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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Problem Child

The Skin Cancer Foundation’s website includes a very informative summary of some basic facts about the three major classes of “skin cancer”-- basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.  (See  In a nutshell:
 “Usually caused by a combination of cumulative UV exposure and intense, occasional UV exposure, BCC can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow, but almost never spreads (metastastasizes) beyond the original tumor site. Only in exceedingly rare cases can BCC spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.  There are an estimted 2.8 million cases of BCC diagnosed in the US each year.”

 “SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime. It can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow. An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.”

 “Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually. If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that at present, about 120,000 new cases of melanoma in the US are diagnosed in a year. In 2010, about 68,130 of these were invasive melanomas, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.”
The medical profession insists on lumping melanoma together with other “skin cancers”.  And as a recovering attorney with a J.D., not an M.D., I’m certainly not qualified to say they’re wrong.  But a lot of we melahomies believe that we need to differentiate melanoma in our education and prevention efforts, precisely because it is far less common but so much more deadly than BCC and SCC.  (As a teenage sun god lifeguard I was vaguely aware that my excessive UV exposure might someday lead to a “skin cancer” diagnosis, but I didn’t have a clue that it wasn’t easily curable with surgery and was potentially quite deadly in the form of melanoma.)  So when a fine organization with the best of intentions-- The American Academy of Dermatology-- tells me I should “wear orange for skin cancer awareness”  to celebrate Melanoma Monday, May 6, I think they’ve shot an air ball from way outside the 3-point line.  As I see it, wearing anything but black on that day will, at best, dilute our melanoma awareness messages and, at worst, risk trivializing the problem child of the “skin cancer” family.  So I’m just not going to look like I took a dive into a vat of Coppertone QT self-tanning lotion.

Enough ranting, time for some rocking.  To the tune of “Problem Child” from AC/DC…

Cop this
I'm hot

And when I'm not

I'm cold as ice

Get out of fry rays

Protect your hide

Or pay the price

Those I want I take
Those I don't I break
And I might want you

With a fling with the fries
I can change your life

There's nothing you can do

I'm a problem child

I'm a problem child, yes I am
I'm a problem child

And I'm wild

Make my stand

No tan’s bland
On my own

Plans for you
It's up to you

The seed is sown

When I want I stash

When I don't I smash
And you're on my list

Dead or alive got a .45
And I never miss

I'm a problem child, ey

I'm a problem child, yow
I'm a problem child

Just runnin' wild, ha ha

'Eh oo

Just watch your step

UV light

C fright
I hunt for youth

Some run
Some fight

But I win they lose
When I need I hide

When I don't I fright
And I don't like you

So say bye fries
While you’re still alive

Your hide is new

 'Cause I'm a problem child, yow

 I'm a problem child
 I'm a problem child

 I'm a problem chi-ih-ih-ild
 Problem child

 I'm a problem child
 And thy doctor hates me

 I'm a problem child, oh yeah
 I'm a problem child, hey yeah

 Problem child
 Problem child

 Problem child
 Problem child

And you've got troubles, if you’re mine
Problem child

Problem child
Problem child

Problem child
Woh, problem child

I'm a problem child
Problem child

I always bring trouble/Problem child
Problem child

Problem child
Problem child

Problem child
Problem child

I'm a problem child/Problem child
Problem child

Problem child
Problem child

Problem child
Problem child

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