Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interview on BBC radio program World Have Your Say

BBC World Have Your Say Interview with The Cancer Warrior Dec 16,2011 from Cancer Warrior on Vimeo.

I was honored and humbled to be requested by the BBC to speak about "The Topic of Cancer"  Here is my segment on the program.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pay it Forward

Another guest blogger.  Enjoy

My name is Kurt Shattuck and I have started “Hobby Bracelets” because I have hope.

Hope that one good things turns into another.
Hope that everyone somewhere in some way can and will be effected by a change that they might not have seen before. 
I am NOT doing this to make myself tons of money or even hardly any. I am doing this for the cause.

Right now my cause is to help a local church in Petoskey, MI to raise money for a building. They currently meet in a Knights of Columbus and are charged a ridiculous amount for one day a week. The New Hope Community Church deserves better than that. And I have seen there are a few cause’s and charity’s that could use more than what they are getting so… 

I am no millionaire, I have no inheritance and I am currently in quite a bit of debt. But what I do have is a skill to make things and market them. So, I am using my gift God has given me to raise money to help this church get a home.

Then when they have all they need for the building fund I will help the next cause on my list and then the next and the next. This is not just some pipe dream. One dollar of every bracelet sold, or item sold as I am expanding my website slightly, will go toward the building fund for New Hope.

Now for anyone concerned with the math of it all. I offer FREE SHIPPING meaning that comes out of the price of the bracelet. Then I am donating one dollar of the sale to current cause of choice. Then I replace the cost of the material to make the bracelets or other item. That leaves me with 0.12 cents if someone buys a single color bracelet for 4.50… and 0.62 cents for a two color… and finally 1.12 for three color... see I’m not planning on making tons of money for myself off this business. This started as a hobby hence the name “Hobby Bracelets”. And after selling my first 3 I realized that if I could… I could do something good with this business. If everyone in the US bought just one bracelet. That’s effectively 307,006,550 dollars that I could use towards various different cause’s… churches needing buildings or new equipment… breast cancer research… diabetes research… helping people who can’t afford to pay their bills because of hard times… helping people buy quit smoking items because saving up to get them is harder than the six dollar pack of cigarettes… starting a foundation where people can get assistance with living when the government says they can’t…

My hope isn’t just for me… it isn’t to see my bank account swell… I want to see smiles on the faces of kids who don’t get Christmas’… I want to see hope is someone else’s eyes that hasn’t seen it in awhile…

I make all the bracelets by hand myself. This is not some huge company that has machines to make them all and never will be. So even if I do sell 307 million bracelets I will make every last one of them by hand.

Although at anytime most of us can stop what we are doing and look around to see tens of hundreds of people around us. Most of us travel our lives with blinders on. I heard a song called “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath and it changed me in an instant. I was a blinded, spiteful, arrogant jerk who cared only about why God was dealing him such a crappy hand in life. But when I heard this song for the first time I instantly saw everything I was doing and who I had become in life. I knew I had more to give than what I was.

I am writing this as a blog for the first blog I have ever written. I didn’t really know what to say I just kept writing what was in my heart. So I hope anyone who reads this can see the passion and drive that I have to help and will at least take a look at my website and maybe even if you don’t want one you may have a friend who likes them.

Also on a related yet side note if you don’t want a bracelet I also take donations for the current cause which will always be posted on the bottom of the home page under the donation button. And if you want to I am donating all the money I get from the ads I have on my website so you can also help by clicking on the ads.

I had someone ask me why I decided to do this… and the only thing I could come up with to say was, “because doing nothing is no longer an option.” I have had this ‘someone else will take care of it’ attitude my whole life and now it’s time to realize that they won’t. 

Do not withhold good from those whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it
     - Proverbs 3:27

Friday, December 9, 2011

What its like to survive

Another guest blogger. Enjoy.

What’s it like to survive? Have you or someone you really care about ever survived something that could have changed things forever?

Being a survivor sets you apart from other people in that you have a totally different view on things after “surviving”. No, I am not suggesting that we survivors are better than other people or anything like that; after all it’s friends and family who helped us survive, bring us through the hard times, and stand behind us as we continue on our journey. In a way, they survived too and are a part of the survival team. Think about it, a mom having to watch her child go through treatments for cancer? When that’s all over, you better believe she feels like a survivor also!

Survivors of car wrecks, wars and other diseases all know that they have, for some reason, been given a second chance; and I’d like to think that second chance, was not by “chance” exactly. Now my next comment is not to just show my fascination with conspiracy theories and secret clubs like the “Skull and Bones”, but I would like to think of survivors as being in their own little club too. (Unfortunately, we don’t rule the world though!)

As a survivor, first and foremost, we realize that we are temporary. No matter how great things are today and at this moment, we know that it can all change in an instant. We carry this attitude with us at all times. Whether we are at the Christmas party hanging out with friends and cutting up (break dancing in some cases), or at home relaxing with our families, our survival and what “could” and “could have” happened is always tucked away within us. We know that the unthinkable does not just happen to “other people.”

Now, this all shouldn’t read as the “poor little survivors”, because we are not “poor little survivors”; we are “blessed little survivors.” We now have a new appreciation for the smallest things, for all kinds of people that enter our life; we now take the time. That’s what it’s like to survive!

Ryan Hamner is a 4-time survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and a singer-songwriter who travels performing and speaking to those affected by cancer. Please check out his new song, “Survivors Survive” online at and learn about his community for cancer survivors at .

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flip the switch

I had an appointment with the doctor the other day.  My general practioner.  Regular checkup.  My doc always asks about my meds, my moods.  Told her sometimes I feel down. Yeah I get depressed.

