Introduction

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.



Sunday, July 5, 2015

For My Melahomies



There’s no getting around the fact that living at The Hotel Melanoma sometimes just bites. But my life in the ‘scan lane’ has also been a time of bonding with some of the finest, kindest and most giving and supportive folks I could ever have hoped to call friends.

I’ll be blessed to travel to Chicago next weekend for a Miles for Melanoma Run/Walk, but the event itself will just be a minor diversion from something far more important-- getting to share some hugs, fellowship, and adult beverages with some of my melahomies.

With gratitude for all in the melanoma community who’ve made the journey down Melanoma Road anything but a solitary one, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of John Mellencamp’s “We are the People”…



If you're feelin' shut down
May my thoughts be with you
If you're a black ‘fan’ bein' beat down
And shoved all around
May my thoughts be with you

If your world's gettin' a little too tough
You know our thoughts are with you
Hey, I know that it's crazy in here
And my thoughts are with you

We are C people and we give forever
We are C people and our future's written
On the skin, on the skin

If you are one of the mole-less
May our thoughts be with you
If you are scared and alone
You know our thoughts are with you

If you are one of the fortunate ones
We all know it's lonely up there
We understand that nobody's got it made
So our thoughts are with you

We are C people and we give forever
We are C people and our future's written
On the skin, on the skin

See yourself as a leader
May my thoughts be with you
If you try to divide and conquer
We'll rise up against you

We know some of the strong won’t survive
But the meek will not bear it
So if you've got a coat of arms, oh friend
I suggest we wear it

We are C people and we give forever
We are C people and our future's written
On the skin, on the skin

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Shook Me



An excerpt from my very first blog post, which needed a song…

“On the way-too-early morning of September 15, 2003, I checked into the university hospital’s critical care oncology unit to begin my first of four rounds of biochemotherapy. After nearly three months of diagnostic work and surgery, I was ready to finally do something, perhaps anything, to start putting up a fight. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today.

I really didn’t have a clue what was in store for me over the course of the next five in-patient days. That’s not because the nice folks at the clinic didn’t tell me all about it, because they most certainly did. Call it a healthy state of denial born from desperation. I was so scared of the alternative, i.e. likely and imminent death, that I’d probably have swallowed plutonium if that’d been the recommended treatment regimen.

A couple of hours or so into the initial blast infusion, the sense of bravado was way gone. Had I been physically capable of doing so, I probably would’ve high-tailed it out of there never to return. I’ll spare you the details of the brutally toxic side effects of this treatment. Suffice it to say there’s a good reason they only do this on an inpatient basis, which allows constant monitoring and treatment of side effects; otherwise you’d probably die. A fine nurse named Johanna eventually knocked me out with a nice dose of Demerol into the infusion line. Thank you and goodbye. Unfortunately, my wife was still wide-awake and had to watch what has happening; I think the rest of the week was harder on her than me.

The week ended with nurse Johanna deciding I needed to take a walkabout around the unit, to help bring my blood pressure and blood oxygen levels up to a safe enough level for discharge. I recall slowly shuffling down the hall, propped up on either side by my wife and Johanna—both are short and of convenient crutch height—with somebody dragging the IV pump tree stand along. The walkabout worked, and I thank her for that.

I think the hardest thing about chemotherapy is going back for more. I’m still not sure how I talked myself into returning for rounds two, three and four. My best guess is it was some combination of desperation, determination, and the sense I’d be letting everybody down, including myself, if I’d failed to show up.”

And now for that song: an ode to IL-2, the primary ingredient of that biochemo cocktail in the convenient 24-hour bag, to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me”…



You know you shook me
You shook me all night long.
You know you shook me, baby
You shook me all night long.
You shook me so hard baby
Baby, baby, please hit home.

I have some nerves that sizzle
And I have nerves that sting.
I have some nerves that sizzle
And I have nerves that sting.
I have the Ray C, just do something oh!
Oh, oh, I’m a frightened thing.

You know you shook me, baby
You shook me all night long.
I know you really, really, did baby.
I said you shook me, baby.
You shook me all night long.
You shook me so hard, baby.
You shook me all night long

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Let the Good Times Roll



I turned 62 today and am counting my blessings in reaching this advanced age. And wishing I could pass on my good fortune to some dear melahomies.

