July 31, 2009
I grew up in Southern California and one of my earliest memories is the apartment that my parents and I lived in until I was about 2 years old. It was actually called a “court”, and the series of single level “garden” apartments stepped back in an attractive manner, from the wide grassy space in the front narrowing to the apartments closer together near the rear of ”the court”. The post-war women of the court became friends, some friendships outlasting several husbands yet lasting their lifetimes. This closeness encouraged the children of the court to play together daily in the warm, nurturing California sunshine. I was one of those children so nourished and loved.
California had not yet begun to see its mega growth and so there were many vacant lots in the neighborhood. One large corner was totally vacant of any building; it consisted of at least two lots and maybe four. A huge open space to children who could get lost in it for the entire day — or at least until we got hungry! — and covered in irresitable undergrowth. This natural vegetation allowed for small animals to build their burrows and this helped the vacant lot to develop it’s remarkable topography of burms and valleys and trails, so fun to run and hide and play in complete with tall weeds and tiny flowers.
To me it was not vacant at all , but my own special nature playground where I discovered all sorts of mysteries and I loved to play in that vacant lot. It had a remarkable energy and aliveness, it was not static or boaring. It was the delicate, tiny flowers that were like a magnet to this inquisitive child allowing me to bring a bouquet of flowers home to my Mommy and Grandma. Since this was an uncultivated, uncared for stretch of ground, they probably were not flowers, but most probably were flowering weeds as some might call them. Nevertheless, they were beautiful to me and deserved to be presented to someone I loved. And so they often were.
A while later, we moved into our “new house”, on the same street, just down the block a ways. The vacant lot was never “developed” ( at least not for many years) and as we grew older, we played there many times. Picking flowers gave way to playing war games with the boys and we became less cautious in our play.
One day several of us were in the vacant lot playing and for some reason, we were running with long sticks in our mouths…. don’t ask. I don’t know why we had sticks in our mouths, but we did. And I remember running over the uneven ground and then an unexpected rise in the dirt and I fell. I fell face forward pushing the stick into the back of my throat. I tasted the dirty stick. It hurt. I think I bled. I was crying. I remember a child, probably the boy next door, we were inseparable, helping me get home safely.
It must not have been a very bad fall or scrape and my Guardian Angel must have been looking out for me because, I could talk and sing well enough to have a lead in a musical here and there over the years. No harm done!
Anyway, The Vacant Lot was the single most VAST space that my little mind could imagine. Since I had played there on end, never seeing the same area twice, I knew it had to be huge.
And so it came to be one evening while I was sitting on my Daddy’s lap, that this little girl, who could not yet tie a bow, thought of a way to tell him how much she loved him. I told him that I loved him ” a whole empty vacant lot full”. I remember the puzzled look on his face as he tried to find the compliment in this strange comment. And in my little girl way, I remember explaining it to him. I think he got it then, but I’m not sure. I do know that he did finally “get it” because that is how I told him how much I loved him my whole life…. ”I love you a whole empty vacant lot full.” There was no other space that could contain that vast ”empty vacant lot” and so a “whole empty vacant lot full” of love was the most love that this child believed was possible.
July 30, 2009
This is just a reminder of the ACS Relay for Life in Beaverton on Saturday, August 1st. Portland Firefly will be walking in the initial lap which is designated as the Survivor Lap. The Survivor Lap is to begin the Relay at 10:00 am at Valley Catholic High School at Murray Blvd and TV Highway in Beaverton.
Hopefully my Son and Grandson and possibly Daughter-in-law will be walking with me. As caregivers, they will be honored with a light blue tee-shirt. I am looking forward to it very much. After the Survivor Lap, Portland Firefly will be sitting in the Survivor Tent and I’ll probably stay there until early afternoon sometime. It depends on how hot it is and how well I can hold up. Oh, I plan on returning later in the evening just to see the lumionaries around the track!
I have my Purple Survivor Tee-Shirt and my pretty purple scarf for my head all ready to go!!! I just found a fabulous purple hat which I’ll also be wearing!!! Maybe I’ll see you there!!!
