Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Letha Rodman Melchior - 1959-2014

I am heartbroken to report that my dear, sweet wife Letha Rodman Melchior passed away today. She fought right up until the end. She was the bravest, most alive person I ever knew. I love you Leth.
Dan Melchior Rodman.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Hello everyone - - I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted, but I've had a lot of daunting stuff going on. I will get back to it soon!
In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that the wonderful China Bialos has opened a GiveForward page on behalf of Dan and I - - -thanks so much China!
Love, Letha.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Frankenstein Times

Today I go in for my Brain MRI - I'm super scared because I won't get results until next Tuesday.  Tuesday is a day filled with Brain Results, Full Body PET, and a talk with my oncologist.

These will be the first scans since I've started taking my new drugs. Are they working? Are they not? It's hard being in limbo.

Just wish me luck. Fingers crossed. I'm taking all good vibes given out.

Thank you all!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Pale, is the new alive! Pale is the new Tan!

Really!?? Does that look good? What's the girl in the top photo? A Tootsie Roll or has she been carved out of a turd?
"Oooh, look at my beautiful brown/red/body/boob! I just got back from the isle of Belize"
The girls above aren't far from the Yamanba Girls below.


If you're looking for Dad - He's inside the computer, Mom!

It's interesting how there is a lingering emptiness when someone you love goes away. Even if it's just a few days. The routine is all broken up and the floorboards are much creaker and the whole house is darker. And there's no way to completely rid yourself of that slim thought of a break-in or that low dark thought while sleeping, of opening your eyes to see a stranger standing over you with a sledge hammer. I'm getting dark here...Ha! I think Dan and I've been watching too many Dateline Mystery's and way too many 48 Hours. I'm not really scared; but you know what I mean.

Oh my friends; I feel ashamed of how long its taken me me to write a new entry on my blog. I haven't been too busy. I just haven't felt up to it. Really it's been since December since I've written properly.

I've had some close calls in the early part of the year - that whole dehydration 7 day stay in the hospital.  And later my intimate meeting with the floor; where my front teeth explored the outside world by busting through my upper lip. I've been up and down on motivation. I'm a wild meter needle about feeling good or not feeling good.  I do get tired of never feeling "Just Grrreat!" Seems there is always some ache or some pain. It's just tiring!

I have to go way back to December, to the time my friends Suki Hawley, Michael Galinsky, Ron Liberti, and Madea had put together a gallery opening of my never seen collages. It was wonderful! I met some new people and had success in selling some of my collages, and that made me very happy. It's nice to be appreciated and to have your work seen and to have people take notice. What also makes me happy is great friends! Friends that have helped me so much by being there for me. Thank you!

Opening night.
My sister Stephanie was visiting from Houston - That made me very happy too!
Please come back!

I have these collage books that are made from magazines. I think it would be so cool to have real books made from them. Does anyone know how I get them published?
When I'd travel I'd pick up a magazine and with my glue, tape, and scissors ready; I'd collect things from that trip and while in bars, train stations, train cars and such, and I'd put together these books. As a whole they are pretty stunning. Check out the link above.

Then on January 18th my band-mates from Ruby Falls, Laura and Jennifer Rogers, along with Rebecca Gaffney put on a huge benefit for my ever dwindling cancer fund. And all of these great people played:








DJs Bruno, Brad Truax, and Greg Anderson 

Thank you so much for that. The first of the year is so hard, thank you all for making it much easier. 

So for current cancer news, the drug Zelboraf that I had been taking for the last year or so has stopped working. So now I'm on a combo of Mekanist (I had gone to NY to try to get on the clinical trial in 2012 - it's now FDA approved) and Dabrafenib. I've been on this combo since the end of February, and I'll be getting my first Brain MRI and Full Body PET in the next week on June 10th. I might have some answers then. I can't tell if the combo is working or not. I certainly look and feel better (if I take all my meds correctly), but I still have lumps in places. I can feel them. Are they cancer, or just wacked out benign lumps? I have a lot of those too. What is what? I also have been having a lot of melanoma sliced out of my head, and lower back. And the large lump in my leg is a smaller lump - but it's still a lump. Could it just be scar tissue from the radiation? What also worries me is I'm growing hair again - If the drugs are working, shouldn't I be bald? I was getting used to that. Now I'm going to have to worry about hairstyles and hair color again. At least I have eyebrows! My very own personalized eyebrow shape, the one I grew up with, and they feel so good! I have lashes too! 

