Thursday, April 28, 2011

Uncomfortably Numb

I had read a blog post by my friend Sarah, also known as  The Carcinista, that she had decided to forgo treatment and choose quality of life over quantity.  She has been battling stage 3c ovarian cancer on and off since 2006.  The cancer metastasized to her lungs.  She decided that she didn't want to do more taxol, which makes you lose your hair.  She wants to leave this world with her hair.  Can't say I blame her on that one.  I hated being bald.

So I thought it would be interesting to have her on my podcast.  Not really knowing if she would want to share her story with me.  Its one thing to write about it in the comfort of your own home, its another talking about it.  Sounds kind of weird I know, but since I have been on both sides of the microphone I understand how weird it is to talk about yourself.  Luckily Sarah said yes.

As I listened to her story it reminded me how she was a part of the Inner Tough Girls 12 weeks of transformation, as was I.   I was going through a rough time emotionally during those 12 weeks and I have to say I wasn't the easiest person to deal with  (sorry Angella)  but was grateful for meeting the women in the group. 

Being a cancer survivor/advocate you get caught up in forums, discussions, advocacy, your own survivorship etc.  As some one who has a good prognosis for survival I try not to think about my own mortality.  I did that during treatment.  As survivors we always have that word recurrance on our minds.  In my case it has been shut in the back of my mind.  Not something I think about.

So was surprised about The Carcinista's post.  I know she has been battling ovarian cancer on and off for a while but whenever I read about friends who make the decision to stop treatment it is always shocking to see. 

You always think: WHAT?  Keep fighting!! Don't give up!!

But its not about that is it? 

When you have done all you can, exhausted every option, every treatment, every clinical trial.  EVERYTHING.

When you know that you have fought all you could and now its about quantity vs quality of life. 

 Would you rather spend what you know to be your last remaining days on chemo being bald, feeling like shit, possibly not wanting to be around your family because you have that chemo haze surrounding you?

Or would you want to spend every last waking moment with them, knowing that every day is one day closer to not being with them anymore.

Its a hard decision to make for anyone.  Especially someone with two young children.

As I listened to Sarah tell her story I heard the labored breathing.  I knew it would get harder for her to speak to her husband, to her kids. 

It was hard to listen to, not because her story wasn't interesting, but because as survivors when something like this happens to a friend you can picture it happening to you.  It is one of those surreal circumstances that happens when you are a survivor. 

After I left the studio I called Angella and told her about Sarah's podcast.  Angella had not been online in a while she did not read Sarah's post. 

So I had the dubious honor of telling her about Sarah's choice, while hard, sadly I know she had made the right decision.

After listening to the podcast and informing Angella about Sarah's decision I went home.  Not even knowing what I was feeling. 

How can I be happy for someone who is going to die? 

And why the fuck did I have to be the bearer of bad news?

Now I know in the end, as my good friend Don Wilhelm would have said. "It is what it is"


But it still sucks.

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, April 24, 2011

OMG Summit 2011 Cancertastic wrap up

Last weekend I was I was able to go to a cancer summit for young adult survivors. To be a young adult survivor you would have been diagnosed when you were age 15-40.  The event was put on by my good friend Matt Zachary, founder of the I'm Too Young For This Foundation.  I really didn't know what to expect.  I haven't been to any events that focuses on young adult survivors and the specific issues that we deal with.

I have to say this:

It was a life changing experience.

Now I have been to many cancer events before, I have been invited to speak and participate at many. 

But nothing had an impact on me like this.

Being in a room of over 350 young adult survivors was amazing.  It didn't matter what type of cancer they had, how old they were.  We all feel the same. 

It was nice for one weekend to not have to try to dance around the cancer subject or try to explain to someone why I feel the way I feel.

I also met many of my online friends in real life.  Many of the people who I have had on my podcast.  It was awesome to meet in person Jonny Imerman, Tamika Felder, Patti Murillo-Casa and many friends who I had only spoken to via computer or text or phone.

Knowing all of these people put me totally at ease, and being in a room of 350 plus strangers could be daunting for anyone, but it wasn't.  I think even if I had only met Matt I still would have been comfortable this element.

One of the great things was that almost all of the people speaking at the summit have the same mindset as I do:

You need to empower yourself as a patient.

You need to be your own advocate.

No matter how you feel, you are not alone.

I knew all of that was true.  I just didn't realize how many others felt the same way.

If you are a young adult survivor this is the event to go to.

Prepare yourself now Vegas, because OMG summit 2012 will descend upon you.

Vegas will never be the same.

And for that I am grateful.

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.