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.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We Will Not Be Broken



Today’s is my 600th blog post, believe it or not. I know why I keep postin’ on and it’s for one simple reason: the badass melahomies I’ve been privileged to meet during my extended stay at The Hotel Melanoma inspire me. You may bend, but you never break under the burden of battling an unrelenting beast of a cancer. And I hope my lyrical efforts provide a few moments of respite from your battles.

For all who refuse to be broken, here’s an ode to melanoma to the tune of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Will Not Be Broken”…



Tan was then and pale is now
I found my way black and fears abound
Pray you'll someday let me go
I told you once, I told you so

Take me down
You can hold me but you can't mold what's within
Pull me 'round
Push me to the limit, maybe I may bend

But I know where I'm not going
I will not be broken
I will not be broken
I will not be

Someone other than who I am
I will fight to make my stand
'Cause what is livin' if I can't live free
What is freedom if I can't be me

Take me down
You can hold me but you can't mold what's within
Pull me 'round
Push me to the limit, maybe I may bend

But I know where I'm not going
I will not be broken
I will not be broken

I won't let you near it
I will let my spirit fly
Fly high
Oh, take me down

Take me down
You can hold me but you can't mold what's within
Pull me 'round
Push me to the limit, maybe I may bend

But we both know I'm not going
I will not be broken I will not be broken
I will not be broken
I will not be, no no Black C

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Goin' Out of My Head



This past weekend I had the great pleasure of meeting up with some dear melapals at Miles for Melanoma Chicago. It was a joyful and sometimes raucous weekend, which included the group being ‘invited’ to vacate the bar area of a semi-famous chain steakhouse. But there were tearful times as well, because the folks pictured above run the gamut of the community touched, and often hammered, by the Black Beast. A couple of exceedingly fortunate, long term survivors of metastatic melanoma. Parents grieving the loss of a young son and a daughter grieving the loss of her mother. And badass melanoma warriors in the thick of battle with a seemingly unrelenting foe.

Now more than ever, I’m craving for a cure, sometimes to the point of getting just a little bit crazy about it. So until next time, I’ll sign off with a song for a cure, to the tune of “Goin’ Out of My Head” from Little Anthony & The Imperials…



Well, I think I'm goin' out of my head
Yes, I think I'm goin' out of my head
Over you, over you
I want you to haunt C, I need you so badly
I can't think of anything but you

And I think I'm goin' out of my head
Cuz I can't explain the tears that I've shed
Over you, over you

I seek you each morning
But you just mock past pleas, you don't even know that I exist

Goin' out of my head over you
Out of my head over you, out of my head day and night
Night and day and night, wrong or right

I must think of a way into your heart
There's no reason why my being fried should keep us apart
And I think I'm goin' out of my head
Yes, I think I'm goin' out of my head

Goin' out of my head over you
Out of my head over you, out of my head day and night
Night and day and night, wrong or right
Night and day and night
Wrong or right, day or night
Every day, every, every day

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