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

Tutu Brothers

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Serenade for Remission

Once again butchering the lyrics of a classic rock song for the sake of making a rather obvious point, here’s my song of the day sung to the tune of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie”………….

I can see why you think you belong to me
I never tried to make you mine, or let you stay too long for yourself
But now you’ve gone off somewhere else and I'm alone
You see I think that I don’t want you for my own

Cancer what you gonna do?
I think I could stray from you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

Don't you think the time is right for us to find
All the things we thought weren't proper could be right in time
And can you see
Which way we should turn together or alone
I can never see what’s right or what is wrong
(will it take too long to see)

Cancer what you gonna do?
I think I could stray from you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

Well now
Cancer what you gonna do?
I think I could stray from you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

Now it's come to what you want you've had your way
And all the things you done before just faded into gray
And can you see
That I don't know if it's you or if it's me
If it's one of us I'm sure we'll both will see
Won't you look at me and tell me

Cancer what you gonna do?
I think I could stray from you
For a while, maybe longer
Longer if I do

Yeah now
Cancer what you gonna do?
I think I could stray from you
For a while, maybe longer if I do

Fallin' in and out of havin’ you
Fallin' in and out of havin’ you
Don't know what you’re gonna do, I'd keep
Fallin' in and out of having you

I hereby solemnly pledge never ever to try to sing this tune in public. Nonetheless, here’s wishing all of you a quick entry to and permanent residency in The Great State of Remission.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Still Singing Those Preexisting Condition Blues

In the “gotcha” world of today’s health insurance market, I suspect anyone with a pulse has a “preexisting condition” in the eyes of insurance companies. Cancer survivors most certainly do. And since as long as we have a pulse many of us can’t ever leave our Hotel, this can be a challenge. With the Obamacare legislation under attack in the courts and Congress, there’s no certain end in sight for that challenge. Have you ever wondered whether, speaking strictly from the standpoint of insurability, surviving cancer was a wise move?

There’s a lovely grand piano in the atrium lobby of the “Name of Rich Oil Guy” Cancer Pavilion. We patients are sometimes treated to free concerts while loitering around waiting for whatever is happening next on our pavilion visits. I can’t play a lick, having bailed out at the earliest possible moment from the childhood piano lessons required by nearly all middle class parents of my boomer generation. Nevertheless, I’ve been working on some new lyrics to The Allman Brothers’ classic “Statesboro Blues”, in hopes one of the pavilion players might do a request………….

Wake up patients, keep your costs down low;
Wake up patients, keep your costs down low.
You got no coverage baby, to keep collectors from your door.

I woke up this morning, had them Preexisting Condition Blues,
I woke up this morning, had them Preexisting Condition Blues.
Well, I look at all you patients, and y’all seem to have them too.

Well my employer went and dumped me,
My COBRA died and left me,
I ain't near dead yet baby,
Want some coverage sweet and kind.

I'm goin' to the clinic, how can I pay to go?
And if I can't pay it Mr. Boehner, the billing office said I can’t go no mo’.
(and I sure will miss it).

I loved that COBRA, better than any insurance I've ever seen;
Well, I loved that COBRA, better than any insurance I've ever seen.
Well, now, it treated me like a king, yeah, yeah, yeah,
I paid lotsa good money like it a dog gone queen.

Wake up Boehner, we need some coverage now.
Wake up McConnell, we need some coverage now.
’Cause we got no coverage baby, to keep collectors from our door.

My heartfelt thanks go to the claims department of my post-COBRA insurance carrier and my ‘friends’ in Congress for inspiring me to pen these lyrics.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I don’t know about you, but all of this pontificating by pundits about the “looming financial crisis” of the boomer generation becoming Medicare-eligible in 2011 et seq. is starting to give me the creeps. After all, my generation and our employers have been paying the Medicare taxes that have funded hip replacements for 90-year-old survivors of the World War II “Greatest Generation” as well as those surplus tax funds ‘sitting’ in the accounting fiction known as the Medicare Trust Fund. If Medicare (and Social Security) hadn’t been operated during our lifetimes as the world’s largest and only legal Ponzi schemes, perhaps the boomers wouldn’t present so much of an impending fiscal crisis. I’m starting to have visions of million of boomers being floated off into artic seas in leaky kayaks upon turning 65, per the solemn recommendation of some future presidential deficit commission. Yikes.

Nevertheless, I’m a patriotic guy and am coming around to thinking that boomer residents of the Hotel Melanoma (and other hotels in the Hotel Carcinoma chain) could be part of the solution. Today I am proposing that both houses of Congress begin hearings on potential amendments to the Obamacare legislation that would provide us with financial incentives not to survive cancer beyond age 65. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services could be directed to establish a new entitlement program giving us free “cancer stamps” redeemable to fund known carcinogenic vices like tanning salon memberships, unfiltered cigarettes, bacon, and fine whiskeys. Just think of the huge potential cost savings if we all succumb to cancer before Medicare is asked to pay for any expensive Stage IV treatment drugs like Ipilimumab!

Please share your own Medicare deficit reduction ideas on my new website,

Monday, January 3, 2011

Practicing Safe Sun

Sometime soon, my wife and I will embark on our annual pilgrimage to a sunny beach resort in Mexico, to briefly escape the rigors of winter in the Rockies. I know from experience that if I show up for my spring checkup at the melanoma clinic sporting a darker skin stone than that of a death row inmate on supermax lock-up, my butt will be serially kicked. First by a nurse, next by a resident, and finally by my faculty doc (f/k/a “Dr. Death”). A phosphorescent white skin stone is the preferred alternative. Consequently, frolicking on the beach at The Hotel Melanoma presents a challenge.

My first beach vacation a few months out of biochemotherapy was a learning experience. Having had most of the pigment (melanin) cells in my entire body (of mostly Celtic descent) eradicated by an effective attack by my stimulated immune system, a few minutes of sun exposure trekking from the hotel room to the beach or pool would turn any exposed skin some very unnatural colors. Massive applications of sunscreen didn’t much help. So here are a few ‘safe sun’ tips I’ve learned over the years.

Being a red-blooded American/Celtic guy of ‘boomer vintage, let me first make it abundantly clear that I sport long, baggy swim trunks. I wouldn’t even swim laps at dawn in a euro-trash styled man bikini. I usually complete my beachwear ensemble with at least a t-shirt (who really wants to view a scarred up guy my age topless?) and often a long-sleeved SPF 2K protective shirt. I’ve even gone sea kayaking in the latter, plus ball cap.

Beach walking and swimming at tropical latitudes are best done in the early morning or late afternoon hours. Plus, nobody really cares if you’re walking the beach swathed in sun-protective gear—and if you are a male over the age of 40 or so, you’ve already become invisible to junior members of the opposite sex anyway. Midday finds me hiding on the beach under a palapa hut, enjoying the sea breeze and the abundant ‘visual amenities’ of the resort. And swim-up pool bars often offer shady spots for swilling rum drinks whenever your personal cocktail hour arrives.

Please feel free to share your own tips. Have a Happy New Year and don’t stop frolicking on your personal beach, wherever and whatever that may be.