Sunday, May 31, 2009

I have great friends!

I had a productive day - worked on that article, repotted plants, worked on the mosaic, then played softball. We won 16-14! Not through any singular effort on my part - I walked once and got out another time and didn't have any defensive plays. But it was still fun and nice to get out there!

I wondered if I would get short of breath when I ran and I didn't, so that's a good thing. I can't throw as far as I used to, though, because of the radiation and surgery to my right side. My right shoulder is tight, but my partner is going to help loosen that up.

Scott and I made a goof on the mosaic last week - after putting the grout on it, we (or I) didn't take the time to wipe the damp grout off the tiles. So, the grout dried on the tiles and now we've just spent 5 or 6 hours this week-end trying to scrap the damn stuff off the tiles so that you can see the design. It's hard, painstaking work. Scott's doing the bulk of the work - my arthritic fingers get sore faster and I don't quite have the strength that he does. We were encouraged, though, by seeing the tiles pop out again. As long as we can see the results of our labor, we can keep going. We should only have another hour or two left - you can see the tiles with grout still on them on the bottom of this picture. (Actually, the picture is kinda cool - the light was shining through some trees and highlighted one of the two "galaxies" in the design - see it on the right side?) Then, I need to regrout a few areas. Then seal it. Chalk this one up to "live and learn". I've never done a mosaic before . . .

A couple of lurkers read my post today and sent me emails . . . saying that they are visualizing, too. Thanks to all of you, too!

I enjoyed chatting with my friends at the ball game and last night, we played cards and had fun. One of my good friend's daughter's husband said last night, "At our last game, something seemed to be missing and I realized, you weren't there!" He missed me, apparently, and said something like, "it's just not softball without Dee!".

Scott also did some massage work on me today - he was getting ready for his practicum test. Did I say he was in massage school? Anyway, I thought I should only take an hour, but it felt really good, so we went another 30 minutes and he worked on my calves and feet.

I have great friends, you know? Thank you everyone!

Thanks to Fellow Bloggers

I just want to thank all of my fellow bloggers, especially those who commented on my last post, for sending me support, prayers, and visualizations. You don't know how much it means to me to have your support.

My appreciation goes to Daria, Carver, Teri, Liz, and Doug! Thank you everyone!

I know there's a lot of you lurking out there who never comment on the blog, but who send me prayers, support, and love. I know you're out there because you send me emails or you say "I know - I read it in your blog". Because of that, I know I have your encouragement, too.

Thank you to all of you, too!

I feel very fortunate to have your support. A new friend of mine noticed that I seem to have a lot of people rooting for me. She said, "you must have a lot of things you still need to do because you have a lot of support" - her implication was that that I was getting all of that support in order to stay alive - and that encouragement was perhaps even healing me and that it was needed because I do have a lot of things I need to accomplish, both personally and professionally.

Two of my friends are going through some very trying times. Please keep them in your thoughts, too! Thank you everyone!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Visit with Dr. K

I saw my oncologist, Dr. K, yesterday. We talked mostly about the lung spots on the CT scan. He even showed me the CT scan, which was kinda cool. Here were the questions I asked:

1) How likely is it that the lung spots are metastases if my tumor markers are low? He said that it is "less likely" than if my tumor markers were going up. We then looked at the history of my tumor markers. The CA15-3 was as high as 36 in March 2008 and that was when we found that it was in my skin and my bones in February 2008. It was 18.4 last month. Anything above 33 is suspect. But this is just a gross measure . . . sometimes it happens that you have active cancer but the markers are still low. Still a low tumor marker is usually a good thing.

2) The CT scan also found that I had one or two enlarged axillary lymph nodes in my left arm pit. I've been able to palpate one of them and when I do, it moves around quite a bit. I told him that I'd read that if those lymph nodes are enlarged and, generally, if it is cancer, those lymph nodes are hard and stationary - they don't move very well because the cancer causes a fibrous mass in the node. Or something. He wasn't able to palpate it very well. Lymph nodes can become enlarged with any kind of infection. He agreed that generally nodes with cancer do not move, so the fact that it moves quite a bit is a good thing.

3) Would those lung spots cause the coughing that I've been experiencing since I found out about the lung spots? He said that those lung spots are "so small" that I wouldn't notice anything in terms of coughing or breathing. He asked if I experienced shortness of breath when exercising. I haven't really. His guess is that my coughing and slight wheezing that I have is related to allergens. The Willamette Valley is notorious this time of year for hayfever. Lots of pollen in the air. However, I still had this slight cough while in northern Norway, which was pre-pollen season there. On the other hand, I did eat a lot of processed sugar while in Norway which can cause some phlegm and a cough.

4) Where are the lung spots? My spots are nodules inside the lungs, not on the pleura. They were located at the outside of the major blood vessels, more on the periphery. The major blood vessels were well lit up and on the CT, I could see them get bigger and then smaller out at the ends of the vessels. These spots were located beyond the ends of the vessels, so they weren't blood.

