Friday, February 26, 2010

Light of Day

I post on several other cancer survivors facebook pages, some are finishing up treatment, some are just starting.  It always makes me reflect upon my own battle.  I know I have written about this before, but a few friends of mine are just finishing chemo and radiation.

One of my friends (chemobabe) likened treatment to a pit, a giant chasm, that is difficult to traverse, that when you are in it, it is hard to see the light of day.That is a great analogy. When you are going through chemo or surgery or radiation it is hard, and it is hard to even see the light of day.  It seems like it is a tiny spec of light in a giant dark pit.  When you are surrounded by the darkness it is hard to even imagine you will see that light, that you will ever be done, let alone get close to it, but day by day you get closer and closer, maybe an inch here or there every day. 

Many of my new friends on Facebook are just starting, and they are hoping to see the light of day.  I have to tell you this.  When you are in the chasm it seems like you will never get out.

I know that feeling.

That was 2 years ago.  Now I can barely remember what it was like.  Only when I read other survivors comments does it take me back to those moments.  I am glad it is a fading distant memory.

Leaving you with lyrics from Bruce Springsteen's "Light of Day"

Well I'm a little down under, but I'm feeling O.K.
I got a little lost along the way

Just around the corner to the light of day.

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

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebration list or a list of moments

I was recently talking to a friend of mine, and fellow warrior about how I hate the term Bucket List.  First of all I watched the movie during my treatment, got it as a screener from a group I belong to.  Sometimes they don't tell you what the movies are about.  Again I think holy shit another freakin movie about cancer, can't get away from it.

 The Bucket list.  I know its supposed to make you think of all great things to do before you die or kick the bucket.  Now I get what they were going for, in the basic sense, Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, add a bit of cancer and hilarity ensues right?  Two guys from the opposite end of the spectrum coming together at the end of their life and creating a list of things they want to do before they die.

Why focus on the negative part?  Like I said before I was lamenting about this to a fellow warrior and she said don't call it a bucket list just a list of moments.

I like that

I will call it my celebration list.

I, like many survivors, have faced my own mortality, and at any age that is difficult and scary, so I don't want to focus on things to do before I die, I want to focus on things to do while I am still here, alive and kicking

My celebration list, which isn't really written down, it is, like my friend said, a list of moments.

I know no one here gets out alive, but we all want to be a little scrappy while we are here, so lets not focus on the die part, bucket, kick the bucket etc. (if director of The Bucket List Rob Reiner were here I would call him a meathead like his nemesis Archie Bunker did in the tv series All in the family)

Mel is the producer 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 and also available on itunes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Another guest blogger.  Enjoy
Mel was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer on 9/18/07. Because of her employment, she was and is still not eligible for full health care coverage. Mel was only able to get some very basic coverage at her own expense. The result, she owes the hospital and doctors over $20,000. She has only been able to make small payments against this large debt. Now, the wolves are at her door, calling, process serving letters etc, wanting it all now. The only way she will be able to do this now, is to declare bankruptcy!

We were working in the radio station this past Friday. She told me a process server came by this week with papers, she started to cry. She said, "My docs, they will not get a penny if I go bankrupt, my doctors have become my friends, they saved my life, how can I do that to them?"

Mel has turned her life over to helping people cope with cancer issues. Those of us friends and co-workers who know Mel, know that she is a tireless advocate for cancer awareness and never complains about her personal situation. She is always fun and upbeat and likes to bring joy into peoples lives, because she has her life back. As one of her friends, it is my hope, that all of us together can chip in to help her out now. It is impossible for her to raise this kind of money in a short time.

We were thinking about doing a local fundraiser for her in the Spring, but now there is no more time.

As one of her friends, I'm begging you to forgo those pizzas this month....or that elegant dinner for two you were planning, No gift is too big or to small. Please help our friend Mel Majoros, who has helped so many. Please be as generous as you can. $20,000 plus is a lot of money to one person, but not to the hundreds of us who care about Mel. We can do it!

Please send your gift to: Mel Majoros

Po Box 148

Petoskey, MI 49770

Please make sure that your check is made payable to: "Mel Majoros"

Do not include the words cancer appeal or fund in the payable line. However, you can put that in your memo section if you wish.

Also, if it is easier for you to Paypal your gift,

you can send it to:, or click on the paypal link at the top of this blog

Feel free to repost this on your personal Facebook page or blog with your own personal appeal.

