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, December 27, 2010

Resolutionary Breakthroughs for the New Year; An Update

I first published this post about a year ago. Looking back over the past year, I must admit that my performance in fulfilling these resolutions just sucked...

Be it hereby solemnly resolved that in 2011:

I will stop referring to my clinical oncologist and radiation oncologist as, respectively, Dr. Death and Dr. No;

No matter how early in the morning I may arrive at the “Name of Rich Oil Guy” Cancer Pavilion, I will park in a remote lot and leave the close-in parking spaces to patients who are currently ill;

When checking in for my next MRI, I will not grumble about completing the same form I’ve filled out on at least a dozen or so previous visits to fully disclose that, to the best of my knowledge, I have no body piercings or other metallic objects implanted anywhere in my anatomy;

I will not ask another MRI technician whether she found a brain during the course of my scan, nor will I crack another lawyer joke to a phlebotomist about the lack of blood available for drawing from my veins;

I will refrain from Googling obscure medical terms and phrases and thereby inducing a state of paranoid hypochondria, and, instead, ask the docs to explain stuff in layman’s terms before I leave their presence;

Acknowledging that I never ever would’ve been mistaken on the golf course for Freddy Couples, I shall cease and desist from using the Schwannoma tumor as an excuse for my uniquely ugly golf swing;

And, last but not least, I will be a more patient patient and stop whining about the relatively insignificant collateral damage I’ve incurred from treatments that probably saved my life.

Have a happy and healthy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is a Clean PET Scan

For anyone out there awaiting some scan results during this holiday season, my fervent Christmas wish for you is that you receive the gift of “negative” results. And soon. And always remember that a “negative” brain scan doesn’t mean you don’t have a brain. Although my wife often insists this doesn’t hold true in my particular case.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dystonia; It's Not The Name of a Former Soviet Republic

An annoying effect of my benign (thank heavens) schwannoma tumor is a condition known as “dystonia”—uncontrolled muscle movements and contractions—in my left arm and hand. My dystonia tends to manifest itself at inconvenient moments, like when I’m trying to open a fine microbrew, tee off, or use a computer keyboard.

As mentioned in my first blog post, the docs initially suspected that the large mass that showed up on my first CT scan following the initial melanoma diagnosis was a melanoma tumor that would knock me off rather quickly. So, whenever the dystonia fires up I try to first remind myself how fortunate I am to have a schwannoma tumor rather than a melanoma tumor and that the dystonia affects only one appendage. Plus, I’m right-handed. My guess is that most every carcinoma veteran tends to measure any subsequent physical affliction against past experiences with “The Big C” and often concludes that, comparatively speaking, maybe this new thing ain’t so bad. Perhaps this perspective we bring to nearly all other challenges in our lives is one of the many blessings of having survived cancer to date. Still, I must confess that I all too often whine a bit about the problem. It hurts. Maybe I’m just another spoiled ‘boomer that wants it all?

It’s about time for another visit with my favorite radiation oncologist and MRI to check up on how Mr. Schwannoma is behaving. I’m hoping this doesn’t set off yet another lengthy round of preexisting condition debates with my health insurance carrier, which may conveniently forget that we’ve already had this argument and they lost. If it does, perhaps I should just be thankful that I have a carrier to argue with? Not everybody at this Hotel does.

For information about dystonia, although I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested unless they have it, check out the website of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation,

Happy Holidays!