Sometimes I can snap out of it pretty easily, sometimes I can't.

This was one of those times I couldn't.

I wish I could figure out what brings my mood down.

Some days it seems like it comes out of nowhere, and suddenly I am deeply entrenched in emotions that make no sense to me, but sometimes they do.

It can come in waves, like one moment I am fine the next I am not.

Its worse when your alone, or at night, when there is nothing but your own thoughts surrounding you.

I guess its no wonder that it is hard for me to fall asleep because when I feel this way all I do is think about the things that bother me, or what is upsetting me.

The thing that really gets to me is how I can be fine, then just feel totally steeped in it.

Its inexplicable really, unless you have been there, and if you are reading this I hope you never have been.

I recall one of the times that I felt the worst was right before the carcinista had passed.  That was end of April early May of this year.  I was at a friends house apologizing for the way I had acted, another wonderful thing about this mental condition of mine, I have a tendency to lash out at people that I care about, do and say shit that is totally out of character for me.  I don't recall exactly what the conversation was about but I know I was in a dark place and I felt utterly lost.

Its not something you can just snap out of.

So I try to make sense of it all. Figure out what gets me down.

Ultimately I have no idea.

Right now I am feeling pretty fucking good, and man I love this feeling,

The feeling I had before cancer, before Sept 18, 2007.

Then I wonder when my brain chemistry is going to go askew and flip that switch.

Lyrics from Pink's song Perfect:

You're so mean, 
When you talk, about yourself,
 you were wrong, 
Change the voices in your head
make them like you instead  

If only it was as easy as the song makes it out to be.

I will continue on the fight against my own mind, when the depression hits, when the switch is flipped, I gotta find the right trigger to put it back.

Until then I will continue to advocate, blog about it,try to destigmatize it.

That's the only thing I can do.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Famous Athletes who Managed to Beat Cancer

 Another Guest Blogger.  Enjoy


 10 Famous Athletes Who Managed to Beat Cancer

The recent revelation that Eagles running back Jerome Harrison has a brain tumor — hopefully it’s not cancerous — underscores the reality that athletes are just like you and I. They suffer through the same traumas and dramas, and are vulnerable to the general unpredictability of life. Despite their physical and mental toughness, each of which they’ve forged through years of athletic competition, nothing can prepare them for undertaking the fights of their lives. The following athletes accepted the challenge presented by cancer, triumphantly defeating it as we cheered them on. Not all athletes are role models, but these guys — just a handful of the many cancer survivors in sports — exhibited traits everyone should emulate.
  1. Mario Lemieux, Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Unquestionably one of the best hockey players to ever lace up the skates, Lemieux’s health was his most fierce rival. During his career, he battled chronic back pain, chronic tendinitis, a spinal disc herniation, and most daunting, Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Diagnosed during the 1992-93 season, in which he was on pace to eclipse the single-season goal and points records, he was sidelined for two months as he underwent aggressive radiation treatments. Incredibly, he played on the last day of the treatments, scoring a goal and tallying an assist against the Flyers.
  2. Saku Koivu, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Most 26-year-old athletes are entering the primes of their careers — Koivu, instead, simply wanted to stay alive. As with Lemieux and many other players in the intensely physical sport of hockey, he constantly battled injuries, which, in a way, may have prepared him for his bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While on a flight to the U.S. from Finland, he experienced tremendous stomach pain and vomiting — clear signs that something wasn’t right. As a result, he received aggressive treatment with radiation and drugs, causing him to lose significant amounts of weight and energy. With the motivation provided by the support of fellow athletes who endured the disease, he managed to return before the end of the 2001-02 season. He helped the Canadiens reach the playoffs, and played the best hockey of his career — to that point — the following season.
  3. John Cullen, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    The length at which a cancer patient is required to fight the disease varies. Cullen’s harrowing 18-month battle included numerous peaks and valleys, none of which disrupted his focus. Initially, a baseball-sized tumor was found in his chest, but chemotherapy treatments eliminated it in just a few months. Because cancer cells were still present in his body, he sat out the 1997-98 season to continue his fight. During that time, he suffered cardiac arrest — needing a defibrillator to revive him — and he later received a bone marrow transplant, which severely weakened him. His hockey career wasn’t over, however. When he was declared cancer free, he trained for a comeback, eventually signing with the Lightning.
  4. Jessica Breland, Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    It’s difficult not to concede that women are the stronger humans. Breland is proof, as she too successfully defeated Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma while she was just 21-years-old. A student at the North Carolina at the time, she spent six months receiving chemotherapy treatments, missing the entire 2009-10 season. The Tar Heels leading scorer and rebounder in 2008-09 returned for her redshirt senior season, performing well enough garner a selection in the WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx, which traded her to the New York Liberty.
  5. Edna Campbell, breast cancer

    Breast cancer in the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women. Most of us personally know a woman who has dealt with the disease, whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or acquaintance. Campbell certainly touched the lives of her teammates and fans as she battled the disease during her fourth season in the league. Incredibly, she continued to play through her treatments, serving as inspiration to the many women in her situation. Through the years, the WNBA has had a close relationship with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, utilizing its players to promote awareness of the disease. Campbell became the league’s national spokesperson for the effort, a job she embraced.
  6. Brett Butler, throat cancer

