find myself a cure
That can show me what after means
And I’ll fill in the missing colors
In my future’s paint-by-number dreams
And then I’ll put my rose glasses on
And I’ll take drugs until my strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Hang it up again

I'm going to be a happy idiot
And battle with the evil specter
Where the meds take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of Black Cancer
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can’t buy
Though new drugs could have been a defender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Contender
Who started out so young and strong
Never to surrender

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mercolanoma Rock


I’m old enough to remember ads like this and lately, thanks to the indoor tanning industry and its apostles, I’ve been experiencing a sense of, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again”.

There’s a self-appointed expert by the name of Dr. Joseph Mercola who claims that tanning bed use (in moderation) is not only a safe source of Vitamin D but also actually decreases one’s risk of melanoma. You just have to love capitalism and the First Amendment. But as consumers of all the health advice and opinions out there it behooves us to apply a little critical thinking and common sense in evaluating the credibility of the source of such information.

I spent a few minutes on Mercola’s website, which he touts as “The World’s #1 Natural Health Site”. I clicked on a link captioned “Why Trust Me” and learned that Mercola isn’t actually a medical doctor, he’s instead a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Gee I have a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University, maybe I should call myself “Dr.” Rich?) I couldn’t quite tell from the biographic information on his site whether he still practices osteopathy, but he sure does sell a lot of “natural” products on his site. Including the “Mercola Vitality Home Tanning Bed” and “Dr. Mercola’s Natural Sunscreen With Green Tea”.

A week ago today I attended the Melanoma Research Foundation’s patient education symposium. The oncologist I’ve been seeing for nearly nine years now started his presentation on targeted therapy with ‘Melanoma 101’. Melanoma is the uncontrolled growth and division of melanocytes, the pigment cells in our bodies, caused by DNA damage. Exposure to UVA and UVB light rays, whether from natural sunlight or tanning beds, causes the mutation in the DNA of our melanocytes that may lead to melanoma.

A tan is not a sign of good health, it’s a sign you have damaged your skin. Trust me, I’m a living laboratory on this count, having spent way too much unprotected time in the great outdoors. And it’s a widely accepted fact that indoor tanning (which I’ve never done) increases your risk of melanoma by 75%. But please don’t get your online health and medical information about tanning from either “Dr.” Rich or a guy who sells home tanning beds. Rely instead on information on the websites of organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology, The Melanoma Research Foundation, and The National Cancer Institute who aren’t trying to sell you a product. Better yet, go see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin check and while you’re there ask her if she personally uses tanning beds or permits her kids to do so.

Just my personal, non-expert opinion, but I think I’ll listen to the oncologist and melanoma expert who’s trying to save my life, rather than to an osteopath who’s trying to sell me a ‘Mercolanoma’-incubating tanning bed over the internet. But be your own judge and come to your own opinion about the risks of tanning-- just please do it based on unbiased and credible sources.

I’ll leave you with a new version of Cream’s “Strange Brew”…

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


C’s a bitch of trouble in the tanning hue,
In its own bad time it hides out in you.
In you.
Now what you gonna do?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

He's some kind of doctor selling goods to you.
If you don't watch out he’ll fool with you.
Yeah, you.
What kind of fool are you?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

On Oz show in the daytime on cable tv,
It would make some sense for this doc to be
Ignored.
But then whose ox is gored?
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, April 12, 2012

Relativity

The moment we enter the doors of a cancer treatment center, we begin to experience a world in which time is governed by the laws of medical relativity. Your time, relative to that of every licensed medical professional you will encounter, is irrelevant, immaterial and valueless. The concept of an “appointment” has no application or meaning here. Ordinary words and phrases take on entirely new and special meanings—e.g., the phrase “the doctor will be right with you” means he’ll be correct, not timely. And last, but certainly not least, time stands still for you between the performance of a diagnostic test and the reporting of the results, while flying by at an accelerated speed for your busy doc.

I’ll leave you with a new one to sing during your next visit to oncology world, Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qssWO8NSq0


As I was waiting in my gown today
A nurse came up to me and asked me what the time was that I
saw my doc, yeah
And I said
Does any doctor really know what time it is?
(They don't)
Does any doctor really care?
(care)
And now I can't imagine why
(about time)
We all were dumb enough to fry
(Oh no, no)

As I was waiting for my scan today
A CT lady looked at me and said her last patient had
dropped cold dead
And I said
Does any clinic really know what time it is?
(I don't)
Does any clinic really care?
(care)
And so I can imagine why
(about time)
We'll all wait long enough to die
)Oh no, no)