5) What is the likely progression of disease? I said that it was in my breast, then in the skin and the bones. He stated that cancer like mine, which was spreading via the lymph and the blood, would be somewhat more likely to go to the pleura, and then it would be easy to go to the lungs. I also mentioned that it seemed strange that my cancer was in the right breast, but that the spots showed up on the left side. He nodded because it would seem logical that the cancer would go to the right lung first. However, he does know of examples where the cancer was in one breast and they didn't find cancer in the lymph nodes on the same side, but in the opposite side. He asked, "so why did it pass through all of these other places and then decide to stay there in the opposite side? We really don't know enough about the biology."

6) When would cancer go to the liver and the brain? He said that different varieties of cancer cells like to grow in certain environments. So, cancer that's in the blood and lymph is more likely to go to the lungs, but that the cells would have to "change their code" (which I assume meant genetic code) in order to want to invade the liver and the brain.

7) What else could cause the lung spots? He admitted that it could be a lot of things. He mentioned fungal infections and gave me several names of different diseases caused by fungi. One is histoplasmosis, which I've heard of before when I worked as an assistant for a retinal doctor. He said that people in certain regions, like the Ohio River Valley, have high rates of fungal infections, like 50%. These fungal infections can lodge in the lungs but people never have any symptoms, other than the nodules in their lungs. Lots of people in the Ohio River Valley (I think) have CT scans that look like mine.

8) Those spots weren't there in August 2008, and 8 months later, they are there and one is 1cm. My first cancer was 2cm and they said that it had been growing for 8-10 years and was "slow-growing". This cancer was "medium-growing", and while it was more aggressive than the first one, it wasn't the fastest growing tumor. So, how likely is it that a tumor would grow to 1cm after just eight months? He said it was certainly possible that it could grow that quickly, but when I said something about slow or medium-growing, he just shrugged his shoulders and said that there was much that they don't know about the biology of the disease.

And, finally, given all that we discussed, I asked 9) what is the likelihood that these spots on my lungs are cancer? His answer? A 60/40 chance. I asked, "do you mean a 60% chance that it is cancer?" and he said, "yes". I replied, "Well, with what you've told me, I think it's more likely to be 60/40 that it isn't. Even, 80/20 that it isn't cancer". He smiled, which implied that he liked my positive thinking.

He suggested that I start doing visualizations and visualize those spots shrinking. He doesn't want me to change my meds at this point - so I'm still taking Tykerb and nothing else. I'll have a CT scan in early July and then another appointment with him on July 9th. We'll see what happens then. Next week, I have another Zometa treatment and then will have my tumor markers measured.

So, the past few nights, I've been trying to start a visualization routine. I go through these relaxation breathing exercises and fall asleep before really starting to do that. I got a bit farther last night. I imagined every breath I took in as a cleansing breath. Sometimes, I held the breath and imagined the air as a kind of "roto-rooter" cleaning out anything bad, like a fungal infection or little tumors. Then, when I let out the breath, I let it all go. My goal is to take a lot of breaths like that everyday, imagining something similar. Sometimes, the "roto-rooter" was a cleansing light (which was something I read within the last week in one of my books).

I really would like to get hypnotized - two of the books I'm reading by Andrew Weil and Brian Weiss talk about hyponosis. Visualizations are easier under hypnosis . .. but how do I find a hypnotherapist that I can trust?

Well, that's something to work on. In the meantime, reading rough drafts of student papers (this class did a great job on Wednesday doing skits, where they pretended they were aliens observing American culture; they did a great job!) and making some final revisions to an article. I will also meet with my incoming Ph.D. student today. This week-end - finish the mosaic and more putzing around the house. I think we're going to have a garage sale next week-end.

How am I feeling? Happy and content. It's sunny outside. I'm getting my work done, both at home and at work. My son is in good spirits. My partner is having some issues with his daughter, so he's stressed about that, but he seems to be enjoying massage school. I have a job and the rhodies and roses and irises are blooming. What more can one ask for? (Well, other than being free of cancer!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Food For Thought

Last year, through another blog, I discovered Matt Harper's video "Dancing Around the World". I started following his blog, here and there, about his travels. I really like his videos and I think that there's a good message to be had there. I hadn't read his blog in months, though, partly because I found him always trying to be funny and I also found him somewhat judgmental or sarcastic or smug or something. Not sure how to describe it, I just know that I didn't feel like reading his blog very often..

I decided to see what he was up to today and he had a link to an essay he wrote for NPR's "This I Believe" series. The essay is about his experiences and, ultimately, about globalization. He eventually made a statement about our brains and how, in the face of globalization, they may be changing. Anyway, I thought it was interesting enough that I thought I'd post the link to the essay here. What do you all think of his ideas?

Monday, May 25, 2009

News on the Mosaic "Letting Go"

I started this project last June, shortly after I broke a bunch of plates in an attempt to bodily let go of a lot of anger I've been harboring for years.

My dad and Gooey created the pedestal last July.

In August, my friend Rick came over and cut out the circle of the MSD board for the base of the mosaic. Then, Scott helped me sand both sides and the edges of the board.

Scott and I also started to glue down the tiles and shards to the board but we only got a little bit done before fall/winter set in. Then it was too cold or wet to work in the garage.

