Introduction

The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.



Tutu Brothers

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Melanoma Getaway

Always a master at stating the obvious, I’d say that “The Holidays” can be a quite difficult time for residents of The Hotel Carcinoma. Social media are full of posts and photos depicting perfect, Norman Rockwellian-like family celebrations full of happiness and good cheer. And we may fall into the trap of believing that the poster’s holiday time truly was that idyllic. Meanwhile, we may be grieving the loss of a loved one, contemplating our own mortality, getting over the last treatment event or anticipating the next one, experiencing scanxiety, playing the waiting game with pending diagnostic test results, or worrying about our rising medical bills. I’ll be ‘celebrating’ the first business day of 2014 by heading off to my favorite cancer center for some minor surgery to clean up the remains of a squamous cell carcinoma and being thankful it’s not another melanoma. So as I think about how we melahomies might go about making the best we can of this season of conflicting emotions, I’m reminded of something I wrote in my first blog post…

I really don’t mean to be morbid in using the Hotel Melanoma metaphor. Trust me, dying would not be my preferred means of “checking out”. Rather, my preferred meaning of “checking out” is the idea of seizing those times of normalcy that I think all we survivors experience and enjoying them to the hilt. Even at the worst of times in the summer and fall of 2003, there were still many times of furlough when I lived in a nice moment of ordinary life when I’d forget I have cancer. These moments may not come any time you like, but they do come. We need to search for and embrace those times, holding on as firmly and for as long as we can, precisely because we know that sooner or later something will probably happen that will remind us we can’t leave the Hotel.

Doing my best to “check out” now and then during this ‘most wonderful time of the year’, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Alabama Getaway” from The Grateful Dead…

Thirty two weeks in the onc’s home
Melanoma’s tryin’ for some
Before I have to hit it
I hope C's got the sense to run

Season those poor girls sun skin
Promise them tan D thing
Reason they be grievin’
C tears a big wide round ring

Melanoma getaway, getaway
Melanoma getaway, getaway
Only way to please me
Turn around and leave
And walk away

Majordomo Doctor Molejangles
Sit down and have a talk with me
What's this about melanome
Keeps comin’ back to me?

Lured by fees to the poor house
Dermy docs began to mock tan fries
Forty-nine sister mates all had
Melanoma in their eyes

Melanoma getaway, getaway
Melanoma getaway, getaway
Only way to please me
Turn around and leave
And walk away

Why don't we just give melanoma
Rope enough to hang itself?
Ain't no call to worry the dermies
They'll prob’bly take care of themselves

Twenty-third Psalm Majordomo
Reserve me a table with Thee
In the Valley of the Shadow
Just You, melanoma and me

Melanoma getaway, getaway
Melanoma getaway, getaway
Only way to please me
Turn around and leave
And walk away

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas With REO Speedwagon

Who knew that REO Speedwagon cut a Christmas album, so appropriately titled “Not So Silent Night”? Wishing you a very Merry Christmas (or whatever other winter solstice time celebration is observed under your particular belief system or lack thereof) and a happy, healthy and pale New Year, here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Deck The Halls”...



Check the moles with pals for folly
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
'Tis a reason to be jolly
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Don we now our ray apparel
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Mole’s the ancient U time peril
Fa, la, la, la, la, fa, la, la, la, la
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

See the braising fools before us
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Strike the dark and join pale chorus
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Scan we joyous, all together
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Fa, la, la, la, la, fa, la, la, la, la
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

We're gonna check the moles
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Come on now

Check the moles with pals for folly
'Tis a season to be jolly
Check the moles with pals for folly
'Tis a reason to be jolly

Come on check the moles with pals for folly
'Tis a reason to be jolly
Check the moles with pals for folly

Check the moles with pals for folly
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
'Tis a reason to be jolly

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Need To Know

An excerpt from my very first blog post…

“I believe the medical profession and their patients live in alternate universes in terms of their conceptions and experiences of the passage of time. For a new cancer patient, the diagnostic process can’t ever move too fast; we want answers and we want them today, so let’s get on with it and complete all those scans etc. now. Unfortunately, for most of us it doesn’t work that way. Procedures and tests have to be scheduled in busy medical centers and insurance companies have to be contacted for authorizations. For the medical profession, the elapse of a week or so between major diagnostic events, plus a few more days before the results come in, is but a brief and inconsequential moment in time. To the scared patient (and his family) this is an eternity.

On one occasion during this time of what seemed to me to be glacial diagnostic work, I made the mistake of voicing my feelings to the clinic folks. Two rather blunt responses were elicited. One, if I thought I could get things done quicker elsewhere I was welcome to do that. Two, it won’t really matter if a few more diagnostic weeks elapse before starting treatment because it either works or it doesn’t.

I must confess to having said such things to pushy clients in the course of a busy law practice, and I now deeply regret my insensitivity.”

I’ll sign off for today with an ode to the oncologists who make us wait, to the tune of “I Need to Know” from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers… Well talk on the street
Says you might go so slow
Some good friends of mine
Say their report’s in your Black Hole

I need to know, I need to know
If you think I’m gonna leave
Then you better say so
I need to know, I need to know
‘Cause I don't know how long I can hold on
When you're making me wait, when you're leavin' me long
I need to know

Who would've thought that
I'd fall for these fries
All of a sudden
It's C on the outside

I need to know, I need to know
If you think I’m gonna leave
Then you better say so
I need to know, I need to know
‘Cause I don't know how long I can hold on
When you're making me wait, when you're leavin' me long
I need to know

I need to know, I need to know
If you think I’m gonna leave
Then you better say so
I need to know, I need to know
‘Cause I don't know how long I can hold on
When you're making me wait, when you're leavin’ me long
I need to know

I need to know
I need to know
M.D., I need to know

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lookin' At My Back Door

Ah, the joys of being a melanoma patient at an academic medical center. Yesterday I enjoyed not one, but two, truly “full body” melanoma screenings at my favorite university hospital’s dermatology clinic. The first was performed by a young female resident, who rather sheepishly inquired whether it was okay if she inspected my “bottom”. My response was that I could surely take it if she could. The second inspection was a team event, wherein said resident was joined by the faculty dermatologist and a pathologist. Various spots were marked, and then it was off to the Mole Rapping Room where half a dozen or so mole mug shots were taken and run through a melanoma detection software program, and then reviewed by the docs. The good news verdict was that nothing merited a biopsy for now, just watching, and I left with all the flesh I came with.

Wishing you all a similarly thorough and “no worries” experience on your next trip to the dermatologist, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” from Creedence Clearwater Revival…



Just got home from doctor boys, lock the front door, oh joy!
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch.
Imagination sets in, pretty soon I'm singin',

Woo, hoo, hoo, lookin' at my back door.

There's a wise doc doing smart spiels, a student wearin' high heels.
Look at all the happy screeners billing all along.
A dinosaur with ‘noma, wishin' to duck more ‘fun’.

Woo, hoo, hoo, lookin' at my back door.

Faculty and residents are playing in the band.
Won't you take ya hide to the mappin’ room?
Woo, hoo, hoo.
Wond'rous apparitions inspected by physicians.

Woo, hoo, hoo, lookin' at my back door.

Faculty and residents are playing in the band.
Won't you take ya hide to the mappin’ room?
Woo, hoo, hoo.
Biopsy tomorrow, today, my hide’s no sorrow.

Woo, hoo, hoo, lookin' at my back door.

No more troubles, doctor boys, lock the front door, oh joy!
Look at all the happy screeners billing all along.
Biopsy tomorrow, today, my hide’s no sorrow.

Woo, hoo, hoo, lookin' at my back door.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Gift That Keeps On Giving

Now here’s an idea for solving that Christmas conundrum of figuring out what to give a loved one who is fortunate enough to have no needs or wants. Give them an appointment with your favorite dermatologist to get a thorough skin check. It just might be the gift that keeps on giving: early detection before melanoma has cut loose. Can’t you just imagine the surprise and joy you’ll see on their face on Christmas morning when they open up that gift envelope and find, instead of a crisp large denomination bill or gift card, your dermatologist’s business card with an appointment date on the back!?