And I was walking down the halls today
Being pushed and shoved by patients trying to see their doc,
oh, so I just don't know,
I just don't know
And I said, yes I said
(Background Vocal:
People runnin' everywhere
Don't know the way to go
Don't know where I am
Can't see past the next step
Don't have to think past the last trial
Have no time to look around
Just run around, run around and think why)
Does anybody really know what time we have?
(I don't)
Does anybody really dare?
(dare)
And so I can imagine why
(about time)
We'll all live life until we die
(Oh no, no)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Hungry Heart

A request from the Hotel Chaplain, Rev. Carol, “Hungry Heart” from Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lYpokhq_-w


Got a slice of skin from my lower back
Doc sent out for some slides, said my cancer is black
Found some lymph nodes and doc knows why they’re glowing
C took a wrong turn and it just kept going

Every T-cell’s got a hungry heart
Every T-cell’s got a hungry heart
Lay down for IVs and you play your part
Every T-cell’s got a hungry heart

I fought fear in hospitals far
Medics in gloves I knew they’d try to mend
I took what they had and it ripped me apart
Now here I am stuck in the Hotel M

Every cancer’s got a hungry heart
Every cancer’s got a hungry heart
Lay down for IVs and you play your part
Every cancer’s got a hungry heart

Every mole mate needs a place to vent
Every mole mate wants to join their own
Don't make no difference what nobody says
Ain’t no mole mate like to be alone

Every mole mate’s got a hungry heart.
Every mole mate’s got a hungry heart
Stay out of UVs and you speak from heart
Every mole mate’s got a hungry heart

A Word From Bob Marley

Just a little reggae fun with Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Three Little Birds”…



Don't worry a-bout a thing, 'cause ev-ry little scan gonna be all right.
Singing': "Don't worry about ya skin, 'cause ev-ry little mole gonna be all right!"

Checkup this mornin'; filled with some scannin' fun.
Three brilliant docs stand in my doorway
Singin' sweet songs of N.E.D. pure and true; saying,
"This is our message to you-ou-ou.”

Singin': "Don't worry about a thing, ‘cause ev-ry little scan gonna be all right."
Sayin': "Don't worry about ya skin, ‘cause ev-ry little mole gonna be all right!"

Chemo this mornin'; time for some fusin’ fun.
Three brilliant docs stand in my doorway
Singin' sweet songs of N.E.D. pure and true; sayin',
"This is our message to you-ou-ou."

Meanin': "Don't worry about a thing, worry about a thing,
oh! Ev-ry killer cell gonna win this fight.
Singin': "Don't worry about C thing" - I won't worry!
‘cause every cancer cell gonna run for life."

Meanin': "Don't worry about a thing, ‘cause every little scan
gonna be all right" - I won't worry!
"Don't worry about ya skin, ‘cause ev-ry little mole ‘sgonna be all right."

(Baby) Don’t worry about a thing,
'cause ev’ry little thing gonna be all right.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dr. Science I'm Not

Last Saturday’s Melanoma Research Foundation patient education symposium included a presentation on various immunotherapy treatments for melanoma. I went to law school rather than attempt to gain admission to med school because the basic sciences like chemistry and biology might as well be magic when it comes to my brain’s ability to comprehend the subjects, so much of the presentation flew right past me. But I did pick up a few nuggets of information that I’ll try to pass on, with the disclaimer that the reader should know they are not coming from Dr. Science.

Melanoma is one of the cancers that our body’s immune system can naturally recognize as an unwelcome and dangerous intruder and then attack and kill. The basic idea behind immunotherapy is to prompt and stimulate the immune system’s killer “t-cells” to find and assault melanoma cells. But melanoma cells are crafty and creative bastards that produce substances that suppress and put a brake on the immune system. A substance called CTLA-4 is one of those immune system suppressors employed by melanoma cells.

Our new friend Ipilimumab/Yervoy produces a specific “antibody” against CTLA-4, like a flu shot produces a specific antibody against the flu virus, and thereby enhances the immune system’s abilities to find and kill melanoma cells. Some 10 to 15% of Stage IV patients receiving Yervoy see the wonderful response of tumors disappearing, although the durability of that response remains to be seen.

The idea behind post-operative Stage III patients receiving systemic immunotherapy treatments (like interferon alpha-2b and interleukin-2) when they show “no evidence of disease” is that there may be undetectable melanoma cells wondering about that need to be found and killed by the immune system before they find a home and wreak havoc in some major organ. Consequently, Yervoy’s immune system-enhancing capabilities are now being tested in Yervoy v. placebo and Yervoy v. interferon trials on Stage III patients.

