Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Interesting Exercise

Today, I decided that it might be interesting to see just how many medical appointments I've had this past year. I created a spreadsheet. I had appointments on 125 different days. Some days I had multiple appointments - I think on about 15 of them. Estimated total time spent at said appointments - 161 hours. Travel time to each appointment - about 30 minutes each time. 30 minutes over 125 days is another 60 hours. So, a total of about 220-some hours of my waking days in 2008 were spent either in medical appointments or in transit to one.

That's about 5 or more weeks of a full-time job.

No wonder it takes me longer to get work projects done.

Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cat News . . . and a Phone Call From My Oncologist

I took my cat, Elizabeth, to an orthopedic surgeon vet, today. He couldn't see a tear in the muscle on the x-rays and he felt her leg and definitely found the area that hurts her - it was still swollen. It wasn't the achilles, but another muscle that corresponds to the area of our calf muscle - forgot the name, it was "gastro" something or other. He said that he'd never seen an injury like this before, but it was his opinion that we should wait and see if the injury heals itself. If it isn't better in a couple of weeks, then we might talk about surgery. He based part of his opinion on the fact that she does appear to be better. She's not dragging her foot (the foot would actually bend so that the top of the foot was dragging on the ground) like she was and she is now able to gingerly put some weight on it. I just saw her hop on top of the chair - technically, I'm supposed to keep her from jumping so that she doesn't reinjure that muscle. But I couldn't get to her in time. So, it does seem to be resolving itself and she really wants to go outside.

Whew. It saves me some money.

In other news, after dinner, I got a phone call from Dr. K, my oncologist. He said that he's been getting updates from Dr. H, my plastic surgeon, about my upcoming surgery. Dr. K just wanted to go on record as saying that he thinks it's a bad idea and that it might take a few months for the tissue to heal (since it's been irradiated) and that it'd be better to leave well enough alone. However, as Dr. K said, he is not a surgeon. My understanding from Dr. H is that this kind of reconstruction is actually going to be a good thing because he's bringing in good tissue with its own blood supply - and it's also tissue that's never been radiated - and so I don't think that the wound would take as long to heal.

So, now Dr. K has me questioning the whole thing to some extent. I will proceed with the surgery but will make sure that I broach the whole topic with Dr. H first to make sure my understanding is correct. I asked Dr. K if his concern was with whether or not I'd have a relapse and he said that it wasn't. He was more concerned about having a wound that would take months to heal, especially since I've been dealing with an open skin wound for 9 months already. Granted, it has been almost five months since the tissue expander came out and it's not quite healed yet ... in the end, I don't really think that any one really knows what will happen. My case is somewhat unique. Honestly, I'm more concerned with the potential of a relapse - I know I can deal with an open wound. But it wouldn't be an open wound - it'd have sutures. Sigh . . .

It's always something.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tree Is by the Curb

Scott and I took the decorations off the tree last night and then this morning, he took the tree outside.

We were both a little sad to see it go. It was a good tree. I think I got some pictures and will have to post them when I remember. We had to take it down,though, because Eddie and I head up to Portland on Wednesday afternoon, and I have a busy couple of days before then.

I just spent the morning putting away the decorations, except for the stockings and the tablecloth, which I will get after we get back from Vegas.

I'm going to try to work on one of the syllabi for my winter term classes today, then my family is having a belated Christmas Day dinner (my sis had to work that night, so rather than try to fit everything in, we waited) later this afternoon.

Tomorrow, I take Elizabeth to see an orthopedic surgeon in Springfield in the morning, meet another job candidate in the afternoon and then hear his talk. On Tuesday, we will discuss the candidates in the morning, then I have my zoladex and zometa appointment, then the appraiser is going to stop by to continue the work for the refinance.

Wednesday morning or Tuesday night, I need to pack. I also need to pay bills, and finish the other syllabi.

Whew. I'm glad I'm getting over my cold - still a bit of nose congestion and a bit of a cough, but I almost don't notice it.

