Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There Goes Another Little Piece of My Life

Most of you reading this are probably a lot younger than I am, with most of your life ahead of you instead of behind you, so you may not understand this blog. That's okay ... just come back when you're older and maybe you will get it then.

One day, years ago, when my dad was in his early 90s, I asked him why he seemed so sad. He told me that his past was dying as, one by one, each person he had known in his younger years was departing. I didn't understand then ... but I am getting the picture now.

When I watched melanoma devour my 29-year-old daughter Jaime, I felt like I was losing her piece by piece. Whether it was the disease or the surgery to try to stop the cancer, all I could do was sit by her and hold her hand and love her while she left me one piece at a time.

Then when Jaime died, she took a huge part of me with her ... so many pieces from the past, present, and future. How many pieces did I have left? I have tried to make the most of what was left of me, with the love and support of my dear husband and sons ... but it is like trying to put together a puzzle with half the pieces missing.

Over the years since she has been gone, more pieces have disappeared ... her pets die, her husband becomes part of a new family, her car is traded in. Piece by piece, I grieve the lose of each one because it is a part of her that is no longer.

With each year that passes, I am losing more pieces of my past ... piece by piece ... although I really didn't think about it until this week. This week I was slapped in the face with reality; my past is being torn away, just like Jaime was, one piece at a time.

Last week  I received the news that Gary, my 1965  prom date (Fairmont West High School, Kettering, Ohio) and my first serious boyfriend (not counting Elvis), had died. Gary and I shared a past together of about 5 years during high school and college. It was a Romeo and Juliet-type romance, and like the play, it didn't end well. But he has always had a place in
my heart.

I last saw Gary at our 25th high school reunion; our 50th will be next year. We had a wonderful week-end catching up and learning about our families and current lives and the people we had become over our lost 20 years. After that we corresponded for a while and then lost touch. My thoughts and condolences are, of course, with his 4 sons and his ex-wife, whom I met and is delightful.

Gary's death has had a profound effect on me that I wasn't expecting. Every time I read one of my classmates' obituaries, even if I did not know them well, I feel like "there goes another little piece of my life." It seems so many are leaving me behind with memories once shared that now only live in me. Gary and I shared years of memories, some good and some not, but they were memories that only we shared. Now there is just me, mourning not only the loss of an old friend but also the pieces of me and my youth that he took with him.

Rest in peace, Gary ... goodbye, my friend. You were not perfect, but you were perfectly Gary! I'm glad you were a part of my life, and you will not be forgotten.

I am not a deep-thinker so this blog is giving me a headache, but please consider this as a reminder that we need to live each day the best we can because tomorrow is not promised. Tell your friends and loved ones what you want them to know because there might not be another chance. And work on your legacy so when your obituary is written, it will say that you kicked some butt or were a bonafide badass or really did something with the time you were here.

 “What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” – Buddha

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna)

Twitter: @melanoma_mama
Facebook: (Remember Jaime) (Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds)
Etsy: (Jjem Creations)
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Monday, July 21, 2014

From Litterbox to Laboratory

My blogs seem to be stuck in the genre of "potty humor" (or some would say, crappy humor!), but don't kill the messenger. I just report the news; I don't make it. So follow me here as I transition from smelling farts (read my blog Pull My Finger ... Save a Life) to scooping cat poop, all in the name of cancer research.

Last week was a busy news week that had our attention riveted on the heavier, horrific news of wars and plane crashes ... and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who were touched personally by these events. However, some rather bizarre medical news came out of Dartmouth that shouldn't go unnoticed, and thanks to my fellow blogger Black Is the New Pink for calling it to my attention.

For this blog, you must imagine the song "What's New Pussy Cat?" playing in the background. Why? ...  because researchers are studying feline feces as a way to cure cancer, especially melanoma (or as my son Tim suggested for this blog, meow-anoma) and ovarian cancer. An article, Cat Poop Parasite Shows Promise in Treating Cancer, says that a parasite in the intestines of cats might find its way from a clump in the kitty litter to a cancer vaccine. Now that is recycling at its finest!

I admit that I'm a cat lover, and our family has always had cats (even before we knew that cat poop was so valuable). Over a span of 40 years, we have been allowed to share our home with many, including a shy black kitty who was very sweet, even if scared of his own shadow; an orange tabby who loved to cause trouble and eat cantaloupe and Ben-Gay; and an orange-and-white long-haired sweetheart who played fetch and was a mama's girl who never left my side after Jaime died. We seriously would have had tons of cat poop to donate to cancer research over the years!

Which brings me to some "catty" questions ... does one breed or type of cat produce parasites more worthy of a cancer cure than others? Does a cat with a diet of mice and birds have a more valuable end-product than one fed Friskies?  Does a cat who prefers dry kibble over wet canned food pack more power into its parasites? I'm thinking that more research needs to be done here before we have a melanoma vaccine that is the cat's meow.