To the tune of The Eagles’ “Please Come Home For Christmas”…



Bells will be ringing this glad, glad news,
Oh, what a Christmas to have pale hues,
My Ray C’s gone, I have mole friends,
To wish C screenings once again,

Choirs will be singing frying’s fright,
Reverend Carol’s my chaplain bright,
Please check moles for Christmas,
Please check moles for Christmas,
If not for Christmas, by New Year's night,

Friends in Mole Nation send pals to fav ones,
Sure as their scars hide from sun,
Yes this is Christmas,
Yes, Christmas, my dear,
It's the time of year to screen with the ones you love,

So won't you tell me you’ll check all your moles?
Skin mass and new fears won’t find a home,
There'll be no more sorrow, no grief and pain,
And I'll be happy, happy once again,

Ooh, there'll be no more sorrow, no grief and pain,
And I'll be happy, Christmas once again.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Skin Doc Blues

I’m sort of overdue to see various medics at my favorite cancer center, and I don’t wanna go. I guess I’m just weary of the drill after ten-plus years at The Hotel Melanoma. Feeling perfectly fine with no symptoms to report, I’m not convinced that I really need a couple of expensive, drive-by clinical examinations to confirm my learned medical opinion that there’s nothing amiss in my innards or outards. So I just may blow it all off until after the holidays. But I probably won’t. Any checkup naggers out there? Anyone?

Until next time, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Dean Martin’s “The Christmas Blues”…



The jingle bells are jingling
My skin is white as snow
The tan-freak crowds are mingling
But there's no sun that I know

I'm sure that you'll forgive me
If I don't enthuse
I guess I've got the skin doc blues

I've done my skin check hawking
There's not a mole I've missed
So what's the use of doc thing
When there's no sun on your list
You'll know the way I'm feeling
When you sun and you lose
I guess I've got the skin doc blues

When young body wants U
Young body needs U
Skin tan is a joy of joy
But friends when you're moley
You'll find that it's only
A thing for foolish girls and foolish boys

May all your days be merry
Your seasons full of cheer
But 'til it's January
I'll just go and disappear
Oh tanning may have brought you some scars for your hues
And tanning only brought me the blues
Those UV-ravaged sunscreen covered skin doc blues

Oh tanning may have brought you some scars for your hues
And tanning only brought me the blues
Those UV-ravaged sunscreen covered skin doc blues

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shiver Spells

A new addition to The Hotel Melanoma Christmas Album, to the tune of Johnny Mathis’ “Silver Bells”…



Shiver spells, shiver spells
It's skin check time in the clinic
Ding-a-ling, fear tan fling
Soon it will be skin mass day

Clinic hide docs, busy hide docs
Dressed in doctors’ gay style
In the air there's a feeling of skin mass
Skin gets bashing, needle gashing
Leaving ‘smile’ after while
And for every deep mole here you fear

Shiver spells, shiver spells
It's skin check time in the clinic
Ding-a-ling, fear tan fling
Soon it will be skin mass day

Skin check makes you feel emotional
It may bring parties or thoughts devotional
Whatever happens or what may be
Here's what skin check time means to me

Shiver spells, shiver spells
It's skin check time in the clinic
Ding-a-ling, fear tan fling
Soon it will be skin mass day

Soon it will be skin mass day

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Counting My Blessings

This coming Saturday is my tenth ‘cancerversary’ of completing biochemotherapy and starting a blessedly long run with “no evidence of disease” status. And yesterday I received the excellent news that my older brother’s Stage 3 lung cancer is officially in remission after a barrage of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. My thirteen-week-old golden retriever pup is thriving and my wife of thirty-two years is still putting up with me. A brand new Bass Pro Shop a couple of miles from home just held its grand opening. And I got to spend last weekend with several of my favorite melahomies. A whole lot to be thankful for, don’t you think?

With thanks to all of the fine physicians who got me here, and wishing you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Thank You” from Sly & The Family Stone…



Lookin' at Black Devil
Skin C’s on a run
Boomer starts shakin'
I begin drug ‘fun’
T-cells start chasin’
I’m too in to stop
We begin to wrestle
C was on the top

I want to thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten

Stiff all in the collar
Puffy in the face
Git that cancer dyin’
Stuffy in this place
Thank you for the ‘party’
But I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind
Cure’s on the way

I want to thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten

Dance to the ‘fusin
All night long
Everyday people
Singe their skin to bronze
Mela's so crappy
Mela starts to die
Doctuh still thinkin’
You can shake it if you try

I want to thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
(Different dopes for different folks, yeah)
Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten

Flamin' fries should people fear
Burnin' in your youth
Many friends are sittin’ ducks
Braisin’s what they do
Youths in booths are bakin' stuff
Skin C’s got a starter, now
Dyin' young is hard to take
Palin' out is smarter

Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
I want to thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
Thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten
I want to thank you for lettin’ me
Be myself for ten

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tutus Are Made For Walking

Yo, melanoma! You’ve been messing with the wrong people and one of these days we’re gonna walk all over you. So, Mr. ‘Just Skin Cancer’, get ready for a stomping. Because it’s coming. Soon.

For all of you who’ve participated in melanoma fundraising walks and runs this year, and especially for the melahomie who roped me into walking (again) this weekend in a black tutu, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of one of the worst songs of the 60’s, Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”…



You keep saying you got something for we
Something you call ‘love’ but just guess
You've been a'messin' where you shouldn't 've been a'messin'
And now someone else is getting all your ‘best’
Well, tutus are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these dudes are gonna walk all over you

You keep tryin' when you oughta be losin'
You keep ‘busin’ friends you oughta not get
You keep preyin' when you oughta be a'prayin’
What's right is right but you ain't been right yet
Tutus are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these dudes are gonna walk all over you

You keep preying where you shouldn't be preying
And you keep thinking that you'll never get burnt (HAH)
Well, I've just found me some brand new oncs with matches (YEAH)
And what they know you ain't had time to learn
Tutus are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these dudes are gonna walk all over you

Are you ready, dudes?
Start walkin'

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Legs



This coming Saturday I’ll be participating in my second AIM For The Cure Melanoma Walk in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’d be tickled black to have folks sponsor me, or somebody, but next weekend is more about fellowship than fundraising. For example, the melahomie who surreptitiously took this picture at last year’s walk is one of the folks I’m really looking forward to seeing again. Although I won’t let her get behind me again during the walk.

For my fellow Man in Black, and all who will be there in person or in spirit, The Hotel Melanoma rendition of ZZ Top’s “Legs”…



They got legs, they know how to use them
They never beg, they know how to woo skins
They only let you wonder how to feel them
Would you get behind them if you could only find them
Feel like ladies, feel like ladies
Yeah, it's all right

They got dare down to their fanny
They got a dress slit right up to their manlies
Every time they prancin' they know what to do
Everybody wants to see, see if C can lose it
C’s so ‘fine’, C’s all mine
Cure, you got it right

They got legs, they know how to use them
They never beg, they know how to woo skins
C stalks the hide all of the time
Stays out of sight movin' through time
Oh, I want cure, said I got to have cure
The cure is so nigh, C’s all fright

Monday, November 4, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun



This month marks my tenth anniversary of completing the biochemotherapy treatments that still have me on the preferred side of the grass. (Although when I play golf I spend a lot of time on “the beach”.) With thanks to the fine docs who did me the great service of referring me to melanoma specialists for a treatment regimen that wasn’t available locally and with gratitude for the merry band of medics at the University of Colorado Hospital who got me through that wild ride, here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like A Man”…



The docs that I've been seeing, baby
Got them nodes out on a shelf
They know they could never drug me
So they sent me to somewhere else

But I need someone to drug me
Someone to really understand
Who can put himself above C
Who’ll just drug me with a plan

I never seen such ‘fusers darlin’
Even though I tried…
…to find docs fine who can get me home
’stead of taking me for a ride

And I need someone to drug me
I know you can
Believe me when I tell you
You can drug me like a man

Oh they want me to rock meds
So my Black ain't got no home
I want a plan to block C
Like my… Black mole was his own
Baby, I know you can
Believe me when I tell you
You can drug me like a man

I come home bad and boney
Feel like I wanna die
I need someone to scold C
Not some fools who’d let me die

And I need someone to drug me
Doctor I know you can

Won't you put yourself above C
You just drug me like you can

Monday, October 28, 2013

Whines of Passion

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t butchered a classic country song for quite some time. So here goes. Once again showing my age, to the tune of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”…



Fear that loathsome tan bed shill
C sounds too blue to try
The skin fright pain is whining low
I'm so molesome I can’t fry

I've never seen a fright so long
When hide shows mauling fries
This loon just went behind sun shroud
To hide from rays, can’t fry

Did you ever see a doctor cheap
When Beast began to fly?
Like me C’s got the will to live
I'm so molesome I can’t fry

The vi’lence of biopsy scars
Fired up from youthful fries
And as I wonder where U are
I'm so molesome I can’t fry

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Sunshine of My Life

Several Facebook melahomies shared some sobering melanoma survival statistics yesterday, which pegged my odds of living this long at 24%. And I’m planning on surviving The Beast a whole lot longer and doing my part to contribute to the insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare ‘trust funds’. So screw you, melanoma!