I'm very nervous, mostly about brain tumors. These nuggets are strangling my thought process. It's either the tumors or the drugs that are making me verbally dyslexic. The other day I said to Dan, " The clean is car." Poor Dan, I'm in a constant fog and never know what's going on. I have extremely short term memory. It's like "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" over here.  I do things that I'm not aware of; and remember things that haven't happened. Christ! It's really scary. If something is lost the first place to look now is in the refrigerator, the car keys just might be in with the grapes in the crisper.
So, I'm told that if I have one or more new brain tumors, I'm going to have whole brain radiation. What will that turn me into? I'm afraid, very afraid.

The thing is, that I feel myself slip away every day. Little incidences are becoming bigger incidences. I feel foolish when I get caught up in a false memory. I suppose the sad thing is; is that I can't trust myself 100%. If someone told me I did something wrong I would now tend to believe them, instead of standing my ground 100%. My short term memory is impossible to deal with. The assistant to my brain surgeon gives me these test, they're like alzheimer's test. "Remember these three words, House, Church, and Bird." then at the end of the test, I'm asked to recall the words. I would likely recall "Foot, Chase, Cheese."  I don't think I could recall much correctly now.  Well, you wouldn't know it, but it has taken me some time to write this. I had to read and re-read this many many time. It's been more than riddled with mistakes. I hope I corrected them all. I usually have Dan proofread it because of the wild mistakes I make. I'm just a drooling brain blob without Dan around.

It was really fun watching Dan, Brad, Greg and Tony playing on the computer. For the WFMU record fair. It was so good! I'd love to see the footage again. The WFMU Record Fair is on today, Sunday June 1st too. Get the info here: WMFU Record Fair

I think that catches us up for now. I'll do better in the future. I haven't done it yet - but I'm going to do my fohawk up in old lady silver this week end. I'll post photos soon.

Love to everyone!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's Time To Think Of Others

This is the time to think about others.  I would love for people to sign my petition to

have all US hospital Food Services to be required to serve healthy nutritional food to patients receiving care.

This is such an important matter! Very sick people are given substandard food. This keeps them sick. Without nutritional food it is very difficult to get better. This problem is nationwide, and though changes are slowly being made in some hospitals, health, nutrition food should be a standard of basic care in every hospital. 

Please sign my petition. It really matters. You don't even have to join anything - just go to the link and add your signature - you could also say why you think this petition is important. Please, you can make a difference in what sick people are given as food!

Why should anyone have to eat this!???

Thank you everyone!!!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Letter To Chef Gordon Ramsay

During my stay in the hospital, I was quite traumatized by the food. It was so, so bad. I imagine it's much worse than prison food. Duke Food Services heard of my complaints and sent three different people on their staff to talk to me, as I laid in my hospital bed. When talking with them, I told them I would get Chef Gordon Ramsay on the case; He could change the system where they couldn't. They laughed. But they don't know me. When I have an idea I'm a lock-jawed terrier that won't let go of a chew-toy! I become so obsessed, I won't stop trying until I've exhausted every nook and cranny, every alley that I can think of, that will lead me to success in obtaining what I want.

Dan and I are fans of Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, and Hell's Kitchen; so we know very well what the production company is called. At the end of each episode, I'm assuming it's Ramsay's young child, who says "One Potato, Two Potato!" Dan and I can't help cringing, and then repeat it over and over, to irritate each other.

So I immediately looked up 'One Potato, Two Potato' only to find that it's quite impossible to contact anyone on the staff directly. Aside from that, I really wanted Ramsay himself to read my letter. So, I thought of other ways to get my message to him. Facebook! I wrote a private message to whoever handles Gordon Ramsay's Facebook Page. I pleaded with them to forward my message to Ramsay himself. I got no response from this attempt.

Next I thought if I applied for a job at Ramsay's restaurant in NY on 151 W 54th st, I could attach my letter as the CV on the application. I filled out the application using all open fields to get my message forwarded to Chef Gordon Ramsay. I don't know if a human actually looked through the submissions - but it seems unlikely.

And this:
                                                 No one read my CV it seems.


So, after a day or two I got an email saying I wasn't right for the job.


I thought of doing an open letter on facebook in hopes it would somehow be brought to his attention. Then I noticed a casting call for a health show that Optomen Productions was set to do in the future. I thought this is the only way I can be sure that someone will really read what I have to say. So I emailed the casting department at Optomen. This is the letter I wrote:

Dear Optomen Casting,

My name is Letha Rodman Melchior, I’m very very ill. I have both breast cancer, and melanoma stage IV, which of course, is the worst of the two. I've just been released from Duke University Hospital where I've endured a 7 day stay. While there, I thought that I would present Optomen Productions and Chef Gordon Ramsay with a challenge. A challenge which could be quite impossible, but if anyone could be successful it would be Optomen Productions and Chef Ramsay. I would like for your team to take on Duke University Hospital’s food system and reconstruct it into something that's nutritional and something that the hospital can be proud of. Duke University Hospital is one of the top 10 rated Hospitals in the USA; why it lacks in nutritional food is beyond me. I know Food Services is a problem in a lot of hospitals worldwide; I also know that now is the time to meet with Food Services at Duke University Hospital, because they are going to try improving their system in May 2014. I don't have much faith that they'll get it right. The 'Triangle Area' in North Carolina has an abundance of local farms and resources to pull from. Please think about coming to Duke University Hospital and help them make the right choice.

As it stands now all hospital meals for patients at Duke are contracted out to a company called Aramark. I can not tell you how bad that food is. I know there are many hospital food jokes out in the world - but this is not a joke. As I laid in bed for 7 days the food was inedible. I tried to think of things that they couldn't get wrong; like macaroni and cheese. It was if someone had regurgitated on to a plate. One piece of breaded fish; it came as paper-thin deep-fried bit of rubber blackened on all sides, so hard that it couldn't be chewed. There was only one bite in that, that was edible. A bagel, that if thrown up against the wall would shatter into a million slivers. I actually lost over 10 pounds by being given inedible food.

A friend of mine happen to bring me some food from Whole Foods, with a bowl of fresh fruit to start. One bite of a beautiful strawberry and I was sent to heaven! I couldn't believe how my body responded, I could feel it helping me get better - out of one bite!! I realized there were other people who may have been sicker than I was, who are depending on nutrition to help them get better. Not anything fancy, just basic nutrition!

The Duke Nutritionist came by and I had to ask her why the hospital food had no nutritional value. She said that the food was contracted out by Aramark and the food was cooked off site; flash frozen, then sorted at the hospital, reconstituted and reheated, then sent on rounds to the rooms. By this time, the food ceased to be food. I would hardly call it stomach filler. Truly most people wouldn't feed this food to their dog. I couldn't understand why a hospital would contract food out unless the food was nutritional. The woman said that most cancer patients can't taste their food and complain anyway. She said they couldn't make everyone happy.

Cancer patients NEED nutrition to stay well! I got very mad. I said I would get Chef Gordon Ramsay to come to Duke and get things changed! So I'm pleading with you to come to Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC and take over. Make this very great hospital and cancer clinic better by bringing basic nutrition into the program. I know it would save lives. Truly. I didn't start to get better until I had my friends bring me real food and real fruit.

The Duke Food Services sent about 3 other people around to take my complaint. I’m not the complaining type - but I do want to stand up for myself and others to get basic needs. Nutritional food in a hospital is a high priority for me.

Please consider this. Whoever reads this, please present this to Chef Gordon Ramsay, or Stephanie Angelides or one of One Potato Two Potato development, or one of the Optomen production staff.

Please, I beg of you, it is wrong for sick people to be given un-nutritional food.

I can get contact names and numbers for you and I know that Duke Hospital is going to try to ‘tweak’ the food system in May, 2014.

I can go into more detail if needed. Please help.

Thank you!
Letha Rodman Melchior cancer warrior!


This was the reply I got:


I don't know if they really did forward my letter. I'd like to think that they did. I'm still thinking of the open letter on Facebook. Wouldn't it be great if Gordon Ramsay did come to Duke University Hospital and change things? I don't know how long, or what it's going to take to have better food worldwide in hospitals, and schools.

It's appalling that these big companies are doling out substandard food. Lord knows what deals are made with suppliers to Aramark. And what kickbacks and deals Aramark and other companies like it are making with the US hospitals.

I was sent some great links and found a few others online. It's going to be so hard to change things.

If anyone knows how to get this letter to Chef Gordon Ramsay, Please let me know.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Goodbye Cruel World

That Tuesday afternoon, after Dan left , I closed my eyes and slept. I still had low blood pressure - but at least it was detectible. 84/59. I had a very low grade fever, nothing over 100.4. The oxygen in my blood was also low. It was below 85%, so I had plastic tubing up my nose and around my ears.

You know when you see really old people dragging those oxygen tanks around? You're bound to think to yourself, "You silly smoker, look at you now! Why didn't you quit?"
As a smoker myself, who quit, I'd be so embarrassed if I had to wear oxygen all the time. I'm so glad I stopped when I did, and I'm glad the hospital didn't send me home with oxygen like they threatened to.

In room 9315, at Duke University Hospital I was once again labeled a fall risk. That meant if I ever got out of bed, I would need a nurse to stand watch, just to make sure I didn't break my neck. They weighed me while I laid in bed. A button was pushed, an alarm was set, and the whole bed was turned into a giant scale. Anytime there was a change in weight a high pitched beep would go off. This way they'd know if I'd escaped to take a piss.

I have to say that it was the most uncomfortable bed I have ever laid on! It was designed especially for people that couldn't move. It would automatically adjust to take pressure off of the places on the body where people get bed sores. It drove me crazy the whole time I was there. The bed could be puffed up to 'maximum inflate', but it was designed not to hold it. After 20 minutes the bed would swallow me up, trapping me into one position, though my legs and feet felt like they were floating where the bed had puffed out like a balloon. It made it impossible to get any leverage to move properly. To make matters worse the controls to this part of the bed were completely out of reach for me. I had to beg nurses to press the key button, then hit the inflate button. Most of the nurses didn't want to bother, because they knew the inflate wouldn't hold, or it was just one more thing for them to do. Truly the bed was a form of torture. It felt worse than a half filled waterbed, or a half deflated plastic pool mattress.

Remember These??
In the first day and a half I didn't have the energy to even think about getting up. I hardly moved at all, and it was my first experience in using a bedpan! Horrible! This may be thought of as crass potty-talk, but using a bedpan is humiliating. It feels so wrong - I can't tell you. Only people who have used them know the shame, the disconnect of the mind and the bowel movement, and the embarrassment of having onlookers hovering over you during what should be a very private time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that for most people, consciously or unconsciously, there is an instilled ending in the whole restroom/bathroom procedure; the sound of the water interacting with the number one, or number two, whichever way it happens; and the action of the flush, with a possible glance to make sure it all goes down. And the grand ending with the sound of water rushing down the sink drain during a brisk washing of the hands. I couldn't make it to the sink, so I was given a can of Steris Foam Sanitizer, as if that would be enough! It was all so wrong! It's disconcerting when you don't experience those familiar bathroom sounds. It's haunting!

I had thought that I would've been home by Wednesday, but no. Somehow I wasn't getting better. I still had fluctuating fever, low oxygen and now there was a rasp in my lungs. They arranged for a bedside chest x-ray. It showed that there was fluid on my lungs. When the doctors made their floor rounds, they told me that the fluid was either from an infection that I came in with, or when I was in the ER they had topped me off with too much fluid. It had nowhere to go but in my lungs. They said it could also be a possible Pulmonary Embolism. That's a clot or blockage that doesn't allow proper breathing. And it can be lethal. Was this the beginning of pneumonia? In the last few years there have been people I've known of, who either died or remained hospitalized for months by having Pneumonia! How did my illness get to this point?

I don't really remember too much of those days in the hospital. Though somethings stand out. Like the first breakfast I was brought. Scrambled eggs (cold), toast and an unripe banana! Sometime in 2010 when I first entered the Duke Cancer Hospital and Clinic System, I was asked if I had any allergies. For some stupid reason I wracked my brain for things I was supposedly allergic to. Most of these allergies were self diagnosed. Now every time I check in at the clinic, I have to go over these three things. Dan and I just roll our eyes, because I never ever should have said Green Banana, Monosodium Glutamate, and Lidocaine. It's true about the Lidocaine, but the banana and the glutamate, I was just reaching out for something to put down. My cancer counselor had come to visit me that Wednesday morning and even she noticed the Green Banana on my breakfast plate.  We both looked on in disbelief and laughed. That banana could have killed me if my allergy were true and I was delirious enough to think a banana was safe to eat. What were the food service people thinking? It was even listed on my menu slip that I had three killer allergens.

The days went on and on. I had graduated from bedpan to bedside commode. I still had to be watched, and had to wait for what seemed like ages for someone to arrive after I pushed the nurses call button.  Before my feet touched the floor the nurse had to put on my grip socks for me because I couldn't sit up to reach my feet. It was all so tiring. It's really hard relying on other people especially for the most basic things. It wasn't until a week after I was released that I realized I could have used some slippers. That would have made the bathroom trips so much easier! I bought a pair for next time I'm admitted.

I was named 'Pretty Toes' by the beautiful, and very sweet Lorna who cleaned the rooms every day. I can't express how much a smiling face with a bright and cheery attitude helps when you're chained to a bed, and at the mercy of the people working the floor. Thank you Lorna for being who you are, and spreading your warmth to all the people that need it.

I did have pretty toes, too! I had my first manicure in years just a week or two prior to my hospitalization.

One day the doctors came in to tell me that they wanted to do a Bronchoscopy. This is a procedure where a camera is threaded through your nostril until it reaches your lung. So they cart me, bed and all down to the basement. I talked to the nurses down there and told them that I didn't do well with Lidocaine, that it was pretty much ineffective. If they were going to use it to numb my throat, it may be hard going. This I knew already from an endoscopy I had done last year.  Interestingly, they took no notice of what I said, and with what looked like a caulking gun, a nurse began making a thick swirl down my throat like she was doing some 'Good Housekeeping' cake decorating. She was smiling as she did it, and I about choked! I forgot to say that I was strapped into a gurney chair that could've been one taken from Guantanamo Bay.


I gagged, coughed, spat and my watering eyes clamped shut. I said 'is this some kind of torture?' I asked why they didn't put me under before doing that. That's when they told me they were going to do "Twilight". I pleaded with them to put me somewhere between "Twilight and Midnight!" I told the doctors who were doing the procedure that if they didn't put me under deep enough that I might possibly fight back. They chuckled. I don't remember too much, thank god - but they had put a wet washcloth on my forehead; it kept slipping toward my traumatized nostril. I opened my eyes and saw my arm being swatted down by a nurse every time I tried to pull the dangling washcloth off my head. It was like a sissy cat fight, every time she swatted, I swatted right back. I was trying to talk and explain what I was doing. I just wanted the washcloth off my face. I couldn't speak through the apparatus in my mouth - it was way worse than trying to talk at the dentist. They kept telling me not to talk. After it was over, I think I might have said, "I told you so! I told you I'm a fighter!" to the doctors in defiance  - but that may have just been a 'Twilight' hallucination.

Eventually I got put on a long leash of oxygen tubing in my room which allowed me to get up to go to the real bathroom. I had to make sure I didn't pull the IV from my arm, and all the tubing, plugs, and machines had to be pulled around in just the right way. It was a lot of work for someone that was still shaky on their feet.

At first I didn't really want visitors, even Dan, because I was either sleeping or having some test or having blood withdrawn. I didn't even watch TV. I slept. It was the day after being admitted that Dan came to visit the first time, he walked all the way from home to the hospital to bring me a real hamburger! I felt bad for Dan because after I ate it, I wasn't good company. Then poor Dan had to walk all the way home before it got dark.  I think that's the day he caught the terrible cold that really knocked him down for over a week!