My daughter Jaime was owned by two cats before her death from melanoma at age 29. The first (Stoney) adopted Jaime when we were at a no-kill animal shelter looking for a kitten for me (well, actually as a new companion for our cat Bubba, who had recently lost the love of his life Missy and wouldn't stop moaning and crying out for her for over a month). He desperately needed a diversion.

Jaime and I were sitting on the floor of the kitten room to watch how they interacted in an attempt to get an idea of their personalities. A tiny gray tabby kept crawling up onto Jaime's shoulder and loudly purring in her ear. The die had been cast. What a salesperson that kitten was ... and what suckers we were! Needless to say we ended up taking two kittens home with us (one to our house and one to Jaime's apartment) instead of just the one we came for. Well played, Stoney ... well played!

It didn't take long for Jaime's sweet little gray kitten to show her true stripes! Stoney grew into an arrogant, independent, snobby, anti-social cat ... but Jaime's brothers always thought that living at Jaime's apartment, she had probably inhaled too much second-hand smoke from an illegal substance. Perhaps she really had grown into her name?? The stories that cat could tell if she could have talked are probably beyond what a mother wants to know!

Jaime thought perhaps if Stoney had a furry friend, she would be happier. After all, that had worked for our Bubba, right? So a tiny, timid black and white tuxedo kitten named Toby was added to Jaime's little family. Except Toby, once he got to his new home, showed his true character, displaying his Attention Deficient Disorder. There was nothing timid about him! Of course, Stoney wanted nothing to do with this strange fur ball bouncing off the walls.

After many months of Stoney becoming more depressed and crabby, Jaime then decided that Stoney would be happier in her "retirement home" (our house instead of Jaime's), and that bad-attitude cat came to live with us and immediately attached herself to my husband. They were best buds for years. Stoney refused to acknowledge Jaime's presence (or anyone else's for that matter) from then on.

Tiny Toby liked to eat, and he thought his mouth was a front-end loader! He grew ... and grew ... and grew, until he was about 30 pounds. Jaime called him "Bear," and for good reason! To take Toby (Tubby?) to the vet, we didn't carry him in ... we wore him. Belly to belly, with his back legs wrapped around our waist and his front legs wrapped around our neck, we must have looked a tad bit strange, but it worked. Toby adored Jaime and was happy ... until Jaime started adding dogs to her menagerie!

The dogs did, however, keep her litterbox clean because they saw the mounds of cat poop as tasty treats! Perhaps dogs have always known what a treasure these little poop piles are?

NOTE: If you are being treated for cancer, don't stop your current treatment and resort instead to eating cat poop. Ewwww! Actually the parasites can be very harmful until the researchers work their magic. But whether you are healthy or a cancer warrior, the rescue of a furry friend from a shelter and its unconditional love would be good for your heart and your health!

 And lastly, why are we limiting our thinking here, in the search for the purr-fect cancer vaccine, to little balls of fluff? "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight ..." Here kitty, kitty, kitty ...

 Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pull My Finger...Save a Life!


BREAKING NEWS!!! A new study takes cancer prevention to a whole new level. 

My recent booty blog (Pretoria Revisited: Shake That Booty!) caused a friend who saw a rather bizarre article on cancer prevention to immediately think of me! Not sure I'm flattered ... but let's just go with it.

Believe it or not, a study has recently been published (Smelling Farts Might Prevent Cancer) that has found that inhaling pungent flatulence can possibly save lives. Hydrogen sulfide, produced by bacteria in the gut as it breaks down food, is the gas expelled, and smelling it is said to have potential health benefits ... like preventing cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia. Keep in mind, however, that inhaling large amounts of this gas can be deadly so don't get carried away!

Ladies, you might not want your boyfriends or husbands to read this blog or hear about this study. Males are normally (in my many years of experience with a husband and two sons) overly proud of their form of air pollution (aka flatulence, gas, breaking wind, cutting cheese, toots, farts) ... and after reading this, they will view this activity as a public service and will be out to save all mankind with their odoriferous propellants. Just beware of this possibly brutal side effect of this newest research!

Now medically speaking, we are all aware that ladies don't fart; they expel poofs of glitter and rainbows. Some men would claim that females just hold in their gas until it comes out as drama. So it appears that we will need to rely on men to protect us from cancer! Putting art into farts for the benefit of cancer prevention is a campaign I'm sure our guys will embrace. Passing gas will no longer be just for their entertainment ... but will be for the medical well-being of all around them. Heaven help us all!

There is even an app for that! In 2008 iPhone came out with a farting app. Wonder if that app is considered a medical device requiring FDA approval? Or will it be our medical miracle???

But the question that pops out at me (pun intended) is ... are all farts created equal? Does gas released after eating, say, onion or garlic protect us from disease better than farts formed from chili or baked beans? Are animal farts more medically desirable than human farts? Just think about all the lives that could be saved by a dog who has been eating cheese! Further research is definitely needed.