Just for grins, another song to melanoma to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine of My Life”…



You are the sunshine of my life
That's why you’ll always be around
You are the battle of my fries
Forever you'll stay in my parts

I feel like this is the beginning
Though I've fought you for a million years
And if I thought our ‘love’ was ending
I'd find myself frowning with my own fears

You are the sunshine of my life
That's why you’ll always stay around
You are the battle of my fries
Forever you'll stay in my parts

You must have known that I was molely
Because you came to my red hue
And I know that this must be heaven
How could so much ‘fun’ be inside of you?

You are the sunshine of my life, yeah
That's why you’ll always stay around
You are the battle of my fries
Forever you'll stay in my parts

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Cost Of Living



I recently stumbled onto a rather lengthy article about new cancer drugs that extend patients’ lives for an all-too-brief period of time at a cost of many, many thousands of dollars. Yervoy and the soon-to-be-on-the-market PD-1 inhibitors weren’t the centerpieces of the article but were mentioned as examples of breathtakingly expensive treatments. While the high cost of cutting-edge cancer treatment is hardly “breaking news” to residents of The Hotel Carcinoma, what struck me in the article is that some oncologists are reportedly beginning to rebel against the astronomical prices of new cancer drugs that provide marginal life-extending benefits. And even using words like “profiteering” to describe the pricing practices of Big Pharma. Check it out at The Cost Of Living

A healthcare economist I’m not, so I’ve no learned opinion about how to lower the price tag of cancer treatment without killing the needed financial incentives for drug companies to discover and develop new cancer drugs. My cynical recovering lawyer take on the matter is that Big Pharma charges sticker shock prices for new cancer drugs just because they can. Like, if I ever find myself in need of Yervoy or a PD-1 inhibitor to perhaps do no more than buy a little precious time I’m going to be price-sensitive? So my cap goes off (but only in the shade) to all of the oncologists who are working to “bend the cost curve” in cancer treatment.

For Big Pharma, the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” from The Supremes…



Make it free, why don't cha babe
Stretch out my life, why don't cha babe
'Cause you don't really cure C
You just keep me hangin' on
You don't really treat C
But you keep me hangin' on

Why do you keep a stalling around
Playing with my heart?
Why don't you get savin’ my life
And let me make a new start?
Let me get over you
The day you've gotten over C

Set me free, why don't cha babe
Let me be, why don't cha babe
'Cause you don't really cure C
You just keep me hangin' on
Now you don't really treat C
You just keep me hangin' on

You say although C costs bucks
You still wanna be drug friend
But how can we still be friends
When paying you only breaks my heart again
And there ain't nothing I can do about it

Woo, set me free, why don't cha babe
Woo, get out my life, why don't cha babe
Set me free, why don't cha babe
Get out my life, why don't cha babe

You claim you still care for me
But your stockholders need to see green
Now that you've got your green bucks
You wanna still hold on to me
You just charge me more ‘or else’
So let me try some comp’ny else Hey!

Why don't you get a plan about it
And set me free
Now you don't care a thing about C
You're just using me
Go on, get out, get out of my life
And let me sleep at night
'Cause you don't really cure C
You just keep me hangin' on..

Monday, October 21, 2013

Very Superstitious



This little blog gets a fair number of hits from Google search queries like “melanoma hypochondria” and “melanoma paranoia”. I’m sorry to say that I’m quite familiar with these mental maladies, and I’ve proven capable of worrying myself into a frenzied state during the seemingly endless days of waiting for scan or biopsy results. Like last December when I had a suspicious lump removed and then waited almost two weeks for some extremely thorough pathology work to be completed and reported. The rational regions of my brain know that days of worried waiting don’t do me a dang bit of good and that I’d do myself a big favor to just chill until the medical facts become known. Will I ever learn?

To the tune of “Superstition” from Stevie Ray Vaughn…



Very superstitious....Waiting on the call
Very superstitious....Dagger's 'bout to fall
Thirteen tons of Ray C....Broke that looking glass
Near ten years of good luck....Bad things in the past

When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer....Superstition ain't the way.

Very superstitious....Watch your fate in scans
Rid me of sun problem....Get all that you can
Keep me in the ray screen....Keep me going strong
You just got to save me....Sad is my song

When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer....Superstition ain't the way.

Very superstitious....Nothing more to say
Very superstitious....Devil's on his way
Thirteen tons of Ray C....Broke that looking glass
Near ten years of good luck....Bad things in the past

When you believe in things that you don't understand
You will suffer....Superstition ain't the way.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

For THE Bride



My Melanoma Diva friend Chelsea is getting married this weekend, and if she isn’t example enough that a bride-to-be needn’t visit a tanning salon to be beautiful on her wedding day, well, there’s just no help for you. With my best wishes to Chelsea and her beau for a long, happy and healthy life together, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”…



Hey little sister what have you done?
Hey little sister who's the only one?
Hey little sister who's your superman?
Hey little sister who's the one you want?
Hey little sister not sunned!

It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day for a white wedding.
It's a nice day to start again.

Hey little sister who is it you're with?
Hey little sister what's your finest wish?
Hey little sister not sunned (oh yeah)
Hey little sister who's your superman?
Hey little sister not sunned!

It's a nice day to start again (come on)
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again.

(Pick it up)

Make C black moan

Hey little sister what have you done?
Hey little sister who's the only one?
You’ve been a-pale for so long (so long)
You’ve been a-pale for so long (so long)
I bet you go for so long

It's a nice day to start again (come on)
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again.
There is nothin' fair in this world
There is nothin' safe in this world
And there's nothin' sure in this world
And there's nothin' pure in this world
Look for something best in this world
Start again

Come on
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day to start again

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Midnight Rambler



A big shot of joy came this past weekend to my little corner of The Hotel Melanoma, in the fuzzball form of an eight-week old golden retriever pup named Palmer. I’ll be losing some sleep for a while, because this little guy needs to be taken outside in the middle of the cold, dark night; and then he wants to PLAY. It’s a hoot.

My old golden Jordan, who passed away in August, was the best therapist and personal trainer I could have asked for during some pretty tough and dark weeks and months of treatment. There’s just no better anti-depressant than a good dog, who will hang out and snuggle with you when you can barely move and then get you out of the recliner for a walk as soon as you show signs of life. I’m hoping Palmer won’t ever have to play a similar role, but who here knows what lies in their medical future. Maybe I’ll have Palmer trained as a therapy dog who can comfort others in need of the unconditional love that our canine pals bring to our lives. Could there be a better ‘legacy’ for Jordan?

For Palmer, the new kid in town, The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Midnight Rambler” from the Rolling Stones…



Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Little buddy got to go?
Did you hear about the midnight rambler
The one that jumped the kitchen door?

He don't give a hoot of warning
Wrapped up in a golden cloak
He don't go in the light of the morning
He hits the time the cockerel crows

Talkin' 'bout the midnight rambler
The son you never seen before, yeah
Talkin' 'bout the midnight rambler
Did you see him jump the garden wall?

Playin’ in the night so madly
Listen and you'll hear him roam, yeah, well
Talkin' 'bout the midnight rambler
Little buddy got to go, dance

Did you hear about the midnight rambler
Well, honey, it's gold rock and roll show
Well, I'm talkin' about the midnight rambler, yeah
The son you never seen before

Don't you do that
Don't you do that
Don't you do that

Well you heard about the show dogs
He’s not one of those
Well, talkin' 'bout the midnight
The one that blows the bedroom door

He’s called a hit-n-run player, no anger…
Oh must a knife-sharpened puppy grow…
Or just a shoot-me-dead, ‘larm-bell jangler
Little buddy got to go

So if you ever meet the midnight rambler
Running down your bedroom hall
Well, he's pouncing like a proud black panther
Well, you can say I, I told you so

Well, don't you listen for the midnight rambler?
Oh, you all, play it easy as you go
He’s gonna smash down all your plate glass windows
Put a paw, put a paw through your steel-plated door

Did you hear about the midnight rambler?
He'll leave his pawprints up and down your hall
And did you hear about the midnight rambler?
And did you see him make his midnight call?