    A former chewer of tobacco, Butler was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils during the latter of stages of his accomplished Major League career. After having a tonsil removed due to what the doctors thought was an infection, it was found to be cancerous, and he was forced to sit out while undergoing intensive treatment. Sidelined in May, he returned in September, finishing the season in which he encountered the biggest obstacle of his life. The 39-year-old went on to play one more season in the Majors.
  7. Andres Galarraga, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Coming off of three consecutive seasons in which he hit 40 or more homeruns, Galaragga was enjoying the greatest success of his baseball career. However, just prior to the 1999 season, he experienced nagging back pain that wouldn’t go away. It turned out to be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he missed the entire season as he underwent chemotherapy treatment. On Opening Day in 2000, he returned to hit a game-winning homerun, setting the tone for an unexpectedly successful season in which he made his fifth career All-Star appearance and won the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
  8. Jon Lester, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    In 2006, the Red Sox prospect earned a promotion to the big leagues, but his rookie season was disrupted as he was faced with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During a late-season game, he was scratched from a start due to a sore back, which he thought was caused by a car accident that occurred a month earlier. Enlarged lymph nodes and subsequent tests indicated it was more serious, and he received chemotherapy treatments during the offseason. Fortunately for Lester, it was gone before the 2007 season, enabling him to work his way back up to the bigs. The payoff was huge, as he won the clinching game of the World Series.
  9. Mark Herzlich, bone cancer

    Herzlich’s senior season at Boston College was supposed to be an audition for the NFL — a chance to catapult himself into the first round. In the previous season, the linebacker made major strides, receiving First-team All-American honors. Seemingly indestructible, he shocked Eagles fans when he revealed prior to the season that he had Ewing’s sarcoma. Just a few weeks into the season, and four months after the diagnosis, he declared that he was cancer free. He then focused on preparing for the 2010 season — he eventually started all 13 games and recorded 65 tackles. He was signed by the Giants before the 2011 NFL season, and he remains on the team’s 53-man roster.
  10. Lance Armstrong, testicular cancer

    At the age of 25, well-before he fulfilled is cycling potential, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three Embryonal carcinoma. Because the cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, and abdomen, he was forced to immediately undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Even after the exhaustive response, he was given just a 40% chance of survival. He chose to undergo an alternative form of treatment that would preserve his lungs and thus his cycling career. Defying the odds, his cancer went into remission, and returned to training. Now, as a healthy 40-year-old, he boasts seven Tour de France victories, the most ever.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Another guest blogger enjoy

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My Dad died a year ago. Esophageal cancer. It was a choice he made. No, no, no… not to GET cancer – but to not treat it. The doctors all said it was contained and curable. He just didn’t want to fight it. At the time I couldn’t understand. Not that I do now… but a year’s worth of time does change a person’s opinions. I honestly don’t think he had any idea what he was in store for. Essentially he ‘committed suicide by cancer’. I wrote a blog about it via my friend The Cancer Warrior last October.

Boy, was I pissed when I wrote that. The day after writing it, I bought a one-way ticket to NH from TX to help my Mom help my Dad leaving my two kids at home. We took care of my Dad at home. He died while I was holding his hand. I’m glad I went. I'm glad that some of his last words were to me.

I have no regrets. He, however, did.

The week before he died, my Uncle, Dad’s little brother, came to see him, ‘one last time’.

My Uncle had just been diagnosed with melanoma in his lungs, lymph nodes and various patches on his skin.

His PET scan lit up like a friggin' Christmas tree of the worst kind.

He tried to talk to my Dad, but his cancer had eaten him alive, his voice was essentially gone. But he made sure my Uncle sat close and heard every word he said… He said,


Dad regretted his decision to ‘let nature take its course’. I’m glad he did voice that regret. It made it easier on my family to know that he didn’t want to leave us.

We just discovered last week that my Uncle’s PET scan is now clean. He’s missing part of a lung, all of his lymph nodes and chunks of skin. But, what a small price to pay when you think of the alternative.


Fight, my friends. You are stronger than you know.

As Emerson said, if ‘even one life has breathed easier because you have lived..’ you have had a successful life.

Thanks for the great advice once again, Dad, and please know you indeed lived a successful life and were loved.

About the author:  Amy Lord Gonzalez
Transplanted New Hampshire girl, currently residing in the country of Texas. Stay-at-home mom, rock star wife who makes a mean enchilada and still cheers for the Red Sox and Patriots from afar.
contact info:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hockey Fights Cancer night at Joe Louis Arena

I had Bekki Nill on my podcast last year.  She is the wife of the Assistant General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings.  She is also a breast cancer survivor.  She invited me to the Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Joe Louis Arena.  Every hockey team has a HFC night.  It is " a joint initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association to raise money and awareness for hockey's most important fight."   That is off of  Needless to say I am happy that the NHL sees the need for more funding going towards cancer, and if you can catch a hockey game in the process, well then I am all for it.

It was my first professional sports game I had been to since diagnosis, and the first game I had seen in a suite since I moved from California to Michigan.

Watching the teams warm up made me want to get on the ice and skate.  I hadn't played since March, and there is just something about the sport of hockey that speaks to me in a way that nothing else does.

Watching the game from the suite was an amazing experience.  As I sat there watching the game, the players, I felt good.  Better than I had in a long time.  I think my friend Ashley (another cancer survivor)  and I were the only ones into the game, and I get really into the game.

I honestly and truly appreciate Bekki Nill's invitation to Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Joe.  Probably more than she realizes.

The Red Wings helped me fight cancer.

Hockey helped me fight cancer.

And it still helps me now through survivorship.

As I think of that night and look through the goodie bag full of stuff I will always be grateful to the Wings, and especially to Bekki, and her husband John for what they have given me, not the autographed Lidstrom puck or the pink hat with the Winged Wheel.  

But for something more. 

They keep me skating, and advocating.

Hockey really does fight cancer.

