Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great information for everyone in the breast cancer community

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wow!!!!!! This blog was named on of the 15 Inspiring Breast Cancer blogs by

Wow I am honored and humbled to be named among this amazing list of breast cancer  survivors. 
Thank you to everyone at and thank you everyone for continuing to read about my cancer journey.  I always have to thank Matt Zachary for letting me blog on stupid cancer. 

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

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

Monday, October 25, 2010


It has been a rough week. I found out that one friends breast cancer returned (on Friday)  went to another good friend's memorial service (on Saturday)  Saturday night I was an emotional wreck.  I considered not going into work on Sunday on my on air shift on 106KHQ, but thought better of it because, well for one,  I need the money, and two, we are short staffed, and I didn't want to use just having a shitty weekend and possible mental breakdown as an excuse for not going to work,so yeah I have a puritan work ethic.

So I went to work on Sunday, so freaked out and feeling like I was coming mentally unglued, but I knew that I could pull off a good show.  I can fake that no problem.  I am a professional after all.  But you know what?  I didnt' have to.  The music lifted up my spirits.  I was the only one in the building for the majority of my day so I was dancing and singing at the top of my lungs, (thank god the Ustream wasn't on or else I would have never heard the end of that from my co workers. 

We use facebook at work.  One of the perks for working at a radio station.  It is considered part of the job to post status updates, ask questions to the listeners and post where we will be making appearances, etc.

So as I was on facebook I came across a friend of mine's status and photo.  It was a shrine for his wife.  She had passed away from cancer a few weeks back.  I had worked with him on Crossing Jordan, which seems like a lifetime ago, and we were casual facebook friends.  I was stunned.  This would make 3 instances of cancer that I saw that weekend.

So Monday rolled around.  For a Monday it was going pretty well.  Had a decent Vic McCarty show.  Monday is always lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, another perk of the job.  Was having a pretty good day.

Then the local paper came.

I usually read through it pretty quickly.  Not much news, small town.

Then I saw the obituary of someone that I worked with at another job a few short years back.

That made 4.

A good friend of mine said I should ponder and wonder why this happened.  Its God's plan.

I am not going to ponder this.

Sometimes God's plan just plain sucks

You can label me a heretic.  I go to church when I can.  I pray. I do believe in God and do believe he does have a plan. 

That doesn't mean I have to like it or agree with it or anything of the kind.

Like my friend Donald Wilhelm  (who was the #2 in this blog) would say "It is what it is"

But dammit, fucking number 4

Seriously.  Is it just me or is this ridiculous?  How can there be so much cancer around and there is no "cure" or meds to prevent it.    I am wondering what epidemologists say.  You know the people who study these things?

I am sick of the outbreaks.

I am sick of reading about another friend or acquaintance getting a recurrance or a diagnosis.

I am sick of seeing the goddamn pink ribbon on my cat's friskies.

October is Breast cancer awareness month.

To me every month is cancer awareness month.

I think we are all aware there if cancer

Now how about we start fucking doing something about it?

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

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I was planning on writing a blog about something else unrelated to this topic.  This one gets every survivor.

I was having a great day.  Just did a great radio interview. Had an awesome lunch with the crew from work.  My internet still isnt' working at home so I decided to check facebook on my phone.

Thats when I saw the post

Bad News.

My cancer is back.

Nothing sends shock waves through you like hearing or reading that.  Recurrance.  The scariest word a survivor can hear.

I posted something on her wall.  I told her I would help her out in any way I can.  I can't help her out financially.  Financially I am the Titanic and the iceberg is my debt.  Cant seem to steer clear of it.  I can help her emotionally.  Listen to her.  She is far away.  I can't hug her, or be there in person for her.  That makes me sad.

Quite frankly what she is going through scares the hell out of me.

A friend of mine recently called me fearless.

Now you know the one thing I fear the most.

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

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Being Sick is Personal

Another Guest Blogger, Enjoy

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, or someone you know has, you’re about to
enter something you probably never knew existed: illness culture. As you can see by the
existence of this blog and the thousands of other cancer-specific sites on the Net, having an
illness is a huge part of people’s lives, and as such, it becomes a part of their self-identity.

In this way, illness culture resembles any other group with a defining characteristic in
common, just like people of a certain religion, or motorcycle enthusiasts, or a clique of

And while many find their particular illness culture to be supportive and helpful through
their struggle, some can become sick only to find that they don’t “fit in” in with the
main line of thinking or expression associated with their group. Barbara Ehrenreich, a
breast-cancer activist, discusses this issue in her great essay, “Welcome to Cancerland.”