And if you ever catch the midnight rambler
He’ll steal your slippers from under your nose
I'll go easy with my old dang anger
He’ll lick the life right out your nose, baby, and he squirms

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surly White Boy

From the official Denver Broncos website...



"The Palms is extremely proud to be the official tanning resort for The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders!"

I’ve been in a pretty sour mood the past month. My best buddy and ghostwriter Jordan passed away in late August. ‘Tis the season to go see the witch doctors again to spin the diagnostic wheel of fortune, and I’m still getting oversized bills from the last go-round. And my geezer golf game has gone even further south—how does a guy get the yips with a sand wedge, anyway? Now it’s the first day of October, people are telling me I’m supposed to do that monthly inspection of my phosphorescent white carcass, and I don’t wanna. To top it off, it’s once gain time for the commercialized frenzy of Pinktober, brought to you by consumer products companies that don’t give a rip about any other brand of cancer, and featuring pink-clad NFL cheerleading squads sporting fresh glows from their sponsor tanning salons. GRRRRR!!!

To the tune of Foreigner’s “Dirty White Boy”…



Hey maties, I’ve been feelin’ down
I know what’s ‘good’ for blues all day

Am I’m worried what doc ‘friends’ see
Will it ruin their reputation treatin' me?

'Cause I'm a surly white boy
Yeah a surly white boy
A surly white boy

Don't hide those big ass scars
Don't like no Hollywood movie stars

You want me to be true to U
You don't give a damn what fries do to you

I'm just a surly white boy
Surly white boy, surly white boy
Surly white boy, surly white boy
Surly white boy

Well I'm a surly white boy
Surly white boy, surly white boy
Surly white boy, yeah, surly white boy
A surly white boy

I've been in trouble since I don't know when
I'm in trouble now and I know somehow I'll find trouble again

I'm a mole sir but I never check moles
Every night I get one step closer to the paler zone

'Cause I'm a surly white boy
Surly white boy, yeah, surly white boy
Surly white boy, I'm a surly white boy
Surly white boy

C'mon, c'mon boy
Surly white boy, white boy
Surly white boy, I'm a surly white boy
Surly white boy

Hey I'm a surly white boy
Surly white boy, yeah, I'm a surly white boy
(Surly white boy) boy, surly white boy, yeah

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Outliers

Academic cancer researchers are now using recent advances in genomic sequencing technology to try to figure out why a relative handful of patients-- so-called “outliers” or “super-responders”-- have experienced seemingly miraculous results from certain cancer treatments while most patients received little or no benefit. This science stuff flies over the head of a recovering attorney to whom basic high school chemistry and biology were magic, but I think the idea is to identify the specific gene mutations in a super-responder patient’s tumor sample that explain why that patient staged a remarkable recovery after receiving a particular treatment, when most others receiving the same treatment did not. The hope is that by identifying those ’aha!’ gene mutations, oncologists will someday be able to select the most appropriate treatment drug for a patient whose tumor displays those same mutations. And it’s entirely possible that drugs that ‘failed’ in clinical trials that included a few super-responders may be resurrected. Read all about it here .

There are lots of outliers still living at The Hotel Melanoma, and I seem to be one of them. And my oncologist has confessed that nobody has a clue why biochemotherapy worked so well for me but not everybody. So I hope some brilliant researcher will someday visit the super-responder wing of The Hotel Melanoma and figure out if we have some gene mutations in common that would explain why we’re all still living there. If I win the lottery, which would first require that I actually buy a ticket like making a putt requires that I get the ball to the hole, I’ll gladly fund the research. Whether of scientific or divine origin, we could sure use all the miracle cures we can get around here.

Hoping that I truly have experienced one of those miracle cures, and praying that we’ll soon have to enlarge the super-responder wing, I’ll sign off with an ode to miracles to the tune of “All I Need Is a Miracle” from Mike & The Mechanics…

I said "show that you gonna show
Pray that you gonna stay"
I did so care if you hung around me
I sure would care if you went away
And I know U was never right
I'll admit I was UV-wrong
I would never ‘screen up my hide
I braised it up as I went along

And so I plead for you like a child
I'm gonna wish you for the rest of my life

All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true

I ever had manly pride
And I ever had manly gall
‘Cuz I went out of my way just to flirt U
The sun I shouldn't flirt at all
I thought I was being cool
Yeah, I thought I was being bronze
But it's always the same old story
You never know what you've got 'til skin’s gone

If I ever catch up with you
I'm gonna hug you for the rest of my life

All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true (all I need is a miracle)
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true (all I need is a miracle)
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true

And if I ever catch up with you
I'm gonna hug you for the rest of your life

All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true (all I need is a miracle)
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true (all I need is a miracle)
All I need is a miracle, and I plead it’s true (all I need is a miracle)
All I need is a, all I need is a,
And I plead (all I need is a miracle)

Monday, September 23, 2013

We've Only Just Begun

For all of you melavangelists working so hard to inform folks that breast cancer isn't the only beastly disease worthy of attention and funding, a request, sort of, to the tune of “We’ve Only Just Begun” from The Carpenters…



We've only just begun to live
White face and pharmacas
Skin checks for stuff and we're on our way
We've only begun

Before the rising sun we fried
So many moles to choose
We start out blocking
And learn it’s fun
And yes! We've just begun

Sharin' more trial drugs that are new to us
Watchin' the signs along the way
Talkin' it over just the few of us
Workin' together day to day, together

And when the evening comes we smile
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there's few who glow
And yes! We've just begun

Sharin' more trial drugs that are new to us
Watchin' the signs along the way
Talkin' it over just the few of us
Workin' together day to day, together, together

And when the evening comes we smile
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there’s few who glow
And yes! We've just begun

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An American Fool

It seems that Bruce Jenner is too ill-informed to know the difference between basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Or maybe he really does know better and his misstatement is just a lame effort to garner more sympathy-driven attention? Call me a cynic, but my money’s on the latter explanation.

But either way, perhaps there’s a silver lining in his cloud of misinformation: a significant number of reporters and commenters are pointing out the error in Jenner’s statement and maybe, just maybe, a few people who follow ‘celebrity’ news will learn that melanoma is the deadly form of ‘just skin cancer’. Let’s hope so.

A song from Bruce, to the tune of John Mellencamp’s “American Fool”…



Some people say I'm obnoxious and I'm hazy
Some people say I take advantage of the dumber news and they're right
Some people say I should have been stoppin’ few more tanners at home
Some say I'm narcicisstic better of just to leave me alone

I don't know what I'm supposed to do
If I can't teach myself could I really teach you?

Being brought up
The American fool
Being brought up
The American fool

Some people like to talk and sell you their fry deals and how skin’s supposed to be
Some people are fools like me and say what's on their mind to media spree
Some people won't braise at all and some burn rare too much
Some people, some people, some people are chiding me daily

I don't know what I'm supposed to do
When I can't teach myself could I really teach you?

Being brought up
The American fool
Being brought up
The American fool

Some people say I'm obnoxious and I'm hazy
Some people say I take advantage of the dumber news and they're right

I don't know what I'm supposed to do
If I can't teach myself could I really teach you?

Being brought up
The American fool
Being brought up
The American fool

Being brought up
The American fool
Being brought up
The American fool

Being brought up!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Soggy Day Rock

It’s been raining incessantly here in Colorado for the past several days, and my ubiquitous moles are starting to grow mold. If I owned a handgun I’d probably have shot six holes in my freezer by now. And I’ve seriously considered rounding up all the old golf balls I can find and getting in some wedge practice by pitching them all into one of the neighborhood’s overflowing detention ponds. So if the sun ever comes out again I shall be sorely tempted to spend a day on the golf course sans sunscreen. But I won’t. Probably.

