Saturday, October 31, 2009

Opportunity Knocks

Cancer Sucks
 Yeah we all can agree on that.  It takes a toll.  A physical and mental toll on you, your friends your family, pretty much everyone that is close to you.  People don't know how to react around you when you have it, the whispers, the stares.  The treatment kills everything, even the good cells,the equivalent of  medical napalm.  It makes you tired. Radiation makes you tired, hell everything makes you tired.  After your course of treatment you hope to hear one word: Remission.

Everything happens for a reason.  Or so I am told. That is a hard pill to swallow when your hair falls out and you feel like shit from a treatment that is supposed to make you better.

But you know what, I have to say I believe it.

Cancer has taken some things, but has given me more than I care to admit.  I eat healthier than I probably would have if I didn't have it, I work out more, well, I am a bit of a gym rat lately, just getting back in to hockey playing shape, I enjoy my friends my family and well, life in general.

I love my job as co-host/producer/partner in crime on The Vic McCarty show, a job I got because of cancer.

Because of cancer I was able to jump in on a startup of an internet radio station:  I produce shows, and now I host my own show The Cancer Warrior.  I have been pretty lucky lately, good things have been happening.  Do I attribute it to cancer?  I guess I have to.  Opportunity knocked and I answered the door.  Would I have heard the knock if cancer hadn't of come into my life like a tasmanian devil, leaving a path of mental and physical destruction in its wake, forcing me to either cower in a corner, which, if you know me, just isn't my style, or get up and fight the devil,  winning the fight some days, some days losing, but eventually winning the battle.

I have to say that I have had a great attitude during all of this, I think if we all picture cancer looking like this:

it would be a hell of a lot less scarier.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern standard time on 

Check out my new show The Cancer Warrior on available on demand 

Friday, October 23, 2009

A little color can change your perspective

I am not much into fashion.  If you know me you know that, usually you will see me in jeans and a t-shirt, probably of a sports team (Red Wings, LA Kings, Red Sox, Tigers, U of M football, you get the drift) I have been thinking about what to post, since my last blog was a repost from when I was deep in treatment, so I thought I would write something new.

The picture above is from when I got my hair colored at Trillium Salon.  I was going to another salon in town, (god, from me that sounds so pretentious doesn't it?) but I met the owner Ruthi at a local event in June.  Ruthi is a cancer survivor like me.  She survived breast cancer and created a program called Beautiful Survivor at her salon.  Patients and survivors of any kind of cancer can come to Trillium and get manicures, pedicures, a massage hair cut and color & wigs, all free of charge. 

Cancer and chemo changes everything about you.  The way you look, the way you feel, everything.  Its not something you can explain to anyone who hasn't gone through it.  To the outsider, to your friends, you look the same, act the same, but you are not. You want to get back to some kind of normalcy, if that is at all possible, try to get back to the normalcy you had before.  Like your hair for example, like I said before, I am not much into fashion, you wont see me try out the latest 'do from Hollywood,  but losing your hair and having it grow back grey reminded me of what I went through every day.  Believe me I am grateful for my health and the fact that my cancer was caught early, and I am not vain at all, but my hair growing back in was a reminder of cancer, chemo, feeling fatigued, feeling crappy and all the things associated with cancer and the napalm that was injected into my veins to save my life. Thank goodness for Ruthi.  Not only did I get an awesome massage, I got my hair colored, which honestly, I didn't think would make a difference.  I felt and  looked alot like my old self.   My friends could tell the difference, my co workers could tell the difference, and my fiance could tell the difference.

Who would have thought that a little color could change your perspective?  Not me.  I guess I was wrong. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Definitions are all relative

This blog was originally written on 5/19/08.  Just my opinion, and at the time I was deep in treatment.

I participated in my first group therapy session today.
I am part of an online group meeting. We meet every Monday night. Much easier or so I thought than doing one live and in person.
Today I went to the infusion center and was in one that they have every Monday at 2pm. I have been invited to join every Monday since the group started. Normally I don't like talking about myself to perfect strangers (yeah I know I am on the radio so I do it almost every day, but this is different, because you actually see the peoples faces who you are talking to) but I decided that I would try it. Susan, the social worker who is in charge of the group would ask me to participate when I would come in for my chemotherapy treatments. Well since the medications make me fall asleep I thought I wouldn't be that interesting to listen to as I would probably fall asleep during the session. How rude!! Not my fault I blame the drugs. Anyway as we were waiting there was a lady there who was a 2 time survivor of breast cancer. She asked me if I was a cancer "victim." Ok that really got my ire up. First of all I am not the victim of anything. If you get diabetes are you a diabetes victim? Or get the flu are you a flu victim. No I think not. defines victim as "one who is harmed or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency or condition. " That could be defined as almost anything. Yep I drank way too much wine last night, therefore I am a hangover victim. I ate too many chips at the mexican restaurant therefore I am a nacho victim? NO!! I immediately corrected her and said I am a patient or survivor. Maybe she feels like a victim, but I do not. I don't really feel like a survivor either. Most people say you are a survivor as soon as you are diagnosed. I don't really know how I feel about that word either. defines survivor "to carry on, despite hardships or trauma, persevere, to cope with a trauma or setback, persevere after." Ok so I guess by definition I am, but I won't be done with my herceptin until December, so I still feel like a patient. I think I will feel more like a survivor when I get this damn port out. Ok so I digressed. Back to the whole group therapy thing, I guess it was a little cathartic. There were a couple of people there, one lady who had inoperable liver cancer and one who was a breast cancer survivor for 10 years. We all talked about our own experiences, drugs we take and our caregivers. It was a good experience. If I can make it for more I will, depending upon work schedules. Oh well my last thought is this. If you see someone,or talk to someone that has or had cancer, don't think of them as a victim, or even if you do, don't call them that, that lady didn't know me or my experiences, maybe in her mind she is a victim. but in my mind I am not.
We also got this cool book called crazy sexy cancer at the group meeting. I found a good quote in there and I will leave you with it.
"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." John Wayne said that.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

