Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend....

Peripheral neuropathy.
Defined by as Function: noun : a disease or degenerative state (as polyneuropathy) of the peripheral nerves in which motor, sensory, or vasomotornerve fibers may be affected and which is marked by muscle weakness and atrophy, pain, and numbness

You know what it feels like when your foot falls asleep?  Well imagine that intensified. Lucky me my friendship with neuropathy began after chemo ended.  I know I have written about it before, but really? After I am done with the toxic chemicals being injected into me I get a side effect.  Great. Thanks for that. A little bonus I wasn't expecting.

I started chemo on November 12th 2007 and finished up with (herceptin) treatment on December 29, 2008. I finished my chemo some time in April of 2008, I have the exact date in an old cell phone of mine,( have to get those milestone dates out of that phone before it gets tossed) My neuropathy started soon after that.

April 2008, and it just ended.  Or at least I hope.  I haven't had it in a couple of weeks.  So I guess it is gone.
December 2009~so that means my neuropathy, that tingling annoying pain sock, which was so painful at first that it was almost too much to bear, that tingling I got used to having, when I went to bed at night it would, if I was on my feet for a long period of time, would crawl up my leg up to my knee like spider creeping up its web, that after a while it was more of a nuisance that anything else, lasted longer than my treatment.  Longer than all of my treatments combined, including surgery, chemo, herceptin, and radiation. 

My treatment lasted 14 months.  My neuropathy lasted 20.

I almost don't want to post this blog, as if posting it will make it come back.

Ha ha but I am posting it anyway {gulp}

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Chart

I have been talking to a lot of survivors for my podcast The Cancer Warrior on  It has made me think of a lot of things that have happened to me.  I remember when I was diagnosed I actually thought to myself  "Well they must have someone else's chart."  Yeah right.  I live in a town of about 8 thousand people. My last name is Majoros.  I am the only Majoros in the phone book.  Pretty sure it was my diagnosis, unfortunately. I recall being really pissed at my doctor for not telling me what kind of breast cancer I had (the ultrasound tech told me  which I guess is a real no-no) at that time my chart was only a couple of pages. She showed me that she didn't have the info, flipping between the 5 pages in my chart.  Now its the size of a small book, the Gutenberg Bible of me.  Whenever I go to the doctor I look at my chart and wish it was much smaller, and that chart is only for 2 years. 

I was talking to another breast cancer survivor about her treatment, which was similar to mine, and we were discussing our side effects and medications.  Its kind of funny to think about it like we were discussing parts of a recipe, ok if you add zofran to your benadryl whisk lightly with herceptin, sleep for an hour, then repeat every three weeks you will feel better!!  We talked about hair loss, which I am still in awe of people who will go out in public with a bald head.  Those who know me know I am not that shy, but when it came to that I was.

We were talking about how taboo it used to be to even say the word cancer, it was spoken of in hushed tones.  Like you would say the whole sentence, then whisper the word cancer, as if to even speak it would bring it out like Beetlejuice.

Now many of my survivor friends shout it from the rooftops, well the modern version of it anyway, with blogs and podcasts and facebook posts and tweets.  We know what its like.  We want everyone to know about it.  We don't want anyone else to get it.  I personally don't want to welcome another person to the club no one wants to join.

Someone I respect called me a brave woman.  I still don't understand why.  I was told I had cancer.  I am kind of stubborn,  I don't back down from a fight.  If you play hockey against you know it doesn't matter if you are five foot six or six foot five, if you have the puck, and I want it I will go after it, I may not get it the first time, but dammit you will see me, you will hear me and you will remember me.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio. Available on demand now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Win great Save the Tatas gear

Save the Tatas.  I have written about them before.  I have had the founder Julia Field Fikse on The Vic McCarty show.  They have always been great with giveaways.  Now I want to pass on the giveaways to you.  I have the t-shirts, sweatshirt, and hoodie seen here as well as the magnets, bumper stickers and two key chains.  All you have to do to get one is email me at  You will have to pay for shipping, but that is a pretty good deal for a sweatshirt, t shirt or sticker.   I will post winners here on my blog.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now. 