Does someone want to do my work for me? LOL

Friday, December 26, 2008

Forgot to Post This Cartoon

Monica sent me this cartoon a few days ago. I meant to post it before Christmas, but I forgot. I think this classifies as a "boob joke"!!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve doin's

My whole family came over for Christmas Eve. We usually have a bunch of snack foods set out and then we do our family gift exchange. Eddie received two things he really wanted - a Tabletop Price is Right game from my sister and the movie "Who Bob What Pants" from my brother. He also received a book, a sweatshirt, a reindeer with gloves, and then Santa brought him a tabletop air hockey game, an OSU shirt, a handheld UNO game, and a Deal or No Deal calendar which has weekly games.

I received a sweater, a coral necklace made by a man from Santo Domingo Pueblo (from Scott), hand-made speakers from my brother Scotty (he's going to try to make this his new business venture), a nice soft throw from my sister, new flannel pj's and a black turtleneck from my folks.

Scott received two new throws, a new pair of slippers, and a pair of pants.

We had a nice evening. Kenna (my niece) helped me make rice krispie treats and she helped me wrap some gifts for Uncle Kevy.

The kids also had a lottery ticket treasure hunt. They only won $7 all together, though, which they have to share with each other.

Well, Merry Christmas again! I need to take a shower!

Gimpy Elizabeth

Yesterday, the roads north to Clackamas were really bad, so rather than chance a really long drive (it took Scott three hours to come home, partly because he spent 40 minutes behind snow plows), I canceled the appointment for her surgery. The vet surgery center gave me a couple more numbers and I found another orthopedic vet surgeon in Springfield - a little bit closer than Clackamas - and it's in the south Willamette Valley which has had very little snow. We seem to be in a bit of a banana belt here. Anyway, she has an appointment in Springfield on Monday and if he decides on surgery, it'd be Tuesday. That's cutting it a bit close in terms of my vacation . . .

In the meantime, she is wandering around the house. She really wants to go outside but I don't want to let her outside for now. She doesn't seem to want to use her kitty litter box. But she is eating and drinking water. She is on pain meds and one of them had an anti-inflammatory, so I presume that that is what's helping her get around. She still wants to hop up on top of things.

The poor thing. She has been wanting more petting, though, and who can blame her?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Can't Put Her Down

After a busy afternoon, my son and I picked up my niece and nephew so that they could come over and spend the night with my son. I took them out to dinner at a restaurant called Pastini's, which just opened. They're a local chain that operates in Portland - really good pasta. Afterwards, we came to my house and pulled into the garage. And, there was poor Elizabeth, our cat that we've had for 18 months, limping toward the kitchen door dragging her right hind leg. Her paw was hanging limply as if broken.

Luckily, my folks came right over to watch the kids while I took her to the vet. After an hour and x-rays, the diagnosis was a torn achilles tendon. She didn't have any signs that she'd been in a fight or hit by a car, so as near as the vet could tell, she apparently tried to jump up or off of something and got caught, tore her achilles and apparently hit her head or jaw hard enough to break off part of her tooth. One of her claws was torn off.

Treatment choices are 1) amputate her leg; 2) surgery; or 3) euthanize her. (Actually, the vet didn't give me the third choice, but I gathered that that is always an option.) I chose surgery. I'm hoping OSU's vet surgery is open tomorrow, otherwise, I need to drive her up to Clackamas to take her to a vet orthopedic surgeon. I have an appointment at Clackamas at 12 in case I need it.

The cost? $2500.

Criminy. I do have pet insurance which will cover up to $1000. That means $1500 out of pocket.

Can't really afford it. But I also cannot bear the thought of putting her down. While waiting for them to bring Elizabeth back into the room, I thought about the option of putting her to sleep and started to cry. I just can't do it.

The thought occurred to me that this could be me . . . what if insurance or my doctors decided to go the cheaper route of either euthanizing or amputating an appendage? My own battle with cancer can be characterized as doing whatever it takes to maintain a relatively high quality of life. How can I not do the same for this animal that trusts me and who has given me comfort? I have to do what I can to give her a good quality of life.

She is also Eddie's first pet. He's bonded with her and I couldn't bear the thought of taking her away from him.

I know that many people out there believe that animals are just animals, below humans. But in the Inupiaq belief system, animals have spirits, too, and even more, they also have intelligence and free will. Animals are people with a different skin.

