Praise You!

April 26, 2022—Driving home from the West Cancer Center, I changed the car’s Sirius Satellite to Lithium, which is a channel dedicated to grunge and other alternative music from the 1990s. I had a pretty good morning, even for being at a cancer center. The CT scan showed no significant changes in my tumors and my lab work showed that my body continued to tolerate the immunotherapy treatment.

The song that popped up on Lithium was Praise You by Fatboy Slim—a short, upbeat tune with very few lyrics. If you’ve never seen the award-winning video, it’s essentially a low-grade recording of a flash mob performing in front of a crowded movie theater in Los Angeles.

We’ve come a long, long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have to celebrate you,…
I have to praise you like I should

As I listened to those short and sweet lyrics, however, I was struck by their meaning related to my relationship to those of you who have followed and continue to follow my melanoma journey.

To praise means to express warm approval or admiration of someone or something. So, I want to express my warmest approval and admiration to everyone. Your love, support, kindness, and caring have meant the world to me (and to Vicki and our family). I simply can’t put words around how fortunate I have been—and will continue to be—because of all of you.

I have to praise you
I have to praise you
I have to praise you
I have to praise you like I should

In other words, Thank you.

Melanoma Treatment

Decent CT results aside, I will continue on immunotherapy (Keytruda) at least until October of this year. The protocol is for a treatment period of two years—I began Keytruda on October 1, 2020. Treatment options for late-stage melanoma are changing almost daily, so once we reach October, we’ll have to see where the journey next takes us.

Emily’s Car Accident

I’ve been reluctant to post much about Emily’s car accident, which happened at the end of October 2021. Part of that is out of respect for Emily’s privacy and part of it is that we continue to deal with the aftermath of that terrible day, which remains—for us—an almost surreal experience.

The bottom-line is that Emily has mostly fully recovered from her injuries, and she finished physical therapy earlier this month.

Thanks to those of you who continue to ask about Emily and who have offered support and encouragement. She greatly appreciates it.

Travelin’ Man

Vicki and I are back to traveling on a regular basis—although we did a bit of traveling during both 2020 and 2021. We love exploring new places, visiting old haunts, and discovering great places to eat and drink. Thanks to everyone who comments and “Likes” my travel posts on Facebook. As Bob Seger once sang:

Out to the road, out ‘neath the stars,
Feelin’ the breeze, passin’ the cars
Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul

That said, I am working towards writing more and more travel pieces for StoryBoard Memphis and other local and regional publications. Travel is a tough market to break into, but writing about travel is something I enjoy doing. Wish me luck.

And That’s a Wrap

This will likely be the last blog post directly related to my melanoma journey. Other writing priorities, along with my advocacy work, have taken a greater amount of my time. Also, the amount of internet traffic to my new webpage has dipped significantly in the last several months. Frankly, it’s easier/simpler to post a brief health update to Facebook, which also doesn’t require as much reading or screen time for you.

As I mentioned above, more of my writing will center on travel and travel-related subjects. You will soon see updates to my Facebook writer’s page from the Travel section of my website.

Thanks, once again, for your love and support.

And as always…thanks for stopping by to listen.

Summertime (Part 3)—Pride and Joy

Writer’s Note—This entry is the third in a three-part series entitled Summertime, based on that classic song from the musical Porgy and Bess. If you’ve never heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version of this song, you should.

Late Summer 2021—The radiology technician led me into the MRI room. As I entered, she told me to place my things on a nearby chair and to make certain nothing was in my pockets. After I had placed my phone and keys on the chair, the tech asked, “What music do you want to hear?”

“I get a choice?” I responded.

“Sure,” she said. “We now have music options—pop, classical, rock, mainstream….Pretty much anything you want.”


“Yep, we have a blues channel.”

Never hurts to ask.

Brain MRI

Today’s scheduled MRI was to take a look at my brain. (Insert missing brain joke here.) My new oncologist (see Summertime Part 1) wanted to make sure there was no melanoma lurking somewhere inside my noggin. Apparently, some immunotherapy medicines may not—on their own—do a good job preventing or treating brain metastases. Unfortunately, the brain is one spot where melanoma is likely to spread.

If you’ve ever received an MRI scan, then you know it is a weird, uncomfortable, and loud experience. To help with the noise, patients are often given headphone-style hearing protectors (think airline baggage handlers). While this helps, somewhat, the weird sounds are still disconcerting. Sometime in 2020, the West Cancer Center started piping music into the headphones to counteract the noise. You did not, however, get a choice of the music. Most of it was mainstream pop or easy listening.