Brian E. Brachel is the Chief Engineer for MacDonald Garber Broadcasting and the General Manager of Baraga Broadcasting, Catholic Radio for Northern Michigan.  You can contact him at

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

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Warrior, Different Battle

Another guest blogger.  Enjoy
I woke up this morning and put on the coffee. Gotta have my coffee. It’s a simple pleasure that never gets old. But today is different. Today isn’t every other day. It’s my 23rd anniversary. Twenty-three years ago – Jan. 12, 1987. The day my 10-year-old world turned upside down and inside out. The day I learned what mortality was inside the office of an endocrinologist who said, “It doesn’t go away.”

“It” was type 1 diabetes.

I can’t remember what it’s like not to have diabetes. It has been part of the fold for so long, for the majority of my life. Right along with doctor’s appointments, glucose monitors, blood tests, finger pricks, insulin injections, low and high blood sugars – the lineup that comes when your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin.

Some people become hardened by disease. I’ve seen them; heard them. I guess it’s easy to do. We all want to be healthy. But looking back, I think I got softer. Being vulnerable completely opened my mind…and my heart.

I got past the shitty side of having a chronic disease because I didn’t want to miss out on life. It was that simple for me. Even at age 10, I somehow made the connection –blame, resentfulness and anger would only lead to loss of moments. And being a kid, I had so many moments before me. A whole life full of them. I wasn’t going to be stripped of moments. That was my perspective then. It’s my perspective now.

It sounds simple. It’s not. It sucks having diabetes. I wish for a honeymoon at times, for some sort of break. Maybe just a stretch of time for my fingers and stomach to heal from jabs. But it’s there. It’s always there, like the reality of the complications it can bring. But I leave little time or space in my head to think about that. It’s all about living. I want moments. Lots of them. And so it’s about control, fortitude and Hope. Hope that fighting hard will keep my body well and strong. Hope that big things in research are on the horizon people with diseases. Hope that I’ll be around for the ride…and for the ride of the child I envision in my future.

A focus on health is tough, too. I don’t want numbers (blood sugar levels, carbohydrate counts, etc.) to consume my day, because that’s not living either. It’s about balance. Something very hard to achieve for most. I’m still learning balance.

I don’t think much about having diabetes, except during what I call “episodes of reality” like driving to my doc’s office, or waiting to get blood drawn, or experiencing a low blood sugar that drenches my shirt with sweat and makes my hands shake. That’s about it. I’ve been blessed with good health and the discipline to keep it that way. Not one trip back to the hospital in 23 years. I’m proud of that. But I’m more thankful that I was able to accept diabetes…and move on.

Today, I’m thinking about it. Today, I celebrate life and the indelible mark that living with a disease has made on my life. It’s given me character…in the biggest way. Today, I celebrate the “unexpected gift” of diabetes (to use the words of USA TODAY’s Scott Bowles, a reporter who had a kidney and pancreas transplant to treat his juvenile diabetes).

Good morning, Diabetes. I’m still here…and I’m very alive.

Kristin D. Schaner is the public relations manager for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Contact her at

Friday, February 12, 2010



If you are a frequent reader of my blog you know I had an pelvic ultrasound, which included a transvaginal ultrasound , as well as a uterine biopsy.  That is where the doctor found Fred, a uterine polyp. Fred was biopsied.   I am happy to report the results were that Fred was benign.  Fred is very small and doesn't need to be removed.  Fred gave me a few nights of worry, I will admit that.  I still don't know how doctors and techs have any kind of clue of what they are looking at on scans and ultrasounds, that is why they get the big bucks I suppose.  So I am still lucky. I am still in remission, and I have to constantly remind myself not to stress myself out about  things that I have no control over, like these kinds of medical issues, financial issues, of which I have many, like most cancer patients I have lots of medical bills.  I am lucky though, I have great insurance, it doesn't cover everything, but as my fiance said last night, it could be worse, there are lots of people who owe more than I do, and that is true.  I have always said I would rather be broke than dead.  The collection people keep calling, and I am working on getting a second job, and paying my doctors back is very important to me, after all they did save my life.  But like I said, I am alive, I am in remission.  I am able to blog here and do my podcast to help other survivors.  I am lucky.  Sometimes it takes something like Fred to remind me of that.

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 and also available on itunes

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bowling for live event

Click on the link on February 11th  from 6pm to 10pm for a live feed.
For more info on this great event go to my podcast The Cancer Warrior on 
available on demand now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Steve Jobs Of Apple Had Cancer Last Year

Another guest blog.  Enjoy 
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is one of the most well known business personalities in recent times. Very few know, however, that he is a cancer patient.

Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004. Called islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, this is a rare form of pancreatic cancer, which required Jobs to have a tumor removed from his pancreas. The process is called pancreaticoduodenectomy (or "Whipple procedure"), and it appeared that the tumor had been successfully removed. He was not required to have chemo or radiation.