In the essay, she confronts the predominant feelings and modes of dealing with cancer that
she encountered in breast cancer culture, and how she ultimately did not identify with
them. In her mind, breast cancer’s “cult of pink kitsch” was infantilizing and infuriatingly

Ehrenreich’s defining emotion about her cancer was anger—anger at the impersonal
treatment by her doctors, anger at drug companies for offering harsh treatments with little
benefits, and anger at her fellow breast cancer sufferers for being unwaveringly cheerful in
their battle with cancer.

My point here is not to knock keeping a positive outlook when ill. As reported in The Cancer
Warrior, staying positive can have great benefits for people fighting cancer. My point is
that, like any other type of groupthink, illness cultures can be single-minded, and those
who don’t fit into the current line of thinking can find themselves excluded and alone—this
on top of the fact that they are already facing a serious illness.

In the end, sickness is incredibly personal, and all types of reactions to illness and ways of
dealing with it should be actively welcomed. It’s important that those facing illness, and
their loved ones, recognize this and internalize it. While some may deal with cancer by
distracting themselves, others may need time to grieve over their situation—even to feel
sorry for themselves.

In America, self-pity is often regarded as the worst type of emotion; we live by the “pull
yourself up by the bootstraps” line of thinking. This aversion to self-pity and the endless
positivism seen in many illness cultures is unrealistic and doesn’t reflect the range of
emotions people feel when confronted with cancer. While staying positive is helpful, it’s
also okay to express emotions besides optimism.

If you’re dealing with cancer or supporting a loved one, remember that it is okay for sick
people to deal with their illness in their own way. Discouraging this is counterproductive
and even harmful.

In her essay, Ehrenreich recounts posting on a breast cancer forum about how fed up she
felt with her doctors, treatments, and insurance company. The responses to her negative
attitude were quick and judgmental: “I really dislike you having a bad attitude towards
all of this, but you do, and it’s not going to help you in the least,” said one commenter.

Support groups are supposed to be just that—supportive of one another’s struggle with
cancer, not dismissive or judgmental. People experience a range of emotions as they come
to deal with facing cancer on a daily basis. Realizing your own approach to illness and
accepting others’ is essential to creating an illness culture that helps, and doesn’t hurt, its

About the guest blogger:

Joy Paley is a blogger for An Apple A Day and a writer specializing in medical coding for Guide
to Healthcare Schools.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tug of war

I have been thinking about blogging about this for a while now.

Many things have happened recently that have made me want to put fingers to the keyboard.  If you are a constant reader of this blog then you know a good friend of mine passed away from cancer recently.  It has been hard to say the least.  Add to that the mountain of debt that keeps getting larger, chemo brain, which frustrates the shit out of me, I don't knowing what I want to say but not having my brain fire synapses correctly, neuropathy, having to take x amount of pills at so and so times, etc, etc, etc.

Some days I feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill.

My mind is alway working constantly, either thinking about work, or advocacy, or how I can help someone out, hockey, whatever,  it doesn't shut off.  You could look at me and see me sitting calmly at work at the computer or talking on the air, my brain is constantly thinking, (yeah I know I just said I have chemo brain, comes and goes, like the mogwai in the movie Gremlins, don't get it wet, don't feed it after midnight, if only it was that easy to predict when it would kick in)

I battle constantly with this, all rolling around in my head like many tornadoes.  Its frustrating.  No wonder I don't know how to relax.

Yeah you read that right.  I don't know how to relax

I can sit still but I can't relax.  I can't really sleep either  I can't sleep unless I am medicated, I have a mouthguard in at night so I don't grind the shit out of my teeth. 

You know when people get a massage they get all relaxed and go to that happy place, maybe even fall asleep, I don't.   I used to, but I don't know what happened.  I have gotten some great massages here, and they have worked out knots and tension in my muscles.  But I can't relax during the massage.  I don't know why.

I did the reeling and healing midwest program for cancer survivors, a 2 day fly fishing retreat close to where I live.  I know you are thinking what the hell does fly fishing have to do with cancer.  Well let me tell you.  It does help you relax, standing in the water there, with your guide, and nature.  I figured out how to relax.

Unfortunately I can't take the stream and all of nature with me all the time.  Yes the program is totally awesome, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat,and it helped me, but not being able to relax is something I am trying to overcome.