We finally started working on it last month. We got the basic design completed.

Here's Scott cutting tiles.

Here's the basic design.

This is what it looks like after I put in the white tile yesterday.

Today, I grout it. Then, I plan to put a sealant over it. I also need to find some metal stripping for the edge. I read that you can find some that curves.

I'm hoping it's all ready to go on the pedestal by next week-end. That'll get it out of the garage, where it's taking up a lot of room. Yay!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And the Drug Repository Bill Passes the Senate!

I picked up today's paper from my porch today and as I scanned the front page headlines, I saw this:

"Senate approves bill that allows patients to donate prescriptions"

I thought, "Is this the drug repository bill?" I scanned the article - Yes, it is! There's my name! Here's the article:

I'm so very pleased that Sara Gelser took the ball and ran with this! Now it awaits Gov Kulongowski's signature. Thank you, Sara! I'll be invited to the bill signing ceremony, too!

Sleep - It Does a Body Good

I slept from 11:30pm to 4:30am without waking up.

FIVE hours. That's really unusual for me, especially in the past year and a half. I'm very happy about this. Granted, I woke up once an hour after that, until I got up about 7:15, but still. FIVE hours. I'm lucky if I get three hours. Happy about four. But five is almost unheard of!


Top that news off with waking up to sunny blue skies - temps are expected to be in the mid to high-70s - and a day of putzing around the house and enjoying my space with my son and my partner.

So, life is good. It's very very good! Enjoy your holiday week-end everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Interesting Observation

Scott and I went out to dinner tonight and as we were talking about things like diet and supplements. I was speculating about why my hot flashes were worse last week. I thought it was because I missed one of the doses of the herbal formula that replenishes my yin energy. Yin helps with hot flashes.

Then, I talked about how my hot flashes have been better since I got home, and particularly, they've gotten better in the last day or so.

So, what was the difference?

I thought, well, I'm back to drinking my soy chai in the morning.

And, oh yeah! I had a tofu dish with peanut sauce at a Thai restaurant yesterday. I ate most of the tofu!!

For women going through menopause, they sometimes suggest that they eat more tofu and soy because soy has phyto-estrogen (I think is what it's called) which helps relieve hot flashes.

Wow. I didn't have any soy at all last week in Norway. I had hot flashes all the time - maybe 6 or 7 during the day and many 3 or 4 at night. Maybe more. I would sweat, particularly on my face.

I haven't had hot flashes that bad this whole week. I wondered if it had something to do with my old menstrual cycle (before they took my ovaries).

But I think the hot flashes have more to do with my soy consumption. I'll have to talk to my doctor about that, since the jury is still out about whether or not women who have breast cancer should eat (or drink) a lot of soy if their cancers are estrogen positive. I think I just found out how much soy helps me regulate hot flashes, which may affect my level of sleep.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Relaxing Evening with American Idol

After a very busy evening yesterday doing housework-related stuff, I can relax this evening. I still need to put some clothes away and balance my checkbook and I might work on an article, but for the most part, I plan to stretch and watch Idol.

I saw my acupuncturist today. She worked on my lung meridian. I also mentioned this low back ache that I have on the left side - where the hip bone connects to the sacrum (I think). She did some cupping there on the back and gave me some ideas for stretches that might help. She then speculated that I must be holding on to some emotional thing that is causing my lung congestion. I thought about what I might be holding onto: one is worry, both about the lung situation as well as my family's financial situation (my dad and my brother cannot find work) and the other is some guilt about something that I'm not at liberty to talk about on the blog. So, my goal is to try to let go of some of that and then do some of these stretches.

I then saw my plastic surgeon, Dr. H. His wife performs the laser removal of hair, so next week, I go in to see her and she will remove the "pubes on the boob". Dr. H said they weren't really pubes as they weren't dark and/or curly, but it was definitely hair that originated near that general locale. Also, while his wife is doing laser for the hair removal, they will also use the laser on the TRAM flap scar. Both procedures together should take about 20 minutes. We may do this one or two more times, but it really should be a snap. It's considered part of the whole procedure so no out of pocket expense for me. Yay!

Also, on the abdominal scar, on the left side, the end of the scar is pointed. Probably in late summer, when I'm ready, I can go in for another outpatient procedure and Dr. H will trim that up in order to smooth out the line on that area. It sorta looks like I have a pencil poking out of the skin there - not quite that drastic, of course, but there is a small pointed area of skin. This procedure will only take about 45 minutes to smooth it out. They basically snip off the fat and then they will stitch it up again. There's about a month recovery time, so they suggested that I wait until all my summer activities are over - softball, volleyball, and I may even be able to take Eddie to the swimming pool this year.

All in all, a good couple of appointments!

Okay, on to the stretches!

Back Home Safely

Hello everyone!
A quick note to say that I arrived safely home in Portland late on Sunday night. After about six hours sleep, I was on my way to Corvallis and picked my son up from school, then off to work to get ready to teach.