Maybe a year ago, maybe less, Scott said that he had a dream while staying at my house in which he saw a cat come out of my bedroom closet and make its way to my bed. Either the week before or the week after, as I was going to sleep, I felt a cat jump onto my bed, but I knew that I'd let Elizabeth out, so she wasn't in my room. My conclusion was that Ptery (short for Pteradactyl - when she was a kitten, she jumped on my shoulders like a bird roosting there - tried a bunch of bird name, but didn't like them) had come to visit. Ptery died in Dec 2006. I got her initially in 1989 and she was my cat for a few years, until I moved to DC to do some work. Then, my brothers and then my folks inherited her. Ptery became their cat. But she still remembered me. It reminded me of one of Richard Bach's books, I think the one called "A Bridge Across Forever" in which he and his then-wife, Leslie, were trying to learn how to have their spirits travel outside of their body while they slept. When they finally remembered doing so, Leslie said that she saw the ghost or spirit of a cat she had owned still hanging out with her.

So, I can't put her to sleep. The good news is that I refinanced the house, with cash out, a little over a week ago - my interest rate is a full percentage point lower than my current mortgage and I also save almost $300 a month in mortgage payments. So, I guess some of my cash will go to the surgery instead of doing something in the house. The house can wait.

Okay, road gods, please be clear if I have to go to Clackamas! The roads north of here have been really really bad . . . but hopefully they clear up.

It's always something, huh?

Not much new

The big news here has been the weather - we've had snow off and on for about 9-10 days now. It took Scott three hours to get home on Sunday, Eddie didn't have school for three days last week, and Scott's daughter Ashlee had her flight to San Diego canceled yesterday (and he has been standing in line since 2am this morning to try to get her on a stand-by flight today). We haven't had it as bad as Portland and I'm happy about that.

The week-end was fairly busy - since Ashlee was supposed to be away over Christmas, we let her and Eddie unwrap a couple of gifts on Friday and Saturday nights. We went to visit some old friends of mine on Saturday afternoon - my brother is getting into speaker design and my friend Greg has been doing that for years, so it was an opportunity for the two of them to chat. On Sunday night, one of my friends had a surprise birthday party for her husband, also an old friend of mine. Rick turned 50 and the party was at the Senior Center!

Now, I'm just trying to get caught up with some work - final edits to a revise/resubmit, class syllabi for winter, and cleaning up my office. I need to clean out my in-box and my sent-mail box - over 2500 messages in the in-box and over 3000 in the sent-mail. YIKES!

My whole family will be here on Christmas Eve, so I need to do some clean-up here at home, too. I did some on Sunday. Scott will also be here depending on the roads. Ashlee may join us, too, if she can't get out of Portland.

Z-day next Monday. We'll see how the tumor markers are doing. My wound still seems to be healing. I do have a slight cold that is more a pain in the neck than anything. Just a bit of chest congestion and a slight stuffy nose.

Can you tell I'm reaching for news to tell? LOL I'm doing fine, overall. No complaints here. It's going to be a good Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Good Week

I had a massage on Wednesday, acupuncture on Thurs, and saw my oncologist's nurse practitioner yesterday. I saw my plastic surgeon on Monday. Basically, the surgeon saw some good pink tissue where that gaping 2cm hole was and yesterday, when showing it to H, the nurse practitioner, I was astounded.

There's pink tissue going right down the middle of that open wound.

I've been on Vitamin E since mid-November (maybe earlier) and it really seems to have kick-started the healing process. It seems to be going much quicker than it was. I've also been practicing qi gong fairly regularly - trying to do deep breathing and take in lots of oxygen, which helps with healing, too.

People tell me I look great.

I feel great. I still get tired and my sleep is often interrupted, but in general, I have decent energy. I do need to learn how to relax better. Even as I type, I feel tension in my shoulders. Got work to do, but my son's off school again today. It's because I know I have work to do, but I'm blogging instead. Time to let go of the tension. The work will get done, eh? My son wants me to play "Price is Right" with him. That seems more important at the moment.

Have a great week-end! And, for those of you dealing with cold snowy weather and bad roads - be safe, okay? I'm looking out my window and just saw some snow tumbling off the branches of the pine tree in my neighbor's yard. the snow covering the fences and the sun shining in my window makes for a serene view.

Bah humbug, work. It can wait!

Yippee Skippy! Woo hoo! Congrats, Liz!