In addition I wonder if this potential environmental hazard has been cleared with the EPA, considering the possible significant source of greenhouse gases.

When I contacted a flatulence expert (my son, Ben) as research for this blog, he suggested that "a fart a day might keep the doctor away." However he is being modest to suggest that his capabilities are limited to one fart a day. As an overachiever, he could be destined to become a health care hero!

In the meantime, keep up with your more conventional forms of cancer and heart attack prevention. Don't stop using sunscreen or taking that baby aspirin to rely on the fragrant gas coming from your male partner. But next time you are stuck in an enclosed area like an elevator or airplane and catch a whiff of an obnoxious odor, just say thank you and breathe in deeply. :-)

Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Shake That Booty!

The keywords that bring people to my blog have taken an interesting turn. But I'm not complaining because they do bring new visitors to the blog, even if by accident, and hopefully they actually learn something while they are here.

My last blog was about the keywords Sweety Mama for Sex in Pretoria that another visitor used to reach my blog. In that blog we learned that Pretoria is the capital of South Africa. I went on to explain that there is nothing sexy about melanoma, which as a melanoma advocate is the main reason for my blogging. But that blog brought an unsuspecting visitor to my page from South Africa using the keywords Pretoria Mama with Big Booty. And so it goes ...

So while we are speaking of booty (aka tushy, buttocks, bottom, posterior, bum, etc), did you know that melanoma, the type of skin cancer that can be and often is deadly, can develop anywhere it wants? That's right. It even likes your booty ... and anywhere else you have skin, which is, by the way, your largest organ (your skin, not your booty).

This is the reason why you need to carefully check your entire body every month with a mirror to see those areas (including your booty) that are difficult to view or have a partner assist you. You can find step-by-step instructions for doing a self skin check at AIM at Melanoma.

You are looking for any new or changing or unusual looking mole. Use the ABCDEs, as shown in the photo, as a guideline. If you find something that concerns you, make an appointment to see your doctor (preferably a medical [not cosmetic] dermatologist who specializes in melanoma) ASAP. The best chance of beating melanoma is catching it early.

In addition to your monthly skin self-examinations, the American Cancer Society recommends that you see a physician for a complete skin check every 3 years if you are 20-40 years old or every year if you are older than 40. Melanoma needs to be taken very seriously. It is estimated that 76,100 invasive melanoma cases will be diagnosed this year in the US, making it the fastest growing cancer, and 9,710 people will die from it.

Let's take this discussion of booty and melanoma a little further. Were you aware that melanoma most commonly develops on the skin but can also start in the eye (ocular melanoma) or in areas where the sun don't shine ... like, yes, the genital and anal areas?

Mucosal melanoma is very rare (1-2% of melanomas) but also very aggressive. Common symptoms of melanoma in the anus-rectal area are rectal bleeding, pain or discomfort, and weight loss. In this area of the body, melanoma is often misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids. For melanoma in the uro-genital area (most commonly the female genital tract), bleeding, lump, itching, pain or irritation, and discharge might be present.

Treatment options for mucosal melanoma are the same as for cutaneous; however, the prognosis for mucosal melanoma is poor because it is usually not identified until it has advanced. Be sure to see your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms.

And now that you have read the educational portion of my blog, I'll share my booty story with you. My daughter Jaime, as many of you know, was diagnosed with melanoma when she was 20, thanks to her tanning bed use during her teens, and fought it with everything she had for 9 years. When she was hospitalized in the weeks before her death, she was very weak, heavily sedated, and barely able to get to her bedside commode even with assistance. One time when she was sitting on that commode, I noticed that she was making rhythmic motions. I asked her if she was okay. Her answer, along with the huge smile she gave me, was classic Jaime: "I'm doing my Booty Boogie!" Weak as she was, she was moving to the music on the TV, dancing while seated. Death was in the doorway, but Jaime was still shaking her booty.
So keep shaking your booty ... but check it out monthly, along with the rest of your body, for signs of moles that have gone astray! The best booty call you could ever make is the one to your dermatologist for a full body check. It could save your life!!

It is estimated that there will be 76,100 invasive melanomas diagnosed in the United States in 2014, and there will be 9,710 deaths - See more at:
Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna)

Twitter: @melanoma_mama
Facebook: (Remember Jaime) (Pull the Plug on Tanning Beds)
Etsy: (Jjem Creations)
Ebay: (Jjem Creations)

The American Cancer Society recommends regular cancer-related checkups, including a skin exam every 3 years if you're 20 to 40 years of age and every year for people 40 and older. - See more at:
The American Cancer Society recommends regular cancer-related checkups, including a skin exam every 3 years if you're 20 to 40 years of age and every year for people 40 and older. - See more at:
The American Cancer Society recommends regular cancer-related checkups, including a skin exam every 3 years if you're 20 to 40 years of age and every year for people 40 and older. - See more at: