“ You are not alone. You may feel like you are, but you are not.
Mel Majoros is one talented mAss Kicker! She is a 10-year veteran of the television post production industry working on such shows as Walker, Texas Ranger, and Crossing Jordan. In addition to her duties as host of The Cancer Warrior on Empower radio she is also the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show on 1270am 92-1fm WMKT the talk station in Petoskey/Traverse City Michigan. She is heavily involved in cancer advocacy including Relay for Life, Bike4Breast Cancer among others. She is on the board of directors for Cruising for the Cure,a charitable organization benefitting the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit for pancreatic research. Her blog the cancer warriorwas named one of the top ten breast cancer blogs.
mK: Hi, Mel, thanks for joining us. So, what and when was your diagnosis?
MM: Invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer stage 1 grade 3, on September 18th 2007 last day of red wings training camp.
mK: How did you find out about your diagnosis? What were your symptoms?
MM: I had lump, I was in the best shape in my life, I felt great, I was training for hockey, I am the captain of my team, the doctor who did the biopsy said he had been only been surprised by a handful of diagnoses and mine was one of them (ha! Thanks.)
mK: OK “Captain Mel,” you started a great show… Why did you start the Cancer Warrior?
MM: The cancer warrior started out as a blog, writing for cathartic purposes. I started it on a work site then moved it over to a blog site. After only blogging for 3 weeks on my own site mritechnicianschools contacted me and told me I was on their list of top 30 most inspirational cancer blogs. I was stunned. Here I thought I was just writing to get all my emotions out and it turns out I was helping people too. The cancer warrior podcast came about in 2009 when I was working for empower radio as a producer, the ceo of the station asked me if I wanted to host a show about the positive side of cancer, I was nervous, but I said yes.
mK: You know, you become a hero to many when you can find the positive side of cancer. Who is your hero, who do you look up to?
MM: Besides the doctors who saved my life and sometimes don’t get my sense of humor? I would have to say, wow there are a lot of survivors out there who inspire me, and I know he would be shocked to know this but Matt Zachary, who I consider a friend, I look up to him. He started stupid cancer (I’m too young for this) foundation for young adult cancer survivors around the time I was diagnosed in 2007. I also blogged on stupid cancer and I have to give MZ credit for helping me through cancer. Being able to blog helped me find my voice, and that is what I believe helped me through much of my cancer treatment and ultimately survivorship.
mK: Blogging is a great way to get things out of your head. So, what motivates you?
MM: Finding a person or group who has a great story to tell. I have found people and organizations on facebook who may be overlooked by the mainstream media that I talk to. For example mAss Kickers, or Jason Sissel of Endure to Cure, an org that helps pediatric cancer patients. Knowing that I can get the word out about them or their organizations totally makes my day.
mK: What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
MM: Survivorship, depression, and asking for help, that was hard. Realizing that I wasn’t strong enough to control my emotions was difficult. Here I thought I could handle anything, but getting back to work and settling into the new normal and dealing with it, well that was harder than treatment, harder than knowing I had cancer. Survivorship is often overlooked for cancer survivors. I think as a cancer community we are trying to get the medical community to focus more on survivorship. I remember asking my doc for help for depression. Looking back I wish I had asked for help sooner.
mK: Random question time… If you had to spend a day locked in room with one person, who would it be and why?
MM: I would have to say Steve Yzerman, former captain of the Red Wings. I would tell him how being diagnosed the last day of Red Wings training camp and watching the Wings play their hearts out and win the Stanley cup in 2008 was awesome. They hoisted the Stanley cup banner one year to the day of my lumpectomy.
mK: Triumph! Very cool! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
MM: Haha I have an odd sense of humor so just everyday stuff makes me laugh. I try not to cry, and what gets me angry? People who don’t take care of their health. Everyone should at least get a physical. Save your money. Get a checkup it could save your life.
mK: When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnoses?
MM: Not for a long time. I struggled with depression, and still do, I am on medication now for it.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
MM: Arrgh you are going to out me on this aren’t you? Ok I admit I like watching some reality tv: LA Ink, Deadliest Catch, Biggest Loser.
mK: OK, besides watching reality tv, what do you like to do in your spare time?
MM: What is spare time? Haha, in the winter I like to play hockey, and ski. In the summer I like to bike and be outside, and of course hang out with my fiancé Doug and my friends too.
mK: What are you doing now?
MM: Still advocating, I won’t stop until cancer does. I want all the oncologists and cancer hospitals to go out of business and then all the golf courses will be full. That is my goal. Some have called me relentless and tireless but I feel that what I am doing is important, blogging, the podcast, and speaking.
mK: You interact with some pretty cool people. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
MM:Well I worked on television shows so that is pretty interesting to some. Although my very first job this MTV show I worked on let me drive the $125,000 Mercedes convertible back to the rental place. That was fun, but probably not a good idea for someone who just moved to the state. I was late getting the car back, (did I mention I just moved there and oh lord the LA traffic) and the production people laughed about it later but I know at the time they were worried I jacked their car!
mK: HAHA! Gotta make em sweat to keep em on their game! What would you do on your perfect day!
MM: Well it would be about 75 degrees out for one, play hockey all day inside a nice cool ice rink, then have dinner with my fiancé Doug and settle down for a relaxing evening.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
MM: Try to maintain a positive attitude. It won’t get rid of your cancer, but who wants to be in a bad mood all the time? Know that there is always hope, and that there is a whole cancer community of people online who can help you all you have to do is ask. Also knowledge is power, get a second opinion, read up on your disease, ask for help, whether it be through the American Cancer Society, Livestrong, Cancer Care or any of the groups out there. You are not alone. You may feel like you are, but you are not.
mK: Yeah, you gotta seek the help you need, it won’t magically appear for you. Tell us something people probably didn’t know about you.
MM: That if you told me before I had cancer I would be speaking in public and advocating I would have told you that you were crazy. I was always a behind the scenes person.
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
MM: Yeah I want to be invited to the next paintball game, that looked like fun…
We’ll make sure you know next year! “Captain” Mel Majoros, hockey fanatic, radio host, reality TV Junkie, luxury car joy- rider, and driven woman! Check out her blog, The Cancer Warrior and The Cancer Warrior on Empower Radio.