I just caught up on some of my fellow bloggers and one of them, Literally Liz, just reported that her CA15-3 numbers have fallen from a high of 218 to 92! She found out in the late summer that the cancer had spread to the bones in her brain and also a new spot on her liver, I think (shoot - I've forgotten again and she specifically wrote a comment to remind me. Sorry, Liz!). She's been on Ixempra - has had three treatments, I think, and just got your blood work results.

So cool to hear that! Love those kinds of stories. They are the kinds of stories that must be celebrated and congratulated! Go, Liz! Kick cancer's butt, will ya?

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've always liked the idea of luminaries - not sure when I heard about them. But in recent years, during the Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society puts luminaries around the track and people will write the name of someone that they want to remember or commemorate during the Relay. So, when my nephew's school fundraiser had Christmas luminaries for sale in their catalog, I bought some - but I still need to figure out how to do lawn lights for them. I found another set of luminaries the other day that were made to go out on the lawn and my dad helped me set them up. Here is the picture at night - forgive my camera as it doesn't have a strong flash.

In keeping with the ACS's practice and after reading Doug's blog, I decided that I'd dedicate the luminaries to those individuals that I know who have died from cancer. So, the five lights seen in the picture are for my uncle Gabriel Muktoyuk, who died in February 2006 from pancreatic cancer; my auntie Margaret Penatac, who died in May 2008 from lung cancer; my grandmother, Gladys Kingston, who died when I was 19 from kidney cancer; my grandmother's mother, Clara Shellenberger, who died of colon cancer; and Jane Easton, who died in June 2008 of colon cancer. My uncle Gabe was a great supporter of my research and I'm very close to his kids; my auntie Margaret was always cheerful even though there was a lot that happened to her - she served fresh baked bread to Teddy Kennedy; I was close to Grandma Kingston - she lived near us most of my life; I don't remember great-grandma very much, but I think I met her when I was small; and I think I remember seeing Jane around town and started reading her blog near the end of her life in May. The blog address was on a fundraiser flier so I started reading it and have continued to read Jane's husband's blog afterwards. With the luminaries, their lights are still shining. I will be remembering them this holiday season.

Rest in peace, everyone.

Pump Up the Jam

I saw my plastic surgeon today. He thought the wound was healing nicely - he even saw some good skin tissue in the area that he was concerned about last month. I told him that I'd pretty much decided on a TRAM flap and he was fine with that. I also asked about whether or not the left tissue expander needed "pumped up" and he had time today, so he put another 50 cc in that side. So, I'm even more lopsided. I think I can see the difference and I can feel a bit of a difference, too. I said that I wanted to get to about a "B" cup. He didn't seem to know how much total saline that would take. I think I have about 400 cc's in that side now. I guess I need to measure it . . .

He's gone for the next couple of weeks, but after New Year's, I have two more "pump-ups" scheduled.

This is certainly a strange process, eh?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

We finally got snow yesterday evening and last night - maybe about an inch and a half all together. There's no school today! It would've been nice to sleep in, but Eddie's dad called at 6:19am and woke me out of a sound sleep to tell me that school's been canceled. That woke Eddie up. I tried to have the two of us go back to sleep, but no luck. We got up at 7:10am and I admit to being cranky.

In the meantime, it's partly sunny, windy, and about 21 degrees out. I heard that it might get up to the mid- to high-30s today. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon at 10:45; I was supposed to have lunch with another mom from Eddie's class and then meet with my grad student this afternoon, but the latter two may be canceled. Luckily, I do have work here that I can do - drafting my winter term syllabi and writing an abstract for the Norway conference.

So, it's back to my "week" mode - the one where I expect to be alone, but busy, and am therefore feeling okay about life again. Even thankful. That's what I need to remember - Scott tried to remind me of that the other day when we did get to see each other for a bit. He said, "At least we got to hang out together for a couple of hours!". I should've focused on that. It's a matter of making a conscious choice to be happy with what you do have not focus on what you don't. It is a choice that you can make each day you wake up. Hard to remember to do, I know. I think the more you do it, though, the easier it gets.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Weather Messed Up My Weekend

I was supposed to go up to Portland yesterday and hang out for aday and night with Scott, but a winter storm was forecast so we decided that neither of us should really travel. Instead, we met in Salem for a couple of hours.