Friday, December 18, 2009


 The original title of Pretty Woman was $3,000.  No this blog post isn't about that. Its about a genetic test that I am going to have.  The photo is of  the mutated  BRCA gene.  Many breast cancer survivors have this gene.  It is a mutation of a gene that if you have it you have it and you have breast cancer you have a higher risk of having ovarian cancer.  I haven't had the test yet.  I called my oncologist to see if I have had it yet, and he said no.  He said I would have remembered having it because it costs about $3,000.  I thought, hahaha doc you haven't seen my medical bills, three grand is a drop in the bucket. 

 I have insurance, but it may not cover it.  Will I get the test if it isn't covered?  Yes.  Why would I want to put myself deeper in the hole financially for a simple blood test?  For one it would tell me if I am at a higher risk for other cancers.  Having gone through chemo once is enough thanks.  It was a long year going through treatment and I certainly don't want to do that again, and would do anything I can not to go through that again. 

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Its not a picture of my ponytail, mine isn't as long....yet. 
Most cancer survivors remember dates very well, date of diagnosis, surgery dates, chemo dates, dates our lives changed forever and when we had to adjust to this new normal we call survivorship.  One date that is difficult for me to forget is Nov 28.  Not only is it my Mom's birthday, it is also the date I had my head shaved, because the Adryamicin/Cytoxan made my hair fall out. I still remember Sandy the nurse telling me I should get my head shaved because my hair would fall out in 2 weeks.  Haha I remember thinking I could beat the odds of 99.99% of the chance of losing my hair.  Good one.

Two weeks to the day of my first chemo, which was Nov 12, 2007 my hair started falling out.  Nothing like taking a nice hot shower in the winter and having your long dark lockes of hair come out in clumps in the shower.  A few days later I went in after hours to my salon La Dolce Vita in Petoskey and had my stylist Val shave my head.  Doug, my fiance and my neighbor Stacey came along with me for moral support.  I thought about having more people there, kind of a head shaving party, but it was hard enough to keep it together when my hair was falling out.  My only regret of that night is that I didn't take pictures of the whole process. I think it would have made the long winter months without my hair and the little peach fuzz on my head more bearable.

I am not a vain person, as I have written before.  I rarely, if ever wear makeup.  Unless its a special occasion you will normally find me in shirts of sports teams, cancer organizations, bands or the like.  Hair I think, as breasts do, define you as a woman in society.  Not having any was really difficult.  Glad I went through treatment during the winter time, so I didn't have to explain myself why I was bald.

Being bald, chemo and all that seems like so long ago, a mere two years. Just a drop in the bucket of time.  I have actually had several haircuts and gotten my hair colored.

Now my hair is just long enough to put in a ponytail.

Life is pretty sweet isn't it?

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Save the Tatas


I don't recall how I found out about the save the tatas company.  I know they were on The Vic McCarty show when I was going through treatment, and I liked their message. Yes cancer is serious business, being diagnosed and going to doctor visits and chemo and radiation for months at a time can take a toll on anyone.

That is why I like the Save the Tatas mission and message:

Laughter heals.  Of course.  I have blogged about my positive mental attitude and wicked sense of humor.  If I didn't have that I probably wouldn't have gotten through treatment.  Recently we had founder of Save the Tatas Julia Field Fikse on the Vic McCarty show.  She was telling us a story about her wearing the shirt below:

She told us this funny story about walking in Pasadena, CA and a car screeched right by her, and a guy yelled out of his car, I totally was!!!!  What a great story.  What a great message. I love the fact that they bring humor to breast cancer awareness. I am for anything that brings humor and a positive message to an important cause.

Its always surprising, when you are going through treatment, what will bring a smile to your face.  Save the Tatas did that and continues to do that for me now that i am post treatment and into survivorship.

One of my favorite products from Save the Tatas is Boob Lube.  Now I know what you are thinking and you can get your mind right out of the gutter.  It's the original breast check soap. It is a fun reminder for you to do your monthly breast self exams.