Celine Dion or the metallic grinding and screeching of the MRI? I’ll take the grinding.  

Situated inside the MRI, headphones on my ears, the technician told me the music would begin, shortly.

Distinct guitar licks permeated my headphones. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Pride and Joy.

Unfortunately, the grinding and screeching started right after. A little Stevie. I little screeching. More Stevie. More grinding.

Oh, well. At least it wasn’t Celine.


An hour or so later, we were with my oncologist. The MRI results showed no unusual spots, or lesions, but did, in fact, show a mass of brain matter inside my head. Once again, relieved that we cleared another melanoma hurdle, we made are way upstairs for my scheduled infusion.


Advocacy Recognition

In late August, I received a huge honor for recognition of my advocacy work. I’ve previously mentioned the many organizations and programs I have worked with over the past several years. One program that has meant a lot to me is the Melanoma Research Program (MRP) that is part of the Defense Department’s CDMRP initiative. The cutting-edge research funded by the CDMRP may save thousands of lives in the future. It is a privilege to be a small part of this program.

So, when I found out earlier in the summer that I would be profiled by the CDMRP, I was ecstatic. Humbled. Thankful. Honored.


Summer of 2021 certainly had its share of ups and downs. I’ll take both if it means I can keep on keepin’ on. I’ll leave you with another set of Ella’s lyrics from Summertime. Thanks, as always, for listening.

One of these mornings
You’re gonna rise up singing
Yes you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning
There ain’t nothin’ can harm you

Summertime (Part 2) — Paperback Writer

Writer’s Note—This entry is the second in a three-part series entitled Summertime, based on that classic song from the musical Porgy and Bess. If you’ve never heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version of this song, you should.

Mid-Summer 2021—After my last CT scan in June, the summer had its share of ups and downs. That mid-summer malaise contained one bright spot for me.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry

Paperback Writer

Like that definitive Beatles’ song from 1966, this summer I became a paperback writer. My first fictional short story—Redemption Blues—is part of the mystery anthology Lies Along the Mississippi. As a writer, having this story published (both in trade paperback and digital) was a giant step forward in my career. I have worked tirelessly over the past several years to get my short stories published, so I was both proud and excited to see my name in print.

I was also taken aback by the love and support that many of you shared with me after learning this exciting news. Thank you!

To learn more about my first published short story and about my ongoing writing, visit my Writing page on this site. (You can also order the anthology online through Amazon or on

Here’s a short excerpt:

The guitar man wore a hat—a fedora by its shape. His face, however, remained hidden in the shadows.

He stopped playing and looked down at Josh. “Like what you hearin’, young man?”

His voice sounded like metal scraping against metal.

“Yes, sir,” Josh responded. “I like what I hear very much.”

Hot, Tired Mess

It’s summer. It’s hot. It sucks. That’s about all I have to say about that. Summers have been brutal for me ever since my stage IV (melanoma) cancer diagnosis. Even now, on immunotherapy (Keytruda) infusions, I feel like crap most of the time. I cannot wait—like most everyone else—for the temperatures to cool down.

The malaise from the summer’s heat has impacted my writing—I have zero motivation and zero ideas to write about. It’s been a strange summer, thus far. My hope is that as it cools off I will regain that fire to write.

I’m a writer, it’s what I do.

The Beatles—Lyrics

I’ll end this post with the first stanza of The Beatles Paperback Writer. I’ve always loved this song, and its meaning is special to me.

Thanks, as always, for listening.

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear,
And I need a job,
So I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney
Paperback Writer lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Summertime (Part 1)— Livin’ Easy

Writer’s Note—This entry is the first of a three-part series entitled Summertime, based on the classic song from the musical Porgy and Bess. If you’ve never heard Ella Fitzgerald’s version of this song, you should.

Here are some of the lyrics:
One of these mornings
You gonna rise up singin’
Yes, you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky
Mm, but ’til that morning
There is nothin’ can harm you

Summer 2021—After my last CT scan in mid-June, the summer had its share of ups and downs. While I won’t bore you with every detail, here are a few key events to help you catch-up.

Same old, same old

As I mentioned in my last post (Lucky Number 13), my former oncologist moved on from the West Cancer Center in July. My new oncologist is great, and we’ve made some changes (improvements?) in my treatment regimen. The first, and most significant, is moving me from a three week infusion schedule to a six week schedule. The goal is to reduce the number of visits and, hopefully, lessen some of the side effects.

I’ll have my first six-week infusion in August.

