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.



Friday, October 31, 2014

A Cancerversary Song

Next month I’ll see my 11th “cancerversary” of completing biochemotherapy treatments after a Stage IIIc melanoma diagnosis and beginning a very blessed long run of NED status. But I doubt that I’ll be in a celebratory mood. All too many of the friends I’ve made at The Hotel Melanoma haven’t been as fortunate as I’ve been. Too much pain, too many unsuccessful treatments, and too many young lives cut short. And the utter unfairness of it all makes me want to ask God “WTF are you thinking?” Oy.

So when my cancerversary arrives, I don’t think I’ll know quite how to mark the day. Maybe I’ll just lay low, contemplate the journey and the roads I’ve traveled, and try to think of one good way to demonstrate gratitude for my dumb luck.

Until next time, I’ll sign off with an un-altered new song from Bob Seger, “All of The Roads”…



All of the roads I've run
All of the faces I've left in my wake
Hopin' to leave my mark
Hopin' I gave and I didn't just take
Climbing a mountain many are left behind
Chasing a dream and seeing the world takes time

If you were in my world
If you could feel all the things that I feel
Maybe you'd understand
Every mirage has a certain appeal
After the thrill it's off to indifferent rooms
After the lights the darkness is coming soon
I've done it all before
And I have gone through every door
And I've been right down on the floor and more

All of the roads I've run
All of the years that have fallen away
Light from a distant star
Crossing the void and arriving one day
Oceans of space defending the great unknown
Sooner or later all of us head for home

All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run
All of the roads I've run

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Black Is A Color Too



In scientific terms, black absorbs light and is an absence of color-- it is the visual impression experienced when no visible light reaches the eye. And black seems not to be a visible cancer awareness color in the eyes of the business world, which evidently will pinkwash just about any product in an effort to polish corporate images and sell more stuff and then promptly forget about cancer for the next eleven months. Much to the chagrin of the melanoma community, black is apparently an ‘absence of color’ even to cancer awareness advocacy organizations like the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology, which seem to prefer more marketable and happy ‘true’ colors like pink and orange.

Here in Colorado, Pinktober began with the Denver Post publishing an entire daily edition in pink, purportedly to increase breast cancer awareness but more likely to increase advertising sales for that special edition. I’d like to think the Post’s thirty other regular black-and-white editions published in October are intended to increase melanoma and lung cancer awareness, but I’d be so wrong.

But despair not, melanistas, for black in our discerning eyes is a color too; and our grassroots melanoma advocacy efforts are gaining traction and shining a visible light upon The Beast. Black will never be as pretty as pink in the eyes of consumer products marketers willing to use cancer to make a buck, but would any of us really want that?

Until next time, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma rendition of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind Of Wonderful”…



I don't breed a whole lot of money
I don't need more big wide scars
I got everything that a tan could launch
I got more than I could ask for
I don't have to sun around
I just have to pale out all white
'Cause I got me a fleet, a fleet, crushin' demon
And she knows just how to beat me right
Well my Ray C, she’s all fright
Well my Ray C, she’s clean out-of-sight

Don't you know that she’s, she’s some kind of colorful
She's some kind of colorful, yes she is, she’s
She's some kind of colorful, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahhh

When I trolled her with fried arms
You know she sets my moles on fire
Oooh, when my Ray C ‘kisses’ me
My heart becomes filled with C fire
When she wraps her ‘lovin'’ arms around me
About drives me out of my mind
Yeah, when my Ray C ‘kisses’ me
Chills run up and down my spine
My Ray C, she’s all fright
My Ray C, she’s clean out-of-sight

Don't you know that she is she's some kind of colorful
She's some kind of colorful yes she is
She's some kind of colorful, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeahhh

Now is there anybody, got a fleet evil demon like mine?
There got to be somebody, got a, got a fleet evil demon like mine? Yeah
Can I get a skin check?
Can I get a skin check?
Can I get a skin check? Yeah
Can I get a skin check? Ohhh
Can I get a skin check? Yeah
Can I get a skin check? Yes
I'm talkin', talkin' 'bout my Ray C. Yeah
She's some kind of colorful
Talkin' 'bout my Ray C
She’s some kind of colorful
Talkin' 'bout my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful
I'm talkin' 'bout my Ray C, my Ray C, my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful
I'm talkin' about my Ray C, my Ray C, my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, my Ray C, my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful
Talkin' 'bout my Ray C, my Ray C, my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful
I'm talkin' 'bout my Ray C, my Ray C, my Ray C
She's some kind of colorful

Thursday, October 9, 2014

You Give Sun a Bad Name



It’s not exactly “breaking news” among residents of The Hotel Melanoma that melanoma incidence rates have been rising for at least the past thirty years. A new study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health identifies a number of cultural and historical factors in the past century that have led to increased exposure to UV light, which may explain rising melanoma incidence rates. Check it out here.