There are lots of companies out there that promote breast cancer awareness, but I haven't seen one as fun as Save the Tatas.

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

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving. A day off of work for most.  A day to spend with family, watch football and eat, eat eat.

Every family has their own tradition.  Doug and I go out to eat with his Dad and Uncle at the Perry Hotel, they put on a fantastic buffet and it is well known in the area for its food.

As I was eating the turkey and roast beef tonight I couldn't help but think what I am thankful for.  When I was diagnosed two years ago I had to give up alot in order to stay well.  I had to stop working at the serving job I had, not only could I not lift any trays because of the operation I had, the doctors told me I couldn't be there because of my low white blood cell count.  Being around a lot of people who potentially had colds wouldn't be good for my health, white blood cells fight infection, and mine being low I probably would have gotten really sick, like cancer wasn't enough of being sick right?  Luckily, as they say here in Northern Michigan a view of the Bay is half your pay, so like most people I had two jobs.  I was still able to work at the radio station.

There was a lot of food I couldn't eat.  I was advised not to eat fresh veggies during treatment, because they may not be washed properly.  You never really realize what you enjoy until you aren't able to have it.  I thought I really would kill someone for a big salad!!!  Some food I couldn't eat just because it was too hard on me, like anything acidic.  Tell that to someone whose mom makes awesome italian food!!! Tomatoes were off the list for a while.  Funny that I can still talk about food after stuffing my face today at the buffet.

I still worked but I was basically a hermit for a year.  For someone like me, not really a social butterfly, but I like being out with people, going out, hanging with friends.  It was work, doctor visits, home,sleep, eat, sleep, repeat.  Thank goodness that is over with.

I recently got the all clear from my oncologist.  Blood tests look good, mammography was normal.  See you in six months he said.  Got the same news from the radiologist, I don't need to see him until next year.  Hoping for a hat trick when I see my surgeon on Tuesday.

I am thankful for a lot of things, friends, family, all the people who have helped me through this, whether you realized it or not, thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What to Do When a Loved One Has Cancer

I was asked if I would consider a guest post.  Here it is.

I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy because it is a fate worse than death – being afflicted by cancer is to die even while you live, slowly and painfully. I watched a close friend suffer every single day after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. And I watched her die too after begging us not to prolong her agony by putting her on the ventilator after her lungs aspirated. It’s hard to digest the fact that a loved one has cancer, the deadliest disease that we know of. It eats you up alive and the most you can do is watch helplessly as they suffer and struggle to accept their fate. If you’re making an effort to cope with this disease when a loved one is afflicted, here is some advice that will help a little:

  • Know what to expect: It is going to be hard to face reality, but when it comes to cancer, being prepared is an absolute necessity. Talk to your loved one’s doctor very openly and ask how you can make them more comfortable and happy in their last days. Don’t be gloomy all the time and try to make their life as joyful as possible on the days when they are relatively pain free and comfortable. And accept the fact that there is nothing you can do except help alleviate their pain and offer them company when they want it.

  • Your loved one is bound to be unreasonable: There was an episode on Gray’s Anatomy where a man who had a malignant tumor in his brain abused his wife verbally every chance he got. The poor woman had to cope with his rapid change in moods besides struggling to accept the fact that he was most likely to die during the experimental surgery that was scheduled later that day. A doctor helps her understand why her husband behaved like he did – he was probably trying to drive her away from emotionally so she would not mourn his passing; it was his way of making things easier on her and himself; and it was a way to forget the sadness and pain of the situation. So if your loved one is unreasonable, don’t take it to heart – they are only struggling to cope with the disease and its repercussions.

  • Plan for the future: It may sound callous, but if you’re not prepared in terms of wills and last testaments, you could have legal wrangles to deal with on top of all the emotional stress and sorrow as well. Make plans for the future of your children if you’re leaving them behind and get all your issues in order before death catches up with your loved one.