To the tune of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”…



When you were young
And had more moles
How did it feel
In Coppertone?
I am always thinking
Of days that I was braising.
Trying to save
The rest of my hide.

‘Cuz only sun
Can break your heart.
Try to be pure
Right from the start.
Yes only sun
Can break your heart
What if your ‘cure’
Should fall apart?

I have a friend
Who never ‘screens.
He fries his head
Inside eighteen.
Someone should call him
And see if he can pale out.
Try to lose
The brown on his crown.

‘Cuz only sun
Can break your heart.
Try to be pure
Right from the start.
Yes only sun
Can break your heart.
What if your derm
Would maul your parts?

I have a friend
Who never ‘screens.
He fries his head
Inside eighteen.
Yes, only sun
Can break your heart.
Yes, only sun
Can break your heart…

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Rainy Day Homily

My biased opinion is that Stage III melanoma patients have too few “adjuvant” treatment options to improve their odds of avoiding, or at least significantly delaying, a recurrence and progression to Stage IV. And that way too many folks aren’t presented with all of the treatment options that are currently available, probably because they weren’t referred to an oncologist who specializes in melanoma treatment. So I was pleased to stumble upon a YouTube video of a recent presentation by a melanoma specialist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, outlining the adjuvant treatment options for Stage IIC and Stage III patients.



Through dumb luck I stumbled into being offered a 4-cycle regimen of biochemotherapy, as an adjuvant treatment following a Stage IIIC diagnosis with fourteen malignant lymph nodes. It beat the living daylights out of me, but nearly ten years later I’m showing no evidence of disease and boring my oncologist. So if you’re a newly-diagnosed Stage III melahomie, please watch this video and learn what’s out there. And if you’re seeing a doc who hasn’t discussed all of these adjuvant treatment options with you, please think long and hard about getting a second opinion from a top-flight melanoma specialist who has all of these ‘tricks’ in his or her bag. And then you and that doc can decide what’s right for you from a full menu of options. It just might save your life.

To the tune of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love”…



When your youth is bound to C’s wiles
And all the joy within you dies
Don't you want somebody to drug
Don't you need somebody to drug
Wouldn't you love somebody to drug
You better find somebody to drug

When the doctor glowers, Ray C is read yes
And your mind, your mind, is so full of dread
Don't you want somebody to drug
Don't you need somebody to drug
Wouldn't you love somebody to drug
You better find somebody to drug

Your prize, I say your prize may look like this, yeah
But in your head baby I'm afraid you don't know where it is
Don't you want somebody to drug
Don't you need somebody to drug
Wouldn't you love somebody to drug
You better find somebody to drug

Tears are running, ahhh, they're all running down your breast
And your ‘friends’ baby they treat you like a pest.
Don't you want somebody to drug
Don't you need somebody to drug
Wouldn't you love somebody to drug
You better find somebody to drug

Monday, September 9, 2013

Parts Full of Moles



I’ve heard several melahomies express a strong preference for having nearly every even slightly suspicious looking mole removed and sent to a pathologist. I’m not a member of that club, perhaps because I’m so speckled and freckled that taking this tack would turn me into one big mass of scar tissue and I’d spend the rest of my life with a dermatopathologist on my payroll. So I don’t want anything biopsied unless my oncologist or dermatologist thinks we need to, thank you very much, and I’m happy to let them make the judgment call. Although I do get some grins whenever I’m sent to my favorite cancer center’s breast cancer clinic for a quickly needle biopsy.

For my ever watchful docs, to the tune of “Heart Full of Soul” from The Yardbirds…



Thick in parts and molely,
Deep in dark despair.
Thinking one thought only
Where is C tell me where.
And if C says to you
C don't love me.
Just give it my message.
Tell it biopsy.

And I know if C had me back again
Well I would ever make it sad.
I've lotta parts full of moles.

And I know if C had me back again
Well I would ever make it sad.
I've lotta parts full of moles.

C’s been gone such a long time
Longer than it was there
But if C says it wants me
Tell it that I'll be there
And if C says to you
C don't love me
Just give it my message
Tell it biopsy.

And I know if C had me back again
Well I would ever make it sad.
I've lotta parts full of moles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Good Sunnin' Gone Bad

Just a little lyrical nonsense for a lovely September sunny Sunday, to the tune of “Hold On Loosely” from .38 Special…



You see it all around you
Good sunnin' gone bad
And usually it's too late when you
Realize what you have

And my mind goes back to a derm I met
Long years ago who told me

Just hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly
You're gonna lose some moles

Your Ray C needs some sun to be breedin’
And a whole lot of days to seize skin

It's so damn easy
When your screenings aren’t much
To under protect derm
To sun derm too much

And my mind goes back to a derm I met
Long years ago who told me

Just hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly
You're gonna lose some moles

Your Ray C needs some sun to be breedin’
And a whole lot of days to seize skin

Don't let years slip away
SPF’s the tool
Don't let your parts get in the rays
Yeah, yeah, yeah

You see it all around you
Good sunnin’ gone bad
And usually it's too late when you
Realize what you have

So hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly
You're gonna lose some moles

Your Ray C needs some sun to be breedin’
And a whole lot of days to seize skin

So hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly
You're gonna loose it
You're gonna lose some moles

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

So hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly
You're gonna lose some moles

Hold on UV
Just don't get glow
If you singe too brightly to her
You're gonna lose some moles, yeah, yeah, yeah

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Problem With Dogs...



…Is that we outlive them. Even we folks living at The Hotel Melanoma. And we’re supposed to. But we never really lose them, because they will always be present in our hearts. And in Jordie’s case, at least a little bit of that lovely, curly coat will always be present in the backseat of my Subaru, evoking fond memories of mountain hikes gone by and the unmistakable scent of a wet golden retriever.

I was blessed with the best canine therapist I could ever have hoped for, and I believe that someday we’ll meet again. But not yet.

To the tune of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven”…



Will you know my name
When I see you in heaven?
Will it be the same
When I see you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
There in heaven.

Will you hold my hand
When I see you in heaven?
Will you help me stand
When I see you in heaven?

I'll find my way
Through night and day,
'Cause I know it’s not my day
There in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven.

Will you know my name
When I see you in heaven?
Will it be the same
When I see you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
'Cause I know I don't belong
There in heaven.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Service Dog



We lost our beloved Jordan yesterday, after thirteen years filled with an abundance of love and long walks in the nearby woods. He was the dog I never thought I’d outlive. But somehow I did. And I’m just plain shattered by the loss, perhaps because Jordan was such an indispensable part of my physical and emotional healing from surgeries, and biochemotherapy and radiation treatments. Jordie wasn’t formally trained to be a service dog, but boy would he ever have made a fine one. He was a wild three-year old when I underwent biochemotherapy, but when I was so weak I could barely walk he knew it and happily walked me around the cul-de-sac at a snail’s pace. And as the days went by and my strength slowly returned, he’d gradually pick up the pace, lead me onto wooded trails and lengthen our walks. When I was bedridden, he was glad to snuggle in and keep close for hours at a time. I couldn’t have done it without you buddy. And I pray that there won’t be a “next time” when I have to.

For Jordan and all of our canine ‘nurses’ who make life at The Hotel Melanoma so much more bearable, here’s my version of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”…



I see trees of green,
Dog noses too.
I see them glued,
At me and you.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue,
And snouts gone white.
The bright blessed days,
The snug canine nights.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

The goldens make the pain slow,
So pretty when they lie.
And also slow their paces,
Their people getting spry,
I see dogs shaking hands.
‘Saying’, "How do you do?"
They're really saying,
"I love you".

I heard puppy’s cry,
I watched him grow,
He learned much more,
Than I'll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Oh yeah.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Can't Break My Eyes Off Of You

Yesterday’s post was so kindly received by my melahomies of the ocular persuasion that I thought I’d try another one. But this time on the lighter side.

Hoping for some new pharmaceutical breakthrough treatments for ocular melanoma, here’s an ode to OM to the tune of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” from Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons…



You're just too rude to be true.
Can't break my eyes off of you.
You'd be like heaven to bust.
I wanna scold you so much.
At long last drugs have arrived.
And I thank God I'm alive.
You're just too rude to be true.
Can't break my eyes off of you.

Pardon the way that I care.
There's nothing else to compare.
The fright of you leaves me weak.
There are no words left to speak.
But if you feel like I feel.
Please let me know that you’ll reel.
You're just too rude to be true.
Can't take my eyes off of you.