The day went fairly well, although I really started to fade from jet lag about 3pm. Then, I still had to come home, do laundry, go grocery shopping, unpack, then my lovely cat decided to be mad at me and left a couple of surprises that I had to clean up. Namely, she decided to pee and poop on the floor in the bathroom and in the sink. I mopped the bathroom floor THREE times until I think I finally got rid of the cat urine smell, using a variety of cleaning products, and then after a thorough cleaning of the sink, I used bleach. NOT what I wanted to be doing last night when I was tired. Eddie also had some homework that I had to help him with.

I think the smell is gone. Truth will tell upon our arrival home this afternoon.

But it's sunny, my rhodies are blooming, my irises and red hot pokers are blooming, I can see buds on my roses and one of them has blooms, and this ground cover that had struggled all the time I've lived here looks nice and healthy and full of blue blooms. Another small ground cover in the bed near the driveway has definitely spread over a larger area and is full of a delicate light blue bloom. So, yes, it's pretty here and it's hard to stay mad at the cat, especially after a great night of sleep (I woke up three times, but managed to get back to sleep).

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back In Oslo

I'm back in Oslo after taking a roundabout way here from Alta. I had a great time here. I can't wait to come back. But now I can't wait to get home. A good night's sleep tonight and then a long 18 hours back - 8 1/2 hours from Oslo to Newark, then four hours in Newark, then 6 hours to Portland. I guess I better get my sleep!

Friday, May 15, 2009

And, We're Front Page News Again!

On Thursday, we gave an all morning seminar on indigenous placenames. This time, all four of us gave more formal presentations about our research. It was fun, although I must admit I was thinking about my own, realizing that it wasn't as polished as it should be, and so only caught 2/3 of Renee's and Nobuhle's. (I apologize for that you two - I would really like to see your powerpoints!)

At any rate, a young man from Sami University College took our pictures. You can see them here.

This has really really been a wonderful trip. I've really missed my son and Scott and the rest of my family and I wish they all could be here to experience this. I feel honored to have been part of this group. Kaisa was a wonderful wonderful hostess. Our whole week was seamlessly put together, but I know she must be exhausted. I hope she takes the week-end to rest!

I really want to see them all again. I'm thinking about trying to figure out how to find money to bring them to OSU and then I can host them.

Off tomorrow to drive to Alta. Then we fly to Oslo, via Lakselv and Tromso. We stay the night in Oslo tomorrow and then I leave about 11am to fly to Newark and then to Portland. It will be good to be home . . . but I've really had a wonderful time here!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Norway Pics #2

Ready to see a bit more of Guovdageiadnu?

Here's a view of part of the village. The village is spread out a bit on both banks of this river. I've forgotten the name of the river, unfortunately. This is what I see outside my hotel room. I took this shot when I walked down to the village and back to the hotel.

I walked down to the main Lutheran Church. It took about 25 minutes or so. Afterwards, I walked into one of their grocery stores. It sorta looks like a Winco Foods, for those of you who live in Oregon.

The next day, we got a tour of the new building for Sami University College. It will also hold the offices of some of the local Sami Parliament offices of language and education. It's gorgeous.

This is a design of cloudberries at the entry way for the building. The cloudberries are much larger than normal size - in Alaska, we call them salmon berries.

It's Norwegian law to make sure that public buildings have artwork in them. So, the cloudberries was one touch and they will have several different designs on the handrails that lead down to the "cantina" or cafeteria where students will eat. This was one design already on the handrail.

The handrails are for a stairway that leads down to the cantina. The stairway is made of birch, which is the species of all the local trees. We're looking over the stairs from a floor above.

The next day, I snapped this photo of Renee, Mikhil Nils, and Puju. Renee is from Hawaii, Mikhil was raised as a reindeer herder and will soon finish his Ph.D. in the social sciences, and Puju is from Greenland. Puju knows indigenous peoples from all over the Arctic - he kept running into people here that he's known over the years. He's a linguist. Renee is a geographer.

Later, we visited the Sami silversmith in the village. Her name is Kristine Haetta. I bought a necklace from her, but I haven't taken a photo of it yet.

Later that night, I took this picture from outside my hotel room window at 1am. It's still light out. I think we are at about 69 degrees north latitude (see wikipedia's entry) and I think Puju said today that it gets about 23 hours of light this time of year.

The next day, we had lunch with Maret (last name is escaping me - sorry!), the Vice Rector for Sami University College (like a Vice President) and Ole Hendrik Magga, who is a linguist and also active in politics - I think they said he was the first President of the UN's Indigenous People's Forum, and Nobuhle Hlongwa.

Here's a picture of the whole group - Nobuhle took the picture for me. I look a bit tired at the other end of the table. I am sitting next to Kaisa.

Later, we saw an exhibit of handicrafts, made by students at Sami University College. I'm still trying to get the differences between Norwegian university colleges and universities - I think university colleges are usually more specialized and maybe they are geared more for professional-kinds of work, rather than academic. However, Maret stated that they were hoping to become a university sometime in the future. This is a wool covering - the design is made from dyed wool, which is tacked on and then the whole thing is wet down, then cleaned with soap, rinsed and dried, if I understood the process correctly. I love the design - Sami are reindeer herders and salmon fishermen - both are on this design.

