The Verdict Is In

September 12, 2020 – Bottom-line: melanoma has spread to my right adrenal gland. 

While, initially, this news was distressing, it didn’t come as a complete shock. All summer, we’ve been wondering what caused the sizable blood mass in and around my adrenal gland (see Doctor Doctor…). Now we know. Melanoma some how made its way to another part of my body.

Frankly, since early June, I’ve expected this outcome. It’s the reality of living with cancer.

Now, some good news

With this sad news comes several positive developments. First, the PET scan (see The Waiting…) was negative for any additional cancer spread. That’s important because we want to keep the cancer contained as much as possible. In other words, right now, only two places inside my body have malignancy – my lungs and my right adrenal gland.

Second, the metastases around my adrenal gland, according to biomarker testing, contain the same genetic mutation (cKit) as the tumors in my lungs. That’s also important because we’re only dealing with one type of cancer (again, see The Waiting…).

Which leads to another (hopefully) positive development…we will continue my current treatment regimen – daily oral chemotherapy medicine (Gleevec) – with a new component: radiation therapy to tackle the adrenal gland. 

More details to come

This post will be short and sweet. Many things are coming together even as I write this. I’ll provide more details in a follow-up post (Another Twist, Another Turn). 

This is yet another twist and another turn in my melanoma journey. I’m confident the journey will continue for many years to come.

Finally, thanks!

I want to thank all of you who have made this journey with me. Your thoughts, your prayers, and your concerns are greatly appreciated. I’m absolutely humbled by it. Please focus your thoughts and prayers on Vicki, Emily, and Zach as they have been my guiding light in this crazy storm. In addition, prayers would be appreciated for my dad, my sister, my sister-in-law, and my entire extended family.

Thank you.

A thoughtful gift from Vicki’s true friends.

Note:  If you want to leave a comment, just choose “Anonymous” from the Profile Selection drop down bar right below the Comment box. (It’s the very last choice.) Sorry for any confusion.

Also, please make sure you leave your name or sign-in somewhere in your comment. Thanks.

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. 

Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Late January 2020 – We’re standing in one of the museum’s backrooms, the drone of the HVAC system along with the faint backbeat of blues emanating from the interior speakers can muddle your senses…especially when you’re having a conversation.

How Are You Doing?

Joe, being Joe, asks a straight-up question: “How’re you doing’?”

I’m asked this question all the time. All of us are asked this same question every day. The question is typically asked out of politeness, not really out of concern or as a genuine inquiry. The questioner doesn’t want to know how you really are. The questioner simply wants to be polite or appear friendly.

It’s like asking, “How’s it going?” You truly don’t want the respondent to go into a thirty-minute soliloquy about what’s really going on in that person’s world. Again, you’re simply being polite. It’s almost like a greeting.

In my case, however, How are you doing? takes on a whole different dynamic. Folks in my life know that I have cancer – Stage IV to be exact – and they also know that, at present, I’m beating the odds. Most of them also know that in December 2018 I had a heart attack.

So, How are you doing? almost becomes a Yeah, I want to know how you’re really doing cancer-wise, but I don’t know if I really want to hear the truth. I’ve actually noticed some people start to cringe or slightly wince – like they’re in pain – as I begin to respond. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s there in their facial expressions. Along with a more noticeable sense of relief when I tell them I’m doing fine.

Which is exactly what I tell Joe. I ramble a little, but there’s a lot to my condition that’s not so easy to explain. I’ve written before about how people look at me in disbelief when I tell them I have cancer – Stage IV cancer as a matter of fact.

Joe looks at me pretty much like he looks at everyone else – like he’s sizing you up. He tells me that he’s glad everything is going well. We banter a little more about living with cancer. Finally, Joe responds, “I know exactly how you feel.”

No Joe, I say to myself, you really don’t.

Say It Ain’t So

Say it ain’t so, Joe is an idiom used to express disbelief, disappointment, or even grief upon learning some unfortunate truth about someone or something. (The Free Dictionary Idioms)

The saying comes from the infamous Chicago “Black Sox” scandal when baseball hero Shoeless Joe Jackson admitted, under oath, that he and other team members cheated during the 1919 World Series.