I’ll shove you baby, and if it's quite all right,
I’ll beat you baby, and scorn this lonely plight.
I’ll shove you baby.
Trust in me when I say:
Oh ‘pretty’ baby, don't bring me down, I pray.
Oh ‘pretty’ baby, now that I found you. Pray.

And let me shove you, baby. Let me shove you ...

I’ll shove you baby, and if it's quite allright,
I’ll beat you baby, and scorn this lonely plight.
I’ll shove you baby.
Trust in me when I say:
Oh ‘pretty’ baby, don't bring me down, I pray.
Oh ‘pretty’ baby, now that I found you. Pray.

Oh pretty baby. Trust in me when I say: Oh pretty baby ...

Monday, August 26, 2013

In Your Eyes

If you’ve ever felt lonely and isolated as a melanoma patient living at The Hotel Carcinoma, try walking in the shoes of an ocular melanoma (OM) patient. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation’s CURE Ocular Melanoma website, “OM occurs in approximately 6 people per million per year, while invasive cutaneous (skin) melanoma occurs in approximately 1 in 50 people per year”. That’s only about 2000 new OM patients diagnosed each year, and if you’re one of them you very likely don’t know anyone else with the disease.

Just about the only thing OM has in common with its cutaneous ‘cousin’ is that it originates in our pigment cells (melanocytes). OM usually starts in the area of the eye called the uvea. OM doesn’t demonstrate the same genetic mutations as cutaneous melanoma, and has its own distinct set of genetic alterations. It generally doesn’t respond well to chemotherapy, so surgery and radiation are the standard first-line treatments. About 50% of OM patients will develop metastatic disease within 15 years of their original diagnosis, and 90% of metastases involve the liver. Once the liver is involved, OM is current incurable. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for metastatic OM, and that just has to change. Soon.

Even though I’d already been living at The Hotel Melanoma for several years at the time, I don’t think I’d ever heard of OM until a former colleague was diagnosed with the beast and he reached out to me for support. Sadly, by the time he was diagnosed his OM had already metastasized to his brain and he died within a matter of weeks. Please support the efforts of the Melanoma Research Foundation and other organizations to find a cure.

I haven’t walked in the shoes of an OM patient, so please forgive me if I get this one wrong. But for John, and all who have battled OM, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”…



Mel, I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All fright instincts, they return
And my brave façade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I scream out from the inside

In my eyes (In my eyes) the fright they treat
(In my eyes) I must compete
(In my eyes) I see the doorway (In my eyes) to a thousand cure drugs
(In my eyes) The resolution (In my eyes) of all the fruitless searches

(In my eyes) Oh, (In my eyes) I see the fright that they treat
(In my eyes, the fright they treat) Oh, (In my eyes) I wanna to see this complete
(In my eyes, the fright they treat) I wanna to end the fright, the beast I see in my eyes

Mel, I don't like to see so much pain
So much wasted and the soul mates keep slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to a time past you to keep me still brave and alive

All fright instincts, they return
And my brave façade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I scream out from the inside

In my eyes
(In my eyes)
(In my eyes)
(In my eyes)

In my eyes (In my eyes) the fright they treat
(In my eyes) I must compete
(In my eyes) I see the doorway to a thousand cure drugs
(In my eyes) The resolution (In my eyes) of all the fruitless searches

Oh, I see the fright that they treat
(In me eyes) Oh, (In my eyes) I wanna to see this complete
(In my eyes) I wanna to beat the fright, the beast I see in my eyes (In my eyes)

(In my eyes) (In my eyes) (In my eyes)
(In my eyes)
(In my eyes)
(In my eyes)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hysteria

Do you ever feel utterly powerless? Like so many others at The Hotel Melanoma, I want so badly to do something to kick melanoma to the curb so that others never have to follow in my footsteps. But I’m not a brilliant oncologist or research scientist, or a rich guy with a foundation. I’m just one lucky survivor with a story and a blog. And I get just a bit manically crazy at times about wanting, somehow and someway, to do more to send melanoma on the highway to hell. This has been one of those weeks. Individually, my reach exceeds my grasp. And it probably always will. But I know I’m so not alone in this manic and evangelistic quest to beat the beast; collectively, we’ll get it done.

For all of you melangelicals who are joining in the fight, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”…



Out of touch
Out of reach, yeah
We should try to get close to defeat
I'm in ‘love’
I'm in deep, yeah
Hypnotized
I'm shakin' to my knees

You gotta know tonight
You’re not alone in fight
Can't stop this feeling
Can't stop this fire

I get hysterical
Hysteria
Oh, can you feel it (Oh can you feel it)
Do you believe it (Do you believe it)
It's such a magical mysteria
When you get that feelin' (When you get that feelin')
Better start believin (Better start believin')
Cause it's a miracle
Say you will, ooh babe
Hysteria when we’re near

Out of we
‘Skin C’s’ through, yeah
We could hide
It's ‘just’ a sunray beast
Oh, I believe I'm with you, yeah
Hopin’ high, that's right
Dream me off my feet
Oh, believe in we

You gotta know tonight
You’re not alone in fight
Can't stop this feelin'
Can't stop this fire
Oh

I get hysterical
Hysteria
Oh, can you feel it (Oh can you feel it)
Do you believe it (Do you believe it)
It's such a magical mysteria
When you get that feelin' (When you get that feelin') Better start believin (Better start believin')
Cause it's a miracle
Say you will
Ooh babe
Hysteria when we're near

Come on

You gotta know tonight
You’re not alone in fight
Can't stop this feelin'
Can't stop this fire

I get hysterical
Hysteria
Oh can you feel it (Oh can you feel it)
Do you believe it (Do you believe it)
It's such a magical mysteria
When you get that feelin',(When you get that feelin')
Better start believin,(Better start believin')
Cause it's a miracle, oh say you will,
Oh babe (Oh can you feel it)
Oh babe (Do you believe it)
Oh (I get hysterical)
Hysterical (Hysteria)
Hysteria (When you get that feelin')
You better believe it (Better start believin')
'Cause it's a miracle
Say you will
Oh baby
Say you will

(Get close to defeat)
Get closer,
Baby
Closer (closer)
Closer (get closer)
Close to defeat

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Handicap Blues



Which is higher these days, my official USGA handicap index or the SPF factor of the sunscreen and golf duds I wear while hacking my way around a challenging mountain golf course that is too tough for my geezer game? I ain’t sayin’. But the way things have been going out there I just might start playing off the ladies tees at some wide open municipal course. Oy.

To the tune of Jackson Browne’s “These Days”…



Well I've been out golfin'
I don't do that much bloggin' these days
These days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the swings that I forgot to do...more true
And all the times I had the chance to

And I am a duffer
And it's so hard to whiff another these days
These days
Now if I seem to be afraid ... to hit the slice that I have played so long
Well it's just that I've been losin' ... fore! It’s gone!

Well I'll keep on movin' ... movin' on
Things are bound to be improvin' these days
One of these days
These days I'll hit on shorter holes
Can’t count the times I’m scorin’ strokes to ten ... my friends
Don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Burnin' U.S.A.

Just a little lyrical nonsense dedicated to all of the clueless people who think melanoma is “just skin cancer” and are still seeking that ‘healthy’ tan this summer, to the tune of The Beach Boys “Surfin’ U.S.A.”…



If everybody had a notion
Across the U. S. A.
Then just nobody'd be burnin'
Yikes, melano-i-a
You'd see 'em wearing their burkas
A lot of sunscreen too
A blotchy blotchy blonde scares you
Burnin' U. S. A.

You catch 'em burnin' at Del Mar
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Trestle
Australia's Narrabeen
All over Manhattan
And down Doheny Way

Everybody's gone burnin'
Burnin' U.S.A.

You’ll be ‘planning’ that route
You’re gonna take real soon
You're tracking down your derm course
C can't wait for you
You’ll call Intron such a bummer
You’re on dermfari today
Tell the preacher you’re burnin'
Burnin' U. S. A.

Tanner sprees and palm trees
Pacific Palisades
San Onofre and Sunset
Redondo Beach L. A.
All over La Jolla
At Wa'imea Bay.

Everybody's gone burnin'
Burnin' U.S. A.