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Humor Rocks and Laughter heals

Having cancer isn't funny.  Everyone knows that.  It's a serious disease that takes so much from so many.

I have been blessed with a wicked sense of humor.  I get that from my Dad.  I remember when I was meeting with the surgeon to discuss my course of treatment I never thought I was going to die.  I thought wait, one year of treatment would mean no hockey!  Not usually something you think about when faced with a disease like cancer.

Humor and sports.  That's what got me through my treatment and still does through survivorship.  I remember someone who hadn't seen me for a while saw me while I was going through treatment and commented on how great I looked.  Since I was working out so hard for hockey season the docs said I didn't lose as much weight and went through treatment better than most.  I said "Cancer is the best diet I ever had!"  Some of those around me were shocked by what I said.  But I know that my sense of humor was going to get me through this.

That is why I love Save the Ta-tas and their message.  It makes me laugh, it brings awareness, and they donate proceeds to various charitable organizations.  Did you know that they have donated $690,0000 to charity to date?  This means that your purchase can help others.  Find out more on the Save the ta-tas site.

Because of the generosity of  Julia Fikse of Save the ta-tas I was able to pick out a shirt and one of my readers will win it. (just post a comment why you like the ta-tas brand) I am hoping that the sense of humor will help you through your survivorship as it did mine. 

Imagine a world without cancer.

I can.

Can you?

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Transformation, turning points and clarity in life.

A guest post from Mr. Wonderful

Well here we are, coming close to the end of September. Have you heard? It's Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! There's a lot to know about ovarian cancer and cancer awareness in general. But, I would like to share something a little different today. Two stories about how ovarian cancer has change my life: the first, about my wife, Sarah Sadtler Feather (1971-2011); and the second about me – after losing my wife. Both stories are about transformation, turning points and clarity in life.

Sarah – Rock climbing at Estes Park, Colorado with First Descents, September 2010

A year ago, Sarah ventured to Estes Park, Colorado to attend a rock climbing program through First Descents, an outdoor adventure program offered to young adult cancer fighters/survivors that is designed to enable a defiance of cancer, a reclamation of life and a connection with others doing the same.

Rock climbing was definitely not in Sarah's standard repertoire. As a matter of fact, she'd never even tried it. She was scared, but intrigued. I know she was also excited for the opportunity to check off a new item on the bucket list. 

During her five-day trip, she experienced two incredible personal transformation points. Both would remain a part of her to her last day. One would give her strength. The other would ultimately take her life. 

It all started with the elevation. At close to 9,000 feet above sea level, the air's a lot thinner than where we live outside of Boston, MA. Ovarian cancer had raided her body, and Sarah knew her lungs were already getting weaker as metastases were taking hold, ever so slowly. Going to the gym was becoming harder, but she still went three or four times a week. In Colorado, the higher elevation made her feel like someone was sitting on her chest. Fatigue had been a part of her daily existence for more than 4 years, but now it took an even deeper hold. Suddenly the idea of rock climbing, an energy/oxygen-intensive activity, was terrifying. 

She called me via Skype every night from her bunkroom. Often in tears, exhausted, frustrated and deeply disappointed, she would say how hard things were. She felt like a failure. I did my best to listen and to be supportive. But I'm sure I also gave too much advice, reminding her of how amazing she was and of her wonderful accomplishments.

But Sarah's struggle at Estes Park is what gave her a new strength. While she had already been through hell and back with numerous major surgeries, an ileostomy, chemotherapy more times than I can count, depression and more, this new challenge was powerful and exciting.

With help from her fellow campers and the amazing staff and volunteers at First Descents, Sarah was able to complete climbs, stand at the top, see the views and embrace her successes. Something about the physical experience of climbing a giant rock face, while others cheered her on, let her find a new strength, a deep vigor that would guide her to meet her goals in Colorado, and, later, would guide her at home as she completed her journey of life.  

When she returned home at the end of the week, she was different. She knew something she had not known before: the end was coming. Nothing could stop it. It was simply a matter of time. Her lungs where getting worse. She could feel it and knew it was time to help people understand.

But, she also had this new sense of strength, combined with hope and a deep, profound love for life. She shared this with me, with our boys, our family and friends. As she moved closer to the end, she encouraged me to live my life to the fullest, to keep going, to be strong for myself and our kids, and simply to remember her and her love in the best ways I could. And in her deepest, giving way, she especially wanted me to love again.

(You can read her Estes Park story in the following three posts: “Catching My Breath”, “Looking for Footholds” and “Storming the Castle”.)

Ed – New experiences - dating in Boston, MA, Summer 2011

I felt good, but nervous. We'd been talking all night about life, people, places and experiences. Few were shared between the two of us, but the many similarities and differences created some wonderful contrasts. 

The woman sitting across from me was a natural beauty. She was quite stunning with a gentle, beautiful face and long, flowing hair. If she wore makeup, it was very little, and clearly not needed.

Leaning forward, I asked, "What are you looking for in a partner? What do you want?"

"I want to be known," she said, gazing back across the table. I sensed a deeper meaning, but wasn't sure I fully appreciated the significance of her statement.

"Do you mean you want someone who understands you?" I asked, hesitantly. 

Her response was deliberate and pointed. "No, I want to be known." She paused, looked at me and then went on. "Lots of my friends understand me. But none... know me.  I want to be known."  

"Wow," I thought. This was so conceptual, and so far from what I might have expected a woman to say when describing what she wanted in a man or relationship. Her tone was serious, but there was something else. Perhaps a hint of sadness. Clearly something she had pondered, and perhaps had wanted for a long time.

"That takes a long time." I said. "You can only really, truly know someone by spending a lot of time together." 