This young man is a Finnish Sami - you can tell by the cut of his shirt. He carved his own bone clip that fastens below his neck and also the bone buttons on his belt.

We had dinner last night at Kaisa's house. Her husband is seated to the left in this picture and Kaisa is on the right. Her husband, Nils, made a wonderful dinner of salmon, boiled potatoes, salad, and then we had cloudberries and cream. Yummers! They have a very nice house, with a lot of Sami artwork.

I'll write more about what we were up to later. For now, I'll sign off. Hopefully you have enjoyed the pictures!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Norway Pics #1

Hello everyone,
I'm posting a few pictures from the first day of my trip here. I still need to download the pics I've taken since then.

This first one is a picture of a small house in Alta. I took a picture of it because of the ladder on the roof. The ladder is there for chimney sweeps - most roofs are very steep. The Norwegians burn a lot of wood.

The second picture was taken at the Alta Museum. It's a picture of a Sami shaman's drum that was recreated from a drum held in Copenhagen, which was taken from the shaman in the 17th century by missionaries.

I took this picture because it reminded me of semisubterranean houses on King Island. This one housed workers who quarried rock for use on roofs and walkways.

This picture was taken on a walkway that took us to see rock art below the museum. This is a house with a sod roof.

This photograph is of Nobuhle (from South Africa) and me standing near a rock with lots of rock art - dating to about 6,000 years ago, they think.

See the reindeer and also the boat bringing up what we think is a halibut.

This photo was taken on the road south to Guovdageiadnu (Norwegians call it Kautokeino, but I'm using the Sami name). There are melting waterfalls in the back. Pictured are Kaisa, our hostess, and Nobuhle.

Finally, another shot of the frozen waterfalls melting.

Hope you've enjoyed your little tour!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We're front page news at Sami University College!

A photographer from Sami University College took pictures of our workshop this morning .. . and they already have the pictures up on the webpage!

Cool, huh? Everyone's laughing because they all look so serious . . . I'm the only one smiling and I think the reason is that we were laughing about something Renee was typing as the photographer was zeroing in on me. Here's the link:

Aren't we all cute? Nobuhle is from South Africa, Puju (Carl Christian) is from Greenland, Renee is from Hawaii, and Kaisa is our host, originally from Finland but now working as a linguist at Sami University College.

Don't let the pictures fool you . . . we're having fun and eating well, too!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Productive Day

Our workshop was productive today - we have the start on a logo for our Indigenous Placenames Conference, which will be held early September 2010. We worked on other things like who we might like for keynote speakers and sessions and excursions. We have a title and subtitle, too.

It's going to take place here in Guovdageiadnu. I'm planning, if I can afford it, to come here a few days early and tour around the country some. I'd like to bring Eddie and Scott, too.

Then, I walked down to the village and up to a really cool church. Then, I found the grocery store and found the chocolate bars that I liked when I was here in March. Yay! I'm bringing home a little supply of them.

Then, dinner with my colleagues - we had a good conversation. I'm tired, though. I didn't sleep well last night. My plan is to stay up for another hour, then call Eddie to say good night and then go to sleep. I really need a good night's sleep. I think my lack of sleep last night had to do with the fact that I missed a dose or two of one of my Chinese herbs, which is supposed to help my kidney yin. My kidney yin is depleted and therefore, this herb replenishes it - when it's depleted, women tend to have more hot flashes. So, I took some extra and the hot flash I just had a few minutes ago didn't last as long or was as bad as it was earlier in the day.

Here's to a good night's sleep!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

P.S. It's 12:42pm and . . .

it's not dark here. It's twilight. About an hour ago, I saw a white rabbit hopping through the bushes. I wasn't close enough to gauge how big it was. Saw reindeer today, too, or did I already say that.

Gonna work on this grant proposal and then to bed. We will be working tomorrow, beginning to discuss plans for next year's conference. Then, we're gonna look around. We may also get time to walk around the village and look through the shops.

Here in Guovdageiadnu

Hello everyone,
So, I arrived in Alta at 11am today and Kaisa met us at the airport. Turns out Nobuhle was on the same flight. From the airport, we drove around town - got a feel for their housing. They have ladders on their roof, which are there to give easy access to chimney sweeps since a lot of their winter heating comes from firewood. There are also these metal bars which are laid sideways on the edge of the roof, usually above a doorway, which keeps the snow and/or melting snow from falling down over the door and blocking it. Indigenous, huh?

Then, we went to the Alta Museum and looked around at the exhibits. They had a reconstructed sealskin boat, a wooden boat, "traditional" 18th century sledges, plus models of traditional Sami settlements, etc. Also, out on the grounds, they had petroflyphs - rock art - mostly of reindeer, but there were also beers, fishing boats and nets. Pretty cool stuff! The rock art was on boulders from a glacial moraines (I think they call it).

