Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tumor Marker Results and Blast From the Past

I received my tumor marker numbers yesterday - my treatment was Mondayday. The CEA was up to 13.2 (from 10.5 last month) and the CA15-3 was down to 37.5 (from 38.5 last month). Anything less than 3.8 is normal for the CEA and anything less than 33 is good for the CA15-3.

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
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL
12/28/2009 - 13.2 ng/mL

And, here's the CA15-3.

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 (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL
August 31 2009 - 31.9 U/mL
Oct 3 2009 - 38.7 U/mL
Nov 2 2009 - 36.4 U/mL
Nov 30 2009 - 38.5 U/mL
Dec 28 2009 - 37.5 U/mL

This is the fourth month that the CA15-3 has hovered in the same range - a good thing, I guess. The CEA, though, continues to rise slowly. When I asked Dr. K how he interpreted this a couple of weeks ago, his reply was, "it means that these numbers aren't really telling us anything". Sigh. I knew that, though.

In the meantime, the lymph nodes in my left armpit seem to be either getting a bit bigger or at least not getting smaller. It feels like I have a small egg under there. When I saw Dr. K a couple of weeks ago, he felt that between the tumor markers not going down and the swollen lymph nodes, it probably means that the current regimen (Tykerb and Femara) isn't doing the trick, so he was going to look into what my next option would be. We'll talk about that when I see him in two weeks.

Also, last week, as I felt around my right ribs where they are sore, I felt a small nodule, about the size of a grape, under the skin and under my right arm, just outside the reconstructed breast (the TRAM flap side). I showed it to the nurse the other day and she said she was going to call Dr. K and let him know. I'm going to call him today and see what he feels we should do. It could be a new tumor. Or, it could be calcifications from fractured ribs. It's not tender - not like the ribs - it's just there.

In the meantime, I had a nice long visit with Lisa, one of my first friends when we moved to Prineville when I was ten. I hadn't seen her since high school - we figured it had been at least 28 years since we last seen each other. We had a good visit - got caught up on where our lives were/are and then started chatting about where this person was or what happened to that person. It was fun and interesting . . . it was great to reconnect and I'm sure we'll see each other again. Gotta love Facebook!

Also, things are moving along with my family's move into my house. We've had discussions about what we're keeping and what we're getting rid of, etc. It's been kinda fun because we're reimagining how to use the space. Change is good. It's like the house is getting a bit of a facelift!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas and Post-Christmas Happenings

Christmas Day was fun, although Eddie went back east with his dad and we missed him at our Christmas dinner. We had ham at my sister's house and then watched GI Joe.

Yesterday, I had a lazy morning, then I bought a couple of storage bins - need to start packing up stuff to make room for my folks and my brother. Then, I started taking down the Christmas decorations - figured that should be first in order to make room.

Then, my family and I saw Avatar in 3D. I have to say, it's a very beautifully made movie and the story sounded familiar - big bad corporation trying to get/steal the natural resources from an indigenous people. The scenery of this planet was amazing.

We hadn't had dinner, so we grabbed a bite, then I went to my friend's house to play cards.

All in all, a good day. I need to get going today, though. Pack away the Christmas decorations and then start moving pictures and other things around.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Incredible Generosity

Someone I know - who wishes to remain anonymous - sent me money to give to my folks. I received it today, just in time for Christmas. He'd heard, through Facebook, of my parents' financial difficulties and I guess he wanted to help them out - which also helps me out.

So, this post is just to thank this incredibly generous person for the gift of a happier Christmas for me and my family.

Thank you! And, my parents thank you, too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Preparations Completed!

I feel fortunate. I had a fairly relaxing day. Eddie and I had a lazy morning, then we watched Alvin & the Chipmunks the Squeaquel. It was a cute movie - and I thought the music choices were fun!

Afterwards, we went to the grocery store - holy cow! We circled the whole parking lot - all the spaces down one side of the store, across the front, to the other side of the store before we finally found one. It was crazy when we tried to leave - it seemed like there were a lot more cars and it took us about five minutes to even back out of our spot and get out of the parking lot. Of course, one person was rude about letting someone back out of their spot. It was the only instance of poor holiday behavior, even when I went shopping on Black Friday.

Then, Eddie had an appointment at the dentist's. He passed with flying colors - meaning, no cavities and only a little instruction about brushing.

I'm really going to miss him when he's in Virginia. He'll be gone eight days.

My evening was spent wrapping one last present, then creating rhymes for a treasure hunt - three for each child (Eddie, niece, nephew). They were small gifts. I was getting tired of finding rhymes!

Probably because this morning, for about five minutes, any time Eddie said anything, I would reply in a rhyme. That was fun! We were both being "weirdos"! Eddie likes to use that term for having fun - for being weird and silly and goofy.

Well, time for bed. I hope you all have a great Christmas Eve tomorrow. I just have a bit of cleaning to do tomorrow, then everyone is coming over to my place for the gift exchange. Eddie will stay the night with me - Santa will visit us tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rib pain continues - off and on

I really wish I knew what was going on with those ribs - by evening last night, they were painful again. There's some tender spots right on the lower, lateral part of the right ribs, beginning just under the reconstructed breast and extending under the arm and around to my back. I didn't wear Under Armor yesterday - just a camisole. It feels better this morning - I wore Under Armor to bed and also did qigong to try to loosen things up. My plan is to take an Epsom salt bath this morning . . . if nothing else, those Epsom salts seem to relieve any achiness in my joints. My leg muscles - the calves and lower hamstrings - have been achey, too. I really need to get into a regular streching routine . . .

What's up for today? Decluttering, finishing up a beadwork project, making up rhymes for a treasure hunt for the kiddos, and then taking Eddie to Wacky Bounce with his classmate.

Eddie just asked me what we were doing today - and other than going to Wacky Bounce, he said that he was more than happy to stay home because "Mario Kart Double Dash will keep me focused". He just got a new game he can play on the wii - an early Christmas present. He's really become a Mario Kart officionado. He has almost all the games, I think, from the virtual console version of the original games to the wii. He also likes Mario Bros and Donkey Kong. My own brothers had a Nintendo years ago - they played Mario Bros for hours. For me, that whole franchise dropped off the radar until Eddie got interested in them this year. It's been fun seeing how the games have evolved through the years.

Well, have a great day everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dreamcatcher for a friend

I finally had time to make this dreamcatcher, using a few beads I bought in Hawaii at a beadshow (those are the wooden ones with symbols on them).

It's pretty basic - I do like the way it turned out, though. I wanted it to be asymetrical.

Holiday Week

This week, I am giving myself permission to take a break from work. Well, I do need to respond to a couple of emails. I finished wrapping almost all the presents last night while watching a movie. Yay! Eddie "helped" by taking the wrapped present and putting it under the tree. He kept wondering if the next one was for him! : )

So, what am I going to do with my time?

I want to do a bit of beadwork today. Also, I'd like to start cleaning up the spareroom in preparation for my family's arrival in the house.

I need to go to the grocery store - Spagedward is almost out of his Cheez-its. I should've bought stock in Nabisco years ago ...

One of Eddie's classmates will come over for a playdate this afternoon. They have been planning to race each other since last week - Eddie woke up this morning saying, "You're on!" So, I expect a loud, rambunctious afternoon.

I could really get into this kind of life - having relaxing mornings and only doing work that I want to do. I'll get there someday . . .

Have a great Monday, folks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's my two full-time jobs . . . and my part-time job

Like most parents, I have two full-time jobs: the one that brings in the money and the one taking care of your child (or children).

I also have another part-time job: cancer treatment.

I counted the total number of appointments I had this year. It includes seeing my oncologist or his assistant, the zometa treatments, the dentist, the counselor, the acupuncturist, and a couple of appointments for Eddie.

Exactly how many appointments did I have this year? Drum roll, please:


Yes, seventy-seven appointments.

That's a lot better than last year, when I had 125 days where I had appointments.

But that means that I had appointments on 20% of the days in 2009. 20%.

If you consider that I have travel time and assume an average one-hour appointment, that means that 150 of my waking hours were spent going to medical appointments.

That's almost a month of work hours (40 hours a week x 4 weeks = 160).

Amazing, eh?

And, there's a Plan C

As recent readers of my blog know, I've been trying to institute some ways to save money with impending pay reductions. I'm still planning to pursue a version of Plan A, but Plan B was to fix up the house enough to be able to sell it.

Plan C is to invite my folks and brother to live with me. Something happened yesterday and it looks like Plan C is what we'll do.

My dad and my brother have been looking for work the past two years. I know that my brother has put in well over 100 applications and my dad maybe 30 or 40. No interviews. At all.

In the meantime, several years ago, my mom had acid reflux, but it'd gotten so bad that she'd lost about 10-15 pounds and then had blood in her urine. So, she had an endoscopy. After insurance paid, she owed a significant amount of money. But she couldn't afford to pay. They took whatever was left in her checking account yesterday and left her broke.

I ended up giving them some money from my savings, but in the end, it's a bandaid approach. We all need something that will put a dent in our debt - me in the home equity line of credit that I used when first diagnosed two years ago and my folks who have old medical bills.

So, they're moving in to my house. Probably after the first of the year. I do have two rooms that I don't even really use in the house. We're all going to adjust. But right now the benefits outweigh any negatives to learning how to live with each other again. We each save several hundred a month in expenses, which we can use to pay down debt, and I get home-cooked meals more often. They can help with Eddie in the case I have to have chemo. Dad gets a much bigger yard to play in - for his garden and such. They get internet access and satellite TV. We will now have two cats and a dog. We'll need to figure out storage.

So, some big changes in store after the New Year. I think it'll all work out.

Have a great week-end everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Note to Self

Stop reading the FB posts of conservatives I grew up with. It's infuriating.

Okay, deep breath. Deep breath.

I really want to post a reply . .. but it's Christmas, so I'll let a sleeping dog lie. Or, in this case, a sleeping elephant.

Lazy Day

Now, I'm realizing why I bring Eddie to school every morning! It's to get me out of the house and at work!! LOL

Eddie's dad took him to school this morning, so I'm able to have a lazy morning.

I need to get going, though. I have an eye appointment and then I'll help out in Eddie's classroom.

Yesterday was a little rough. I started it off with a bloody nose, had a bit of diarrhea again, and the pain in my right ribs had migrated around to the back ribs. It bothered me to breath deep, so my breathing was shallow.

It's better now. I slept last night in an "Under Armour" shirt and that gave the ribs more support. I think it helped because I'm able to take deep breaths without more than a tinge of pain.

Enjoy your Friday! 7 more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas "Service" Tonight

Eddie goes to a religious school - and they told us today that it would be a service or worship and not a "program" or "concert".

Eddie has a speaking part.

I'm already proud of him.

Not much else in the news department. Just trying to clean up my office. Haven't called yet about getting my ribs x-rayed or whatever, but they are still sore. Have a great evening everyone!

P.S. Eddie not only had a speaking part, but he was the very FIRST child to speak for the whole program! He did a great job - he enunciated clearly, into the mic, and spoke in a calm, measured voice. Wonderful wonderful job, boogaloo!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Earache's gone, but now ...

I have diarrhea and my sore ribs are aching more.

Not sure what's causing the diarrhea - it is a side effect of Tykerb and I was off of it for three days while I waited for my doctor, the pharmacy, and insurance to do what it is they do best. I started taking it again on Sunday, so perhaps my body is adjusting to it again.

My sore ribs, though, may indicate a fracture. The slight pain has been increasing - deep breaths hurt and last night, I experienced pain as I tried to roll over on my side.

My doctor or my physician's assistant noted that when bones are radiated (and my ribs on the right side have been radiated twice), it changes the architecture of the bones and sometimes, they can spontaneously fracture. I didn't really do anything strenous lately and I haven't fallen on them. I have tried to sleep on that right side more since I have swollen lymph nodes under my right arm and they get uncomfortable when I sleep on that side. It's one of those cases where I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't when I try to sleep. A few weeks ago, I may have overreached once when I played v-ball, but if that's the case, then why have I been experiencing more pain in the last week?

I know there isn't much to do with broken or fractured ribs. They just need time to heal. I am, however, thinking about asking my doctor if I should get an x-ray.

I was feeling sorry for myself, but my cousin expressed sympathy for me, King Island-style, on Facebook a minute or two ago and my mood kinda lifted. Amazing how that kind of support can make you feel.

I also finished this introductory chapter for a book proposal today. That feels good.

Tonight, I'm would like to get my Christmas cards ready to send out.

P.S. Eddie had a bit of diarrhea, too, which suggests that he and I were around something or ate something that would cause both of us to get it. We made cookies at my sister's house on Sunday - something we ate? That would've affected us sooner, so maybe some little bug over there? Who knows? I'm feeling better today. And, I got my cards ready to go. Eddie has a Christmas worship service tonight so while his stomach isn't quite 100%, he's still going to try to go to school so he can go to the program tonight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Holiday Joke (a bit suggestive)

My cousin, Theresa, sent me this joke:

Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?

It stays up for 12 days and nights, has cute balls, and looks good with the lights on!

Ha ha ha ha ha

Mmm mmm good - Yay, Oh Shoot!

Yesterday, my family celebrated my nephew's 11th birthday and then we spent a few hours cutting out (flour is our friend), baking, and decorating Christmas cookies! The flour was flying!

I think we made about 7 dozen cookies in total. Then, my niece helped me make a batch of rice krispie treats, which we colored red and green. So, it was fun!

Today, I was supposed to interview an elder, but she decided that she didn't know enough, so I spent the time trying to get caught up on email and finishing up some grades. Then, I actually finished writing the introductory chapter for my book proposal. Now, I just need to edit it and send it on.

My volleyball team won our match pretty handily tonight. It was fun. We lost the first game, though, because we made too many errors. It was fun!

The rest of this week, I need to identify other interviewees and then follow up on a couple of projects. I have a grant proposal (that I'm working on with three others) and two applications, all due in January, to work on.

Then, next week, I will be on a little holiday and plan to spend it hanging out with my son. Yay!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, What a Night! or Slip-sliding Away!

So, Friday night, I went to a colleague's house for a potluck (except I wasn't sure if I was going so I didn't bring any food). I saw the forecast, which said that there'd be freezing rain around 7pm. I got to the potluck about 5:30pm and then left about 6:50pm. I followed my colleague out the door - and discovered the steps were icy as well as the road. She got in her car and I got in mine and I followed her up the small street to the street sign - she tried to turn right to go down hill and she slowly started sliding and ended up spinning about 270 degrees so that she was pointing left and uphill.

I saw that the road was dry to the left of the stop sign, so I drove there and had some traction and then started downhill to the right - and immediately started sliding a bit sideways, and if I hadn't been able to stop, I would've slid into the trees and/or a mailbox. When I came to a stop, it was in a dry spot under a tree and my right leg was shaking so bad that I decided I shouldn't drive any more.

I went back to my colleague's house to tell my chair and his wife that there was black ice. The host decided to take his car down the hill since he was supposed to take his wife to the train station early in the morning. But as I walked to my car (in the hopes of talking my chair into driving my car down the hill) next to my colleague's car, he fishtailed and the host ended up rearending my car - smashed his headlight and I have a cracked and scratched bumper. My muffler/tail pipe has a small notch.

My chair and his wife decided to walk home, so after getting my car somewhat out of the way and down the hill onto a wider street below. The three of us then walked to their house - the idea was that they might be able to drive me home, but as we were "slip-sliding" to their house, we realized just how icy it was, so I ended up staying the night at their house. It was certainly an adventure - we ended up walking on grass and loose gravel and fallen leaves whenever possible.

The next morning, it was still very icy and I wanted to get home, so I walked first to a coffee shop and had chai and relaxed and thought I might be able to catch a bus that would get me close to my house, so I walked to a bus stop. But after waiting 10+ minutes, I started walking home. Fortunately, I remembered that my dad had to take mom to work and he was close to where I was, so he picked me up. By that time, it had started raining and the icy roads were thawing. He took me to my car and I drove home.

In honor of the night, here's the lyrics to Oh What a Night - I've taken some liberties with the words, though, so beware! : )

Song Lyrics - December 63 (Oh What A Night)

Oh, what a night, late December back in '63
What a very special time for me
As I remember what a night!

Oh what a night,
I did not know there'd be freezing rain
But the streets weren't going to be the same
What a rain, what a night!

Oh, I got a funny feeling when I walked to the street
And I, as I recall there was a lot of sleet

(Oh what a night),
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me
The ice was reflecting off the trees
Sweet surrender, what a night!

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

(Oh what a night!)

Oh, I got a funny feeling when I walked out to the street
And I, as I recall there was a lot of sleet

Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit

Oh what a night,
Why didn't I believe the weather man?
Seemed so wrong, but now I know he's right
What a bummer, what a night!

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

(Oh what a night!)

I felt a rush when I heard the headlight break
Spinning its wheels, I knew I made a mistake

Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit
Oh what a night! Doo dit doo dit dit doo dit doo dit dit

I know my friend Heather could do a better job . . . but I need to get going on my day! Happy Sunday everyone. Oh, yeah. I'm fine. We're all fine. It was just an interesting adventure!

P.S. Monday postscript - actually, my chair slipped and fell yesterday while at another potluck up in the hills - he landed on his wrist with his knee bent, so he's in a little pain today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a day, what a day, what a day - Part 2

Woke up this morning only to discover that my hot water pipe was frozen, although I wasn't sure if it was the hot water heater or not. Had cold water running through it all day - then this afternoon, talked to NW Natural, someone from Judson's, someone from one Heating place and then Hendrix - finally got hold of a technician who asked me to check the pipes coming off the heater and found that one of them was warm. Okay, hot water heater is working. Someone else suggested that I run my dryer in the garage to warm it up. Had it going for awhile this afternoon and then when I returned from dinner at my folks' house. About 30 minutes later - I heard a sputter, then a gush from all my faucets - checked the water - Yay! It was hot.