Everybody's gone burnin'
Burnin' U.S. A.

Everybody's gone burnin'
Burnin' U.S. A.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Been Such a Long Time

Thanks to a recent blog post from my Melanoma Diva friend Chelsea, I learned about Is My Cancer Different, a website well worth a visit. It’s “an online movement created to educate individuals about the personalized treatments available for a range of cancers whose manifestations vary widely from person to person. In recent years technology and research have vastly improved pathways to more efficient/successful treatments, but information concerning the benefits of molecular-level diagnostics and personalized care has been slow to make its way to patients.”

Is my cancer different? My two-part answer is “maybe” and “yes”.

The “maybe” part stems from checking into The Hotel Melanoma in 2003, with a Stage IIIc diagnosis and fourteen malignant lymph nodes. Back then, not a one of my merry band of melanoma specialist oncologists ordered DNA-testing of my melanoma cells to determine if they showed some specific DNA mutation that today might lead to a targeted therapy, because such testing simply wasn’t available at the time. So I underwent a very non-personalized series of treatments called “biochemotherapy”, a toxic brew of both chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs. And, luckily, it seems to have worked, although none of the docs can tell me why it worked for me but not all of their other patients. Is there something different about the DNA of my melanoma, or my immune system, that led to a better-than-average treatment response? Nobody knows. But if you're a newly-diagnosed melanoma patient, please see a melanoma specialist and ask about having your tumor tested for DNA mutations that might make you a prime candidate for one of the new targeted treatments.

The “yes” part derives from what seems to be a unique characteristic of melanoma. Until the day comes when there is some blessed new treatment breakthrough, once diagnosed you will never, ever be declared “cured” no matter how long you’ve presented “no evidence of disease” and you will always be on your oncologist’s or dermatologist’s watch list for a recurrence. That’s why I call life as a melanoma survivor “living at The Hotel Melanoma”—because you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

So please, please stay out of those tanning bed coffins and wear some freakin’ sunscreen outdoors, so you too don’t check into The Hotel Melanoma.

In my tenth year at The Hotel Melanoma with no prospects of escape, I’ll leave you with an ode to melanoma to the tune of Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time”…



It's been such a long time
I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'
Sail on, on a distant highway
I've got to keep on chasin' a dream
I've oughta be on my way
Wish there was something I could take.

Well I'm makin' my time, I'm just groovin' along
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I baked and I fried, I don't want no more
You’re just outside of my front door.

It's been such a long time. It's been such a long time.

Well I get so ‘lonely’ when I am without you
But in my mind, deep in my mind,
I can't forget about you
‘Good’ times, docs’ faces that remind me
I'm tryin' to forget your name and leave it all behind me
You're comin' back to find me.

Well I'm makin' my time, I'm just groovin' along
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I baked and I fried, I don't want no more
You’re just outside of my front door.

It's been such a long time. It's been such a long time.

Yeah. It's been such a long time, I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'
There's a long road, I've gotta stay in time with
I've got to keep on chasin' that dream, though I may never find it
I'm always just behind it.

Well I'm makin' my time, I'm just groovin' along Makin' my time, just groovin' along Makin' my time, yeah I'm makin' my time...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sun SafeTee Rock

I’d be quite embarrassed to publish my official USGA handicap index on the ‘net, although it served me and my teammates well last week during a couple of best-ball competitions that included a net double eagle, which just ain’t right. So suffice it to say that on most of my days out on the links at 7000-plus feet in elevation, just about all I do well is to protect my hide from the high UV index we experience in Colorado by wearing both SPF-50 golf duds and some sunscreen on what little flesh I expose out there. And my sunglasses are so darkly-tinted that I have to remove them to find my sliced tee shots in the woods.

As a Stage 3c melanoma survivor who got his tail kicked by radical chemotherapy, I’m often distressed that not many of the other players I see out on the links take similar precautions. And I’m also disappointed that too few of the PGA and LPGA tour players I see on high-definition TV appear to be good sun safety role models. So I was pleased to recently learn about the Sun SafeTee Program, a nonprofit organization that teaches sun protection and skin cancer prevention specifically to the golf community and to junior golfers in particular. Please check it out at Sun SafeTee Program. If I’d started practicing ‘safe sun’ much earlier in life, perhaps I wouldn’t look today like a scarred and worn-out old leather golf grip?

To the tune of “Rockin’ Down The Highway” from The Doobie Brothers…



Got those slice day blues, can't you hear my bogeys comin'
Slicin' down the hole with my good balls no more
All the players brown they can fear C comin’
Mel’s just got to stop, C won't do no more
And I smell my moles ‘r burnin'
Underneath the hood is smoke
Can't stop, and I can't stop
Got to keep on usin' or I'll lose my hide

Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin' out the fry rays

The high-paid ‘Doc Mole’ got his eyes on me
I know what he's thinkin' and it ain't good
It’s movin' so fast he can barely see C
Gonna lose that tan, I know I should
I gotta hitch in my puttin’
Make my roll move a little bit faster
Can't stop, and I can't stop
Got to keep on usin' or I'll lose my hide

Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin' out the fry rays
Oh, blockin’ out the fry rays

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Melavangelism

I’ve never much liked using the word “awareness” to describe what so many of we melahomies are trying to achieve by talking about melanoma, the Rodney Dangerfield of cancers. “Awareness” doesn’t equate to knowledge or understanding, and I’m not convinced that we accomplish much by making more people ”aware” of melanoma if we don’t also teach them that it’s not “just skin cancer”. Thousands of things, some of them quite tacky and mercenary, have been done in the name of raising breast cancer awareness, to the degree that it’s now impossible for any sentient adult with a pulse not to be “aware” of breast cancer. But what do we really know and understand about that beastly killer until someone near and dear to us “gets it”?

In any event, I’ve decided that “melanoma evangelism” , or melavangelism for short, better describes what I’m trying to do with my inconspicuous little blog-- so please call me a melangelist or melangelical, not an awareness advocate. In the unlikely event that someone who hasn’t already checked into The Hotel Melanoma should stumble upon and read some of my posts, I hope they may “get it” before they get it. My reach may exceed my grasp, but what the heck. Even a hacker occasionally makes a birdie.

To the tune of James Taylor’s “Mexico”…



Way down here you need no reason to groove
Feel a fool sunning, your pale hide’s fame
Lose your moles, leave your hide behind, Ray C games

Oh, Melaroad
It sounds so ‘simple’, you just got to know
The sun's made spots, I forgot to check moles
Guess I'll have to glow now

"Americano" bought the creepy fry
‘Cuz his body's still baking, yikes a hide pyre
Weepy "Senorita" with a hide on fire

Oh, Melaroad
It sounds so ‘neat’ ‘til the sun’s sinking moles
Scan's so bright like to light up the night
Make everything all fright

Ray C’s hungry and the money's all gone
The docs at Sloan don't want to talk on the phone
C gets a lot better, spreads back a whole yard; times are hard

Oh, down on melaroad
You never really been so you don't really know
Oh, melaroad
I guess you’ll have to go

Oh, melaroad
You never really been but you’d sure hate to go
Oh, melaroad
I guess you’ll have to glow now
Talkin' 'bout it melaroad
With a oncy-doc down on melaroad
Oh, melaroad

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Reunion



Until I came out of my closet and joined the online melanoma community, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to have a reunion with people I’d never before met in person. But it surely is.

I attended my second ever melanoma fundraising event yesterday, and had a marvelous time talking with several melahomies whom I’d previously ‘met’ by e-mail and social media. This particular event was centered around a polo tournament held on a lovely day in a beautiful setting but, truth be told, I’d have enjoyed it just as much had we met at the hotdog stand at the local Costco. Because the day was all about enjoying the fellowship of good folks with shared experiences in fighting a common foe.

It was a particular pleasure to connect with a fellow biochemotherapy veteran, and his loving and supportive wife with whom I’d chatted by e-mail a few years ago when they were about to embark together on that toxic treatment roller coaster ride. But I’m filled with sadness today because the treatment didn’t work as well for this young father as it has for me, and I just don’t understand the “why” of these things. And I don’t think I ever will.