  • Seek professional help if you need to: If you don’t have an outlet for your feelings and emotions, you’re going to end up affecting your health as well. So seek the support of your family and friends, and if necessary, talk to a professional therapist too. They will help you come to terms with your grief and agony.

Jessica Martin has contributed this guest post, she writes on the topic of x-ray tech schools . She welcomes your comments at her email address:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nothing to fear?

I have been thinking about this post for a while.  Something that all survivors think about, but don't want to talk about. Fear of recurrence.  I don't know ANY friends of mine that are survivors who don't think about this at least at least once. Mostly during times close to doctors appointments.  Yeah that's right I have an oncology appointment in about a week.  Although I don't expect anything bad, there is always that thought, what if?  What if it comes back?  What if the meds I took to get rid of my breast cancer caused some other cancer, yes, that's right, side effects of some of the chemo drugs are other cancers.  I can almost picture one of those happy commercials for Adrymicin/Cytoxan, (the chemo drug that made my pee turn red and made my hair fall out) with the family out for a picnic talking about A/C and happily discussing the potential liver disease and bladder cancer you could get as one of the possible side effects.

Whenever my docs explained the side effects and listed them off, I remember I said no thanks I don't want any of those, as if I had a choice of side effects, no thanks to the seizures, but I will take the chills, fever and hallucinations.

 Fear of recurrence.  It is real.  It is a side effect that I believe every cancer survivor gets, funny how its not on any list that I have seen.  It doesn't happen often, mostly near doctors appointments, especially if I get a scan or a blood test, or near the anniversary of when I was diagnosed, when I had my surgery or some similar cancer related event.    Even unrelated tests can make you nervous.  I remember when my docs office called with the results of my pap test I held my breath a little until the nurse said normal.

As another oncology appointment approaches the thought is in the back of my mind. The odds are in my favor for being cancer free, but there is always that what if?

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

Check out my show The Cancer Warrior on

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cancer Warrior on

I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well

Lyrics from a Madonna song "Live to Tell" one of my favorite songs of hers.  Very appropriate I think as a cancer survivor.  It took a long time for me to tell my story.  Vic and I talked about telling my story on The Vic McCarty show, and I wanted to but I was afraid to, it was hard to open up after every thing I have been going through.  I wasn't used to talk about myself to anyone, let alone talk about a disease that scares the hell out of everyone.  Now  its hard to get me not to talk about it.

I have often written about how lucky I am.  I believe everyone can be in the right place at the right time.  Somehow I was in the right place at the right time and I am doing a podcast on  I have only done three so far and I have learned alot from the people I have interviewed.

Everyone's cancer experience is different, meds treat people differently, side effects, psychological and physical effects.   Not everyone is comfortable sharing their story.  That is fine, I can understand that, there are still some aspects of my cancer experience that is too personal to share.

That is the great thing about my new show. I can find people to tell their tale, share their experience and help other survivors and cancer fighters who are going through similar situations. I have learned about perserverance, strength and courage from all of the guests I have had on the show.

 Their stories have helped me and I hope that they will help you as well.

Every survivor has a story.
What's yours?

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty show Monday-Friday 10am-Noon eastern on

Check out The Cancer Warrior on available on demand now.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This is in response to a New York Times article
(you may have to cut and paste this link to read)

Above is the link to the New York Times Article.  Above that is a mammography machine.  I have had about eight mammograms since I have been diagnosed with breast cancer at the ripe old age of 37, 3 years before  most women are recommended to get a mammogram at 40.  Now I am not a doctor, I have no medical background except the time I spent (over a year) going to the hospital for chemo treatments, radiation, doctor visits, blood tests, echocardiograms etc all relating to my cancer treatment.  This is my opinion, not fact.  I did not consult anyone in the cancer or medical field about this blog. The NY Times article made me angry.  Since I have had cancer I have written and spoken about the necessity of breast self exams and mammograms.  Now I don't know the background of the writer of the article, don't know if she has ever had a loved one or friend diagnosed with cancer of any kind, so I don't know if she knows the mental and physical toll it takes on a person going through treatment. I can't speak for her.  I can only speak for me.  In my opinion people 30 and above should get mammograms, and even earlier if there is a history in your family of it.  Anyone can get breast cancer.