Frozen Frustration

I don’t believe I’ve discussed this previously, but for most of 2021 I’ve been dealing with two (2) related orthopedic conditions: a torn rotator cuff (left side) and a frozen (left) shoulder. Extensive physical therapy, analysis, and home exercise has only slightly improved these problems (which are related). Throw in constant fatigue and sore muscles, and it’s been more than a little frustrating.

More to come on this topic.

Father’s Day Reflection

Another Father’s Day (June 20th) came and, eventually, went. We celebrated, enjoyed another delicious homemade carrot cake, and opened a couple presents (see below). I love my family, I love my life, and I love still being here to experience more Father’s Days.

But I continue to worry about what the next chapter will bring. Where will my journey take me? Take us?

Part of me hates that melanoma (cancer) has taken over so much of our lives. It’s a constant reminder of all the things that could have been, should have been. Then I remember those lyrics and Ella’s sweet, beautiful voice…

Mm, but ’til that morning

There is nothin’ can harm you

As always, thanks for stopping by and listening.

Note: Dinstuhl’s cherry sours…absolutely delicious!









Lucky Number 13

June 11, 2021— For centuries, the number thirteen (13) has been considered unlucky, which developed an irrational fear of the number and anything associated with it. Some historians trace the stigma of “13” back to Judas Iscariot—think Last Supper—the biblical betrayer of Christ. Others note the fear may be attributed to October 13, 1307 when the Knights Templar were rounded up and imprisoned—or worse.

That date fell on a Friday, leading to the Friday the 13th superstition, along with a series of really terrible horror movies in the 1980s and 90s.

Lucky Number 13

On Thursday, June 10th, the date of my 13th infusion, we received some good news—some really good news: my tumors have shrunk anywhere from 10% (in my lungs) to 20% in and around my right adrenal gland.

Vicki and I were ecstatic. Now, after almost nine (9) months of treatment, Keytruda (my immunotherapy medicine) was beginning to turn-the-tide in the battle against my metastatic melanoma.

In addition, my oncologist told us that my lab work looked fantastic. The results, in his words, were like a “normal person’s.” I assumed he meant someone not undergoing cancer treatment. 

A Long Way to Go

While this is great news, we still have a long way to go. Thursday’s CT scan was the first one I’ve had since February (which showed no change), so, for now, we’ll continue immunotherapy treatments and monitor my blood work.

Bittersweet Morning

Even with all that good news, it was a bittersweet morning. My oncologist announced that he’d taken a new position—heading up a cancer center in Reno, Nevada—and would soon leave the West Cancer Center. While we’re sad to see him go, we know we’ll be in good hands with a new oncologist.

Sharing My Journey Story

In a weird coincidental twist, on Wednesday (June 9th), the West Center posted my melanoma journey story to their Facebook feed and on their website.

I received several FB comments of encouragement and support from strangers who are either West Center patients or their loved ones. As I wrote in a recent essay (see below), my goal with continuing to share my story is to provide hope and/or inspiration for others fighting cancer.

With Good Fortune Comes Greater Responsibility

So, after Thursday’s good news, my good fortune continues. I write that not with glee or contentment. I write it (repeatedly) to remind myself that there is so much more work to be done. So many goals I want to accomplish. So many people I want to help—directly and indirectly.

On June 4th, StoryBoard Memphis published my latest personal essay, Happy Birthday, Spiderman.  While the initial focus of the essay was about my birthday and the joy I feel celebrating another trip around the sun with my family and friends, it was also much more about the burden I carry—like many other cancer survivors—to never forget those who were less fortunate. Here’s a quote:

Sharing my journey story is both cathartic and purposeful. Those of us who are still in this fight remember all those who were less fortunate. Our grief and frustration are channeled into meaningful causes and activities. Ultimately, we want to change current behaviors, raise awareness, and stem the tide of suffering and pain.

I use my good fortune to help others whom, like me, have been saddled with this dreadful diagnosis. An advocate for skin cancer prevention and melanoma research, I volunteer with non-profit organizations by fundraising, lending my voice through personal testimonials and op-ed columns, mentoring other late-stage melanoma patients, engaging congressional staffers on the merits of upcoming appropriation bills (to fund more research), and, finally, by analyzing research proposals as a patient member of scientific review panels.

In my own words? With good fortune comes greater responsibility.

When you get the opportunity, go back and the read my story—either on Facebook or on StoryBoard Memphis. Thanks.

And, as always, thanks for listening.

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Writer’s Note – I’ll continue to update my blog on a periodic basis. No set schedule. So, I want to thank everyone who continues to stop by and check out my blog. Please leave a comment or message; I’d love to hear from you.