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, January 25, 2012

Tanning Bed Use By Minors In Missouri

Missouri House of Representatives

Melanoma rates among our young people are increasing dramatically. Dermatologist will tell you that 15 years ago it was very unusual to see somebody in their mid 20’s with melanoma. Today it is unfortunately common. There is a substantial amount of research that points to increased tanning bed usage as a factor in this increase. People like me who have battled this disease see this as an opportunity to save families from this nightmare. I strongly support banning tanning beds for minors nationwide. Unfortunately getting anything done on the national level is unlikely so we have to take a grassroots approach to this effort. Later I will be posting some information for people who want to read more about this subject but not this evening. Instead I have a favor to ask. I figure there are three groups of people who read my blog. Fellow warriors, friends and family, and people who like a good train wreck. I don’t really care which group you fit in to I ask a couple of favors of you. 
There is a bit of activity in the Missouri House Of Representatives currently around the issue of tanning beds and their use by minors.  There have been three bills introduced this session.  I have tried to summarize them below. 
The first one (HB1283) was introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes who I believe is from the Jefferson City area.   His bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. Gary Cross from Lee’s Summit.  This bill is a ban by anybody under the age of 15 from using tanning beds.  I love that this bill is a ban but not crazy about the age or the fact that it doesn’t speak to anybody between the age of 15 and 18.   Here is a link to the bill. 
The second bill that has been introduced by Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst who is from one of the suburbs of St. Louis I believe.   His bill is a ban for anybody under 16 and requires parental consent between 15 and 18 years of age.  Again, I wish this was a ban for anybody under 18 but unfortunately it is not.  Here is a link to his bill.

The third bill was introduced by Representative Gary Cross of Lee's Summit.  I have spoken to him several times over the last few months and he met me for breakfast one morning this winter.  He is also a cancer survivor and has a pretty good reason for introducing this bill.  We both agree that we need to take any opportunity to prevent anybody else from ever hearing that they have cancer.  His bill however is not a ban for under 18 but  a parental consent for anybody under 18 with no ban.  Here is a link to his bill.  I haven't spoken to him since this bill was introduced but I imagine he still feels that an under 18 ban has 0 chance of passing.
What I would like to ask from my fellow Missouri residents it that you reach out to these gentleman and let them know your thoughts on this issue and that a full ban for anybody under 18 should be our goal.  I don’t like the parental consent bills.  However a bill that bans under 16 and requires parental consent between 16 and 18 is better than nothing which is what Missouri currently has.  Remember that your average state Rep. knows about as much about melanoma as most of us did before getting to know this disease personally.  It is a teaching opportunity for us.   The second thing I would like to ask is for you to call or e-mail your own state rep and let them know how important this issue is to you.  So far what I am hearing is that nobody believes an under 18 ban has a chance to pass.  We have to make a statement that we can and will support any effort to ban tanning beds for minors.  We also need let them know we are watching this issue closely.  The Indoor Tanning Association is of course opposed to legislation like this.  It will take numbers and passion to get this done.  My hope is that if they hear from enough of us that someone will be willing to introduce an under 18 ban.  For my friends in the St. Louis area support from that side of the state in crucial.  Nothing gets done in Missouri without support from St. Louis.  Below is the contact information for the people who introduced or co-sponsored these bills.  Take a few minutes out of your day and drop them an e-mail or a quick phone call.   The need to hear from us. 

Representative Dwight Scharnhorst
Legislative Assistant:
Aaron Smith

Representative Jay Barnes
Legislative Assistant:
Amanda Littlefield

Representative Gary L. Cross
Legislative Assistant:
Jacqueline Geary
Last but not least is a link to the legislator look up web site.  You enter your 9 digit zip code and it tells you who represents your district.  Perhaps you know already but to be honest I had to look mine up. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year. Looking forward to 2012.

I know this is a little late but I have been thinking of what I would like to do this year.   From the looks of this list it’s going to be a busy year.  I am not big on bucket lists or New Year resolutions but there are definitely some things I would like to do this year. 