When I read the paragraph from the article "Mammograms are no fun, to put it mildly. Like many women, I have been putting up with them in hopes that, if I get cancer, they might find it early enough to save my life and maybe help me avoid extensive surgery and chemotherapy Have I been kidding myself?"

Uh ok, putting up with them?  Really?  When I had my first mammogram the tech apologized about the pain it would cause when the machine would squish my breasts.  I laughed and told her well since she didn't create the machine its not her fault.

"Mammograms are no fun: " That is what the writer of the article says. I would take a few minutes, if that, of being uncomfortable, than the all the lovely baggage that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.

Let me tell you what, Denise Grady of the New York Times, cancer isn't fun either.

Talk to your doctor.  Do your breast self exams. In my opinion, get a mammogram.

Nothing is infallible, mammograms may not detect your cancer, but then again it might.

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

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

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

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beautiful but deadly

The photo above is beautiful isn't it? Looks like it could be somewhere under the sea, but it is not. It is an enlarged photo of breast cancer cells. It was 2 years ago on September 18th at 1:07pm that I was told "It's cancer." It seems like so long ago, and sometimes it seems like only yesterday. On the evening before my 2 year "cancerversary" I pause to reflect.

There are some of times that I wonder why me? Why did I get this disease? Why did I have to go through all the chemo, radiation,surgery, hair loss, depression, sadness, anger, bullshit of this, having large amounts of medical bills to pay, which I will probably be paying off way until I am in my 60s, explaining to people what happened, having over 10 doctor appointments in a month, waiting sometimes at least a half hour for those doctors (which kind of drives me crazy but that could be a whole other blog) chemo brain, having my hair turn grey,having my skin feel scaly, having no appetite,insomnia, being so freaking tired I could sleep where I stand (I am sure they wouldn't appreciate that at the local grocery store or walmart) not being able to play hockey for 2 years.

Now most of you who know me and have read this blog know that I have kept a pretty positive attitude through all this, but some days it was impossible to do that.

2 years, 24 months, 730 Days. That is a long ass time. I have been through a lot in that time. More than some survivors I know, also less than some survivors I know. Some people have called me brave and courageous, I disagree with that. I just did what I had to do. I have read many other survivors opinions on this, some get angry when people call them brave or courageous, that what other choice did they have? I had one friend who didn't make that choice, who decided to wait until it was way too late, I blogged about him before, what would those people say about him, that he wasn't brave or courageous, that because he was uninsured he waited and now he is gone. I am not going into a discussion of the health care debate. My opinion is this go to the doctor, get a physical, if you need further treatment for cancer or some other disease, get it, they can't turn you down, its better to be alive and broke than dead.

One friend of mine told me I am a lot more pleasant to be around since my diagnosis, I asked him what he meant and he said I don't get as upset as I used to. That is the truth for sure, but I thank the medication I am on for that mostly, but I guess cancer has something to do with that as well, I fly off the handle less.

Cancer has given me a voice, strength I never knew I had, and ability to advocate and help people. It has made me a different person, sometimes better, sometimes not.

Has it made me a better person? I don't know.

I do know this, I am grateful to be here.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Your money or your life???

Imagine this scenario: a robber comes up to you and says "your money or your life??" Which would you choose? Of course you would give the robber your wallet and hope that he will go away. Now imagine this: robber says your money or your life, and says to you, if you keep your money I will kill you at some point in time, but not right now, you wont know where and wont know when.

What would you do?

This kind of situation happened to a friend of mine. My friend went to the doctor a few years ago and through a scan they found a spot on one of his organs. He was told that he needed to watch it, go in for follow ups and scans every few months. But he didn't. He didn't have health insurance. So he didn't follow up, and now he's gone. He was well loved by friends and family,his funeral was filled with to capacity, standing room only. All those people, loved my friend and miss him dearly, as do I.

We could have had a fundraiser for him if we had known.

Now its too late.

