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, October 5, 2012

Lab Rat Rock

“I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.”

                                                                                                Groucho Marx

My favorite melanoma doc (sometimes referred to herein as Dr. Death) has told me on more than one occasion there’s no standard protocol for follow-up of a patient like me—now almost nine years out of a trial treatment for Stage IIIc melanoma that relatively few people have had, and presenting no symptoms of a possible recurrence. I was reminded of this just last week, when my favorite radiation oncologist (sometimes referred to herein as Dr. No) asked me when I’d last been scanned for melanoma and expressed his concerns that I was overdue. So Dr. No is sending his colleague Dr. Death a “note” expressing those concerns. And I’m scheduled to see Dr. Death next week for a regular six-month checkup. This could get interesting, and all I know for sure is that I’ll feel much better if these two come to some meeting of the minds before my appointment.

I guess there’s no follow-up protocol because I’m a lucky albeit involuntary member of a pretty small club of living lab rats, how small I don’t know because Dr. Death won’t tell me. But the longer I hang out at the Hotel Melanoma and hear the stories of mole mates, the more I realize that there’s no established standard of care for treatment and follow-up of ANY of us. It all depends on who you see and which cancer treatment center you go to. And that irks me, more than a little. An old high school and college buddy of mine, who’s now on the faculty of a leading medical school, once told me that too much of what physicians do is based more on habit and tradition than on any hard evidence it’s the right or effective thing to do. (He obviously turned out better than me, as nearly everyone who knew both of us back then would’ve predicted.) Oy.

Hoping that someday soon the melanoma medics will get their act together and agree upon how best to treat and follow each and every one of us, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Van Halen’s “Dance The Night Away”…

Have you seen cure? So fine and nifty
’Fused me for a while for fees
And I feel cured and I’ve crossed the gloom
Yes, had moles in the third degree
Ooh, maybe, maybe
Won't-cha join your heads on way?
Ooh, maybe, maybe
Ah come on! Take a chance
You're bold enough to

Scan (Scan) the fright away
Whoa-oh (Ah) Come on C docs, scan the fright away

I’m live wire, barely a beginner
So just show that Black C's blown
I’m on fire, 'cause scannin’ shows me brighter than-uh
Anything else I know

Ooh, maybe, maybe
Won't-cha join your heads some day?
Ooh, maybe, maybe
Well don't skip those scans 'cause
You're bold enough to

Scan (scan) the fright away
Oh-oh-oh (Ah) Come on C docs, scan the fright away

Oh, oh-oh-oh oh yeah
Scan (oh) the fright away. Hey, hey, yeah!
Scan, scan, scan the fright away
Ah come on baby (Scan the fright away) Hey, hey yeah!
Scan, scan, scan the fright away
Uh, come on baby, baby (Scan the fright away) Ooh, ooh, yeah
Scan, scan, scan the fright away. Ah, no glow!

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