Whew. Saved me from one expensive repair.

But then, my cell phone kept randomly turning off. Eddie dropped it in some water last January. After blow drying the innards for awhile, it worked fine for a few months, with only occasional glitches. But I started getting them a few times a day, soooo, I decided to replace the phone. This means a little more money out the door . . . I got the phone today. (I don't have a land line.)

Then, I saw my physician's assistant - she works for my oncologist. I've had tenderness around my right ribs (where I had radiation) and this morning, I felt as if I had an egg under my left arm pit from swollen lymph nodes. As I mentioned one of my numbers had inched up again. She decided to bring in Dr. K. The result? Dr. K said that we were not getting the result that he wanted from the Tykerb/Femara mix and so he will think hard about what to do to change up my treatment come January. One idea was to start on Gemzar with Herceptin (getting IV chemo once every two weeks); another is to maybe see if I can get neratinib (a new drug that is like Tykerb - you take it as a pill; however, I guess the major side effect almost everyone gets is diarrhea) or TMB-1 (I think that's what it was) which is a "smart" Herceptin - a drug that can find the cells that are overexpressing Her-2 and then go inside it and stop it from multiplying and growing - in other words, it would only affect cancer cells.

I may also have a new scan in January - to see what's going on in the left lung as well as to see if I have any new or spontaneous fractures in my right ribs since they've been more sore these past few days.

I also found out that our Radiation Center will be getting new technology there by the end of January - I saw two of my techs at the restaurant where I ate lunch today. It's called "stereostatic radiation surgery" and it's a method whereby they are imaging your lung (or other soft tissue) that's moving and direct radiation specifically to a site that has a tumor. This is crucial for lungs since they are constantly moving as you breathe. The techs said that maybe I can suggest to Dr. K to put my case before the local Tumor Board to see if maybe I'd be a candidate for this.

I was upset to hear I might have to have IV chemo. I was feeling pretty discombobulated all day today, because of the frozen pipes, this news, the new cell phone, and all that happened yesterday. But when I had dinner with my folks, they reminded me not to borrow trouble before it's here. So, I'll put away any thoughts of changing up my treatment until I see Dr. K in January. And, have a great Christmas.

And, when I got home, my pipes thawed. So, I'm feeling better and not quite so overwhelmed.

Still have a bit of an earache. Still taking the decongestant. Still need to grade two more papers and then I can submit my grades.

So, everyone, have a great Friday. Things can only improve from here, eh? : )

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What a day, what a day, what a day

I've been fighting an earache for three days, sometimes with a sinus headache. (Of course, in the back of my mind, there was always the worry of there being a tumor somewhere in the brain causing these aches.)

I also had to get my teeth cleaned. I also have a canker sore on the back and bottom of my tongue. The dentist felt that there's a cavity next to one of my crowns, which is apparently getting old. So, the dentist wants to redo the crown and while he's there, he'll be able to see if there's a cavity. Price tag - about $300. It's not urgent, so it'll wait until spring after I receive my tax refund.

After the dentist's, I went to Immediate Care to have my ear checked. No infection, but the doctor felt that my eustachian tube is congested. So, she gave me a prescription for a decongestant. I dropped it off at the pharmacy and when I looked at the prescription, I realized that the doctor didn't write my name on the prescription, but another patient's. Fortunately, the pharmacy said they'd call the doctor to verify that the prescription is for me, not the other person, and then they'd fill it.

Then, I went to Freddies to pick up a couple of things. I went through the U-Scan and then paid with my debit because I wanted cash back - only $20.

I then parked at Eddie's school and it was when I was walking to my office that I realized that I left my cash in the dispenser.

I grabbed a bite to eat on my way to my office and called Freddies - they said to come in and fill out a form about the cash and noted that no one turned in a lost $20. If no one turns it in, then I lost $20.

I had Thai food for lunch and as I bit into the carrots and broccoli, my molars hurt - obviously from the cleaning today. My jaw is still sore.

I went to my office and then went to the Dean's Holiday Party. Had some good visits with various people, including a couple of conversations about this new initiative that launched a few weeks ago.

Went back to the office and talked to my Chair about future plans; one that I proposed won't work, but I think I can figure out a work-around.

Picked up Eddie, went to Freddies, filled out the form, then to the pharmacy - got the decongestant, but insurance didn't pay for it, so it was $11 out of pocket.

End of day tally: Negatives - sore jaw, congested eustachian tube, lost $20, paid $11 for a prescription, need a new crown for about $300, still need to grade about 7 papers. Positives - good conversations, good food.

I took a decongestant a couple of hours ago and there already seems to be some improvement in the earache and small sinus headache. Whew. Seemingly no tumors, then. Things like the earache are like salt in a wound when you're living with metastatic cancer. On the other hand, why not me?

It ended up being a good day. A little touch and go there, but a good day. Especially since I will soon be finished grading papers! Yay!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is pretty cool!

The chair of my department requested some information about the Charitable Prescription Drug Program (which goes into effect Jan 1, 2010, although I don't know yet of any pharmacies that have agreed to participate) and found a copy of the bill online:

Charitable Prescription Drug Program

My name is on the bill:

Sponsored by Representatives GELSER, BARTON; Representatives BUCKLEY, GREENLICK,
MAURER, STIEGLER, THOMPSON, WITT (at the request of Deanna Kingston)

How cool is that? : )

Remember to ask your pharmacy to participate and maybe work with charitable organizations in your home town to set up "charitable prescription drug program" funds to help defray the "handling fee" that might be charged to patients. And, ask your pharmacies to start dispensing meds in individual-dose sealed packages!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Nice Sunday

Today was a relaxing day. Lazy morning, then dad helped me put up a few more lights at my house, then Eddie and I ran a couple of errands, then watched Planet 51 at the movie theater, then we got groceries, I folded laundry, and now we're just relaxing. Eddie will take a bath later. Still need to pay bills. I brought work home, but haven't looked at it. Which will be okay. It will get done.

It was a good day. A good day indeed.

Dang hackers! (A guest blog by Eddie)

I found a hacker in Mario Kart Wii. This guy kept shooting blue shells and bom-ombs and giving everyone (including me) a bad time!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Today's Events

Eddie and I will be picking up our Christmas tree later this morning.

Dad and mom are heading over to help me put the lights up on the house.

It's a decorating kind of day.

I need to write some, edit and add to a proposal, call people to do an interview, etc.

Nah! Gonna enjoy the sunny, if chilly, day today. Decorations are always fun!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yay! Volleyball

Yep, we won our volleyball match. Can't remember the score, exactly. It was good. Had pizza and beer beforehand, then met afterwards.

Good company. Good game. Good fun. 'Nuff said.

Happy week-end everyone!

The Beavs lost 37-33

Well, bummer. The Beavs lost the game last night.

I, however, mooched off my good friends for dinner. It was a nice time visiting, eating, and hanging out. What more can you ask for?

And, this morning? I'm actually ready to go. I'm usually running about 10 minutes behind. A morning doesn't get better than this!! Especially since it's Friday and I can sleep in tomorrow.

Volleyball tonight - and we're meeting at Woodstock's beforehand.

Tomorrow, putting up Christmas lights and maybe getting the tree. DirectTV will be installed also.

So, a fun and relaxing week-end is in store. Yay! Happy TGIF everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trash talk - OSU/UO Civil War Game for the Rose Bowl

Normally, I'm not a huge college or professional football fan. It makes me mad that athletics is valued over education in this country. But that's my opinion - and I'm an educator.

And, even though there are monetary considerations in the OSU/UO Civil War Game, there are still some vestiges of winning for the sake of winning - for the sport of it not just the money that I like. I'm not explaining myself well; suffice it to say that I think it's fun to root for the OSU Beavers over the UO Ducks in the Civil War.

To that end, I share some trash talk:

Why do U of O graduates put their diploma on the car dashboard? So they can park in the handicap spots!

Beaver in the car - Duck in the trunk!

And, there's a few more, courtesy of Beaver

How do you get to UofO from OSU?
Head south until you smell it and east until you step in it.

Two Duck fans were walking through the woods when they came upon a set of tracks. The first Duck fan said, "Those are deer tracks." The second Duck fan said, "No. They're two big to be deer tracks. They must be elk tracks." As they were arguing back and forth they got hit by the train.

Four alumni were climbing a mountain one day. Each was from a different Northwest School, and each proclaimed to be the most loyal of all fans at their alma mater. As they climbed higher, they argued as to which one of them was the most loyal of all. They continued to argue all the way up the mountain, and finally, as they reached the top, the Cougar hurled himself off the mountain, shouting "This is for WSU!" as he fell to his doom. Not wanting to be out done, the Husky threw himself off the mountain,proclaiming "This is for U of W!". Seeing this, the Beaver walked over and shouted "This is for everyone!", and pushed the Duck off the side of the mountain.