Afterwards, we headed south to Guovdageiadnu/Kautokeino (believe it or not, when you hear the two words pronounced side by side, you can tell that Kautokeino is the Norwegianization of Guovdageiadnu). We went up through a narrow river valley, on a narrow road, and saw waterfalls throughout, even waterfalls flowing over frozen waterfalls. That was cool. Once we got to the top of the plain, we eventually passed through some Sami villages - one village was the site of a very long protest against the building of a hydroelectric dam. I'll get you the name later. Then, we arrived in Guovdageiadnu and after esting and sending messages, I had dinner and a long conversation with Renee, Kaisa, and Puju. Renee is from Hawaii, Kaisa is our hostess, and Puju is from Greenland. Our conversation ranged from place names, to personal naming practices, to religions, to weather and climate change, to the history of colonization of indigenous peoples, to movies and websites, kids, etc.

All in all, a good day. A full day. I just talked to Eddie on the phone . . . he got into a little bit of trouble for talking too loud and cried. Made me feel guilty that I won't see him for a week (sigh). I do miss him and I wish that he and Scott could be here to experience this place with me.

We are planning to hold a conference here in Guovdageiadnu in 2010. Gonna start saving up for that so that they can join me. I'll keep you all updated as the week goes on!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Global Multicultural Moment

I need to remember to tell my students another method for studying another culture - watching TV. So far, I've seen a couple of American shows and a movie, and some reality TV shows similar to the U.S. The one I'm watching now has a group of people reconstructing a garage for him to use I think as independent living quarters for a young man who can't walk and who lives in a wheelchair - sorta like Extreme Makeover-Home Edition. Then, earlier they had the Singin' Bee (complete with four background dancers wearing these skimpy black outfits with wings! I think I even have more rhythm than these dancers, although Scott may have a difference of opinion! LOL) in which contestants had to finish lines of a song, sorta like the Wayne Brady's "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" and Norway's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionnaire".

Also today was a women's rugby match (I think) and during a time out, they played the song from Zorba the Greek. It got me wondering, have they used this song all along? Or are they only now using it again after some Yolngu Aboriginal youth (the Chooky Dancers) from Australia made it popular again when they became a YouTube hit? If it's the latter, then it's truly a global moment. First, Zorba the Greek is a novel by a Greek author, which became a film directed by a Greek director but starred in by Anthony Quinn and it won several Academy Awards. These Australian Aboriginal youths made a dance to it, putting in their unique spin, and now a Norwegian women's rugby team are using it for inspiration.

Sitting in my hotel room in Oslo!

I've arrived! I've been here for almost 12 hours - got to my hotel about 10 or so hours ago. I didn't sleep much on the plane, so once I got to the hotel, I got ready for bed and tried to sleep. I think I did, but I woke up every couple of hours. Then, I showered and went to dinner. Figured out the internet connection, too. I can text friends via the internet, so I did some of that.

I considered taking the train into the city - my hotel is near the airport - but I decided that I'm too tired and wouldn't have the patience to wait for trains and other transport. So, I'm hanging out watching Norwegian TV, blogging, sending texts to Scott, Eddie and my folks, and resting. I'll probably go to sleep here within the next half hour.

I head to the airport at 7:30am Norwegian time - my flight to Alta is at 9am. My host, Kaisa Helander-Rautio (or is it Rautio-Helander?), will pick me up in Alta and from there, we drive 130km due south, I believe, to what Norwegians call Kautokeino and what the Sami call Guovdageiadnu. Other attendees are from South Africa and Hawaii and Greenland, in addition to Kaisa. I assume we'll have a chance to just hang around Alta and look around tomorrow and then we start planning this conference on Monday. Tuesday will be our day to go on an excursion to see Sami places and learn their Sami placenames.

I told Immigration what I was here for - to work on an indigenous placenames conference and then to learn Sami names and her reply was, "That language is dying. Hardly anyone speaks it anymore." And, then I said that I was working with a linguist and she said again that the language was dying.

From what I've seen - a few years ago during IASSA's conferene in Fairbanks - there were Sami there and it seems that the Sami are working really hard on language revitalization efforts and on Sami rights, in general. I got the impression that the Sami language was doing relatively well. I will find out for sure this week.

In the end, my first impression of this conversation with the Immigration lady was that the dominant society, again, tends to be so uninformed about the status of indigenous peoples and indigenous cultures within their own borders. Reminds me of a quote I have on my door from George W. Bush - a "Bushism" in which he claims the U.S. government "gave" or "granted" Native peoples sovereignty. Duh! My undergraduates knows that sovereignty is NOT something that is granted by another government - it's inherent.

Still a long way to go on indigenous rights, not just in the U.S., but here in Norway, too.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sitting in the Newark Airport

I arrived in Newark a few hours ago. I think I'll be boarding in about an hour and will arrive in Oslo about 9am Oslo time - about midnight West Coast time. I think I will be able to get an early check-in at the hotel in Oslo and I plan to rest and try to take a nap.

Otherwise, I'm doing okay. Graded papers on the plane, watched two movies, and here at the airport, I've worked on a small internal grant proposal. I'll post an entry after my arrival in Oslo.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A couple of margaritas and . . .

I'm ready to go to Norway. I'd been feeling guilty about leaving - my son, for the most part, my partner, my students, etc. I've been feeling like I wanted to cancel and feeling guilty about leaving my son, my partner, my house, my cat, etc. But after two margaritas, I feel okay.