I found a brochure for a pilates program that a local studio was putting on.  It was for breast cancer survivors, designed by a survivor.  It was free, I called, they had to wait for enough participants before they could start the class.

So a few weeks later there I was in class with 3 other survivors, all at various stages of survivorship,all of us were well past surgery.  

We were all there not knowing what to expect.

It was an eight week mat class, doing various exercises to strengthen the core and the muscles around where women would have had mastectomies, lumpectomies and lymph node removal.

Now I wouldn't have thought that something that may look like to the average person, a bunch of simple stretches would have any kind of impact on me, except for maybe getting a little toned.

But it did. 

I have written before about my constant struggle with depression, yes I am on meds, but sometimes the mind can over come the meds, a tug of war in my head, dealing with the many mini tornadoes in my head and just survivorship of everyday. 

I do maintain a positive mental attitude

But some days are harder than others.

Doing the pink ribbon pilates program with the other survivors helped me to find my comfort zone within my self.  Lets face it having cancer  and survivorship takes you completely way out of your comfort zone.

But with pilates it has forced me back in.

And helped me to relax...

A little more than before.

That is something I still need to work on, but I am slowly chipping away at that stone.

I found this quote and I will leave you with it:

Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.
Ezra Taft Benson

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

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

Suicide by Cancer

Another Guest Blogger.  Enjoy

Have you heard that phrase that the media uses?  ‘suicide by cop’?  It’s when someone is so mentally ill, so distraught, so DESPERATE that they provoke the police to the point where extreme force is necessary – generally resulting in death of the ‘suspect’.  Pretty messed up, huh?  It makes you wonder how things can possibly get that bad.  How can a person possibly put their soul into someone else’s hands?  I can’t fathom it and I’m so glad I can’t.

My dad is currently going through something that it makes sense to call ‘suicide by cancer’.  
He was diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer (no mets) in May of 2009. 

My family is originally from a small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town in New Hampshire (Mel is familiar with it…. We were classmates and friends from kindergarten on up through high school).  In 1993 I realized that there was a great big world out there and took off for the great unknown (a/k/a Texas) – I’ve been here ever since.  My brother is here with me… a block away…  My neighborhood is wonderful.  My kids are wonderful.  The schools are wonderful.  WINTERS are wonderful!   A cook-out on New Year’s Day?  Oh, HELL yeah! 

I finally convinced my parents to come down and spend the winter away from the frozen tundra of New Hampshire. 

They planned on staying three months.

They stayed almost a year.

Christmas Eve 2008 we were in the doctor’s office with my dad.  He couldn’t swallow.  ‘It’s his vertebrae protruding’, they said. 

‘Surgery it is!’  We said.

He still couldn’t swallow after surgery.

Insert feeding tube.

Watch the beginning of the end.

Houston has a HUGE HUGE HUGE Medical Center.  It has one of the best cancer centers in the world.  MD Anderson is where all of the big shots go to get treated. 
It’s here!  My parents were here!  What luck!!!
My dad’s doctor had studied under Dr. Michael DeBakey!  (Google him, he’s a big deal) – they told us 3 weeks of chemo and 2 of radiation and the tumor would be GONE!

Dad said, ‘no’

He said he was tired.

He said he was done.

He took my mom and left Texas and flew back to New Hampshire.

(Can you tell I’m a little bitter?)

I know, I know, I know… it’s HIS choice.  It’s HIS body.  It’s HIS life.

But it’s not just affecting him.

My mom LOVES to travel.  (My mom has (undiagnosed) ADHD and can’t sit still)  My mom is a social butterfly.  My mom knows everyone in town.  My mom loves to shop (she’s all about the bargains – getting a good deal is an adrenaline rush for her)

My mom deserves better than this. 

My mom is now a prisoner in her own home.

My dad has chosen his own destiny – but DAMN… he’s sucking her right down with him.

I’m 3000 miles away with two young kids, a husband with a job and volunteer activities up the yin-yang.  I’m no help. 

I call her five times a day (sometimes more).  I try and provide a diversion.  I try to listen.  I try to comprehend.  I try not to take it personally.

Most of her friends don’t visit her anymore. 

They can’t go up to see her because ……. (you fill in the blank)
It’ll bother her
It’ll bother him
They don’t have time
They don’t know what to say
They have other prior engagements
The dog barks
The moon is full
The tide is high
…………….Yada yada yada

All this being said…

           Don’t forget the caretakers – there’s morphine and fentanyl and lorazepam for diseases… but no painkillers for a broken heart.

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: