As the title says this blog is one man’s effort to make sense out of his journey fighting melanoma. I have enjoyed reading some of my fellow melanoma warriors’ blogs and thought it might be an interesting way to share what this journey has been like for me. If you find this interesting great, if not that’s great also. Selfishly this is more about me getting this out and moving on from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor.

Let’s clear up a few things. Yes, I know how to use spell check and no I don’t always use it. I majored in accounting, not english. I have always been a below average writer, which is why I find the therapeutic value of doing this surprising. I think for this blog to make any sense you pretty much have to go to the archive and start from the beginning which is titled “Life Is Good”

I am not a doctor or medial professional of any type. My blog is not endorsed by any medical professional or facility mentioned in it. Every decision I have made about my care was done after careful consultation with my medical team. Decisions I have made were right for me but should not in any instance be considered right for anybody else. I don't recommend taking medical advice from an accountant.

Key West

Key West

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FDA-Friend Or Foe and Tanning Bed Thoughts

There has been a lot of talk about cancer in the news lately, maybe there always has been and I had the luxury of not paying much attention to It before.  The story that really grabbed me was about the FDA’s unanimous decision to no longer approve Avastin for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.   I am no expert on either subject but it makes me sick to my stomach to hear this ruling.  Metastatic breast cancer has no cure and this drug was the only option for people facing some pretty rough odds.  There are many sides to this argument.  The FDA felt that the side effects and cost of this drug were not offset by its results.  Much like interferon this drug was not curing people, but it was extending their lives.   Some people report amazing results from taking this drug.  I don’t believe that it’s some conspiracy by large pharmaceutical companies who are afraid that this drug could be a cure for cancer.  Nor do I believe that the insurance companies are behind this because they simply don’t want to pay for it.  I think this is just a situation where business, science, government, and medicine all arrive at a crossroads at the same time.  It’s a very uneasy place.  If this drug was $400 a month it’s maybe a different decision.  Doctors can still prescribe it but insurance companies now have a reason to not over it for this purpose.  Nobody expects them to cover claims for Avastin for metastatic breast cancer.  The bottom line of this for me is that this drug gives people in a very desperate situation hope and there is nothing more powerful than hope. 
Gallery ImageThe other issue that seems to be in the news a lot lately is tanning beds and their use by minors.  I want to be very clear on this.  I strongly support banning tanning beds for minors.  I dislike tanning beds for a lot of reasons and as you can imagine their link to melanoma is the biggest one.  Many states have passed legislation that make it illegal for minors to use tanning beds and my home state of Missouri had legislation last session that made it a requirement for minors to have the consent of their parents before they can use tanning beds.   We should think of minors using tanning beds the same way we think of them smoking.  Minors cannot buy cigarettes and they should not be allowed to use tanning beds.  The provincial government of New Brunswick launched a campaign that featured the picture above.  I think this is a great ad and not over the line at all.  I am of the opinion that if people really understood the effects of tanning beds they wouldn’t use them.  Tanning beds bring in over 2 billion dollars a year in revenue.  That’s a staggering number but minute compared to tobacco revenue.  I chain smoked for most of my 20’s and 30’s but I never thought for a second that it was healthy.  I knew it was raising my risk of getting lung cancer and that risk eventually lead me to quit.  I don’t think people who use tanning beds do so with the same knowledge.  Banning tanning beds for minors is just a small piece of what needs to be done.  This ban needs to be followed up with education about all cancer risk, sun exposure included.  It’s easy to throw stones at the tanning industry but if we don’t do a better job of educating people, especially our young people, about the risk of sun exposure we would have fought only part of the battle. 

Well that’s my pointless ramblings for the night.  I continue to feel well and am home this week which is really nice. My youngest is out in Fort Collins, CO this week for orientation at CSU.  My days of living in denial about her leaving for college soon are about over.  I had a great 4th of July, sitting in the shade and soaked in sunscreen.  I came across the Facebook page below this week/  It is by the mother of a young lady named Serena.  She is 6 or 7 years old and a fellow melanoma warrior.  She has been through 8 surgeries and endured 10 months on interferon.  I only could take about 5 months on interferon before I had to quit.  She is a tuff young lady and obviously a fighter.  Keep her and her family in your prayers this week.  They can use all the positive energy they can get right now.  As I said earlier this week on a friends post about Serena, god I hate this disease.