Seems that a Duck was driving North from Eugene at the same time a Beaver was driving South from Corvallis and they happened to meet head-on in a horrible crash on I-5. Miraculously, both climbed out of the steaming wreckage...their bodies intact. They examined the twisted metal and realized that they were truly Ducky to be alive. The Duck said, "This must be a sign from God that we should end the bitter rivalry that we have had since the beginning of time." The Beaver agreed...he went to his trunk and pulled out an unbroken bottle of whiskey. "This is truly remarkable," he said, "God must want us to toast our new-found friendship." He twisted the cap off and handed the bottle to the Duck, who took several big swigs, wiped his chin and handed the bottle back. The Beaver replaced the cap, and without a word, put the bottle back into his trunk. "Aren't you going to celebrate our Duck?" asked the Duck. Nah, I thing I'll just wait for the troopers to get here"

Mike Billotti passes away and is met in heaven by God himself. Upon speaking with Mike, God shows him around heaven and eventually leads Mike to his new home, a humble abode painted yellow with green trim and with a small UO flag over the door.

Feeling special, Mike begins to smile humbly but not before looking up the road to a marble mansion on the hill. Huge black and orange flags decorate the brick laid driveway leading up to the golden gates and enormous trees garner the landscape draped with OSU banners. Hanging over the European doors is a massive OSU flag hanging from a golden flag pole.

Distressed and upset Mike asks "Why does Dennis Erickson have such a beautiful house while I'm stuck with this shack?"

In all his wisdom and kindness, God smiles gently and politely answer back, "Don't fret Mike, the house isn't Erickson's, it's mine."

A first grade teacher explains to her class that she is an Oregon Duck. She asks her students to raise their hands if they were Ducks too. No one really knowing what an Oregon Duck was but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks. There is, however, one exception. A girl named Kristen has not gone along with the crowd.

The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. "Because I'm not a Duck." Then, asks the teacher, "What are you? "Why, I'm a proud Oregon State Beaver," boasts the little girl. The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Kristen why she is a rebel. "Well, my mom and dad are Beavers, so I'm a Beaver too." The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly. "What if your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. Would you be a moron too?" A pause, and a smile. "No, then," says Kristen, "I'd be a Duck!"

Just some neighborly trash talk! Hee hee.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"You look a lot like me! Are you my twin?" by Eddie

Every week, Eddie's teacher has the kids write creative stories. I haven't seen one for awhile, until today, so I'll share it with you.

"You Look a Lot Like Me! Are You My Twin?" by Eddie

It was 6:30am on a Monday morning. I got up and I saw someone else in my bed. I was extremely shocked. I jumped 3 feet in the air. "Who are you?" I said. "Oh, I'm your twin, James Kamis." "Oh," I said. 1 hour, 30 minutes later, we arrived at school. "This is my school," I said. My twin and I walked into 4th grade. "Good morning, Eddie," said Mr. W. "Morning," I said. "Who's that?" asked Mr. W. "This is my twin, James Kamis," I said. Mr. W put a tag with James's name on it. After school, we played Mario Kart Wii. It was fun. James won by one point! Strangely enough,in the last race, James came in 1st (I was in 2nd) by one millesecond [sic]! Really! It was insane! Then I showed James my computer. We played Monkey Kick Off on Miniclip. It was fun. Then we had spaghetti for dinner. It was delicious. Then we went to bed.

The end.

[any typos are mine]

Isn't that great? I think he understands dialogue pretty well.

An Emotionally Tiring Day

I had an appointment with my counselor and rehashed the events of last week - having to do with the post where I couldn't say much. It was draining. Didn't realize how much emotion I was still holding in. It's a good thing I let it out. But I'm feeling tired and drained.

Also managed to send out recommendation letters, some paperwork related to the Statehood project, emailed a few folks to find more interviewees, and graded some papers.

Then I picked up Eddie, took him to Wacky Bounce, wrote a draft of a poem which I may include in my book proposal, and had dinner.

Still need to go to the grocery store. Then, I can relax. And, get a good night's sleep.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December's Tumor Markers

I received my tumor marker numbers today - my treatment was yesterday. The CEA was up to 10.5 (from 7.6 last month) and the CA15-3 was up to 38.5 (from 36.4 last month). Anything less than 3.8 is normal for the CEA and anything less than 33 is good for the CA15-3.

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
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL
11/30/2009 - 10.5 ng/mL

And, here's the CA15-3.

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 (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL
August 31 2009 - 31.9 U/mL
Oct 3 2009 - 38.7 U/mL
Nov 2 2009 - 36.4 U/mL
Nov 30 2009 - 38.5 U/mL

Hmm, how does one interpret these results? A reminder of what the nurse told me last month, which is that sometimes the number spikes after starting a new treatment before it comes down again. Sooo . . . the fact that the CA15-3 is going down is a good thing and maybe the CEA went up because as cancer cells die, they put off more of the protein (carcinoembryonic antigen) into the blood. Hmm, I kinda like that explanation, huh?

Despite some interpersonal drama that occurred last week, I have been sleeping quite well (I have had four nights in a row in which I slept at least 4.5 to 5 hours at a stretch, followed by two more 90 min to 2 hour stretches of sleep). People keep telling me how healthy and energetic I look. I feel fairly well - just some slight fatigue in the late afternoon - and have been productive at work and at home and have been having fun with Spagedward. So, I'm well. I can't complain too much - just wish that CEA number would stop spiking and start going down down down. I guess I can't complain too much about the CA15-3 number - that's stable.

It's a wait and see game . . . I see my oncologist's physician assistant next week. My guess is she says "wait and see" as well. I still have swollen lymph nodes - but it's hard to tell if they are smaller or not. At one point, it seemed like two had sorta merged to become one. I feel a space between two of them now - but one of those feels larger than it had been.

Wish they could come up with something better to measure progress.

Dr. K did say that taking them monthly wasn't too productive and that it might be better to wait a few months between measurements.

I kinda like the monthly, though. It's the kick in the pants I need to keep with the program and/or redouble my efforts at things like meditation and qigong.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Decent Monday

I had a zometa treatment today and should find out my tumor markers in the next couple of days.

I then saw my acupuncturist - I always feel better afterwards - part of my treatment today had to do with the issue that I wrote about last week and for which I couldn't be too open. Continuing to grow and learn there.

Then had lunch with a new friend and colleague from Zoology - we were brainstorming a one-credit class that we could teach in the spring. It's always fun to talk about the world of ideas - and in this case, we are thinking of doing a class around marine ecology and looking for ways that western science and indigenous knowledge intersect. It's really cool to have a western scientist interested in indigenous knowledge!! There was this energy in our conversation that involves the joy of learning new things and a willingness to step outside of one's comfort level. That's really cool.

Other than that, I've really been enjoying hanging out with Eddie. He's been a real pleasure - telling jokes and doing chores. He enjoyed playing in the leaves yesterday. I'm proud of him. And, I "love him big bit". : )

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love Craigslist - Accomplished House Stuff

I posted an ad on Craigslist yesterday - for a karaoke machine I bought last summer for Eddie's birthday and someone picked it up this evening already! Got to love Craigslist when it works that quickly!

Mom and dad came over and helped me with house stuff. I'd started cleaning and reorganizing my storage closet and mom helped sort through stuff while I swept shrubbery needles off my driveway and dad blew/raked leaves off the front lawn. Then, dad helped me to get Christmas decorations out of the attic in the garage. Eddie helped us with the leaves, too, and his reward was a little leaf fight/bury him in the leaf pile. Then, I took a bunch of things to Goodwill.

Eddie had several wii games he was no longer playing, so we turned them in for store credit - he got a wii points card to get some wii console games and another wii wheel. Not too shabby!

So, yep, it was a good, productive day.

Some financial changes

With temporary pay reductions starting in January, I am trying to institute some cost-cutting measures. I've made changes over the past year - like refinancing my house and trying to pay off my car quicker - but it's now time to start cutting smaller things. So, here's what I'm going to do:

1) start drinking chai at home instead of on my way to work - save maybe $10/week
2) start bringing lunches from home more often - eat out only once or twice/week - save maybe $15-20/week
3) switch from Comcast to Direct TV - save $20/month
4) start buying my herbs and supplements online - I save 50%, which is about $10-12/month
5) decrease how much I contribute to the Charitable Fund Drive at work - $25/month; I don't really like to do this, on the other hand, I help my family out each month to help them make ends meet. They say "charity begins at home" and I figure that I need to help my family before I help others. They help me a lot - they babysit Eddie frequently and dad helps me with yard work; he's coming over today to help me with the leaves.

That is about $150/month in savings. These are probably changes I could've instituted awhile back. I don't sacrifice much - I still have luxuries that a lot of people don't have. I sacrifice convenience, but that's okay. I'm also using coupons more.

Hopefully I can keep instituting small changes like this and make paying off the home equity line of credit a priority. I had to use that to make ends meet two years ago when I was on sabbatical. At the time, I didn't want to worry about finances and wanted to put them off into the future. Well, it's the "future" now.