I just talked to Scott and he said that it's blustery, snowy weather up there with about an inch or two. We didn't get snow here until about 5am and it has since mostly melted. When I saw it had melted, I thought that I'd been too cautious, but when Scott described the conditions up there, it seems that we made the right decision.

I'm bummed. Eddie was with his dad this week-end and I've felt lonely. I'm just tired of living alone - it'd be nice to have the companionship through the holidays. It's just hard going to get-togethers with friends, family, and colleagues without a partner.

I had things to do, though, and that helps - volleyball and then a beer with teammates on Friday night, then a holiday get-together and white elephant exchange at my chair's house midday yesterday.

Got all my presents wrapped. Working on Christmas cards today. A baby shower later, although we'll have to see how the roads are - the shower is in Philomath, but up in the hills a bit. Don't want to get caught driving on ice.

Well, hope you all are doing well!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Feet Are Ready for Vegas!

This evening, I got a hair cut and I also received a pedicure. Last March, when the local paper profiled my fight with cancer and my collection of boob jokes, one of the moms at Eddie's school told her hairdresser that she knew (or had at least seen) me at school. So, her hair dresser, Lisa Mattson, the proprietor of the beauty salon, "Hair, Body, and Sole" gave the mom a gift certificate for a free pedicure to give to me. Since then, I've had the ladies there give me hair cuts and pedicures and since I am still in active treatment, my pedicures are free.

The last few times, Michelle has cut my hair and given me a haircut. I feel a certain kinship with Michelle. I saw her up at the cancer center when she was taking her mom up there for radiation treatments last summer. It was her mom who asked me once, "Why are you so cheerful?" and my reply was "Because I work at it." I tried to lighten her mom's day by telling jokes - the cancer that was in her liver had metastasized to her brain. Unfortunately, Michelle's mom died shortly after I finished my radiation treatments. Michelle's son also has Asperger's-like symptoms. Since late summer, Michelle has been my hair dresser and has given me pedicures.

Michelle gave me a haircut and pedicure tonight. When choosing the nail color for my toes, I wanted to find something festive and a color I haven't worn before. We settled on gold, so we found one that was dark enough to contrast with my skin and it has sparkles. Fortunately, Michelle didn't have another appointment, so she took her time massaging my feet and my calves and trying to soften up the callous on the balls of my feet. I drank a glass of reisling. We chatted. It was fun!

My toes look great! Perfect for Vegas - we (Eddie, Scott and Ashlee) will be there from Jan 1 to 4. My feet and legs also feel relaxed! And, to top it off, the pedicure is still free.

So, thank you, Lisa! Thank you, Michelle! And, thank you, "Hair, Body, and Sole!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Stuff Maynard

I wasn't sure what to name this post, so I decided to use a saying my friends and I used in high school - "Good stuff Maynard". It seemed appropriate for the day.

I ran errands this morning, then got to work in time to go to lunch with my colleague, Loren. We chatted at length about my article on placename density and he had some good ideas about things to explore to perhaps make it more palatable to the hard science folks at Polar Geography. They finally got back to me last week and said that they are potentially interested in the article and that it is something that they'd publish. Loren seems to have a knack as to how to approach researching questions you might have of your data. I like talking to him about this stuff - it really helps to clarify my thinking.

I hung out in the department a bit, then went to the college holiday party, then picked up Eddie, proofed the Christmas card, dropped Eddie off at my folks, then went to a department meeting. Have been doing email and blogging this evening. Eddie is now singing a few Christmas carols as he gets ready for bed - one of the Christmas decorations has a series of songs that one can play.

Last night, I wrapped some presents and put them under the tree. Eddie's trying to guess what's in them, of course. He's asking me things like, "Do you think this is something I will like? Or is it something that I asked for?" That's part of the fun of Christmas, isn't it? The anticipation?

Tomorrow morning, I see the wound care nurse, then participate in a teleconference planning meeting for a conference next fall, then off to take Eddie and other classmates on a fieldtrip to the Christmas Storybookland. I have a haircut/pedicure appointment tomorrow evening.

So, a little of this, a little of that today. Another good day. Another busy day. Another generally happy day. What more can one ask for? I need to keep that in mind instead of wishing for what I don't have. So, thank you again to everyone for being a friend and for reading this blog and giving me support!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Work in Eugene

Yesterday, I spent the morning at the Archives at the University of Oregon. They have the papers from two senators from Oregon who worked on Alaska statehood. So, I went through some of their legislative papers. As far as I can tell, no one involved in Alaska statehood (and perhaps even Hawaiian statehood) really consulted with Alaska Natives to get their opinion. That's a thread that I see running through the interviews I've conducted so far.