She gave a slight nod. "Mmm" she said, mouth closed, with a hint of a smile.

That she said "I want to be known" was not as surprising to me as was the depth and importance of her statement. This idea was of a kind that, once implanted, remains active, repeatedly asking for ponderance. I went home that night with my mind hunting for a connection to my own life experience, searching for personal understanding. Of course this raised thoughts of Sarah.

Sarah and I were together for 18 years. She was my wife, my best friend, my love, the mother of my kids, my muse. I was hers. In our shared experience we touched the depths of each other’s souls. We knew each other so profoundly, so completely that our love felt infinite. Our trust was implicit and complete right up to her very last breath of life. 

I held Sarah in my arms as she died. Ovarian cancer had won. As she slipped away and fell limp in my arms I felt my soul shudder. Our love and trust and knowledge had been so complete. Now they were shattered. She was gone. 

I do believe the knowledge we shared will remain in me for the remainder of my days. I will always remember our love, our friendship and all she did for me. She wanted me to move on and be able to live a full life, and she encouraged me to love again.

So now, as I think of my date's statement: "I want to be known."  I think I may fully understand her meaning. And, I agree. I also want to be known... again.

Cancer awareness. Every month. Every year.

I have some strong thoughts on this subject and have posted them at Cancer awareness is important. What is even more important, and could have saved the life of my dear Sarah, is to go see your doctor if you are not feeling well. Don't shrug it off. Get it checked out. Be specific. Make sure they know how you feel. Make sure to get a second opinion if you don't feel like they are taking you seriously. YOU are the only one who truly knows your body.

Be well.

Mr. Wonderful

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hockey teams are like family.  We protect each other on and off the ice.   Many people think hockey is nothing but a boxing match on ice. To those people I say lace em up and see why you are wrong.

This has been a sad year for hockey.  Not only with the tragic loss of KHL Locomotiv team from a devastating plane crash, but two hockey players (Wade Belak and  Richard Rypien) took their own lives because of (assumingly) their battle with depression.

I subscribe to Sports Illustrated.  No surprise there to anyone I am sure.

Reading Brian Cazenueve's article about the deaths of 3 NHL players, in a few months, and the fact that they were all enforcers, it made me sad.  The fact that Mr. Cazenueve said that "A third untimely death may spur the NHL to take another look at 'place in the game"



Fighting has its place in hockey.  I am not one to disagree with that.  I do however disagree that the NHL should look at fighting as the root cause of these players tragic demise.

I battle depression.  I hate the word suffer, but yeah sometimes I do.  Mental illness still has a stigma attached to it.

Now imagine you are a tough guy in the NHL.  Would it be easy to tell someone that you are depressed?

I can tell you it wasn't for me, and I consider myself to be a strong person.

Not as physically strong as a professional hockey player, but strong nonetheless.

I kicked cancers ass, and continue to do so in this blog, and on my podcast.

But the hardest battles are the ones that others can't see.

My friend said to me recently:

Sometimes the scariest place is inside your own head

Maybe the NHL should focus on helping players from the inside out, not worry about players dropping the gloves.

Hockey teams are like a  family, and even though I am not in the NHL, or even close to being anywhere near a professional player, I am ok at best, I will drop the gloves for anyone battling depression or any other mental illness.

Even you.

Wanna go?

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 9am-noon eastern time on

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


September 18th I will celebrate 4 years of being cancer free.

Most people go by the date they were diagnosed.

I always get more introspective closer to the date of my diagnosis.  I read old blog posts of mine, sometimes not believing how far I have come, and yet still how far I have to go.

Does anyone else find it strange that we celebrate a day that changed everything?

Don't get me wrong.  I am grateful for early detection.  For my doctors.  For the planets aligning for everything to have gone well so far.  I am grateful to God.

But celebrate a day that started out great and ended in a way I could not imagine.  In a way that changed my life forever?  In some good ways, in some bad.

Coming up on four years cancer free.  I am grateful I am here, and fighting the fight.

I am not celebrating the fact I had cancer.

I am celebrating the fact I found it in time, and that I am here, and that my doctors are, in my eyes, rockstars.

So if you see me with a sly grin you will know why.

Suck on that cancer.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Its funny how certain things can remind you of events.  Smells, taste, clothing.  I remember when my fiance Doug was in the hospital and I was wearing this original 6 hockey shirt, it had the team logos on it.  He seemed ok then he started staring at it and then he had a seizure.  (That is what he was in the hospital for) 

It took me a year to wear that shirt again.  I almost tossed it out, but me being a hockey fan, well, of course it stayed in my wardrobe.

I have this pair of Merrell sandals.  They are my favorite shoes.  Not only because they signal the advent of spring/summer, they are just so damn comfortable.  I wear them whenever I can.  Biking, at work, everywhere.  I almost wore them to the Warrior dash, but I knew they would get ruined.

I bought them in the bargain basement of a local store.  I am not sure what year, but I know it was before I was diagnosed in Sept of 2007.

Now I don't remember what I was wearing when I heard my doc say "It's cancer"   but I do remember I had to get my physical the next day.  It was already scheduled for Sept 19th. I remember sitting on the exam table waiting for the doc to come in, staring down at my Merrells wondering what the hell was happening to me.

That was almost 4 years ago.  As you can see from the photo, they are well worn, and they are loved, and yeah they helped me get through treatment.

So you may look at them and wonder why don't I get a new pair?

Now you know why.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The art of language

Everything has its own language.  For example, if you were to sit down next to me and I started talking about hockey and you had no idea what a shot on goal, PIM, one timer was, you would think, what the hell is she talking about.