Plan B is to maybe fix the house up enough to sell it this summer and use the equity to pay off all the bills and buy a smaller place. As it is, I don't use one big room and we don't really use the yard. A smaller place would make life easier. It's like starting with a clean slate. We'll see!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I got virtual console games

I (Eddie) am writing this. I got Mario Kart 64 and Pin Ball for my wii. I am getting Super mario Kart either tomorrow or Christmas.

What a Great Son I Have!

Today, when I picked up Eddie, he noticed that I was quiet. So, he asked me, "You're not acting too weird" (i.e., Eddie's code word for "silly").

"No, I'm not. I'm worried about money."

He replied, "Well, what do you like better? Me or money?"


He then asked, "And, which one would you rather lose? Me or money?"


He then said, "Well, then, it's okay. Because I'm with you now!"

A good reminder for what's more important in life. Got to remember those priorities!

Survived Black Friday

I met some friends of mine yesterday and went Black Friday shopping. In the end, I'm done with Christmas shopping and also bought all the birthday gifts (I have five birthdays coming up in January and February) that I'll need. Plus, I bought a small sewing machine (gonna try to make pants that fit Eddie) and an electric drill/screw driver (didn't have one for the house). This all occurred under the budget I set myself for Christmas gifts. And, I calculated that I saved about 42% off regular store prices.

So, it was worth it to get up early.

Yesterday, a friend of mine (who had friends teach him how to cook) brought over some food and we made this chicken sausage/rice/bean mix with veggies. It was good - and we made enough for several meals that I can use over the next week. I may put a few in the freezer, however, as I do get tired of the same meal all the time. It's part of my "cooking boot camp" effort that I thought about several months ago. This is another cost saving measure.

Thanksgiving was fine - the turkey I roasted turned out fairly well. The whole family gathered at my sister's house and after dinner, we watched the kids play Rock Band. It was cute.

What's in store for today? Well, there's writing I can do, I need to take some things into my office, there's leaves to be picked up in the yard, and putting grout on the mosaic, and maybe I'll start some beadwork. Not sure what I want to do - but that's the fun of having a day like this when I don't NEED to do anything, but can do what I want to do.

I'll pick up Eddie later on this afternoon - yay!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Project Health

Time Magazine just started this series called "The Power of One". It highlights individuals who started innovative organizations. They highlighted the guy that started "". In early November (yes, I'm a few weeks behind reading Time), they highlighted Rebecca Onie, who started Project Health in the Boston area.

What they do is to place undergraduate volunteers in medical settings where they work with physicians - and if physicians realize that their patients are struggling with food insecurity, housing issues, or unemployment, the doctor writes a "prescription" for social services and the patient takes it to a Project Health desk. There, a volunteer will help the patient find the help that they need.

Isn't that cool? Wouldn't it be great if we could start something similar here in Oregon? Well, maybe set the sights lower to begin with - in Corvallis? Hmmmm . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And the term is winding down - YIPPEE!

Managed to stop beating myself up. What's done is done.

It's always good to be reminded of what you do well or what you like to do to chase away those self-recriminating thoughts.

My class went well - got the take-home written - discussed it in class. Got a pile of grading to do by Tues, then the students do group presentations. Then more grading. Had a full class for the first time in a long long time this term. Lots of illnesses. I think there were a lot of cases of swine flu.

Which reminds me, I still have not been immunized for either that or the regular flu. I keep meaning to talk to my doctor. Haven't immunized Eddie yet either.

Eddie greeted me the other day as a kitty cat - he purred up against me, "marking" me by rubbing his check on my cheek. He was expressing affection and requesting attention. I thought it was kinda remarkable given his autism - he was both pretending and being very affectionate, but then, he always has been affectionate. I held him a lot when he was in the NICU and when I was home with him as a baby and toddler and I cuddle him all the time, so I'm glad that he isn't a typical autistic child who doesn't like affection.

Got two meetings and an interview set up for tomorrow.

Next week is Dead Week - two days of group presentations. Then grading. Then, I can concentrate on interviews and also on writing the introductory chapter of my book proposal.

In other words, plugging along.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I screwed up

I'm not able to say much. But I screwed up and overstepped my bounds. I'm kicking myself right now. Can't do anything to fix it but let time pass. I think that I did what I did for mostly good reasons, but there were some that were selfish.

Sigh. Being a grownup is hard.

I guess we all make mistakes.

And, we need to learn to live with the mistakes you make.

I certainly didn't need to bring this on myself right now.

I also need to learn how to forgive myself.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Wonderful But Intellectually Intense Weekend

I visited the NSF (National Science Foundation) LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) site, the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. I was invited to be part of a group of scientists and humanists and social scientists on campus who want to design what we're calling an Environmental Humanities program at Oregon State. It's an attempt to bring humanities together with environmental scientists.

The weekend was an attempt to envision programs that are new and innovative, so it was fun to try to think outside the box.

I also met a lot of new people and increased my circle of colleagues at OSU. We had a lot of good, interesting conversations about potential new projects. There was a lot of energy and optimism about being part of something that is meaningful that could potentially change the way we approach environmental problems.

And, that feels good. I admit, too, that there was a time when I was worried about impending pay cuts - Plan A is becoming contentious and that's stressful - and one person, bless her heart, came up with an idea to help me get some extra summer salary since I don't have any lined up yet.

I got a chance to tell boob jokes - I was pretty open about my metastatic breast cancer status because when I use alternative medicines, like acupuncture and Chinese medicine, I'm tapping into an alternative way of looking at health and disease than the western medical model. To some extent, with this Environmental Humanities initiative, we're doing something similar to how I approach my cancer treatments - crossing epistemological boundaries and tapping into what each can offer.

It feels good. I'm tired, though. I was really happy to pick up Eddie - I'd missed him - and I'm really happy to be home again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Offline for a couple of days

I'm part of an initiative on campus that's called "Environmental Humanities". This week, funded from an NSF grant, we are having a retreat in Blue River, Oregon, at the HJ Andrew Research Forest, an NSF LTER (long-term ecological research) site. It's located up the McKenzie River in the Cascade Mountain range.

There should be some interesting discussions: the idea is to figure out ways that scientists, humanists, and social scientists can work together on various projects.

But we won't have much internet access or telephone service. So, I will be offline for a couple of days.

Have a great week-end everyone!

The Art of Procrastination

I gave a presentation today at noon.

I asked my grad research assistant to do a little data analysis for me a couple of weeks ago and she gave it to me on Wednesday.

I started gathering info Wed and Thurs for the presentation.

But I didn't actually really LOOK at the info or put the presentation together until this morning.

I think, in the end, the presentation went fairly well. It had to do with the decision-making processes of Alaska Native corporations in terms of land selection and resource development.

I had to remember interviews that I've conducted on the topic. I think I remembered them without any mistakes. But with my memory . . . there was also a lot of background information that I already know. That helped.

Also, in the past couple of weeks, I have often waited until a couple of hours before class to pull together my own class lectures. One day last week, I somehow managed to pull off a lecture without much preparation. It was all in my head. I think I had a good Performance about folklore performances. Even if I do say so myself, I would have to say, to be vulgar, that I pulled it out of my ass. And, it went okay.

That's sorta how today when.

I guess that's the advantage to having such strong grounding in my discipline and topic. I can pull off presentations without too much effort.

But I've also managed to learn the art of procrastination! One of my friends (another professor) once used to create a lot of anxiety for himself when it came to grading. He had good intentions to get it done, but the grading would often hang over his head for two weeks before he finally finished it. He finally realized that he's not going to do the grading until he absolutely had to and that he might as well not stress about it until the deadline approached and he had to get it done.

That's the art of procrastination!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Productive Day Today

Got in an interview - got some movement on a grant supplement - got some movement on a proposal that we plan to submit in January - got some movement on a presentation I'm giving on Friday - got some movement on additional names for interviews - talked "realignment" strategies with colleagues at lunch (at McMenamin's, no less) - got a strategy (a plan a and a plan b) for personal finances

It was a "got some work done" kind of day. That feels good.

Especially since yesterday, I felt down and depressed and tired. Worried about finances, I guess, with impending "temporary" pay reductions coming up.

Not sure what turned around the mood. I had had a decent night's sleep both last night and the night before. A mystery. But maybe because I figured out both a Plan A and a Plan B for the finances. I always feel better with a plan.

Take care!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday's hike, then meditation, then laziness

Yesterday, I got up fairly early for the week-end (6:45am) and went on a hike in McDonald Forest with a friend, then went to the Zen Buddhist meditation service with a colleague, ate a quick lunch downtown, then by the time I got home, I was sleepy and lazy! I finally got up the gumption to go to the grocery store by mid-afternoon. Got all my groceries except bread and butter and came back home and was lazy again.

I'm not sure what to think of the Zen Buddhist service. I find it hard to meditate - you are supposed to watch your thoughts go by and not follow them, but I found myself following them. They say it takes practice. I may go again . . .