Then, I met with a former OSU student who got her bachelor's in anthropology several years ago. She inquired about our Ph.D. program and we got a chance to get caught up.

Then, I went to David Lewis's dissertation defense. David is a Grand Ronde tribal member and he wrote his dissertation about the events that led up to termination for the Grand Ronde tribe. He did an exhaustive job researching the project. Almost all of the tribal council members from Grand Ronde as well as several other tribal members were in attendance. Another woman, Deana Dartt, finished her Ph.D. last week - she'd worked on the Horner Collection several years ago, so it was nice to see her finished as well.

All in all, a good day in Eugene. I'm heading back there this morning to finish looking at the papers, then back to campus for a meeting.

It's cool that I have energy for this sort of thing!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Doin's

A good week-end, so far. Got the tree up and decorate on Friday night. Went to a massage workshop with Scott yesterday morning - we learned great techniques for head/neck, neck/shoulders/back, arm/hand, and foot massage. Aaahhh . . .

Then, we made Christmas cutout cookies - should've taken a picture of the mess! We made the dough Friday night, then Saturday afternoon, we had 4-6 people rolling out dough, cutting it out. The girls - my niece Kenna and her friend Ashleigh - experimented with coloring the dough and made candy canes. Mom made some green Christmas trees. Then, once we cleaned off the table of the dough and flour, it was on to frosting - again, all the girls, including Scott's daughter, Ashlee, experimented with color and design.

Of course, there was some eating of cookies after they got out of the oven. We ended up frosting about 141 cookies, so my guess is that we had at least a dozen dozen cookies! (Wasn't that how many guests that Bilbo Baggins had for his 100th birthday party? The one when he gave Frodo the Ring?)

Sent a couple of dozen home with Rena, with mom, and with Ashleigh. Still have lots sitting on my counter - will send some home to Scott. May bring in more to work. Although I may freeze some, too, for Christmas day!

Today - shopping for the three gift tags that I picked up at Eddie's school - from their giving tree. I also need to get a gift for Eddie's teacher. We also need to put up some more decorations - only got the tree done, but there's a bit more to do. I also want to figure out a way to put luminarias up on my lawn, but using Christmas lights instead of candles. I want to dedicate one of them to Jane Easton, Doug's wife who died from metastatic colon cancer six months ago.

Otherwise, I think I'm finished with shopping.

I really enjoy this time of year - I love seeing the holiday lights on the houses.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two Book Memes

Laurie at Not Just About Cancer posted two memes about books.

Here are the rules:

Part 1: Nearest Book Meme

"The rules are as follows:

Open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!'

Here's mine:

"Kwaw caught it in his hands and it rested there. Ma'kat'da thought that Kwaw could not possibly know what to do with Mist, so he grabbed for it. There was a struggle. In the conflict, Kwaw dropped the mist. Ma'kat'da and Kwaw wrestled over the possession of Mist for eons."

These sentences were from page 60 of the book "Surviving Through the Days: A California Indian Reader. Translations of Native California Stories. Page 56 was blank as it occurred between two sections of the book. Page 54 only had three sentences (they were footnotes) and page 58 was blank. This book was honestly the closest book as I had it on the table waiting to bring it to work. I bought it at the OSU bookstore sale the other night - it was on sale for only $4 and I got an additional 30% off of that. I have a library of books related to Native Americans and especially Native American folklore. It seemed a good deal.

Part 2: Seven Weird Book Facts About Me

Here are my seven weird book facts:

1. A couple of months ago, I wrote object descriptions for two ivory carvings that are in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. They are for an exhibit that is set to open in 2010. The weird fact is that in doing the background research for the carvings, I opened a book (A Legacy of Arctic Art) for the first time since I bought it - in 1998!! I have a lot of books like that in my office and at home.

