Saturday, August 21, 2010

The King (of Pop) and I

I've been a little star-crossed this week. I'm not usually affected by their lives, don't think about them too much, and am not particularly impressed nor enamoured by their actions. But, in addition to my fixation on Robert Redford this week, I just realized that The King of Pop (aka Michael Jackson) and I have a lot more in common than I realized.

First case in point:  Shortly before my surgery on June 8 to remove my melanoma, the anesthesiologist came to meet with me. She explained the process of putting me to sleep for the procedure, stating that she would give me a little propofol to help me relax and go to sleep before administering the general anesthesia.  

"Isn't that what was Michael Jackson took before he died," I asked.
"Yes," replied the anesthesiologist.  "We call it Jackson Juice."
I was happy to receive it (administered professionally, of course) and enjoyed the sleep.

Fast forward to yesterday and second case in point:  As my dermatologist at UT Southwestern was performing the once-every-three-months scrutiny of every inch of my skin, including, as he says, "places where the sun don't shine," he stated that I had some incidence of vitiligo.

"What?" I reacted.  "Isn't that what Michael Jackson had?"
"Yes," he said.  "But, don't worry.  For you, it's a good thing."

He went on to explain that the whitening of my skin pigment indicated that my immune system was functioning in a good way against the melanoma.  First of all, who knew my skin could be any whiter?  But, yes, there they were -- some little patches of skin that are whiter --
like I missed a small area with the self-tanning lotion (except I don't use that stuff). I had noticed a little spot on the inside of my wrist, but didn't think too much about it.

He went on to tell me that it is a good sign because it means that my immune system is fighting the melanoma. More to the point, recent studies show that the presence of vitiligo in melanoma patients supports the hypothesis that vitiligo is a marker of immunity against melanoma cells and that its presence represents a favorable impact on the prognosis of melanoma patients. Ironically, it has normally been noted in persons receiving immunotherapy treatment. As we all know, I, as my M.D. Anderson oncologist put it, "rejected" that treatment. So, just maybe it indicates that my self-prescribed immune-boosting therapy is working. I am not smug nor arrogant about this possibility -- just very thankful that it might be, in fact, working.  

It was a nice report to hear on a Friday morning.  And, the unexpected connection to the King of Pop gave me pause.  The commonality of mankind and that which makes us unique are often the same. Why can't I dance like Michael?

 Jackson two years after he was diagnosed with vitiligo, here in the early stages of the disease

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

What has been will be again,
       what has been done will be done again;
       there is nothing new under the sun.


  1. Things that make you go hmmmmm :)

  2. Praise God! From your new friend in Huntsville. Praying for you and enjoying you as you enjoy God.