Language, words.  Everybody has a hobby or a job that has its own language or terminology.  My friend owns a pilates studio. Before I started taking pilates you told me well today we are getting on the cadillac and doing the one hundred, then we will do the tree and the elephant.  I would think wait, we are getting in a car and what going to the zoo.  ( I haven't done pilates in a while but I know you cant do the elephant on the cadillac, or at least I am pretty sure) 

Another friend of mine chemobabe is a math professor.  That has its own language too.  If someone came up to me and started talking about word problems, fractions or pi my eyes would start to glaze over and I wouldn't understand what they are talking about.  (Did I tell you I totally sucked at math in high school?)


There is a language I have learned that I wish I didn't know.  The language of cancer.  The medical terminology that comes with being a cancer patient/survivor.  I can talk at lengths about zofran, chemobrain, side effects of herceptin, adrymicin.  Tell you how good Biafine felt after radiation. Talk about muga scans, ct scans, insomnia, constipation.  Tell you how it sucks when I get depressed. Language.

I hate knowing that language.  I wish I was blissfully ignorant of terms like chemo fatigue, neuropathy & left ventricle ejection fraction.

But I know them. 

As cancer survivors we all know them.  Unfortunately it is not like a foreign language where you get a semester to learn what everything means.  You are essentially tossed off the boat into the ocean, where you have to swim and figure this shit out either on your own, or with the help of friends, family and the internet.

Fortunately there are enough of us out there to help if you find yourself stuck in that ocean.  The sea of words.

I'll be around to toss you a life preserver and help you out.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Warrior Dash

Before I got cancer I never understood why survivors did marathons, bike races and other endurance events taht they probably would have never done before.  I ran in high school.  Lettered in cross country.  Only ran one year.  I hated it.  Hated running.  I did better when I didn't run between meets.  Ironic I know.  We had 5 girls on the team.  I always came in last of our team.  I can't recall how I did overall.

Now I understand.

Cancer takes a lot of out of you.  It can make you feel weak in an instant when you were feeling so good.

Chemo fatigue.

Radiation fatigue

Fatigue from fucking who knows what.

As a cancer survivor I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  When I was ready I got back to the gym.  Hopped back on the bike.  Jumped over the boards and back on the ice.

I participated in a 5k obstacle course called warrior dash.  I was going to train for it, but like I said, I hadn't ran since high school, and that was oh so many years ago, and my sad attempts at training reminded me why I hated to run.  No one ever looks happy when they are running.  At least not until they are finished running.

So we briskly walked the course.  Did all the obstacles. Got covered in mud. Jumped over flames.  Yes flames.  Crawled under barbed wire.  Finished the race.

Most people were surprised that I did I 5k.  I tell people I only run when chased.

Yeah I had fun at the race, with my friends.

But the Dash meant more than that...

So the next time you see a cancer survivor run a marathon, do a triathalon, or even climb a mountain, you don't need to wonder why.

Now you know.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cruising for the Cure

I am on the board of directors for  Cruising for the Cure, a classic wooden boat show to benefit pancreatic cancer research.

I don't know much about boats.  I know I like to take photographs of them.  I am not a boat geek like the other board members of CFTC.  Truth be told I get nauseous if I sit in the back seat of a car.  That has gotten worse after cancer, and even though I grew up 10 minutes away from a lake I only learned how to swim about 5 or 6 years ago.

I don't think I told the other board members about that...

I have been involved with this organization for 3 years now.  I love to go out and advocate in public.  I love to see where, in even a small way, I have made a difference.

The boat show came at a perfect time for me.  I have written extensively about my battle with depression.  If my friends haven't read this blog they don't know how hard it has been in the last couple of weeks.  I am not sure why that is, stress of everyday life.  Maybe because I started a second job to help pay the bills.  Either way it has been a rough few weeks.

We had a silent auction on Friday, and the boat show/parade was on Saturday.  Both days were picture perfect.  The last 2 years I didn't ride in the parade, I didn't have any dramamine, and I would rather not get sick in a classic wooden boat. This year I bought some in the hopes I would be able to ride.

And I did.

I was introduced to Suzie and Bob Davies who own the boat Tango.  Suzie is on the board of directors for a local cancer charity.  It was a good fit.

We cruised around all of Torch Lake in the parade.  It felt great to be outside in the sun, with the wind in my hair and the occasionally splash of water from the lake.

I understood why Jane Thie loved boats, and why she loved that lake.

If every cancer survivor could experience that feeling, that would be awesome.

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.  ~William Wordsworth

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What is Mesothelioma?

 Another guest blogger enjoy...
Patients who come to us often have no understanding of the cancer they have. Unlike more well known and common cancers, mesothelioma is not only a pain to try to pronounce, it’s a pain to learn about. Unless you’re up watching late night TV about needing a lawyer for a mesothelioma lawsuit, you’re not likely to understand the tumor that is sitting inside your lungs is caused by asbestos fibers you may have inhaled 30 to 50 years ago.

The symptoms start small. A cough here. A little bit of chest pain. Shortness of breath. When the cancer spreads, nerve function decreases and patients begin to cough and spit up blood. It’s quite a leap from cold-like symptoms to complete neurological collapse. The survival rate for mesothelioma is often not long because it’s so rarely caught in the first stages. Patients rarely connect their cough and discomfort with their asbestos exposure decades earlier.

What’s so frustrating about mesothelioma is that it’s almost entirely preventable. Our patients who come to us did not get exposed to natural asbestos fibers camping or walking in the woods. They were exposed on the job. About one-third of all mesothelioma diagnoses are veterans who worked primarily on ships laden with asbestos insulation in the Navy. The rest are construction workers, electricians, plumbers, blacksmiths, teachers, hairdressers, and the list goes on. We have women who we advocate for that developed mesothelioma from washing their husband’s asbestos-laden clothes.