I must admit that I'm also looking forward to having time to myself for awhile. It feels weird, but as my partner Scott pointed out, I probably need to think just about me for awhile and not worry about anything else.

The break will do me good. I'm just not used to focusing just on me and I feel guilty and selfish for doing so.

Once I get on the plane, I'm sure I'll be fine ...

Relief Floods . . .

Okay, just got the result for the CA15-3. It's 18.4! Yay! That's LOWER than last month.

Here's the 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 (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

Remember that anything below 33 is considered normal.

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
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

For the CEA, anything below 3.8 is considered normal!

Whew. Only now do I realize what a relief it is that the numbers are still staying relatively low. Big sigh.

My colleague, S., forwarded to me a research article about the CEA and CA15-3. According to this article from Feb 2008, they showed that the "predictive" value of the measures increase when they are used together. In addition, they showed that the two numbers have to be "elevated", which I think means above the thresholds of 33 for the CA15-3 and above 3.8 (or 2.5 or 5) for the CEA. Both of my numbers are below that "elevated" level.

Okay. I can sleep better tonight.

I also must admit to being disappointed that Allison Iraheta was voted off American Idol last night. I think she was great. This is the first year that I've watched it and I've been really impressed with this group. I'm even contemplating going to their Top 10 summer tour - starts in Portland on July 5th.

Note to self: Worrying Doesn't Make Things Better

A couple of weeks ago, when I had lunch with Cat and Kai, I told them about the news of my lungs spots and how I decided that I shouldn't worry about them. I guess I didn't realize that I was still worried about them and how much I was looking to the tumor markers to help me figure out what's going on. If the tumor markers are low and stay low, then I wasn't going to worry. But the fact that the CEA has risen a little bit has me worried.

At the time of the lunch, Cat said in response to my comment, "Yes, it's good not to borrow trouble." I'm reading Andrew Weil's book on "Spontaneous Healing" and he also mentions the power of positive thinking and how negative thinking often makes things worse.

So . . . time to stop worrying and to start enjoying the prospect of going to Norway! I'm trying to imagine all the work I can get done on the plane, without the distractions of my family, my son, my partner, students, work, bills, etc. I'm also trying to imagine how fun it will be to meet other people working on similar issues of placenames and language.

Okay, I'll find out the CA15-3 results and get back to you. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trying not to read anything into the number . . . and a cancer rant

I got the results of my CEA today - the CA15-3 won't be ready until tomorrow because they have to send it out. At any rate, the CEA was 1.9. Anything less than 3.8 is considered normal.

However, even when the cancer was at its worst last February 2008, when we discovered the skin and bone mets, my CEA was still only 1.2 (that was in January). It never got higher than 1.2 until this March 2009, when it was 1.4, then last month, it was 1.6. It's creeping up a little bit.

From what I've read, the jury's out as to whether or not the CEA is a good measure of cancer activity; it works better for some patients than it does for others. The CA15-3 is considered to be more sensitive.

I'll get the CA15-3 results tomorrow, which may be a more reliable measure. I've been distracted all day because it's higher - didn't really feel like teaching today, but I had to. It was good to teach though - got my mind on other things. But it certainly has affected my mood today. I guess it doesn't help that I'm tired today - stayed up past 11pm working on a grant proposal and watching TV. I did, however, get a good 3 1/2 hours sleep before waking, then got another 1 1/2, then another 1 1/2, so it was okay - just not long enough.

Need to get to bed at a more decent hour, shortly after Idol is over. Until then, I need to: grade three sets of papers and edit my little grant proposal. Oh, and balance the ol' checkbook. Laundry's washing, so that tomorrow, all I have to do is pack.

Remind me not to travel during classes. It always seems to add more work. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed today between housework and grading papers, wishing I could put off the Norway trip until June. On the other hand ... if the tumor markers are up, that might mean changing my treatment regimen and I might not be able to .. .

Okay, got to stop that negative thinking .. .

The Cheeky Librarian today posted a link to someone's cancer rant . .. she made a lot of good points (I assume it's a she, but they're not sure who the author is) and it sorta fits my mood, so I'm posting the link here:

UPDATE: I found a site that discusses the CEA ... I feel a bit better after reading that. A rising CEA can also be caused by an infection, which fits what I think might be going on with those lung spots. I still have that slight cough. But . . . some nagging doubt still remains.

Think positive thoughts, right?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eddie using the Wiimote to play the Wii

I snapped a few pics of Eddie playing his Wii. I used our iMac's lovely built in camera. It's much quicker!

Does he look like he's enjoying himself? : )

Z-Day Today - Tumor Marker Results Tomorrow and Upcoming Norway Travel

I had my zometa treatment today - nothing remarkable to report, other than the nurse had to stick me a second time to draw blood for my labs. If you remember, zometa keeps my bones strong.