WOW!!!! this blog was named one of the Top Ten Breast Cancer Blogs by

I guess people like what they are reading.  Funny, when I started this blog it was for cathartic purposes.  Having cancer is hard, the treatments are sometimes worse than the disease, and survivorship is the hardest of all.  I needed an outlet to vent how I felt and just talking about it wasn't helping, I mean therapy is very helpful for me, but usually when you are really upset it is not during therapy times, it is usually sometimes late at night when you are going through those times where you feel really sad and dark.  That is why I started blogging.

I am glad that what I write helps people. That is very rewarding.

Here is the link to the website:

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern standard time on

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pink Ribbon Blues II

I originally posted this blog on, a while back, and since it is breast cancer awareness month I thought I would dust it off and repost.

I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer in September of 2007, a couple of weeks shy of my 38th birthday. Of course I was in the usual shock and state of panic that everyone goes through at such as emotional time but I also had the unfortunate luck of being diagnosed right before Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. So not only did I celebrate my birthday with this news I had to see that damn pink ribbon everywhere.

Now you think I am exaggerating when I mean everywhere, but there it was like a cloud of dirt around pig pen, following me everywhere. "Hey want to go to the store?" my boyfriend asks, "Sure I say" shopping always makes me feel better, but no can't escape that ribbon. Its on shampoo, soft drinks, keychains, yogurt, milk, golf balls soda cans and kitty litter, yes I said kitty litter, so everytime my cat Rocky makes a deposit in his box a portion of the proceeds will go to the breast cancer charity of your choice right??!!! I could not escape it.

TV, I will watch TV, but NO!! Every station seemed to have one of those "very special episodes" with the disease of the week being cancer. Even those Desperate Housewives had one of their own go through breast cancer. While I am sure most of America felt her pain, at the end of the day Felicity Huffman, the actress who played the character with cancer, could remove her scarf, take off the make up that made her look sick and hop in her car and drive off of the lot and go home, far away from cancer. I am sure she probably did what most actors do in these situations, when they find out that their character will be diagnosed with some disease she probably spent time in a cancer ward "researching" what its like. No offense Felicity, but a few days researching is nothing like actually going through it. (Sorry if I offend you Ms. Huffman, but your character was the reason I stopped watching your show last year, I watch TV to escape reality not be smacked over the head with it.)

And don't even get me started on Lifetime, television for women. I think I deleted that off of my cable box last year, and it was one of the main reasons why I had to start taking xanax. Sorry but I really don't want to know why you wore lipstick to your mastectomy, and aren't there rules in the hospital about wearing makeup? I couldn't even keep my earrings in and they let you wear makeup?

Its been a year now and I am over my frustration and disgust with the pink ribbon. I have actually come to embrace it. In January of next year I will be getting a tattoo of the ribbon on my back to commemorate my battle. Am I a hypocrite? I don't think so. I have just grown that's all. But take my advice. If you are going to get breast cancer, get it in the summer, far away from those "very special episodes" kitty litter pink ribbon special offers.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern time on

Friday, October 2, 2009

I was quoted in the October issue of Martha Stewarts Body + Soul Magazine

October is breast cancer awareness month. Body+ Soul Magazine did an article about the help that is out there for breast cancer survivors. I am pretty honored to be in this magazine. When I was interviewed by the reporter Bethany Kandel I had no idea that it was for a magazine of this caliber (the magazines I read are sports illustrated, entertainment weekly, bicycling, womens health) mostly sports, fitness or entertainment magazines. After I was interviewed I googled Body +Soul and found out it was part of the Martha Stewart Corporation. I was stoked to say the least. Most importantly breast cancer survivors, or any cancer survivors for that matter will be able to get info on help they can get when dealing with this disease. I am adding a link to the reporters website which will take you to the article link. In case it doesn't work click on articles. The title of the article is someone to lean on.

There is always help out there, talk to your doctor or oncologist, and there is help on the internet. If you are a cancer survivor reading this for the first time welcome to the club no one wants to be a part of and remember you are not alone.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern time on