Until the turn of the 20th century, tanned skin was associated with lower class status and working outdoors performing manual labor. But by the mid-20th century attitudes had completely reversed and tanned skin started to be perceived as attractive and healthy. This old boomer bought into the notion that you have to be tanned to look good and healthy right up to the day of receiving a Stage 3c melanoma diagnosis. And I still catch myself thinking that my new porcelain pale carcass looks sickly and I often resent the fact that melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma to boot, have changed my fun times in the sun by forcing me to cover up on the golf course and hiking trails. The sun I used to love is now an object of fear. Oy.

Let’s hope that societal attitudes about tanning start to change soon—otherwise we’re going to have to build several new wings onto this dang Hotel. Until next time, I’ll sign off with the Hotel Melanoma take on Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”…



Shot through the heart and you're to blame
Mela you give sun a bad name

A painful while is what you spell
U promised me heaven then put me through hell
Days of sun got a hold on me
When tannin's a prison you can't break free

Oh! You're a loaded gun, yeah
Oh! There's nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)
I braised my parts and you play your game
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)
Hey, you give sun a bad name

Paint your smile on your lips
Blood red nails on your fingertips
A fool boy's scream, you act so sly
Your very first kiss was your first kiss goodbye

Whoa! You're a loaded gun
Whoa! There's nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)
I braised my parts and you play your game
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)
You give sun, oh!

Oh! Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give sun a bad name
I braised my parts and you play your game
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)

Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)
I braised my parts and you play your game
You give sun a bad name
(Bad name)

You give sun
You give sun
(Bad name)
You give sun oh oh oh oh oh
You give sun
(Bad name)
Y ou give sun
You give sun
(Bad name
) You give sun
You give sun

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Singing the Pinktober Blues



I’ve concluded that there must be some kind of competition going on among consumer products companies every October to see who can come up with the creepiest and most clueless pink awareness ribbon product placement. Yesterday I picked up a package of thin-sliced chicken breasts that carried the ubiquitous pink ribbon, and all I could think was “yuck”. I mean, what am I supposed to do, perform a mammogram on those chicken breasts before grilling them? What’s next, pink ribbons on tanning beds?

Hoping that my cancer never gets this crassly commercialized, I’ll sign off with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of “Statesboro Blues” from Taj Mahal…



Wake up momma, turn tan lamp down low
Wake up momma, turn tan lamp down low
You don’t deserve baby to have mela onc at your door

I woke up this morning, I had them Pinktober Blues
I woke up this morning, had them Pinktober Blues
Well, I looked over the Facebook and mole mates seemed to have them too

Well, my onc doc tried to test me
My derm doc tried undress me
I ain't good looking baby
I'm somewhat ‘screened and white

I'm goin' to speak bluntly, baby do you want your moles?
If you tan bake it baby
Your Interferon med spree gonna flow
And I sure will take cure

I loved that sun tan, better than any onc man I've ever seen
Well, I loved that suntan, better than any onc man I've ever seen
Well, now, he treat me like a king, yeah, yeah, yeah
And C look like it all gone clean

Wake up momma, turn tan lamp down low
Wake up momma, turn tan lamp down low
You don’t deserve baby to have mela onc at your door

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Anything For A Donation

A guy who will do a melanoma fundraising walk wearing a black tutu and nail covers will, obviously, do almost anything for a donated buck. My latest Quixotic venture was to respond (quite belatedly) to a request and offer to rewrite the lyrics to a song that is, at least in my opinion, one of the worst of the 70’s in exchange for donations to Colorado Melanoma Foundation. And I got a few pledges, thank you very much, so here goes.

A song for the indoor tanning industry and its uninformed prey, to the tune of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”…



You can tan, you can fry
Slashing the time off your life
Ooh see that girl, watch that scene
Stingin' the tanning queen

Fry Day night and the lights all glow
Looking out for a place to grow
Where they prey with fright U thing, getting in sun thing
You come in to look for a singe

Anybody could peel and die
Blight of young and the toll is high
With a bit of doc choosing, it’s biopsy time
You're in the mood for a tan
And when you get the chance

You are the tanning queen
Young and sweet, only seventeen
Tanning queen, feel the heat
From the salon sheen, oh yeah

You can tan, you can fry
Slashing the time off your life
Ooh see that girl, watch that scene
Stingin' the tanning queen

You're a griever, you turn 'em on
Leave skin burning and then you’re gone
Cooking out for sun color, any ‘sun’ will do
You're in the mood for a tan
And when you get the chance

You are the tanning queen
Young and sweet, only seventeen
Tanning queen, feel the heat
From the salon sheen, oh yeah

You can tan, you can fry
Slashing the time off your life
Ooh see that girl, watch that scene
Stingin' the tanning queen
Stingin' the tanning queen