  As the outreach coordinator, it is my job to help raise awareness about mesothelioma. While it’s hard to remember and a mouthful to say, we’re working on making it a household name. The more people know about the risks of asbestos to their health, the more they may understand that their cough is something to get looked at by a doctor. If we can change cancer treatment to focus on prevention, especially for something as avoidable as asbestos, then we have done our job.

About the guest blogger: Jennifer Bingaman is an Outreach and Awareness Coordinator at the Mesothelioma Center at You can contact her via email at, on twitter @TheMesoCenter, or on Facebook (TheMesoCenter).

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Monster Within

We have all heard the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial.  Most of America was captivated by this case.  Most people are outraged by the verdict.

I didn't get into it.  It wasn't the crime of the century.  Yes it was, and well still is, a tragic story.  Most people think Casey Anthony is a monster, a killer. 

Casey Anthony has, if she is indeed guilty only killed one person.

I have a monster in me.  I didn't know I had it in me.  Many of my friends do as well

The monster is cancer.

This monster kills more than one innocent child.

It kills thousands a year.

Kids like Ellie Potvin:

and MacKenzie Stuck:
Why isn't there coverage every night on the major news channels about this?  Why doesn't the fact that a disease takes so much from so many, kids as well as adults, get broadcast every night?

Where is the outrage?

There is no tangible villain to see, no young mother who would rather party than spend time with her daughter.  No person we can look at and hate.  No one to get angry at.

Like I have said.  I was not captivated by the trial.  I am not outraged by the verdict.  When I look at Casey Anthony I don't see someone scary.

The monster with in me:  (that is a breast cancer cell pictured below)

 potentially in all of us, is a hell of a lot scarier.

Film at 11?

Probably not..

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Not really much of a choice is it?

Side effects.

The bain of my existance.

I was getting back to feeling like me after I had upped my anti depressant medication.  The new dosage makes me tired. Like I want to nap tired.  Not that naps are a bad thing mind you, but wanting to nap everyday is.

I first thought I was tired because of how early I get up for my job, but medication tired is different than regular tired or lack of sleep tired. 


Some days its hard dealing with these side effects.  I put cancer out of my head then it creeps back in in these subtle ways.  Being tired from my medication is another reminder.  Fighting to stay awake reminds me.

Its not like I have a choice.  I can't go off of my meds.  I upped my dosage to put me back to normal.  Because I didn't want to spiral downward again. That is a place I do not want to go to. A place I cannot go to.

So I struggle yet again, with an inner battle. Hoping that it will slowly dissipate, and I will be less tired.

Hoping this will be the last side effect I will have to deal with for a while.

Oprah Winfrey said "Where there is no struggle, there is no strength."

Yeah, but I am sick of being so damn strong all the time...

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With The Net

 Another guest blogger. Enjoy

There are a lot of things I don't like about Facebook, Twitter and the Internet.

I don't like how the Internet splits up our information source--so instead of everyone reading a headline and then forming opinions on it, we get news from so many separate and sometimes unequal places of knowledge (Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, CNN) that the credibility of the facts we get are oftentimes up for grabs.

I don't like that search engines--like Google for example--apparently track the kind of links we click on, keep score, and then "feed" us what they think we want to read when we next search a topic. The engines filter our information based on our past choices, which is okay if there's a disclaimer on top of the screen that says "Hey, I'm giving you this because you last clicked "Paris Hilton" when you were eating that gallon of ice cream and having a down day about your break up when you last searched Paris. Do you really want me to send you to a similar kind of meaningless, airy website about an heiress who does mindless things with her millions with today's new search for "Paris" or do you want to learn about the real city, its history and culture?"

All of this means you and I may not get the same knowledge about politics or food or what's going on in Afghanistan--and that leads to a much grander worry that the world will become more separate than equal. And now that I've scared you, let me tell you what I love about Facebook, Twitter and the Internet. I love--and I mean LOVE--that I can reach out to people all over the world in a moment of fear and doubt and get help when I need it. Like this week for example--

when I got an email about a doctor in Texas who allegedly has the "cure" for cancer, but--and this is where it gets scary for me--has been allegedly "suppressed" by the FDA and the government. Talk about hitting me in my sweet spot--I got so worried and upset I spent three hours googling, searching and otherwise trying to find out who this doctor is and what his treatments are--and worse, if I've been sold a bill of goods by the entire medical establishment over these last 7 years as I try to (now) beat back metastatic breast cancer at age 45.

I'm still working on that last part--I have no idea what to say about Dr. Burzynski and his antineoplastons. I'll keep googling--and asking questions, and using the Internet to help me separate fact from fiction. And for that I am FOREVER grateful for cyberspace and all of our choices out there--whether I've been handed them on a silver search platter or not.

But I absolutely LOVE Facebook, Twitter and the Internet for this one reason--my friends out there who are helping me weigh in on this huge, important, life-in-the-balance matter by reading what I post, doing their own research and then commenting and helping me figure this mess out. I know our IT World is a crazy one--full of potential misrepresentations, mistakes and misnomers--

but knowing I have people from San Francisco to an island 20 miles off the coast of Maine helping me figure out my scared-out-of-my-wits fears-for-my-life makes me feel like I am not alone--that I can do this, I will figure it out.

And if that's the price I pay for spliced up news and misdirected cyber information, I'll pay that bill-- all day long.