Not having money is not an excuse.
Not having health insurance is not an excuse.
Hospitals and doctors will treat you, I think it is the law.
I have said it before I would rather be broke than dead.

Now I ask you the question again:


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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Believe it or not its just me


Why can’t cancer come with a manual? Maybe it does and someone just lost it, like that guy in the tv show from the eighties “The Greatest American Hero.” If you don’t remember the show it is about a guy who gets a superman type suit from a ufo (yes you read that right) and lost the manual to the suit, left it in the desert.
Things sure would be easier if I had a manual. I recall one person, who I haven’t seen in a while, commented on how good I looked, if I working out, nope, cancer is the best diet ever I exclaimed! I wonder if that would be in the book. The manual would have chapters on nausea, fatigue, although most of us would be too sleepy to read it, chemo brain, that one I would probably have to read over and over again, forgetting that I had already read it. Chapters on baldness, what to eat, what not to eat, and just dealing with life after cancer, that is the hardest part for me, that everyone expects you to be exactly the same, and on the outside you may look the same but you feel completely different. Cancer Sucks.
So if you are out somewhere and you find the manual, make me a copy, ok?

Mel is the producer of the Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday thru Friday 10am-noon eastern on

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not exactly with the greatest of ease, but it sure was fun!!!

This is a picture of me doing a trapeze experience at a local resort that I used to work for. They have had the trapeze up every summer since I started working there in 2005. I never really thought about doing it until I had cancer. The resort allows the local media to try it for free then talk about it on the air, (how freakin cool is that really? get paid to talk about fun experiences that you do for free!!)

Last year two of my co-workers from the radio station tried the trapeze. I was still working at the resort at the time, and at the radio station. I was jealous that they were able to do it and I was not, I still had my port in and you are not supposed to do any contact sport when you have it in, yes it actually says that in the manual!!! I was not able to see how they did, but it looked like fun, and I vowed to myself I would do it this year.

When the time came I contacted person in charge of the trapeze and told him I wanted to do it, he set up a time and I went home excitedly and told my fiance that I was going to do it. The look on his face was what? really? why the hell would you want to do that?

I don't have a death wish, I don't want to climb mountains or do extreme sports (unless you consider hockey an extreme sport) I am not one of those people who wants to do something "just because it is there."

I had seen other people do the trapeze and I saw it was safe, you are harnessed in, there was a net underneath, and sure I had to sign the in event of death you do not hold us responsible waiver, in case of emergency contact, insurance info blah blah blah, ironically enough most of the same kind of paperwork you sign when you have major surgery. So after that was all taken care we stretched and got some instruction and were good to go.

The climb up the ladder wasn't so bad, and I am not afraid of heights, but I did forget one thing before I even decided to do this. I get motion sickness real easy, I usually have to sit in the front seat of a car or else I will be nauseous. You would have thought I would have remembered this little gem of information, but no I think the excitement of doing the trapeze made me totally forget about that.

The trick they have you do is stand all the way out on the platform with your toes on the edge, grab the bar with one hand,push your stomach out, grab the bar with your other hand and then on their signal jump off the platform then try, while moving, put your knees on the bar so you are hanging on it upside down.


They said it was about momentum, not about upper body strength. Ya right, is that why my upper body feels sore today? I had 3 tries, was able to do it on the last one before the motion sickness took control and I had to stop.

Would I do it again? Probably, after a couple of months of serious upper body and core workouts and a lot of dramamine.

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

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This is your brain after being on drugs

Recently I had a routine follow up appointment to the Oncologist. I equate these checkups to getting your car looked at, just change the oil, look under the hood, you know that kind of thing. It was my second appointment since finishing up herceptin and getting my port surgically removed. As a cancer survivor there is always that thought in the back of your mind that yes it could come back, but you go through your days and weeks keeping that thought at bay, filling time with the regular routine of life. Back to the appointment, after a blood draw that afternoon and an exam the news was good, see you in six months. Gotta love those kind of appointments.