Sending my prayers for this young couple and their two children, I’ll sign off with my version of Bob Seger’s “Even Now”…



Mela highway
A lonesome stretch of days
It runs beneath us
And makes me scarred array
Out in the distance
Always within reach
There’s a crossroad
Where all sun’s victims meet
I close my eyes
And see cure’s face
It's all I want to see
And deep inside
It still amazes me

Even now
It's all that I want
It's all that we need
Even now
C’s gettin’ it all
C's gettin' to me
Even now
When everything's right
When everything's wrong
Even now
C’s keepin' me straight
C's keepin' me strong
C gets to me
Somehow
Even now

And through the darkness
Through all the endless days
Through all the changes
The pointless clinic days
I can still make it
I can still stand tall
Cause I got my cure
To get me through it all
Through all the doubt
And all the fear
And all that I can't say
Still sorrowed
Please help me find my way

Even now
C's still in my heart
C's still in my soul
Even now
C's still on my mind
Wherever I go
Even now
Through all of my days
And all of my nights
Even now
C’s keepin' it real
C's keepin' it fright
C gets to me
Somehow
Even now
Cure’s all that I want
Cure’s all that we need
Even now

C’s gettin’ it all
C’s gettin’ to me
When everything's right
When everything's wrong
C's keepin' it real
C's keepin' me strong
Even now

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mallets For Melanoma



Please come join us this Saturday, August 10, for Colorado Melanoma Foundation’s inaugural event and a day of fun and safe sun!

Until then, I’ll leave you with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Come Sail Away” from Styx, which I promise not to sing on Saturday…



I'm paling away,
Set an open course for the white-skinned me,
'Cause I've got to be free,
Free to face the life that's ahead of me,
On board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard,
We'll search for new breakthroughs on every shore,
And I'll try, Oh Lord I'll try, to carry on

I look to ‘skin C’,
Reflections on past days spark my memory,
Some happy, some sad,
I think of childhood friends and UV’s we had,
We lived happily forever, so the story goes,
But somehow we missed out on the normal moles
But we'll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of onc docs appeared above my bed,
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said,
They said come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me lad,
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me lad,
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me,
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me babe,
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me

I thought that they were crazy, but much to my surprise,
I climbed aboard for pharm drips, I headed for drug trials
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me lad
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me
Come pale away, come pale away, come pale away with me...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mole Mapping Rock



Earlier this summer I experienced my first adulthood visit to a dermatologist, at the University of Colorado Hospital’s Dermatology Clinic. One of the ‘highlights’ of the day was a session in the clinic’s “mole mapping” room, wherein a nice nurse took magnified, high definition photographs of several “suspicious” moles. After living at The Hotel Melanoma for a decade, I thought I’d pretty much lost any sense of modesty around licensed health care professionals. But apparently I haven’t, and found mole mapping to be a tad bit embarrassing.

The nurse appeared to be of my vintage and I hope this made the process of mapping my unprepossessing old carcass slightly less painful for her. Nevertheless, she has my deepest sympathies and sincere wishes that my next appointment occurs on a day when she’s off work. Nobody should have to do this twice.

For all of my suspicious moles, here’s The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Def Leppard’s “Photograph”…



I'm outa luck, outa sun
Gotta photograph, picture of
Tanning killer, you're too much
You're not only one I wanna pluck
I see your face every time I ‘screen
On every place, every sag of me
So wild and free, so far not C
You're all I ‘want’, my tan disease

Oh, look what you've done to this flock of moles clown
Oh oh, look what you've done
Photograph - I don't want your
Photograph - I don't need your
Photograph - All I've got is a photograph
But it's ‘hot’ enough

I'd be your brother, if you were fair
Put your hurt on me, if you dare
Such a demon, you got guile
You make every man feel like a child, oh
You got some kinda hold on me
You're all wrapped up in mystery
So wild and free, so far not C
You're all I ‘want’, my disease

Oh, look what you've done to this flock of moles clown
Oh oh, look what you've done

Photograph - I don't want your
Photograph - I don't need your
Photograph - All I've got is a photograph
You've gone straight to my head

Oh, look what you've done to this flock of moles clown
Oh Oh, look what you've done
I gotta map you

Photograph - I don't want your
Photograph - I don't need your
Photograph - All I've got is a photograph
I wanna pluck you

Photograph
Photograph - Your photograph
Photograph -
Photograph - I need only your
Photograph - I'm outa sun
Photograph - I'm outa sun
Photograph - You're a deadly one
Photograph - I wanna duck

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Brown Fried Cure

I pretty much lucked into seeing the merry band of specialists at the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s melanoma clinic because my primary care doc, who spotted and biopsied a tiny little suspicious mole, immediately sent me there when the pathology report said I’d checked into The Hotel Melanoma. So I’ve often wondered whether I ever would’ve found my way there on my own, instead of putting my fate in the hands of some oncologist who sees a handful of new melanoma patients each year and couldn’t have offered me the treatment option of biochemotherapy, which it seems few Stage IIIc patients receive.

Nearly ten years later I’m still here, perhaps not entirely “cured”, but at low enough risk for a recurrence to be kicked halfway to the curb to annual rather than semi-annual checkups. (Thank heavens, since the university hospital campus has grown so large that I now have to stalk departing patients to score a parking place.) So I owe these folks a big debt of gratitude that I’ll probably never be able to repay. It’s not that I’m unwilling to pose naked for a melanoma awareness t-shirt and donate the sales proceeds to UCCC, I’m just dead certain nobody would buy one.

As far as I know, none of these docs read my blog and they probably don’t even know it exists. But what the heck, I’ll dedicate a song to them anyway. To the tune of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”…



Hey, where did C grow?
Rays then the pains came!
Down in my hollows
Playing a new game,
Scanning and a-humming, hey, hey,
Dripping and a-pumping
In the misty chemo fog when
My, my heart stopped thumping
Thank you, I found trial cure,
You, my brown fried cure.

Whatever happened
To U days no mo’
Glowing brown, sun tan lines with the
fast blister baby oil.
Tanning in the sunlight’s past thing
Hide behind a parasol
Nipping and some trial flings
All along the clinic halls
Thank you, I found trial cure,
You, my brown fried cure.

You do dismember them ‘skin cancer’ things
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
Just like that
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
La dee dah.

So hard to hide from rays
Now that hide’s all cancer prone.
I saw you just the other day,
My, how U has grown!
Cast my memory back there, Lord,
Sometime I'm overcome thinking about
Taking drugs in a mean blast
Behind’s the Ray C ‘fun’
Thank you, I found trial cure,
You, my brown fried cure.

You do dismember them ‘skin cancer’ things
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
Slaying with a mean blast
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
Dee dah dee dah dee dah dee dah dee dah dee
Sha la la la la la la la la la la la la
Dee dah la dee dah la dee dah la

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hazmat Suit Golf



Okay, so I haven’t yet gone quite this far for sun protection on the links. But I have learned to embrace wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt when playing eighteen holes in the middle of the day, because it can take quite a while at the Geezer Golf League’s rather geriatric pace of play. One of the side benefits I’ve discovered is that if you spend as much time as I do looking for your (or your slicing partner’s) ball in dense scrub oak or tall native grasses, you tend to finish the round with a lot fewer cuts and abrasions from the course flora. And the truth is that my golfer tan lines of days gone by were never that cool of a look. So be careful out there, because you really don’t want to be a primary source of college tuition for your dermatologist’s and oncologist’s kids, do you?

With my sincerest apologies to Bon Jovi, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Wanted Dead or Alive”…



It's all the same, only the games will change
Every day it seems we're playing in rays
A ‘southern’ pace when the faces are so old
I'd drive ball right just to get back home

I'm a pale boy, on the ‘screened horse I ride
I'm haunted, red or alive
Haunted, red or alive

Some lies are deep, sometimes I’m stuck for days
And the Precepts I beat always go their leftward ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the golf club that you plink
And times when pars are lone all you do is drink

I'm a pale boy, on the ‘screened horse I ride
I'm haunted, red or alive
Haunted, red or alive

I walk these greens, a load of Srixons in my bag
I play for keeps, 'cause I might not make it back
I been everywhere, and I'm stranding balls
Doc’s seen a million places and I've ‘blocked them all

I'm a pale boy, on the ‘screened horse I ride
I'm haunted, red or alive
I'm a pale boy, I got the white on my hide
I'm haunted, red or alive
And my hide’s red or alive
I drill drive, red or alive
Red or alive
Red or alive
Red or alive
Red or alive