Today, I need to write a recommendation letter, work on a supplemental, email folks about interviews, pay property taxes (ouch!), then pick up Eddie and a classmate. I'm supposed to play v-ball tonight . .. but if there are enough players, I may not play. My right wrist is bothering me (probably from keyboarding) and I think my pectoral muscle is still healing from two weeks ago, although it feels a lot better.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Busy Long Friday, Relaxing Lazy Saturday

I made it through yesterday. Eddie and I left the house about 7:15am to pick up my dad and walked back in the door at 11:15pm.

Holy cow. We were late to our appointment and Shriners and then it took them almost an hour and a half to call us back. The doctor just looked at Eddie's feet and the lax ligaments in his ankles. Maybe sometime in the future, we'd consider surgery but only if Eddie complains about foot pain.

Then, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch - Eddie played trivia. Then to the Wunderland arcade.

Then, Eddie and dad dropped me off at a friend's house - I finally got to meet Andrew's (who suggested that I blog about my cancer treatments) new baby girl. She was adorable!

Andrew, Alma, and I then went to a coffee place in the Pearl District, visited, then he dropped me off at Powell's. I met Scott there (Scott and I are just friends now) and we visited, then went to the Deschutes Brew Pub for a beer.

Scott then dropped me off at the Governor Hotel, where I went to the NAYA (Native American Youth Association) Gala. I got there about 6:15pm and we left about 9:30pm. One of my colleagues and her son gave me a lift back to my folks' place, where I picked up Eddie and my car.

Whew. I survived the day. At one point, I was tired at the dinner, but then I caught a second wind. The Executive Director of NAYA is a former student of OSU - she took one of my classes and she was friends with my cousin, Mark. Under her leadership, the organization has really taken off. I am very proud of her.

But I've been tired all day today. Just ran a couple of errands with Eddie - then dropped him off with his dad.

Just staying at home, watching TV and movies. Playing around with the idea of being productive. But so far, the laziness is winning! He he he.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Able to Catch a Breather

Whew. I managed to grade papers and write a proposal review. I can kinda relax this evening. I might write a few emails trying to drum up some potential interviewees. I need to skim/read a paper or two. Etc Etc Etc

But I plan to race my son on MarioKart wii. Take him to BK for dinner.

Tomorrow, we go to Shriner's Hospital for a routine check-up - Eddie walks on his arch because his ankles are not really strong. I'm not really expecting too much - the doctor is of the opinion that Eddie is not really harming his foot bones or muscles and maybe eventually, as he gains strength, they may become normal.

So, the idea is to go to Shriners - bring dad with us - then have lunch and go to an arcade, then go visit my friend Andrew and his new baby Alma - Alma's mom will be at work. Eddie and dad will head home and then I'll hang out with Scott for a bit before going to a dinner at NAYA - the Native American Youth Association Gala dinner.

A busy and long day tomorrow. Resting up tonight is in order, huh? Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Outrage and Disgust

I just read a Time Magazine article entitled, "How Drug-Industry Lobbyists Won on Health Care".

The article was in the November 2, 2009 issue of Time. The main point is that the health care bill that was submitted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee included a provision that would allow drug companies up to 12 years of exclusive rights to the data and manufacture of biological drugs (medicines derived from living matter); others suggested 5 years and Obama advocated 7 years.

I am frankly outraged and disgusted. Here are a few statistics regarding drug lobbying in the first six months of this year:

1. Biotechnology lobbyists spent $110 million ($609,000/day) in the first six months to influence lawmakers.

2. The drug industry's registered lobbyists number 1,228 people, or 2.3 people per member of Congress.

3. Campaign contributions to those members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have totaled $2.6 million in the past three years.

Imagine if $609,000/day were spent instead on insuring our nation's uninsured or underinsured. Imagine.

I recently heard two stories of needless deaths that occurred because the individuals could not access or afford needed drugs. One woman, a friend of a co-worker, died because she needed a liver transplant; her liver failed because her insurance would not cover the needed drugs that would keep her liver functional until she could get a transplant (or else it was because she couldn't get the drug earlier this year that would've kept her liver going longer). Another young man, encountered when some friends went elk-hunting, died of a two-hour plus seizure. He had been in a car accident six months prior that caused some brain damage that caused the seizures and he was unemployed, had no insurance, and could not afford the anti-seizure medicine.

Millions spent in the last six months to lobby. Not to heal. Millions spent to make a profit.

I am so pissed off right now.

Also, think about these other numbers given in the same article, which are the sales of various biologic drugs:

1) Avastin, made by Genentech, which can be used to treat various cancers (it cuts off the blood supply to cancer cells) - $9.2 Billion (yes billion, not million)

2) Enbrel, made by Immunex, to treat rheumatoid arthritis - $8.0 billion

3) Remicade, made by Centocor Ortho Biotech, to treat inflammatory disorders - $7.9 billion

4) Humira, made by Abbot, to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis - $7.3 billion

5) Rituxan, made by Genentech, to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis - $7.3 billion

6) Herceptin, made by Genentech, to treat breast cancer - $5.7 billion (this could be a drug I go on someday if my current treatment fails)

7) Lantus, made by Sanofi Aventis, to treat diabetes - $5.1 billion

8) Epogen, Procrit, made by Amgen, Ortho Biotech, to treat anemia (which can be caused by various chemo treatments) - $5.1 billion

9) Neulasta, made by Amgen, for neutropenia - $4.2 billion

10) Novolog, made by Novo Nordisk, to treat diabetes - $3.7 billion

By my count, that is $63 billion dollars. $63,000,000,000 dollars in sales.

The article doesn't mention what the total profit was for these drugs; one has to factor in the development and manufacture of them. However, I know that Herceptin has been around for at least ten years, so they have probably covered their costs for development already and I bet they have figured out the most cost-effective way to manufacture the drug - I think they have to use cow blood or something to manufacture it.

All I can think of is that the profit margin must be really high and that those profits go to the CEO's and higher ups and to shareholders.

Someone mentioned (in that pissing match I had on Facebook) that many retirement accounts invest in companies such as these - so the person apparently cared more that his retirement nest egg showed healthy (ahem - no pun intended) profits. So, rather than being concerned by the cost of the drugs to individuals or insurance companies - for instance, Herceptin costs $48,000 for a year's treatment for one person - the person was more interested in himself. Unfortunately, that's indicative of our society's value on the individual rather than on community welfare. There's a time and a place for that emphasis, but I tend to think that everyone loses when our community as a whole isn't strong.

How does one express this kind of outrage in a blog? I'm just disgusted. Shame on the pharmaceutical companies. And, shame on the lawmakers for taking the money, too. It's literally blood money.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

A lazy Sunday morning

So, I'm catching up on blogs and facebook this morning while watching my son race people from other parts of the world on Mario Kart for the wii. Earlier today and yesterday, he was racing someone from Japan and maybe someone from the Middle East and also people from the UK and France. He enjoys racing real people, not just the computer.

I am about to type up what I wrote at Wacky Bounce yesterday - yes, I actually wrote about two more pages for my summary of interviews! Yay! Writer's block is gone! I've decided that what I need to do is to take Eddie to Wacky Bounce more often because then I don't have access to the internet and from the TV, which tends to distract me from work I need to do.

The pharmacy in Portland didn't send the Tykerb that I take - I even called them on Wed or Thurs and made sure that they knew that they should be sent out and the woman on the phone assured me that she would see that the medication was sent out that day. Puzzling. They're not open on Sunday - at least I don't think so - so I need to wait until tomorrow. I hope I get them by Tuesday.

I think I may have pulled a muscle under the reconstructed right boob in volleyball last week. I reached up for some ball and I felt a tweak. I only really feel something when I lift my arm in certain directions. However, it seems that I have had a little more achiness from lymphedema around my right side (under my armpit and around the side toward the back) and around my right shoulder blade. Achiness isn't the right word. I just feel that it's more swollen. Also, there's a spot on my right shoulder blade that feels like another pulled muscle. Or something. So, I've been trying to stretch it throughout the day to try to get the lymph flowing more freely and I have been doing my qigong routine, too.

In the meantime, I'm reading a new book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra. It's about mind-body-spirit healing, like many of his books are, I guess, although this is the first time I've read any of his books. The one thing he said that I really liked, though, is that we need to stop thinking of our bodies as finite, material objects, but more like the interface between the visible or material world and the invisible, spiritual/energetic world.

My visualizations about the lung tumors are something along the lines of talking to the tumor/cancer cells and saying things like, "well, if you mutated from normal to look like this angry mass of cells, then you're able to mutate back to normal tissue". In other words, I imagine the healthy lung tissue around it coaxing and absorbing the diseased tissue - not so much in an effort to kill it but more to tell that tissue that it can still live in a healthier and longer way if it mutates back to normal behavior. I sometimes imagine the tumor cells as a young, terrible-twos toddler; Eddie never threw many tantrums, only a few, but when he did, I just sat down and held him in my lap and hugged him even as he kept flailing around. It calmed him down. That's what I visualize for the tumors. Encouraging normal behavior through a loving but firm hand.

What's on tap for today? Well, typing some stuff up, then going to K-Mart - mom gets these coupons for family and friends day where we can get some good discounts - then later, dad is going to help me put plastic on the windows in an effort to save on heating costs. And, another trip to Wacky Bounce.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'll take lopsided boobs over an open wound any day

Every once in awhile, I take a few minutes to read back over my old blog posts. Tonight, I looked over the ones from last November. I'd almost forgotten about the fact that I lived with an open wound for 11 months - and that also included the open cavity that I had after I lost the implant after radiation! Wow. What a difference a year makes.

Also at that time, I was posting some great tumor marker numbers and now I'm living with lung tumors although Femara seems to be working. I also credit qigong and doing what I can to destress my life.

Last year, I was planning for reconstruction surgery. That's behind me now - or rather, it's *in front* of me now! Ha!!

Last year, Obama was elected as our first African-American president. And, I think that he's doing fairly well under the circumstances. I was happy he addressed the Tribal Nations conference in DC yesterday. It's refreshing to have a president who understands the history of federal-Indian relations and the legal basis for Indian sovereignty.

It seems that last year, I was generally happy and there's really no change - maybe I'm happier.

I've had a lot of amazing experiences this past year. I went to Arizona in January; Norway in March and May; DC in June; Alaska in July; Oxford, England, in August; Hawaii in September; and Alaska in October. I've met some amazing people, had a few wonderful mini-vacations, started to work on a few great projects, continued work on old projects, have had great conversations with colleagues and friends, received a lot of great help from my folks and many others, and I'm raising an amazing son.

Thank you, all, for your continued support! Love ya! And, have an amazing week-end.

Oh, before I forget. I think I'm going to take Eddie to Frogtown tomorrow. It sounds like a great musical event geared toward kids and appreciating diversity.

Obama at the Tribal Nations Conference

Someone on one of my list-servs sent this link to Obama's speech that opened the Tribal Nations Conference in Washington DC yesterday. Thought I'd pass it on:

President Obama Opens Tribal Nations Conference

Very cool, eh?

Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

When I was in Hawaii, my friend Renee told me about this woman, a neuroanatomist, who had a stroke. She tells about her experiences in this video:

Jill Bolte Taylor

I found the book at Borders yesterday and remembered the video and thought that I should share it. I think it's amazing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Plugging Through Work

Not much is going on other than work. Recommendation letters, teaching, emails emails emails (emails are what ails me!), grading papers, politics, touching base with my research assistants, etc. etc. etc.

I was really tired after my class on Tuesday. I'd only had about 5-6 hours sleep the night before. I'm realizing that if I don't get a full night, I'm toast after a few hours, especially when I teach. This past year, I'm beginning to understand just how much teaching takes out of me. It's hard and takes energy.

My task is to retreat and to learn how to conserve my energy - start shoring it up instead of always expending it when I feel good. Easier said than done.

Eddie has a parent-teacher conference tonight. I'm expecting good news! Happy evening!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This month's tumor marker numbers

I received my tumor marker numbers today - my treatment was yesterday. The CEA was up to 7.6 (from 5.7 or 5.8 last month) and the CA15-3 was down to 36.4 (from 38.7 last month). Anything less than 3.8 is normal for the CEA and anything less than 33 is good for the CA15-3.

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
12/30/2008 - 1.1 ng/mL
3/2/2009 - 1.4 ng/mL
4/8/2009 - 1.6 ng/mL
5/5/2009 - 1.9 ng/mL
6/4/2009 - 3.0 ng/mL
7/2/2009 - 3.7 ng/mL
8/3/2009 - 4.2 ng/mL
8/31/2009 - 5.1 ng/mL
10/2/2009 - 5.7 ng/mL (or was it 5.8?)
11/2/2009 - 7.6 ng/mL

And, here's the CA15-3.

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 (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL
August 31 2009 - 31.9 U/mL
Oct 3 2009 - 38.7 U/mL
Nov 2 2009 - 36.4 U/mL

Hmm, how does one interpret these results? The nurse yesterday said (and I may have said this before) that sometimes the number spikes after starting a new treatment before it comes down again. Sooo . . . the fact that the CA15-3 is going down is a good thing and maybe the CEA went up because as cancer cells die, they put off more of the protein (carcinoembryonic antigen) into the blood. Hmm, I kinda like that explanation, huh?

Tired today. Stayed up too late last night. Too much caffeine late in the day yesterday. Then a long class today . . . gonna take it easy tonight. It was a beautiful day today - a beautiful moon last night - can't complain!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A change in attitude

I made a small change to my blog header: instead of saying, "using humor and alternative medicine in my fight", I say, "using humor and alternative medicine in my healing".

So, what's the difference? I'm not sure I can articulate it clearly as of yet. However, I decided to make the change because of something Renee said to me a few months ago, when I was worried about the lung tumors growing. She suggested that maybe what I needed to do in my visualizations, rather than imagine fighting and killing the cancer cells, to "love them to death". I imagined my tumors related to various old and new issues of mine and in that case, rather than trying to rid my body of those issues, embracing them and accepting them as part of me. Don't try to ignore the issues - but face them and love them.

Every so often, when I remember, I do try that visualization . . . I think the trick, though is to sustain the visualization for longer than what I'm doing.

In the end, loving the issues/tumors/illness is more about healing than fighting. That's what we're trying to do with acupuncture is to help my body heal so that cancer can't rear its ugly head anymore.

I have done some thinking about why I had a relapse of cancer after all the treatment I received in 2002-2003. The treatments probably helped contain the cancer for awhile until my body was inundated with various stressors - like the memory foam mattress and relationship-stuff - so the cancer got the upper hand. It never really went away. Now, what I need to do is to heal . . . fighting it only got me so far. It's time to try another tactic.

It was a beautiful fall day here today. This whole week-end was amazing warm for late October/early November: daytime temps were in the 60s. Unusual . . . but I'm not complaining!

Turmeric/Curcumin Kills Cancer Cells - BBC News

A friend on Facebook posted this link:

"Curry spice kills cancer cells"

I posted some information that I found out about it here. One of my fellow bloggers posted a comment with a link that MD Anderson Cancer Center found that it slowed melanoma growth. I've been taking turmeric for about 18 months now. I think it helps!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hawaii Pictures

Finally, I have posted some pictures from Hawaii. The first picture is of me and Eddie overlooking steam vents at Volcano National Park (is it Kilauea, Renee?).

The next picture if of me and Eddie at the entrance to the lava tube at Volcano National Park.

The next picture if of Eddie in the lava tube.

Eddie is sitting in the lava field - we were on our way to walk as far as we could so we could see the steam rising from the lava entering the ocean.

Here we are - see the steam in the background where the lava is entering the ocean.

Here is Eddie near the pond where the sea turtles are hanging out.

And, Eddie is on the right - we are at Kailua Beach on O'ahu. This is where he said, "I'm having the time of my life."

Here's a picture of Renee and Eddie overlooking Waimea Valley, where the Hawaiian royalty lived. I guess taro grew very well here.

Renee and Arna are helping Eddie on the boogie board at Richardson (? I think) Beach in Hilo.

Eddie is on a rock bridge at a park in Hilo - they were having a celebration for Queen Lily (actually, it's a longer name, but I have forgotten it) who was responsible (with her husband) for building the first hospitals for Native Hawaiians. The celebration also had a bouncy castle for kids as well as a water slide which Eddie slid down over and over. We didn't get a picture of that - only movies!

A banyan tree at the park with the water slide . . . I love banyan trees. They are so unusual with the roots hanging off the branches. They are also soooo big! I wonder how old they are . . .

Hope you've enjoyed the pictures!

Finally - Inspiration!

I stayed up rather late last night reading the book "The Unmistakable Touch of Grace". I'm still not doing a great job with meditation, but as I went to sleep, I did try to take some deep breaths. I've been needing to write up a summary of some interviews I've conducted over the past year and I just couldn't get to it. I think I said yesterday somewhere that I needed "inspiration". I went to sleep thinking that thought (along with a couple of other thoughts) and this morning, as I woke up, I thought some more about this summary. I started thinking about the title and once I got the title in my head, I figured out how to write it. You wanna hear the title?

State of Ambivalence: The Inupiaq View of Alaska Statehood

The bottom line is that most people living in rural Alaska were not informed of the whole statehood process and so were not told what the implications would be for Alaska Natives. The only people who knew about the lead-up to statehood were those who were in BIA or missionary high schools or whose parents talked about it beforehand (only two or three cases of that). Afterwards, most said, when asked, whether statehood was good for Alaska Natives, the answer was "yes and no" - yes because of increased access to education in rural Alaska and no because the state imposed regulations on subsistence rights and took away some of Native-held lands.

Hmm. I really like that title.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maybe there were technical difficulties with place arrangements

Yesterday, our downtown merchants gave out candy. Eddie and I went down there. Lots of kiddos in costumes. Eddie was a penguin.

Upon our arrival home after being at my colleague's house, he decided to sleep in his penguin costume last night and tonight.