I just got a book in the mail called "Your Brain After Chemo." I got it because the publisher saw my blog and wanted me to talk about it here, I just started reading it and the author and I have a similar cancer background. I told the publisher I will have them on the Vic McCarty show, I gather that the cancer survivors who listen to the show have what is commonly referred to as ChemoBrain. I have blogged about this quite often, because it is the most annoying side effect that I have. I usually have a great memory, but chemo brain takes away from that, it is like trying to find a file on your computer, you know its there, you can see it on the desktop, but cannot access it, or you forget where you put things, you see things like that. I know this book will have some good tips on helping me with my memory. Some days are better than others. Some days it doesn't bother me at all, other days I struggle to find the simplest thing that I should know (I am a trivia hound, I have more useless info stored in my head than most people.)

I know as I read more it will give me more insight and tips. Why am hoping that this will help?
Because when I went shopping the other day I was putting the groceries away and later found I put the ziploc bags in the fridge. I am glad I didn't put the fish we bought for dinner in the cupboard.

Mel is the Producer of The Vic McCarty show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern on

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don't give it power over you

I read alot. Books, articles on the internet, other blogs. One thing I have noticed is that people give cancer too much power. Of course when it is all around you it feels like it has power over you, over every little piece of you, your mind, your body, sometimes even your spirit. To battle it, the drugs they give you can make your skin feel weird, your hair fall out, make you feel like someone else. After treatment is over your survivorship begins, back to work, back to the normal routine of everyday life, going from 6 doctor visits a month back to the daily routine of work is kind of like a culture shock, kind of like when I moved here from California.

Cancer can consume you if you let it, taking over your thoughts and everything around you. That is giving it power. Writing about it, capitalizing the actual word cancer in my mind gives it power. Don't get me wrong, I obviously know the hold this disease can have over you, your friends, your family. Some days I used to feel that I would go into work and try to hide being upset and think that my co workers would think "oh there is cancer girl", upset at (fill in the blank.) Some days I would feel like I would want to crawl inside myself and hide, like no one else in the world could possibly feel like I did. Talking to other survivors I know that is not the case, but to me that is what it felt like.

A good friend of mine and 4 time cancer survivor said that a positive mental attitude can go a long way. I agree. Keeping a good sense of humor during a difficult time like battling a disease can be hard, especially when there are bills to pay, side effects to deal with, friends and family not knowing what to say or what to do to help, and just dealing with, well, life in general. I was able to keep my sense of humor during recovery from surgery, chemo, radiation, and now just survivorship in general.

Find your bliss, find what makes you happy in difficult times. Don't give cancer power over you.

Mel is the producer of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen live at 10am-noon eastern Monday-Friday on

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just another constant reminder

I was at a friends cancer charity event over the weekend. It was a classic wooden boat show honoring my friend's mom. I got there early in the morning, well early for me on a weekend, and set up banners for the radio station that I work for and was going to do call ins to the radio station to let our listeners know about this cool event. The weather was beautiful and the boat show was a success, they raised a decent amount of money for a first annual event. My friend was happy that I was able to help out and invited me to the after party at 7pm, which was about 3 and a half hours from then. While I really wanted to go, I couldn't. While I had finished up my treatments on December 29th 2007, the side effects of cancer and chemo are still there.

We were wrapping up when the fatigue hit me. I don't usually get tired easily anymore but this sneaks up on me, kind of like that annoying uncle at your family bbq who comes up behind you and hugs you and knocks the wind right out of you. That is one of my side effects if I push myself, and sometimes I don't even think I am pushing myself until that happens, like uh uh, nope sorry, you are having too much fun, and you are feeling too much like yourself, so WHAM, there you go. The only way to counteract that is to lay down or nap. So no after party for me.

After leaving I went home to lay down. When the fatigue happens and I lay down, it is like my body is saying ahhh ok now lets try to relax, but relax to me and relax to my body are apparently two different things. I picture relaxing as just laying in bed and listening to some good relaxing music, like George Winston or Vivaldi, my body decides to let me know just how much I pushed it today, but making it feel like almost every nerve ending is awake and alive. Not easy to relax at that point, but eventually this ceases and I am able to nap.

