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, May 21, 2011

Melanoma is Like Golf

Spring arrives slowly and late at 7500 feet, so my golf season is just getting started. I’m quite untalented at the game, but I don’t really care because I enjoy the heck out of it. And maybe it’s just because I played very little golf before being diagnosed with melanoma, but I’m seeing a lot of similarities between living with a sketchy golf game and living with an uncertain melanoma prognosis.

No matter how hard and diligently I may work at it, I’ll never come close to mastering either golf or melanoma. There will never come a time when my club golf pro pronounces that my game has no room for improvement or my melanoma doc tells me I’m cured. And I’m okay with that on both counts. I can accept that my golf game and my life with melanoma are both journeys with no finish line, except my inevitable mortality due to something, and I’m in no hurry to get there.

Both games require a lot of patience, perseverance, and the ability to shake off setbacks and adversity, put them behind you as best you can, and move on to whatever comes next. I’ve been in sand traps and hospitals that I thought I’d never get out of, but I eventually did.

Golf and melanoma are both sneaky SOB’s. You may be going along thinking things are going great and are under your control, but all the while you know that a jerky swing, an unlucky bounce, or a bad scan may be waiting for you on the next hole or at your next checkup. And whenever such things happen, you can only wonder where in the heck that came from and do your best to deal with it with hope and laughter rather than anger.

When it comes to being a golfer or a patient, I’d rather be lucky than good. And luck has played a major role in my successes as a player and as a survivor.

And last but not least, waiting for diagnostic scan and test results and teeing off on the first hole in front of a whole lot of witnesses have something in common: I’ll simply never do either without experiencing great anxiety.

Putting golf and melanoma into one song was a bit of a challenge, but here’s my best swing at it, to the tune of Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River”…

I don’t know why I play them like I do
All the anguish they put me through
No more suntans, high handicap
Rarely make pars, my cancer is black
I wanna know how they'll pair me
I want to play

Take me to the golf course, drop me in the hazard
Take me to the clinic, shove me in the scanner
Scanning me down, scanning me down

I do know why I play golf so bad
Think of past years, once swung like a lad
Par is an option that I can't forget
My last sixteen holes, I do so regret
I wanna know what they'll tell me
I need to pray

Take me to the clinic, drop me in the chemo
Push me in the scanner, bathe me in the magnets
Washing me down, washing me
Drug me, infuse me, cure me, heal me
Till I can't, till I can't, till I can't take no more of it

Take me to the clinic, teach me how to swing good
Push me in the sand trap, teach me how to get out
Keep my head down, keep my head down

I don’t know why I play them like I do
All the troubles they put me through
Sixteen over, back nine ahead
And here am I the lucky patient not dead
I wanna know how they'll score me
I need to pray

Take me to the clinic and drop me in the chemo
Drive me to the golf course, drop me in the hazard
Washing me down, washing me down


  1. Love it Rich. Sounds like you have been through some weeks like the one I had last week. You have been on a roll lately. Loved the talking heads tune, and the Allman brothers, and Buffet never gets old.

  2. I have often compared golf to life. You did a wonderful job and are always in my prayers.