My disbelief and disappointment stem not from learning some unfortunate truth about someone, but more from an unfortunate truth about something: People truly don’t get it.

They simply don’t get what I’m going through.

A Journey and A Nightmare

Having Stage IV cancer is both a journey and a nightmare.

I don’t expect people to pity me – in fact, I don’t want anyone’s pity or sadness. There are so many more people with cancer who are in dire situations. I also don’t want your prayers or your “qualifiers:” God’s blessed you or You’re so fortunate.

I already know I’m lucky to be alive. I don’t need to be reminded of it.

In early November (2019), I met up in Jacksonville, Florida with some college buddies and their spouses. While it was a great weekend, I still felt isolated and a bit frustrated that no one asked me how things were going. Sure, a few of them asked How’re you doing? Or, even, You look great! But no one really asked the question that is easy to avoid: How is your cancer?

There’s never a good time to discuss cancer. There’s never a good time to sit down and have a long discussion about a cancer patient’s prognosis. People are never sure what to ask or how to respond. What they don’t understand is that most cancer patients want to be asked How’s your cancer? They want to be able to give an honest assessment – the good along with the bad. We’ve already had to come to terms with our situation. As I like to tell people when they do ask – It is what it is.

Little Milton gets it. Just say nothin’ and enjoy the music.

I’m not being cavalier…as I just said, I’m lucky to be here. But it still frustrates me how so many people in my world just don’t get it. For the most part I look fine, but I AM sick, unfortunately very sick. I think people don’t see me as someone who is dying, or at least they don’t want to think about death and disease. It’s difficult. In fact, it’s a nightmare – if you let it become a nightmare.

Be Careful What You Say

On the other hand, many people don’t know what to say or ask, or simply don’t want to say something stupid or insensitive.

I understand that, and I also understand that it seems everyone has been impacted by cancer. But you don’t know how I feel and you don’t know what I go through every day. Just like I don’t know what others with cancer go through. It’s my disease…it’s my cancer.

Say it ain’t so…but I have cancer, and I’d be happy to tell you about sometime.

Thanks, as always, for listening.

Note:  If you want to leave a comment, just choose “Anonymous” from the Profile Selection drop down bar right below the Comment box. (It’s the very last choice.)  Sorry for any confusion.

Also, please make sure you leave your name or sign-in somewhere in your comment.  Thanks.

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.


Greetings…if you’ve made it this far then you have found my blog. Let me give you a quick introduction to the post page and an explanation for the blog’s name.

First, the title: In Difficulty Lies Opportunity

The title comes from an Albert Einstein quote – “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” I believe that last line of Einstein’s quote hit home with me as I continue to deal with the reality of my most recent cancer diagnosis.

My Journey with Melanoma

You’ll also notice that my sub-title is “My Journey with Melanoma…”

There are two things to note here: First, I don’t want to use “battle” or “fight” which have both been used too many times to describe dealing with cancer. Not that I am not a fighter. But my current situation is part of a life-long journey that we all take. Using the word “journey” is much more in-line with my philosophy of using my difficulty as an opportunity. What type of opportunity? Well, that’s what makes life a journey.

Metastatic Melanoma

Second, it’s also important to note that I have metastatic melanoma. Unlike other forms of cancer, melanoma – once it finds it way inside your body – is not curable. Treatable? Definitely. Livable or sustainable? Certainly. But – technically – it is not curable. Yes, it could be removed. But the reality is that the cancer may return to another area of the body.

That’s a lot to process when you’re sitting in an examination room thinking you were going to get another “good report” from your oncologist, like I was doing about a month ago. Needless to say, this has been the ultimate emotional “roller coaster” for my family and me. As I continue to add posts – the plan is to do so on a daily or weekly basis – I will include more of the technical details to help everyone understand my situation.

My Blog

Finally, I continue to tweak this blog layout and “appearance” to make it more appealing. If something doesn’t look right to you or you have trouble accessing the blog, just send me an email. Also, I will include some prior notes from my own journal to this blog (so don’t get confused by the dates).

Thanks for your love and your support.