I can't remember what day it was when Dan and Suki came to visit together. Maybe it was the third day. They both had to wear face masks while in the room. All doctors, nurses and hospital staff had to wear yellow gowns and face masks when in the room too. It was written on my closed door that I was contagious. After a few days they took the sign down.

While Suki and Dan were there that day, the Duke Hospital nutritionist came by for a visit. She asked how everything was, and I had to ask her why the hospital food was so bad and un-nutritious? All food was overcooked and over seasoned, the salads (mostly iceberg lettuce) were brown around the edges, and all fruit was jellied, or covered with sugar laden fruit flavored syrup. Dan had brought me a real salad from one of the cafeterias designed for visitors and hospital staff. That food wasn't that bad. The food served to patients was really, really bad. WHY?

The nutritionist said that it was hard to please everyone. And that cancer patients sense of taste is messed up so they don't like anything. I got mad! I thought 'so what!' I know, I've had certain times where my taste buds were all mixed up. But I and every other sick person out there needs nutritious food!
What you see on this menu is far from what you get. Think of dumpster diving...the images of food you'd come up with would be more accurate than what's depicted here. 
Though some of these things sound appetizing - I assure you none of it is! 

I became a crusader for better food, especially after my friend Melissa brought me homemade Pho soup and squash,and the best of all, fresh fruit!!! I ate a strawberry and my body woke up screaming for nutrition. I immediately felt better than I had in all the previous days. Thank god for friends! Thanks Melissa! I had Suki bring me food too! Real food! It was marvelous! Thank you Suki! Eating real food brought me back to life and started me on the path to recovery.

After I told the food services lady not to bring me any more trays, I had visits from three other people on the food board at Duke. They said they had been told I had a problem with the food. One woman actually sat down and wrote down my complaint. I told them it was wrong to serve people the food they were serving. It was keeping people sick. I told them I was going to sic Chef Gordon Ramsay on the Duke Food Services. I can't understand why food can't be prepared on the premises - or at least close by - and why the food can't be healthy.

So, I did, I did contact Chef Gordon Ramsay's production team with this challenge. Change Duke Hospitals Food Services into something healthy. I'll post the letter I sent out to Chef Gordon Ramsay as well as the response I recieved in my next post.

If anyone out there knows Gordon Ramsay personally, please contact me.

To bring this long post to an end, I want to give my thanks to some outstanding people that took care of me. I had a great nurse named Cary, like the town between Durham and Raleigh. She really cared about what she was doing. She was so attentive, sensitive and just great at thinking ahead. She was my favorite. There was Grace, Susan, Nicole, Lila (who was sweet and had amazing stories) and Julie. Thank you all for taking care of me.

Thanks to my doctors, Dr. Reidel, who I've deemed my favorite, in place of Dr Scott Pruitt (who I miss terribly); and Doctor Verma who was very thorough in trying to find out what was wrong with me. In conclusion, the source of my illness was never found. Since I was released from the hospital on February 11th, I've been getting stronger every day.

Thanks to my sweet husband who keeps me going. Seems whenever he's not around, I get into some kind of trouble. If it weren't for him coming home when he did I  really could of been a goner. And Suki, thanks for bringing and watching 'Totoro'. It was very special for you to share that with me. Melissa thanks for the yummy healthy food and the great company. And lastly, thank you Shawn for making that trip before the snowstorm to bring me and Dan healthy good food that lasted us through the week of the storm. I love you all dearly!

One more thing...Starting Tuesday is WFMU's 2014 Fundraising Marathon! Be sure to help our world favorite freeform radio station stay alive! There will be all kinds of prizes and exciting music to hear. If you want to pledge or donate early to WFMU go here.

I'll have more updates coming soon, including my collage art show that Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley put together for me. And the amazing benefit that Rebecca Gaffney, Jen Rogers Anderson, and Laura Rogers put together for me. Also I had some great reviews of my record Handbook For Mortals. I'm excited to write about all these great things. So look out for more to come...