This morning, I asked, "What happened? There's a penguin in Eddie's bed!" The penguin, whose name is "Weirdo Penguin", said, "How did I get here?" I said maybe Weirdo teleported here from Antarctica and Eddie teleported to Antarctica. Weirdo then asked what teleport means, so I explained the concept, and in reply, he said, "Well, maybe what happened was that there were technical difficulties with place arrangements."

Cool! I like that explanation, too! LOL

I asked Weirdo what he liked to eat - he said, "fish" so I said that I had some "Cap'n Crunch fish squares" and also some orange and square "cheez-it fish" and would either of those kinds of fish be okay to eat. His reply, "Sure!"

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Can you spell "discombobulated"?

What a day what a day! It all ended up fine, but after I got to work this morning, things were out of control! I was so discombobulated!

I scheduled a telephone interview with an elder in Alaska for 9am.

About 45 minutes into the interview, I got another call from Ambulatory Infusion (where I get my zometa IV and they draw my blood) - when I finally got the message after the interview, it was, "Deanna, we were wondering if you were going to be coming in today for your zometa appointment - it was at 9am". Crap! I'd forgotten to write the appointment down on my calendar!

I'd also made arrangements to talk to a writer at National Geographic right after the interview. The writer (Margaret) wanted to ask me questions about the Wolf Dance. At the back of the magazine, there's a feature called "Flashback" and she'd decided to focus on a Lomen Brothers photograph. But before I could call and talk to her about it, I had to reschedule my zometa appointment. The Flashback feature on the Wolf Dance will come out in March.

Then, Eddie only had a half day at school today. No problem. I don't have anything scheduled, so I'll pick him up and then we'll just hang out today.

While I was talking to Margaret, I got an email from one of my grad students who is also in my folklore class: "Are we still meeting today at 1pm?" Double crap! I even confirmed the meeting with two students yesterday. But somehow, my brain didn't connect the home part of my brain that knew I had to pick up Eddie with the work part of my brain that made arrangements to meet with the grad students. What's Eddie going to do?

So, I call the parents - admit that I'm discombobulated to my dad and ask if they can watch Eddie for me so I can meet with the students. Fortunately, they could.

Had an okay meeting with the grad students, then picked up Eddie and on our way through downtown, we saw all sorts of munchkins in costumes! "What?!!?", I said to Eddie. "The downtown merchants are doing trick-or-treating today? I thought it was tomorrow! I guess we need to go home and put on your costume so we can do that. Do you want to do that?" Eddie did indeed want to, so we came home, he put on his costume (he was self-conscious at first until we got downtown and saw all the other kids) and we walked around downtown. We bumped into the Osborne-Goweys and some of his classmates. By then, it was time to go to my colleague's house for a potluck dinner to welcome our new faculty member (we're now back to the numbers we had in the department when I started nine years ago - the position was approved about six months before the worse of the recession hit).

Good dinner, good visits, met new grad students. S. and his wife made an excellent chicken curry. Yummy!

So, it all worked out. No work on the writing project though. It'll happen. Sooner or later because it has to!

Happy Halloween everyone!

P.S. Eddie is a penguin.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turtles, turtles everywhere!

More turtle sightings or "hearings": Carver photographed a turtle recently and told me about it. Liz said she overheard her daughter and her daughter's friend talking about turtles. I saw a turtle on the car in front of me at Dutch Brothers yesterday.

Interesting, eh?

Yep, got the message. Trying to slow down.

I'm also procrastinating. I need to write something and I'm just not feeling it . . . sigh.

Busy week-end ahead . .. potluck at my colleague's on Friday evening; some Halloween activities with Eddie - the student athletes at OSU do a Fall Carnival; the downtown merchants participate in trick-or-treating; and the local public library has a carnival.

Sunday: housework.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Unmistakable Touch of Grace

I'm reading a book entitled "The Unmistakable Touch of Grace" by Cheryl Richardson. While I'm sometimes uncomfortable with the Christian undertones as well as how commercial her website is (which is why I didn't provide a link to it), I do like what she has to say in the book. The gist of the book is to learn how to recognize when the Divine or the powers that be place messages or opportunities in your path and then to take that path. The path may not always lead you the way you think it's going to, but in the end, it's will contribute to your spiritual growth.

After I was in Hawaii last month (Renee and I had several conversations regarding spirituality), I decided that I should go on a meditation retreat. About a week and a half ago, I mentioned it to a friend and she said that she'd go on one with me. Then, two nights ago, as I read "Touch of Grace", the author mentioned that her work life had become very successful but also too busy, so she decided that after she honored her professional commitments, she'd slow down. One of the first things she did was to go on a meditation retreat. My colleague today told me that she'd take me to this Zen meditation group that meets on Sunday mornings. Just now as I was reading the blog of another cancer blogger (Chris at The Edge of Light), she said that she just started a meditation class.

Hmm. Do ya think the world is trying to tell me something?

Also, while I was in Hawaii, I really connected with turtles. Every time I went into a shop, things with turtles in them caught my eye. I bought turtle earrings, Renee got me a turtle bookmark, I bought a carved bone pendant with a mother turtle carrying a baby turtle on its back (it reminded me of Inupiat umaqqing which is when a mother carries her child on her back), and I bought gifts for family members with turtles. Upon my return home, one of my grad students was wearing a turtle pendant that she bought in Hawaii. Then, on Facebook, someone thanked one of my friends for the turtle necklace and I just happened the read that post. Then, the day before I went to Alaska, I stopped at a stoplight behind a car with, yes, you guessed it, a turtle decal in the window.

Hmm. Do ya think the world is trying to tell me something?

I think the world is trying to tell me to slow down (hence the turtle) and one of my friends this morning also told me that the turtle represents a long life (I like that interpretation, too!). The world is also telling me that my path to slowing down is to do meditation.

What's your take on it?

From the frying pan and . . .

into the fire! Actually, I'm just joking. I was so busy at AFN, got home Sunday evening and yesterday, I hit the ground running at work. Students needing recommendation letters, students needing clarification on assignments, paperwork for the travel, scheduling meetings, writing responses to emails, following up on things from the trip, teaching my folklore class, meeting with various people, escorting international students to give a guest presentation at my son's school, etc.

Good thing I did qigong last night. It helped to center me. One of my classmates in qigong is so focused on getting it right, but by focusing on getting it right, she's missing the point of just doing the movement and getting used to how it FEELS. That's more important. It's kinda nice to be on the other side of intellectualizing it (like I did when I first started over a year ago) and more on the experiencing side of it.

I'm also happy that the fact that I'm able to do it means that I'm mostly over the flu/cold bug that I had. Yay!

Well, someone agreed to do an interview via the phone with me tonight. So, I best get organized for that. It's one of those follow-ups from last week.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

P.S. Promised pictures will come soon - hopefully this week?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

AFN - the Alaska Federation of Natives

Whew. AFN is certainly a whirlwind. Lots of fun. Got some work done on all three projects - maybe not as much as I'd like, but I met lots of people. Did some observation. Saw some rellies (relatives). Ate "nigipiaq" (real food or Eskimo food).

Actually, y'all might want to hear what we ate one night: dried salmon, half-dried salmon, smoked salmon, seal oil, sura (willow), crab legs, tugayuq (wild celery), and alluk (salmonberries, blackberries, and raspberries mixed with reindeer fat and seal oil). It was mmm mmm good!!!!!

I think I've been full the whole time I've been here.

Good times, good food, good company, tried to meet other people to interview for one of my projects. That's tough. I'd have to just go up to someone and start talking to them, then introduce the topic, and then ask if I could interview them. Hard work, especially for me since I'm innately shy.

Whew, again. I enjoyed it, though. Saw former professors, saw cousins and aunties, meet other Native scholars and artists and a politician or two.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love my job!!

On my way home tomorrow. The time was both too long and too short. Too long since Spagedward stayed home but too short because there was so much more I wanted to do!!!

Have a good Sunday everyone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Laurie, over at "Not Just About Cancer", posted about all the pink marketing in October for breast cancer awareness and she called it "pinxploitation". I think it's appropriate and wanted to give her credit for her new word. Thanks, Laurie!!

In the last year or so, after I learned how much the companies make from pink ribbon marketing, but only a small percentage of the profits actually goes to breast cancer research or support - I have tried not to literally buy into pink ribbon marketing. I don't really participate in Walks for the Cause or Races for the Cure. However, I do understand that the pink ribbons and such help breast cancer survivors connect with others going through treatments and find support and I know that my family and friends feel that by participating in such events, they are supporting me. I sometimes get gifts with pink ribbons. And, that's okay. By receiving them, I know they love me and are thinking about me and I accept those gifts in the spirit in which they are given.

So, I am engaging in a small, quiet protest by not buying into pink ribbon marketing. But I don't make others feel bad or guilty for doing so because I think their heart is in the right place and also because there's enough guilt and bad feelings in the world that I don't need to add to it. I just focus on things that make me happy and don't dwell too much on the negative.