I also treated myself to a hair cut and a pedicure. She then styled my hair and asked whether or not I'd like it straightened or curly. Since it always has a slight curl/wave to it, I asked her to straighten it. In general, I like what she did - and for some reason, my hair feels less heavy and has more movement. The only thing I don't like is that it makes my face look wide. It emphasizes my face more, I guess, and I don't think that's a good thing (trying to be realistic here), especially since my face, particularly my chin, has been breaking out lately.

Here's my hair from the front.

Of course, I only picked the most flattering picture. And, here's what it looks at in the back.

Another view of the back. Whaddya think?

My toes are a nice light orangey-red. Spring colors, for sure.

The nurse said I could call for my results tomorrow. I'm curious about them. I don't expect them to be higher - in fact, I think they'll be in the same range.

But . . . I'm preparing myself just the same. Even at their worst, though, my marker was a 36 and that was with both bb-sized spots in my bones and in my skin. Anything over 33 is suspect. I have heard of people, whose blogs I follow, having their numbers get up to over 200, in one case, and over 70 in another.

In other news, I'm heading to Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, Norway, on Friday. My flight is Portland to Neward to Oslo, where I land on Sat morning at 9am. I hang out in Oslo for the day then I fly to Alta, then drive 130 km to Guovdageaidnu, which is directly south of Alta, near the border with Finland, from what I can tell. I was going to say it was near the border of Sweden, but the Finland border is SOUTH. That's because Norway hangs a hood north of Sweden and Finland, if that makes any sense. I will be meeting with a few other colleagues (one from South Africa, one from Hawaii, one from Greenland, and the organizer) to plan an indigenous placenames conference in 2010. Most, if not all, of us are indigenous. The trip is being paid for by a grant from the Norwegian government.

I'm starting to get excited. I'm going to miss Eddie and Scott, of course, but this will be really really cool, professionally speaking. Well, personally, too, as I do enjoy traveling. We will meet several days, then take an excursion or two through the countryside, and meet with students and have a kind of seminar on indigenous placenames. I arrive home on the 17th. I might try to move that flight so that I get home earlier. We'll see if it's doable, though.

I've got some stuff to do beforehand, but I'm not feeling particularly stressed - it's all doable, in other words.

Have I ever mentioned that I love my work? ;o)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wii and Mii

As I mentioned before, Eddie got a Wii last week. I played a few games with him on Friday - namely baseball, tennis, and bowling - and I got to admit that the twisting for baseball and tennis made my abdomen sore. It'd been feeling mostly normal - there were times when I didn't notice it - but now it feels a bit tender and slightly bruised. Oops. I guess I overdid it.

Good thing I've missed softball practice - I just get too busy doing other things. I need to get out there but a few more weeks of allowing my abdomen to heal is in order, I think.

The Wii, however, is fun. I'd like to get a Wii fit . . .

As my friend said, "That's just so wrong!" OR Pubes on the Boob - LOL

Ya ready for this?

I have a few pubic hairs growing on the upper medial quadrant of my TRAM flap.

Yep, you heard me right. P-U-B-I-C hairs.


A noticed a few hairs a couple of weeks ago, but since there were only a few (3 or 4 maybe), I decided not to really think about it anymore.

But last week, as I tried on new bras that could uplift the TRAM flap side a bit (especially since the implant side has not yet dropped), I noticed more. It's a section maybe an inch and a half long and a quarter to a half inch wide. Most of the little hairs are pretty thin and light, but there are a few that are more noticeable.

Now the upper part of my TRAM flap used to be below my belly button - when the doctor took the abdominal tissue, he basically spun it around like hands on a clock to place it on my chest.

I googled the situation last Friday and found that this isn't all that uncommon. It does happen in a few cases. I can get electrolysis or bleach the hairs.

I may get electrolysis and then I think I may get a tattoo around the top area since the scar line may be a little pronounced and will show with swimming suits and other open neck tops.

You just got to laugh about something like this. Too too funny. Like I told my friends, at least we know the TRAM flap has a good blood supply - or else the hair couldn't grow! LOL : )

Friday, May 1, 2009

My "Wii" Son

Yes, the "wii" reference means that my son is now one of the many kids and adults out there who have a Nintendo Wii. He's been saving for one for several months. He had about a third of the money he needed by saving his allowance and then both his dad and I had savings accounts for him. We dipped into that to purchase his wii, another wiimote, and Wii Play. Wii Sports comes with the unit.

I played tennis, baseball, and bowling with him after school today and I got to tell you - you do wave your arms around! It was a bit muggy out today and I could certainly feel the humidity as I played. It was fun! I can see how the game could be addicting.

My son was so excited about playing the Wii - they got the unit last night - that on the way to school this morning, he made the comment, "The Wayside School is only in school from 9 to 2 - only five hours! My school goes from 8:15 to 3 - a whole seven hours! That's not fair." I thought perhaps he was just wishing it was Sat not Fri. Then, he said, "Mama, how much is 60 times 7?" I answered, "420". "Darn!" he says, "I have to count to 100 four times!". Then, I got to thinking about the Wii and I said, "Are you counting the minutes until you can go home to play the Wii?" He said, "No, I'm counting the minutes until you pick me up so we can go to the store and get Wii Play."

Hmm, not at all anxious, huh?