Late in 2008, Bloomberg mistakenly published an obituary of Steve Jobs, with date and cause of death left blank. Though this was quickly corrected, this fueled intense speculation about his health. Then, in January, 2009, Jobs took a 6 month leave from work “on health concerns.” While he continued to implicitly deny questions about cancer, it has been known that he underwent a liver replacement surgery in April, 2009 in Memphis, TN. 

Ordinarily, a liver replacement requires patients to be on a waitlist until a donor is found. But Jobs’ private jet enabled him to get on two waitlists simultaneously, and he chose Memphis. Over 6000 liver transplants are performed in the US every year, but region 11 of the United Network for Organ Sharing, to which Memphis belongs, has a relatively shorter waiting period. 

A liver transplant operation is a lengthy process. It can take anywhere from between 5-6 hours to more than 10 hours in cases of complications. The transplant requires a large incision in the stomach (upper abdomen). The liver is removed after cutting a number of ligaments that hold it in place, as well as several ducts, arteries and veins.

While a new liver is being procured from a recently deceased donor, the blood from the liver is replaced with a very cold liquid. The new liver has to be placed in the empty liver cavity and tied to the severed ligaments, ducts and blood vessels. To prevent the body from rejecting the foreign organ, patients are often required to take immunosuppressive drugs throughout their lives.
The surgery is followed by a lengthy recovery process, but the survival rate is pretty high. Survival rate of 5 plus years is over 90 percent at good facilities. 

In Steve Jobs’  case, recovery was said to have been splendid. He was said to have completely recouped from the procedure. Medical experts say that if Jobs did this procedure, it means that even if his cancer had spread to the liver, it did not metastasize any further. That is because most hospitals will not perform a liver transplant on you if your cancer had already spread beyond the liver. 

Apple is perhaps one of the most widely known and generally liked companies of today. It has been led by Steve Jobs’ innovation and smart business sense. It is sad that somebody like Jobs has had to go through this at the pretty early age of 50. But, perhaps, even something as evil as cancer can produce some good results, probably in the form of a research endorsement from Jobs to discover better treatments for liver cancer.

About the guest blogger:

We've got everything you need to know about arthritis. But if there is a question unanswered, send us an email and we will answer your question to the best of our knowledge, or at least will give you the resources to help you reach your goal. We are a group of caregivers whose family members are suffering from arthritis. This condition is a very common disease and has caused much distress to their victims. Nearly 1 in 5 adults have some form of arthritis. That's 46 million Americans affected. Americans age 65 and over are most likely at risk, but two-thirds of the cases are under 65. Women are more at risk than men. Please help us spread the word for prevention.

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

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

Monday, February 1, 2010


Having cancer is like living in a snowglobe.  Everything is going along fine and then suddenly everything gets shaken up. When I mean everything I mean EVERYTHING life,love,jobs,family,friendships,money,emotions, vanity,anger, happiness,depression, pretty much anything you can imagine in your life gets all mixed together in one giant shaking of the globe.

What reminded me of this was when I was at work and was watching it snow outside (don't tell the boss that I wasn't paying attention to the game for a few minutes) the big flakes falling slowly to the ground.  How beautiful, how ironic.  Ironic that I would pick something that is usually a souvenir of a vacation, or in one good friend of mines case, something silly, I would try to find the most ridiculous snowglobe I could, usually something from the 99 cent store would suffice.  Something you would look at to remind you of the good times.

But not the cancer snowglobe. By the time you realize everything has been shaken up you have no idea where you are, whats going on or what to  do.  That is what cancer can do to you.  I am still feeling like my snowglobe is still being shaken.  Trying to deal with survivorship, figuring out how to pay the mounting medical bills, (oh I was excited to see I actually got a bill in the mail I could afford. Never thought I would be happy to see a bill) work, having this damn cold, of which the fatigue level reminds me of cancer fatigue, cancer advocacy, trying to find time to see Doug, see friends, you get it.  

When you shake a snowglobe nothing is in the same place as it was before.  That is how I feel sometimes.  I still struggle with survivorship, with life after cancer, with the new normal.  None of this I had asked for.  A little over a year of fierce snowglobe shaking during treatment, now just a quick shake here~ here is a doctor bill you weren't expecting, and there~wait you want to take a trip somewhere?  Think again, all your money goes to crazy foolish things like rent and food and bills. Shake, shake shake.

Next time I go on vacation, I will skip buying a snowglobe and get myself a T shirt.

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

 Check out my podcast available on demand now and also available on Itunes.