·         Spoil my granddaughter.   My granddaughter Taylor is amazing.  She will be 5 in April which is so hard to believe.  I really look forward to spending a lot of time with her this next year.  Watching Taylor grow is just confirmation of what a wonderful mother my daughter is and how blessed I am. 

·         Be a better father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend.   I don’t know what else to add but to say my commitment to the above statement is solid.  I appreciate all the people in my life and I hope that they know it.  I really have leaned on a lot of people this last year and am very grateful.   

·         Run in a 5K with my daughter Jenny.  Believe it or not I was once a runner and ever since I watched her run her first marathon I have wanted to run a race with her. 

·         Visit my daughter Sara in Colorado as often as I can.  I still can’t believe my baby is now a freshman in college.

·         Visit my son in Alaska.  I am really looking forward to this trip.  All those frequent flier miles will come in handy.

·         Work with my fellow melanoma warriors to make this coming May the loudest Melanoma Awareness month ever.  Friends we have some work to do. 

·         Have a beer with Rich on one of my trips to Colorado.  Rich is the author of one of my favorite blogs ( ) and is a fellow Dylan fan.   I have gotten a ton of entertainment from his blog during a very difficult year and think I owe him a cold one.

·         See multiple Royals, Chiefs, and Jayhawks games this year.  I haven’t seen a Royals or Chiefs game in two years and only two Jayhawk sporting events.  Todd I swear we will catch a Royals game this summer. 

·         Be a regular at BB’s, Jardines if they open again, Knuckleheads, and The Blue Room this year.  Great spots for live music.

·         Start dating again.  Somebody who enjoys the above activities would be nice.  All kidding aside this is very complicated now.                           

·         Enjoy the great outdoors

·         I have spent so much of the last two years afraid of the sun.  I miss being outside and feeling the sun on my face.  Just have to be much smarter about it now than I was.    A hat, sunscreen, UV protective clothing…..  No need to hide, just have to be smart.

·         Put 2,000 miles on my bike this summer.  Would love to do RAGBRAI ( but it’s probably not possible due to other summer plans.

·         Take a dip in Baker Lake in New Brunswick, CA.  I would love to visit with my Uncle Bobby and his wife Collette with my mom this summer.  Great people I don’t get to see nearly enough. 

·         I will not complain about my post interferon curly hair.  I thought I was going to be bald at one point but my hair came back thicker and with a lot of curl.  I sure wish mullets were still in, I could have an awesome one.

·         Participate in a fundraiser for AIM and LIvestrong.  Both of these organizations were great to me in my hour of need.  I would love to give back however I can.

·         Throw my support behind any effort to ban tanning beds for minors in my state.  I had a couple of meetings with Representative Gary Cross and I think there will be more to come on this.  Samantha Guild has been putting me through tanning bed school.  Where I was once just an angry anti tanning bed guy I am not an educated angry anti tanning bed guy.  Seriously if you want to find out what is going on in your state or get involved in starting something she should be your first call.

What I want to do this year more than anything else is just live my life and enjoy every day.  On December 30th after a 14 hour day at the office I came home and saw on a fellow bloggers Facebook page that a fellow warrior and blogger Randis ( journey had come to an end and she had been called home to meet her maker.  I was shocked and saddened by this news.  I did not know Randi well, we followed each other’s blogs and sent each other a few messages but I felt like somebody had just punched me in the gut when I read the news.  To be honest it scared the hell out of me.   Her experience is my nightmare.  Cancer free for over 5 years before it returned this April and she was gone before the end of December.  Unfortunately that is not an unusual story.  As I lay in bed that evening I was thinking of her family and how they must be feeling and fearing it would be my family some day.  The more I thought about it the more I realized that my fate is in my hands only to a certain extent.  If I live 100 more years or 1 more year I just want to be able to look back to this point in time and not have any regrets.   None of us know when our journey will come to an end.  I am not ready to go and cash in the 401K and quit my job but I do want to enjoy life more than I have these last couple of years.  I expect to be here for many years but none of us know for sure.  For those of you who are still reading this long post I say thank you.  Sometimes I blog to tell people how I am doing or to try and educate or inform people on an issue, other times I blog to just get something off my chest.  This is one of those posts I guess.  Happy New Year and let’s have a toast to a year with no regrets