Monday, December 15, 2014

Holding Pattern

My Friends,

I'm forcing myself to place this here today just to reach and calm a few who care. The profound weakness in my body prevents my glib banter and more casual comments about my health. I'm also simply unable to keep up on much personal contact. And frankly I didn't want to put out any new update until it could be more positive.

Later today I am to visit UCLA Med Center to begin treatments in the more serious experimental medicine that may be able to fight off my cancer. Two preliminary infusions of a milder type have supposedly prepared me for the strong stuff. However, the second of those, received last Thursday, could be the culprit in throwing off my digestion; as of today, I cannot keep anything in my stomach and I will be surprised if my doctor doesn't send me straight to emergency to get re-hydrated at least.

This is all I can say for now. I know some folks get extremely concerned when there are such long lapses in communication, and I appreciate that concern. Trust me to get back as soon as anything can be reported.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Being Thankful

Yes, in a few weeks we will again celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and I will again be thankful - this year mostly thankful to still be here on top of the sod. It will be even better if plans stay intact and our kids come to spend the holiday with us, although it is a downer to consider how much of my loud and sloppy pain they will be forced to endure with me. But I know they care enough about me to not care about the disruptions.

Quick update: my case (as yet with no treatments begun nor big decisions made) is scheduled to be handed off to one of the top melanoma specialists on the planet. I am to meet him at UCLA Med Center on November 17 and perhaps we will soon begin an official therapy of some kind. Perhaps I will make it to Thanksgiving.

CHEERS to all,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Memories & Dreams

Sitting in my pick-up, waiting for my wife to come out of the store, I was suddenly imbued with a deeply rewarding memory. The parking lot was transformed to one from long ago - half my life ago - and my waiting was for several buddies to show up at the city park to start a rousing game of softball. I felt so vital!

That's how strong a memory can be. And all it took was a few moments of comfort provided by a small pain pill I had taken an hour earlier. The seat in my pick-up is comfortable anyway, and the particular position I had assumed in the seat after parking was somehow just right. Feeling no specific pain at that moment allowed me to forget all the general pains and to glory in the idea that I would soon leap from the truck and start warming up, throwing softballs around and stretching to prepare for the game.

Thirty-five years ago it was a different Ford pick-up I owned and the back end, under one of those raised "camper" covers, stored all the various sports equipment for my active life of the time. Carried also there were folding chairs to set out at the games, and along one side was a bench/bed where I often crashed during long afternoons or even over-nights at the lighted parks where 48-hour tournaments were popular. I couldn't get enough of them!

The store where I waited today was a pharmacy and my wife was thoughtfully picking up some more medication for me - the most needed, a strong cough deterrent to allow me to get some sleep or maybe even be able to hold a conversation without breaking into a "fit" of uncontrollable and unpleasant coughing. The lung, now filling up with malignant tumors, is struggling to find enough space for somewhat regular breathing. One last biopsy to go before it is determined what kind of treatment I am to get; then after a few weeks we can begin to assess any progress being made in the cancer fight.

But oh, those beautiful memories!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sharing MUCH more - - -

Well, yesterday we finally found out that my various difficulties – particularly my wracking cough and a miserable lack of energy – have had good reason. Apparently I’m not through with cancer.

The rare malignancy called a desmoplastic melanoma presented as a growing tumor on my right shoulder in the first two months of 2013. By March it had been biopsied and diagnosed as cancer and had to be removed. Problems with the transitions of my Medicare coverage and various blunders (mostly mine, I’m sure) caused the actual removal of the lesion to be delayed until June 3rd, by which time it had reached about the size of a tennis ball with the upper third standing above the shoulder and the bulk of the tumor intertwined with the skeletal structure. My surgical oncologist did a remarkable job of excising the tumor and leaving no fragments that could contain cancer cells. Later tests and the cautionary use of radiation to the shoulder area gave everyone confidence that the entire cancer was eliminated. Even a sentinel node biopsy in October revealed that my lymphatic system was clear also. However, we now know a year later, that some “scout” cells had migrated into the right lung and until July of this year, did not show up on any scans. A deep and incessant cough developed in July and a chest xray was ordered, resulting in the picture of a “spot” which needed further study. A CT scan showed it to be two masses, one looking like a medium-sized egg and the other, about a third of that size, positioned above the larger one.

A first biopsy, taken while a bronchoscope was being used, was ineffective in giving any clear diagnosis. So in mid September, a PET scan was performed on one day and on the following day, a CT scan-assisted needle biopsy of the larger mass. These were finally read, studied and revealed to me yesterday, Sept. 26. The biopsied material matched the tumor that was removed last year.