With hope that these pending trials pan out rather quickly, and my prayers that my friend Chelsea ain’t receiving no stinking placebo this week in her Yervoy trial, here’s my version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vo23H9J8o8


Well you've heard about meds givin' fright to C’s kind
My Black C’s druggin’ caused my sun to shine
It’s that neat little thang....It’s oncs’ pride and joy
It’s that sweet little Yervoy.... make those killer t-cells buoy

Yeah I love that Yervoy....whackin’ moles
Folks like us just want to grow old
It's that neat little thang....It’s oncs’ pride and joy
It’s that sweet little Yervoy....make those killer t-cells buoy

Yeah I love that Yervoy....It’s strong and mean
You mess with it....You'll see Black C turn green
It’s that neat little thang....It’s oncs’ pride and joy
It’s that sweet little Yervoy....make those killer t-cells buoy

Well I love that Yervoy....Like expensive wine
Stick with it until the end of line
It’s that neat little thang....It’s oncs’ pride and joy
It’s that sweet little Yervoy....make those killer t-cells buoy

Yeah I love that Yervoy....costly though
Folks like us just hope to grow old
It’s that neat little thang....it’s new pharma ploy
It’s that sweet little Yervoy...make those killer t-cells buoy

Monday, April 9, 2012

Still The Same

"Melanoma is the tumor that gives cancer a bad name." Dr. George Canellos, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Center

Being the sort of guy who really knows how to have a good time on a beautiful Saturday morning during Easter weekend, I attended the Melanoma Research Foundation’s patient education symposium in Denver, where this cheery quote was featured in my doc’s introductory slide in his presentation on targeted agents for metastatic melanoma treatment. While driving home from the session, pondering what I had and hadn’t heard, it struck me that next to nothing has changed for Stage III patients since I checked into the Hotel in 2003.

2011 was, thank heavens, a year of life-extending treatment advances for Stage IV melanoma patients that included FDA approval of both Ipilimumab/Yervoy and Vemurafenib/Zelboraf. And with FDA approval, these two drugs are now the “control” drugs in pending clinical trials of other promising Stage IV treatment drugs now in the development pipeline. But the only adjuvant treatment options for Stage III patients who’d like to reduce the odds that their cancer will recur and progress to Stage IV are, still, interferon-alpha2b-- which the FDA approved in 1995-- or some clinical trial that isn’t open and available to all comers.

Unfortunately, it sounds like this situation isn’t likely to change for several more years. Several pending Stage III treatment studies were briefly mentioned at the symposium:

■ The results of a small study on biochemotherapy v. interferon will soon be published. It didn’t sound to me like this study is expected to prove that biochemo is sufficiently more effective than interferon to justify its extreme toxicity and necessity that the patient be hospitalized during treatment. I’m apparently one of the lucky 26% of biochemo vets who “responded” to this treatment, but trust me when I say that if you didn’t like the interferon option, you most certainly wouldn’t find biochemo to be an attractive alternative.

■ A large, multi-center study of Yervoy v. interferon is underway, involving Stage IIIb and IIIc patients. The study involves one “control” arm of patients receiving interferon and two arms of patients receiving different doses of Yervoy. It will be at least two or three years before the data is available from this study that could potentially lead to Yervoy being approved by the FDA for Stage III treatment.

■ A study of Vemurafenib/Zelboraf for Stage III patients will soon be underway.

Oy. I’ll sign off with a new version of Bob Seger’s “Still The Same”…

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


You always win, every time you place a bet
You're still damn good, no one's come and cured you yet
Every time they are sure they have you caught
You are quicker than they thought
You just mutate genes and walk

You always said, C docs could never do you wrong
The trick you said was never stay the same too long
A gambler's dare, the desperate risks that we would take
The normal lives we would forsake
For only drug you couldn't fake

And you're still the same
I learned about you Saturday
Giving C bad name
No drug standing in your way
Turning on your harm
Long enough to get you by
You're still the same
You still aim high

Dang you’re good, every doctor talks ‘bout day
Tables turn and you’re away
There is nothing left but pray

'Cause you're still the same
You're still the same
Giving C bad name
Will things ever change?
You’re still the same

Friday, April 6, 2012

N.E.D.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a patient education symposium in Denver, sponsored by the Melanoma Research Foundation. Being a very lucky fellow enjoying an extended “no evidence of disease” status, I’m hoping to learn a lot about melanoma treatment that I’ll never personally need to know but that’s worth passing on through a future blog post. And I sure hope to meet a mole mate or two in person!

