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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hotel Carcinoma

Today is the first day of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Although it’s the biggest cancer killer of all, for both men and women, lung cancer receives a fraction of the National Cancer Institute funding per new case and per patient death that breast cancer receives.

Lung cancer patients too often get hit with the rap that their disease was a self-inflicted wound from smoking. But the fact is that lung cancer also strikes non-smokers and, guess what-- a whole lot of cancer brands are caused, at least in part, by some bad habit or unwise lifestyle choice. (Anyone thinking about all those sunburns you had as a kid?)

My father-in-law died some twenty years ago from lung cancer. I’m pretty certain that the Army taught him to smoke during World War II when he served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper, and I can hardly fault him for picking up the habit under the circumstances. (It would take a lot more than a cigarette to get me to jump out of a perfectly good airplane when people down on the ground were already shooting at me.) Years later he quit, but apparently not in time.

Let’s can the blame game for this or any other cancer, and instead focus on prevention and finding better treatments. For Bill, and all of lung cancer’s victims, and everyone else living somewhere in the Hotel Carcinoma chain, here’s a new version of “Hotel California”…

On a dark crowded highway, cool wind ‘stead of hair
Warm sting of new stitches, raising up some new scares
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a hospital light
Lymph nodes grew heavy, and prospects grew dim
I had to stop for the fight.

There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the clinic bell
And I was thinking to myself
‘This could be heaven or this could be Hell’
Then she picked up a clipboard and she showed me the way
There were nurses down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Carcinoma
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
What a lovely case.
Plenty of meds at the Hotel Carcinoma
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find them here

Her mind is Ativan-twisted, she got the biopsy bends
She got a lot of tricky, tricky docs, for life depends
Got more scans in the morning, sweet smell of sweat
Some scans to check tumors, some scans to regret

So I called up my Doctor,
‘Please tell me I’m fine’
He said, ‘we haven’t lost a patient here since nineteen ninety-nine’
And still those nurses are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…

Welcome to the Hotel Carcinoma
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely case
They livin’ it up at the Hotel Carcinoma
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), bring your tumor slides

Bright lights on the ceiling,
Our bad habits on ice
And she said, ‘we will always be patients here, of our own device’
And in the surgeon’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
‘Relax’ said the night nurse,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’

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