For the docs who didn’t seem to think I’d make it this far, here’s the Hotel Melanoma rendition of The Cars’ “Let the Good Times Roll”…



Let the good times roll
Let them sock you drug round
Let the good times roll
Let them make you wear gown

Let them leave you up in the air
Let them blush when skin check goes bare

Let the good times roll
Let the good times roll
Let the good times roll

Let your stories be told
You can say what you want
Let your photos be bold
Let them show what you want

Let them leave you up in the air
Let them blush when skin check goes bare
Let the good times roll
Let the good times roll-oll
Won't you let the good times roll

Good times roll

If the infusion is real
Let them give you a trial
If they got wonder drug deal
Let them be on your side

Let them leave you up in the air
Let them blush when skin check goes bare
Let the good times roll
Won't you let the good times roll-oll
Let the good times roll

Let the good times roll
Won't you let the good times roll
Well let the good times roll
Let 'em roll (good times roll)
Let the good times roll
Let the good times roll
Ooo let the good times roll
Let 'em roll (good times roll)

Well, let the good times roll
(Let the good times roll)
Well let the good times roll
Good times roll
(Let the good times roll)
Let the good times roll
Let 'em roll

Friday, May 29, 2015

Singing the Swamp Golf Blues



As this wet and chilly Melanoma Awareness Month in the Rockies winds down, I’m left with a ‘burning’ question for Dr. Science (whom I am not): Can UV radiation penetrate water? I mean, I was strolling down the par-3 17th hole on Wednesday (after once again splashing a lovely tee shot in the above-pictured bunker) and listening to the frogs croaking. Despite the fact that the 17th hole lies nowhere near a stream or lake. Did I wake up back in Oregon this month? Oy.

My ‘in-depth’ research tells me that as long as you can still see light underwater, you are still getting hit by UV rays. Plus, any exposed flesh sitting above the water line is getting hit by extra UV radiation reflecting off the water. So thank heavens I was out on the links clad in UPF-50 duds and sunscreen, as well as a good bit of mud left over from trying to hit balls off of swampy fairways. And, with little thanks owed to me, my 3-man best ball team won $4 apiece!

Pining for a sunnier and dryer weekend, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night”…



Another Saturday night and I ain't got glow body
I want some sunny but I must stay pale
How I wish I had some sun to block to
I'm in an awful way

I got in town a month ago, I heard a lotta frogs since then
If I could see 'em I could get 'em but as yet I haven't met 'em
That's why I'm in the shape I'm in

Here another Saturday night and I ain't got glow body
I want some sunny but I must stay pale
How I wish I had some sun to block to
I'm in an awful way

Another fella told me he had a swing coach who fixed a slice
Instead of being my deliverance, he had a strange resemblance
To a tan-maimed Frankenstein

Here's another Saturday night and I ain't got glow body
I want some sunny but I must stay pale
How I wish I had some sky to block U
I'm in an awful way

Here it is another weekend and I ain't got glow body
Man if I was back home I'd be swinging
Two strokes under par
Aww yeah
Listen to me huh

It's hard on a fella, when he don't know just where’s dry ground
If I don't find me some sunny to help me mend lie muddy
I'm gonna have to blow this round

Here it's another Saturday night and I ain't got glow body
I want some sunny but I must stay pale
How I wish I had some sky to block U
I'm in an awful way

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Don't Fry Day 2015



The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated this Friday Don't Fry Day to encourage sun safety awareness. But with all of the soggy weather we’ve been having in my neck of the Colorado woods I’m afraid it’s going to be another “No Sky Day”. Like, I was fool enough to try to play some golf the other day with my Extremely Senior Men’s League and several of my tee shots splashed on landing even when I managed to hit the fairway. Even the sand traps had been transformed into water hazards. And after successfully hitting one rescue shot out of swampy and deep rough I found my ball embedded in the fairway and barely visible to the naked eye. Oy.

So if this Friday turns out to be a dry and sunny day I just may risk an indecent exposure charge (as well as the opprobrium of my unfortunate playing partners) and play naked sans sunscreen just to soak up some excessive UV radiation, which at this altitude is 35% more intense than at sea level. Take THAT dear National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.

Hoping that Friday brings ‘fryable’ playing conditions, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma take on The Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine”…



Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.
I need to golf, and when the sun is out
I've got some swings I can laugh about,
I play woods, in a ‘special’ way.
I'm golf gloved and it's a sunny day.

Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.
We ruin good walk, the sun is shining down,
Always cheat when I play a round.

Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.
And when ball lies, behind a shady tree,
I move it so I’m swinging free.
Par’d be good, although I’m on in five.
I'm allowed two strokes, that green is mine.

Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.