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, September 21, 2011

So Long R.E.M. And Looking Back

It was a year ago today that I got the call telling me that I had cancer.   It was a really off day for me today and I am not sure why.  My memories of that day are very vivid and I can still hear the concern in Dr. Gs voice as he was telling me the results of my lab test.   I wasn’t planning on entering a post in the blog today but when I heard the news that REM was calling it quits this song came to mind and I began to remember how calming my sister was to me that day.  I was a mess when I called her and she talked me off the ledge as they say.  It is my most vivid memory of that day.  This was always one of those songs that has always brought me happiness and sadness at the same time.  REM was such a great band.  I still remember the first time I heard Murmur on KJHK in 83.  So sorry I never saw them in concert.  This song sums up how my year has been.  I have been so lucky and I won’t even start thanking people for fear that I will leave somebody out.  After a run of bad test/scan results last September/October, five surgeries on or around my left arm and shoulder, and nearly five months on interferon, I have been cancer free since last November.  Something I wouldn’t have bet on a year ago.  I also wanted to mention to people who support the KU Cancer center that today their application for NCI designation was sent out.  This is a huge day for cancer patients not just in Kansas City but the whole Midwest.  Some day we won’t have to travel to places like Houston or New York to receive the latest trials and treatments. 
Ok, one more video.   Eddie Vedder wrote the words to this song while sitting on his surf board in San Diego at the age of 18.  The first and third verses are true stories about his own life .  The middle verse is, well creepy I guess best describes it.  He told the story on MTV story Tellers one night how he always thought of this song as a curse or burden of some sort.  Writing it did little to help him come to terms with these events in his own life.  As this song got popular and they began to play it in concert he said people would come up to him after a show and tell him how much this song meant to them.  They told him stories of overcoming tragedy and that they felt lucky to be alive although they had no idea why they had survived.  Military vets, columbine students,, on and on people would tell him their stories.  It was then he realized why he wrote this song and that he began to find peace in his own life and come to terms with what had happened to him.  By relieving other people burdens he was able to relieve his own.  In that spirit I want to recognize my two favorite bloggers.   Rich who pens the blog  Rich you always have the best takes on events and great taste in music.  Your blog has given me some much needed humor this last year.  Chelsea who pens .  Chelsea you might be the bravest person I kind of know.  You two, MG and Tina are the biggest reasons I started my blog, and probably the reason why I will give this thing up some day.  I consider you both friends and partners in this battle.   Many clear scans ahead for us all.  This video is in HD and can take some time to load but it is worth it.  The guitar solo at the end is one of my favorites and in my opinion one of the more underrated solos in rock. 
is something wrong she said
of course there is
you're still alive she said
do i deserve to be
is that the question
and if so,...if so...
who answers?

who answers?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Well once again my blog is suffering from neglect.   Let’s get the dreaded medical update out of the way first.  My surgery August 22nd went well and I had two of my favorite ladies taking care of me for the day.  My older daughter drove me home after I was awake enough to get into her car and on the way home we picked up my granddaughter at daycare and they came and spent the rest of the day with me.  Some pain but nothing that a few percocets couldn’t handle.  Jenny took good care of me and Taylor kept me entertained.  Just over a week later I was in a cab in Montreal when my phone rang and I saw it was my surgeon and as expected the mass I had removed showed no signs of cancer.  Even though I was expecting this news it still feels great to hear it officially.   The rehab from the surgery is going well and I am nearly back to where I was before the surgery.  I also had my 90 day check up with my oncologist this week and it was very uneventful.  Everything looks good and he was as happy with my lab results as I was.  I was hoping that this would be the trip where I walk into his office and the receptionist didn’t recognize me but no luck, she still knows who I am.  Maybe next time.  It may sound odd to most of you but it will be so nice when I walk in there and it has been so long that they forget who I am.   I got the flyer that I posted above from his office.  It made me stop and think about what cancer cannot do to me instead of what it has done to me. Attitude really is everything.  It also made me think of my former classmate who lost her sister to leukemia last month.  Once again I really really hate this disease. 
The Sunday after surgery I headed out to Colorado to check in on my daughter at CSU.  A quick funny story and I am about to show my age I suppose.  I knew it was a co-ed dorm but assumed that it was like dorms were when I was in school where opposite sex member were not allowed on each other’s floors for the most part.  Well apparently sometime during the last 30 years this has changed and the floors are actually co-ed.   Two rooms of girls who share a bathroom, then two rooms of boys who share a bathroom.   I asked Sara what time I was allowed on the floor so I could come and see her room and she gave me this confused look and I now know why.  Anyway, she is doing well at school and I think this adjustment is harder for me than it is for her.  So far this empty nest thing is overrated; maybe it will grow on me.  I had a great visit with her and we did escape for an afternoon in the mountains.   On my last evening there we had dinner with some old neighbors from when we lived in Colorado and a daughter of one of my cousins who now lives in Fort Collins.  It was a great evening and both Bob and Sandy and my cousin Sarah made themselves available to my Sara which meant a lot to me.  I feel better knowing that she can call some of our old friends or a family member if she ever needs something.  It gives a nervous dad peace of mind.  She joined a sorority this week and is pretty excited about that.  Not sure how I feel about it but she was quick to point out that they have the highest GPA on campus which she knows will calm my fears.  I am trying to not remember my freshman year and the things I did.  Surely she has better judgment than I.  I am really looking forward to next weekend when I am headed to Atlanta to see my brother and his family.  It has been way to long since I have seen them. 

It’s hard to believe but I am coming up on my one year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer.  It seems like I have been in the battle for 10 years.  I think the best analogy I have heard so far is that it’s like trying to jump back on a merry go round.  The world keeps spinning even for us cancer patients and at some point we have to jump back on.  Right now it still seems to be spinning too fast but I am getting closer to jumping on I think. 
Once again thanks to all my family and friends for their support during this last surgery.  I don’t know how I would get through this without you.