About the Guest blogger: Ann Murray Paige is the author of 'pink tips. breast cancer advice from someone who's been there,' available at  She is an award-winning writer, co-founder of the breast cancer non-profit Project Pink, mother, wife, blogger and breast cancer fighter now battling metastatic breast cancer.  Read her blog, "Ann's Diary" at

Monday, June 13, 2011

Out of your comfort zone

Everything about cancer takes you out of your comfort zone.

When I heard those words "It's cancer"  my life changed forever, for good and for bad.

Bad, well, because cancer sucks, and the treatment and side effects are worse than the disease.

Good because of the friends I have made, the better person I have become, the voice it has given me.

Work recently did a team building day retreat at a local camp.  It had a rock climbing wall and other things that you could climb.  Not something that I would normally do.

I tried the rock wall.  Didn't get very high.  Disappointed in myself that I couldn't climb to the top.  Rock climbing really isn't my thing.

Then I tried climbing up a rope ladder to a beam 30 feet in the air.  Looked easy from the ground.  Halfway up I thought "What the hell was I thinking??"

I made it up to the top, and actually walked across the beam to the other side.  Then yeah you just jump off.  You are well harnessed in.  Bad pr if you get injured on a team building retreat and work at the local radio station.

As I watched my co workers climb, cheer each other on I was reminded of my battle with cancer.  How it takes you completely out of your comfort zone. Into a whole new world that you are not prepared for mentally or physically.  That most of us face challenges we would otherwise would never be subjected to, and how afterwards we do whatever we can to stay strong, whether it be run in marathons, do triathalons, bike races etc.

I walked in a Making Strides walk 11 days after my lumpectomy surgery.

We strive to stay strong, because we know what it is like to feel so weak.

Some of my friends have called me a machine, because I barely stop to take a break.  I do my radio job, then I usually exercise, I do grab a nap when I can, then I am on the computer working on pr/marketing for The Cancer Warrior or my other facebook clients, or surfing the net, talking to other survivors, reading blogs and posting.  Fighting the fight.

They say there is no rest for the weary, I don't completely agree with that. I am determined to stay strong, so that those who are weary, those survivors who I advocate for, can rest.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I have an oncology appointment next week.   I think it has been at least six months since my last one.  I am wondering if I should be more nervous than I am.  Haven't really had any scanxiety for the last few visits, but I have as I have written about before dealing with depression. 

I was wondering when my slow spiraling descent downward  started.  Blogging is a good way for me to remind myself of what has happened to me before, during and after treatment.

I think it started 7 months ago, I wrote a blog called Outbreak, about how I was dealing with 4 instances of cancer with deaths, recurrances and a good friends memorial service. I am really surprised that I didn't see it coming.  I knew I was upset at that point, but to get to where I got a few weeks ago was very slow.  Add the fact that more people passed from cancer that I had met in person or online (Mandi Schwartz, Sara Feather) its not surprising I was an emotional trainwreck.

I tend to ignore the signs, because I think I can handle it.  We all think that don't we? Doesn't matter what life throws at you, the saying goes if God brings you to it He will bring you through it, or something like that.  Apparently in my case not without prescription medication.

I believe that the hockey season kept me from going into a quicker downward descent.  Extreme physical exercise and being back on the ice after so long felt so good.  But it didn't and couldn't help everything that was going on in my head.  

Great, my body tries to kill me, I survive that, then my mind turns on me too.  I really don't want to ask what could possibly be next, because cancer was scary, not being in control of my thoughts and moods was even scarier.  

I feel bad for some people that I hurt.  I have apologized, they accepted.  But still.  To not be yourself for so long and to not see it, and have the changes be so minute that others don't notice it as well?

I got mad at a friend of mine for a stupid reason. It wasn't just mad.  There were some days that I couldn't stand being in the same room.  I believe because I was in that place and I was mad at her I unwittingly channeled my negative energy and anger towards her.  Unfortunately for her she was an easy target.  

I didn't realize this until after The Carcinista passed away.  I was consumed by anger and depression and I didn't see it for months. Or I ignored it, thinking it was nothing and it would go away.

After recording The Carcinista's interview I texted my friend:  I am thinking we should get together next week and talk in person and hash out this issue we have...  I was coming off of a cold and I didn't want to spread germs to anyone else.  She agreed, she had the same idea in mind.

May 3rd was when we agreed to meet.  Looking back at that day and that talk I had with her I was then end of my emotional rope, with no knot to tie on the end.  I really don't recall what was said in the conversation (part depression, part chemobrain)  wasn't sure I still wanted to be friends and left.

Then I found out that Sarah had passed.  

Its amazing what it takes to make you realize whats important. For so long you can obsess about the stupidest shit possible and be pissed and then something like that smacks reality back into your life.  Again I texted (my preferred mode of conversation these days) my friend.  Told her that life is too short for this BS.  Told her about the carcinista, well not everything, just that a friend had passed, and that I needed time.

Eventually we sorted everything out.  I can't say if things will be back to where they were.   Only time will tell.  But I do realize now that I have to be more mindful of myself and get pissed or sad at a non response to a text or an unreturned email. (yeah that was some of the stuff that bugged me, SERIOUSLY!!)  Getting upset at an unreturned text?  Still wonder why I didn't see this coming.  Must have been the lack of neuro-epi seritonin or whatever chemicals in my brain are over or under used.  

It took a while but I figured it out.  Only took about 7 months.  Never thought I was that slow of a learner.

Jean Paul Sartre said  Everything has been figured out, except how to live.

The Carcinista figured it out.  I am envisioning her smiling down upon me.  
Happy that I finally figured it out too.

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on
Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Available on demand and also available on Itunes.