Much new testing and decision making regarding my case will ensue, beginning Oct 1, with some kind of surgery and/or treatment projected to begin during October. I will continue to be my positive self, enjoying all I can manage of this good life of a pretty lucky man. I am not suffering the way billions of humans have endured and still suffer day after day. I am not (as far as I know) slated for a horrible death at the hands of fanatics. I am living a sweet and enviable life with a lovely golf course at my back gate and an even lovelier little blonde to sit with me in the patio swing to watch glorious sunsets. I will not indulge in pity parties and I suggest that anyone who relates to me at all, do so in the same old way. Laughter is always good medicine.

With the wonders of medicine and scientific advances, there is a decent chance I will yet live to watch my 8-year old grandson grow up and begin his adult life. Perhaps even some more golf will be in our future and I still look forward to the day I play a reasonably good round but he bests me in style! If none of this scenario is to be, then trust me to go in peace with the theater in my mind reeling out the great story I am confident my grandson’s life will be.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sharing a Bit - Sept 9

Hmm, looks as though I missed the month of August entirely! At least, I missed on making any posts here. My friend Al mentioned this lack of posting recently and said he assumed it was due to my many ailments and dealing with yet more ailments my wife has been suffering. Then also there has been the need to keep up with business, which goes on no matter how I may feel on a given day. And this was all true.

But here's to all my friends who are concerned and have expressed desire to know what is happening. My wife (Phyllis) has finally nailed down a definite date for surgery to correct her deteriorated upper spinal column and have some fusion of bone fragments to rebuild the protection needed around her delicate spinal cord. The date is September 30 and I have high hopes for success to relieve a great deal of pain - even though she is dreading the new form her body will assume with a stiffness and lack of full motion she has always enjoyed. I've promised to patiently re-train her golf swing to match the new restricted range of motion. But we are getting there!

My own appointment yesterday to hear the results of scans and a biopsy of last week was a "bust." In medical terms, the results were "negative." That of course is not some kind of negative outlook for my future - merely their expression for knowing no more than we did before. Had it been "positive," that would have meant probable cancer that could then be set for treatment. But "negative" merely means we start over with new tests because whatever is in my right lung is restricting my breathing and causing a horrible cough that sometimes causes other pains, not required to be described here. Point is, we don't know what is going on inside my body - yet.

Friday I will undergo a PET scan (which is supposed to unfailingly reveal any cancer formation) and there is already planned a follow-up test which is described as a "C T scan assisted needle biopsy" which should give conclusive evidence of what the mass is made of and how it should be treated. Again - we wait.

News when it happens . . .

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


We in the West continue to have to work so hard and our leaders have to scramble to somehow "help out" every time another Middle East skirmish breaks out. When will the world get smart?

The Jewish state is an experiment reaching nearly 70 years now and that is at least 50 years too long! Eventually the sheer numbers of forces against them will win, even though all Jews and Christians believe that a Hebrew manifest destiny will prevail and their god will crush all foes in the end. Well, that's pure bullshit!

Consider how U.S. citizens would be reacting to anything resembling the mayhem caused by the theft by Jews of the land in Palestine. Had the axis powers won World War II, who knows what our own country would be suffering today? What if the powers of Europe, essentially rulers of the world, had been able to set up a whole state within our borders on behalf of some group who claimed they should be here "just because?" And not only setting up shop, government and all, within our borders but taking over more than half of Washington D.C. in the process? Or of New York City?

That's what a hard-charging group of Jews were able to pull off in 1948 with the backing of the U.S. and other western powers who rightfully felt compassion for the whole Jewish race. Had the compassionate westerners who jumped to the aid of the Jews been more wise and compelling, they could have talked the "chosen people" into realizing the folly of moving themselves into the middle of a militant world of Islam. The "chosen" could have chosen to better themselves instead of following traditional foolishness of making Jerusalem such a prize that simply had to be theirs. A lovely (and larger!) place somewhere in the western hemisphere could have been completely ceded to them if we were so compassionate - and they could have built a fabulous (and far more beautiful) replica of the storied "promised land" while being safe from harm among people who invited them to build and live in peace.

Today the people called "Israelis" go about their studied and practiced killing of their neighbors while enjoying the grand cheering section over here in this "compassionate" country. We should be instead telling them it's time to move into the modern world and move OUT of the Middle East where they don't stand a chance - god or no god!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th, and All That Stuff

Certainly the locals had to wonder why I was one of those standing in almost unpresentable casual clothing in my driveway, waving and shouting "Happy 4th" instead of having my golf cart decorated like theirs and being part of the parade. Truth is, I needed this day off! My cell phone is even staying turned off and I am enjoying one of those uncommon days of no obligations. Truth is, I'm exhausted from all the time I stay "on duty" when anyone calls because I need to be that kind of servant if I am to earn even a nominal living here in this little community over the coming years.

At least we are near to having the status of "home-owners" added to our family resume; with a little luck we will very soon sign papers and take proper possession of this property we have enjoyed for nearly nine years. Then we may just have a future, here or wherever we may choose to go if and when we sell the home. But we are nearer to a comfort zone than we have been in many years.

So HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to one and all! I'm certainly all for independence!!!