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.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Captive Audience



Last week’s sad news of President Carter’s metastatic melanoma diagnosis reminded me once again, “there but for the grace of God go I”. Although I’m a very lucky Stage 3c survivor now in my 13th (yikes) year of N.E.D. residency at The Hotel Melanoma, I nevertheless yearn to break out of this place and run away as fast and as far as possible. But I can’t because the nature of the Black Beast is that folks like me will forever be at risk of disease recurrence and progression. Like it or not, we’re all captives of this place until there’s a “cure”. And perhaps that’s why we received the news of Jimmy Carter’s check-in with quite mixed emotions-- deeply saddened that he’s joined our ranks, yet guiltily grateful that a renowned public figure has spoken out about his disease and cautiously hopeful that his public candor and courage might bring us all just a little bit closer to the saving grace of a cure.

Wishing this blog’s ‘captive audience’ health and well-being, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Saving Grace” from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers…



I'm ‘passing’ peeping CT’s
Waiting for disease
Not believing all I see to be so

I'm cryin' over Black’s scars
Funky moles cause blanches
Wanting life between the scanning bestowed

And it's hard to say
Who you are these days
But you run on anyway
Don't you baby?

You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace

I'm living in unknown, Hotel grounds that no one owns
Blast treatments can’t atone for fry sins
There's a guard on every door
And a drink on every floor
Overflowing with a thousand amens

And it's hard to say
Who you are these days
But you run on anyway
Don't you baby?

You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace
Don't you baby?

You're strolling up the carpet
Of this Hotel’s new expansion
No bedroom in McMansion no more
And there's some quarters on this floor
They're telling you are yours
You're provident but not really cured

And it's hard to say
Who you are these days
But you run on anyway
Don't you baby?

You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace
Don't you baby?

You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace
Don't you baby?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Procrastination Rock

I was reminded this past weekend at Colorado Melanoma Foundation’s Mallets for Melanoma fundraiser that I’m a month (or three) past due to get naked at my favorite dermatology clinic. Yes, I’ve been procrastinating because I just don’t wanna go. I’d rather play golf, although Lord knows why the way I play, or hike or even pull weeds than spend a fine summer’s day under the gaze of a dermatology resident who looks to me like she’s not old enough to score a medical marijuana card from the Great State of Colorado, much less practice medicine. And thank you so much Mr. President for my skyrocketing health insurance deductible that’ll make anything they do at the clinic short of total skin replacement surgery completely out-of-pocket. So maybe I’ll get around to it this fall, or maybe I won’t until Medicare kicks in or I think I might be experiencing some urgent dermatologic emergency. And then I’ll complain about how long it takes to get an appointment.

Which brings to mind the extortion potential of a fundraising idea I’ve been mulling over. What if I threatened to post on Facebook an album of selfies of every square inch of my mole-covered old carcass and asked for your expert medical opinions as to whether any of said moles are abnormal and in need of a biopsy? Would you make a donation to my favorite melanoma nonprofit to avoid seeing such a disturbing visual assault in your newsfeed?

I know, I know, I need to take care of myself so I’ll make that derm appointment soon and before it gets urgent. And so should you.

Until next time, I’ll sign off with another ode to the Black Beast to the tune of Foreigner’s “Urgent”…



I’m lot shy, I hate blue gowns
I used to fry, don't want more treatment go ‘rounds
I ‘screen up, I won't come brown
I wanna live, I wanna shoot lower rounds

Got fire in your veins
Burnin' tots but you don't feel their pain
Your desire is insane
You can't stop until you do it again

But sometimes I wonder as I look in doc’s eyes
Maybe she’s wishing for some younger guy
But she knows, yes she knows, how to treat you right
That's why she studies in the middle of the night

They say it's urgent
So urgent, so oh oh urgent
Just wait and see
How urgent my moles can be
It's urgent

You play tricks on my mind
You’re everywhere but you’re so hard to find
You’re not warm or sentimental
You’re so extreme, you can be so temperamental

Yes, I'm just looking for some drug that will last
I know what we need and we need it fast
Yeah, there's one thing in common that we all share
That's a need for ‘screen cover anytime, anywhere

It gets so urgent
So urgent
We know it's urgent
I wanna tell you it's the same for me
So oh oh urgent
Just you wait and see
How urgent new drugs can be
It's urgent

We say it's urgent
Make it fast, make it urgent
Do it quick, do it urgent
Gotta rush, make it urgent
Want it quick
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
So urgent, emergency
Emer... emer... emer...
It's urgent

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