The last little constant reminder is neuropathy. The Mayo defines it as "Peripheral neuropathy, in its most common form, causes pain and numbness in your hands and feet. The pain typically is described as tingling or burning, while the loss of sensation often is compared to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove." (Ironically I got this little side effect AFTER I was done with chemo, yeah, ha ha good one...)

Yeah that is what I have, I used to have it only on my right side in my hand and my leg. I don't have it in my hand anymore, but I still have it in my foot, it does feel like a tingling sock. It used to run up my leg and hurt, but now it just tingles and my foot occasionally goes numb, it doesn't hurt and it usually doesn't stop me from doing things, although I decided to opt out of a 5k that my friend and I were going to do in a couple of months, that and the fact I had no time to train were my deciding factors.

Tonight I will go to bed and lay there and as I drift off to sleep my right foot will tingle and be my little constant reminder of what I have been through.

I know I am lucky, if I miss a party or two because of this then that is ok, yes it is frustrating, but I can wake up in the morning and know every day I am getting back to "normal" or at least the new normal that all of us cancer survivors understand.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Seven Stages of Grief

Originally posted on STUPIDCANCER.COM

I go to therapy once a week to deal with being a survivor. It does help me, and a couple of weeks ago my therapist and I were discussing the 7 stages of grief. Let me explain how that all relates to me.
1. Shock and disbelief Well duh, when I was diagnosed I was in shock, who wouldn’t be? I was in the best physical shape I ever was in my life, found a lump and never even thought cancer. Nothing like calling the doctor for your test results and my doc asking how soon I could get to the office? I was pretty sure it wasn’t for anything good, like hey our receptionist Carla just brought in some extra brownies that she made for her daughters bake sale, would you like some, and we can go over your test results! No, they save the bad news for the office, not on the phone, so you enjoy that long car ride, knowing full well what the news was when you got there. Even the doctor who did my biopsy was surprised, he said that he had been doing biopsys for 20 years and only 5 patients diagnosis surprised him. “Never tell me the odds” I thought to myself, quoting one of my favorite characters Han Solo.

2. Denial Ok we all had those holy shit I can’t believe this is happening to me moments after diagnosis, but once you are fully steeped within everything it is hard to be in denial. It was difficult to deny I had cancer when I had a drain safety pinned to my shirt after surgery and I slept on the couch for a week because it was the only place I was comfortable sleeping. I couldn’t deny I had cancer when the chemo treatments made all of my hair fall out, made my pee turn red, and I was constipated for a week. How could I be in denial? I was too damn tired to be in denial (yep fatigue from the chemo)

3. Anger I had a lot of pent up anger anyway, from not being able to play hockey, so the fact that I now had cancer just added a cherry on top of the anger sundae. Dealing with surgery, chemo, radiation, baldness, fatigue, co workers, family, friends, and just myself in general made me pretty angry. I would get angry for no reason at all, I am sure we, being survivors have all experienced this. Being out of toothpaste would just sometimes bring me into a fit of rage. I would get angry just for having cancer, to have to deal with all of this. Thank goodness for prescription medication.

4. Bargaining Maybe if I swear less, call my Mom more and be a better person in general I wont have cancer, do you hear me God? I tried to make promises, but I still had cancer. Bargaining doesn’t work and it doesn’t make you feel any better, I think I bargained for about a week, and gave up.

5. Guilt I don’t get this one. Why would you feel guilty if you have cancer? Its not your fault

6. Depression Yeah I got depressed, who wouldn’t? I had cancer, and I was trying to figure out the “new normal.” A whole year of my life would be dedicated to treatments, that’s a long ass time. Once again thank goodness for prescription medication.

7. Acceptance I finally accepted the fact that all of this crap happened to me, and I think I am a better person because of it. Would I have liked to become a better person with out cancer? Well hell yeah, that is a freakin no brainer.

Mel is the producer of the Vic McCarty show on Monday through Friday 10am-Noon eastern standard time.