To kick off your weekend, some new lyrics to AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_Y3zbRxZ6Q&feature=related


See me come out after sunset
Wearin’ lathered UV ‘screen
Out for all that I can get
’Cause I know Black C’s mean
Tannin’ to the left of me
Tannin’ to the right
Ain't got no sun
Got the knife
Don't you know pale’s right

’Cause I'm
N.E.D.
I'm mela-light
N.E.D.
And I'll win the fight
N.E.D.
Got my chemo load
N.E.D.
Watch my lymph nodes

Mel’s dirty, mean and mighty unclean
He’s a wanted man
Public Enemy Number One
Understand
Sunblock up your daughter
And block up your wife
Block up your ‘back door’
And ‘screen for your life
The tan brings Black around
So don't you mess around

’Cause I'm
N.E.D.
I'm mela-light
N.E.D.
And I'll win the fight
N.E.D.
Got my chemo load
N.E.D.
Watch my lymph nodes

N.E.D. oi oi oi
N.E.D. oi oi oi
N.E.D. oi oi oi
N.E.D. oi oi oi

N.E.D.
I'm mela-light (oi oi oi)
N.E.D.
And I'll win the fight (oi oi oi)
N.E.D.
Got my chemo load (oi oi oi)
N.E.D.
Watch my lymph nodes

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What A Wonderful World This Would Be

Just some new lyrics to Sam Cooke’s “What A Wonderful World This Would Be”…



Don't know much about this UV
Don't know much oncology
Know too much about insurance crooks
Don't know much about those meds I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you sunscreen too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don't know much about tomography
Don't know much pharmacology
Don't know much about doctor talk
Don't know what a med school is for

But I know that sun’s no fun for you
And if this one could ‘screen with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Now I don't claim to be an 'A' patient
But I'm tryin' to be
For maybe by being an 'A' patient, Black C
I can kick you to the street

Don't know much about this skin C
Don't know much beyond Stage III
Don't know much about how C cells look
Don't know much about those drugs I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you sunscreen too
What a wonderful world this would be

Miss UV
Oncology
Silent looks
Meds I took

Yeah, but I do know that I love you
And I know that if you sunscreen too
What a wonderful world this would be

Just In The Skin

It’s been suggested that a lyrical blogger from Kansas simply must do a song by Kansas. I never much liked this song, but that’s never stopped me before, so here goes-- Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ


I chose my fries, sun C born in moments, and my moment's gone
All my dreams, pass before my eyes from cutaneous C
Just in the skin, our cancer is just in the skin
Same old song, just a cut from doctors, not an endless C
Stall we do, endless chemo rounds, though we can’t lose this C

Just in the skin, our cancer is just in the skin

Don't tan on, no skin lasts forever so don’t let it fry
C’s grip will stay, all your money won't another minute buy

Just in the skin, all C's scars aren't just in the skin

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making A Difference

Last night’s NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams included an informative segment on the rising incidence of melanoma among young people, particularly young women, and highlighted the role that tanning bed use is playing in this epidemic.
(I've added a link to a video of this segment under the "NBC Nightly News On Melanoma" heading on the right hand side of this page in the Melanoma Patient Resources And Blogs link list.) With gratitude to Brian and the crew for “making a difference” at The Hotel Melanoma, here’s my take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIPan-rEQJA


Long as I remember, there’s pain from tannin’ brown.
Shrouds of UV mournin', confusion all around.
Good kids through the ages, tryin' to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the pain.

I went up to Denver, seekin' shelter from C’s storm.
Laid up on the table, I watched the doc frowns grow.
Five year plans ain’t new deal, trapped in Hotel chain.
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the pain.

Heard my doctors sayin’, how I’ve beat the score.
Black crowd has come together, tryin' to kids warn.
Seems in vain and borin', fallin' on deaf ears.
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the pain.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Medic Show

The Melanoma Research Foundation is holding a patient education symposium this Saturday, April 7, at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. I plan to attend and may wear a blue examination gown so my doc, who’s one of the speakers, might recognize me. I’ve never been to anything like this and don’t know what to expect. Will I receive a nametag identifying me as “The Patient” rather than by my name? Will it start 45 minutes late? Will the answer to every question be “we don’t know”? Will the food and refreshments be inedible?

I’ll let you know if I learn anything worth passing on. Meanwhile, have a happy Monday with a new take on James Taylor’s “Mexico”…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P55RlFLWIOU


Way down fear I need no reason to prove
Feel a fool playing my patient games
Lose my load, ease my mind, be kind, Black C tame

Oh, Medic Show
It sounds so useful I just got to go
The docs so hot I forgot the sun shown
Guess I'll have to go now

This melanoma is so sneaky sly
Got my body still shaking like a live wire
Creepy biochemo set my hair on fire

Oh, Medic Show
It comes complete with some free food I know
Docs so bright like to light up the night
Make everything all right

Black C’s left me and my money's all gone
Insurance clones don't want to talk on the phone
I get some long letters, max all my best cards; times are hard

Oh, down at Medic Show
I never really been so I don't really know
Oh, Medic Show
I guess I'll have to go

Oh, Medic Show
I never really been but I sure plan to go