2. When I worked as an intern at the Arctic Studies Center at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian) in 1992, I decided to browse through the gift store during my lunch break with a coworker. As I perused the shelves in the Arctic section, I decided to pull of a book on birch bark canoes and kayaks because I knew that King Island kayaks had been researched. I looked at the back for book content and, sure enough, there was an article on King Island kayaks. I then flipped open the book, read the caption under a photo of an Eskimo man on the left-hand page, and exclaimed to my friend, "Look! There's a picture of my grandfather, Stanislaus Muktoyuk!" She didn't believe me, but it really was my maternal grandfather.

3. Just yesterday, I flipped through the pages of another book I got at the bookstore sale the other day. It was called Spirit Capture and it has articles and prints of the photos in the collection at the National Museum of the American Indian. On the page opposite the title page, there was a print of three Eskimo women from the Bering Strait region - and one looked just like our tribal coordinator! I swear it was her twin.

4. I think I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 11 or 12 times. The last time was when I underwent intravenous chemo 6 years ago.

5. Not only do I have bookshelves both at home and in my office, my tables and desks have piles of books on them and generally each pile (which may have 5 or 6 books) relate to different writing or research projects I'd like to work on.

6. I love bookstores - and I'm fortunate that I live near one of the largest new and used bookstores in the nation - Powell's Books in Portland. There are several levels over a city block.

7. It's been a few months since I read a book cover to cover; I've read bits and pieces of quite a few books, mostly related to articles that I've been writing.

Have fun! I won't tag anyone this time ...

More Good News

I forgot to mention - my volleyball team won our match on Tuesday night! 21-11 and 21-3.

We're now 4 and 1 for the preseason. This may mean that we get bumped up a league. But, it's fun winning, nonetheless!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good News and More Good News

First, this month's tumor markers were

19.5 for the CA15-3 and

1.2 for the CEA!

Great! That's five months of low numbers - I mean, numbers below 20 for the CA 15-3! Remember that anything below 31 for the CA 15-3 is "normal" and anything 3.8 or under is "normal" for the CEA.

Here's the CA 15-3 history:
Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL

Here's the history for the CEA:

1/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
3/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
6/2008 - 1.0 ng/mL
8/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL (need to double check this number, but it was in that 0.9 to 1.2 range)
9/2008 - 0.5 ng/mL
10/2008 - 0.9 ng/mL
10/31/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL
11/28/2008 - 1.2 ng/mL

And, in other news, I changed the dressing on the open wound last night. I swear it has really improved in the last week. It's hard for me to measure, but it seems that the half of the wound nearest my breast bone has completely healed. All good tissue there. And, it seems like good tissue is forming in that area where there was a 2cm gaping hole. Very cool! I see L., my wound care nurse, next week. We'll see what she has to say!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Days With No Mention of Cancer

It just occurred to me . . . over at least the past two days, I have not brought up cancer into any conversations and no one has brought it into any conversation with me, either. My office manager just mentioned yesterday that "you look good". I knew what she meant, but we didn't have to say anything.

The great thing is that at work, I've talked about work. At home, I've chatted to Eddie about his day and schoolwork. With family and friends, it's all about daily life stuff.

How cool is that?

I love it when cancer doesn't take center stage.

(Of course, it doesn't mean that I'm neglecting any of my treatments - to the contrary, I take my meds and do my qi gong on a daily basis. But it's "habit" now, like brushing my teeth, and doesn't take much extra time. I've been expending my mental energy to living life. I love that that is the case. Until I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I didn't realize that using my mental energy to just live a normal life would be such a luxury. I'll never take that for granted again, that's for sure!!)

Have a great day!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I think I mentioned that Z-Day was last Friday. I stayed fairly busy that whole day, but was tired from having got up early. On Saturday, I was still tired. I didn't sleep real well Friday night. But I also think that the zometa might've made me fatigued. I tend to have side effects from Zometa the day after the treatment and it didn't occur to me until Sunday that zometa might've contributed to the fatigue I felt on Saturday. I didn't get a fever - a good thing - but I do seem to get fatigued.

I had decent energy on Sunday and today, though, along with good night's sleep Saturday and Sunday. Well, good for me. I slept 7-8 hours, but woke up every 1.5 to 2 hours, which were usually associated with hot flashes.

Also, I didn't practice qi-gong Thurs and Fri night. I completed the 8 Treasures form Sat and Sun and slept better. Soooo . . . whaddya think I'm going to do? Keep practicing qi gong before bed. I believe it really helps!