July 29, 2009
As a chemotherapy patient, Portland Firefly has her blood drawn and her blood counts checked at least once every week. This is in addition to the Chemotherapy that she receives. The entire blood drawing process is made much more tolerable by the use of the portacath that she had surgically inserted the end of March. This saves my veins because the blood is drawn through the portacath which is buried inside my chest.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells by breaking the DNA chain so the Cancer cells cannot grow and multiply. Cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells and the chemo drugs attack all rapidly dividing cells in my body. This includes not only the unwanted cancer cells, but also hair cells (that is why I lost my hair), and the bone marrow cells that manufacture my blood. The attack on my bone marrow is the reason for the weekly blood counts.
Up until now, with one exception, my weekly blood counts have been acceptable. Two days prior to my major surgery, my white blood counts were a little low and so I was given a very expensive injection of Neupogen to hasten he production of white cells prior to surgery. That one injecton cost about $2,000.00. Neupogen is a fast acting drug that increases the white blood count within a matter of a few days. The white blood cells protect the patient against infection and since my surgery had the potential to “lay me open from stem to stern”, my Doctor wanted to have me in the best possible infection fighting shape for this major surgery.
I thought that the $2,000 injection was expensive until last Friday. My Chemo was on Thursday and as the chemo Nurse disconnected my portacath from the chemo tree holding my chemo drugs, she mater of factually stated ” We’ll see you tomorrow afternoon for your shot.” I looked questioningly at her and asked “What shot? Why do I need a shot?” She explained that my blood counts were low and since I have a few weeks reprise before my next chemo that they want to give me a long lasting injection to raise my white blood levels since they are a little low today.
So I went home on Thursday and returned 24 hours later on Friday for the injection which I thought would be the same one I received just prior to my surgery. Wrong! This is quite a different injection. The Neupogen (given a few days prior to surgery) was an injection given rather quickly into my arm muscle. And it cost only $2,000.00. It was a short acting drug designed to rapidly raise my white blood count prior to surgery and it did with minimal side effects.
The injection I was given 24 hours after my chemo is called Neulastin and it is designed to work over the period of 11 to 14 days to raise my white blood counts. It is a lot more expensive, running around $7,000.00. Yes, that is for just one injection! And it is not given into the muscle. It is given slowly into the abdomen. And the side effects are much more intense. Just three days after the shot, I am terribly fatigued, and my bones are hurting. I also have a constant dull headache and shoulder-ache. My neck and upper back hurt occasionally and when I get up the pain in my pelvis is palpable. Every so often, I will experience pain in ony one of my bones –I just never know which one! Yes I am taking something to relieve the side effects, but they are still there. This is just one more thing to endure for a longer life expectancy. And though I am experiencing some discomfort at this time, I am really not complaining. It is more a matter of explaining for others what to expect if they need to go through this.
I forgot to explain the reson for the bone pain I am experiencing. Blood is manufactured in the bone marrow. The marrow is inside the bones and the drug Neulastin stimulates the production of blood producing - bone marrow cells. This rapid cell production is what causes the spurts of shooting pain particularly in the larger bones where more marrow is produced. Time for another Advil!
Following is what the white and red blood cells do in our bodies:
July 28, 2009
As Portland Firefly continues her series of Chemotherapy treatments, her energy level is gradually going up. My energy seems to increase not daily but slowly over each successive week. In other words, I feel more like doing things when the next Wednesday rolls around than I felt like doing the previous Wednesday. This can be sort of deceptive because it is not a steady rise in energy level. In fact there is a drop before the rise so that makes it more difficult to gauge. After my Chemo on Thursday, I usually am able to get tiredly through the day on Friday and Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday are days of extreme rest for me. By Tuesday, I start feeling as though I want to do things and by Wednesday I am wanting to tackle things that are on my long term ”to do” list.
And so if I were to chart my energy level on a graph it would look sort of like the recent stock market graphs! It will go up one day, then plummet for the next several days and then slowly go back up to higher than it was the week before. All of which is a very good thing!
July 27, 2009
When I was in the third grade, our family moved to another city. This Christmas time move to “the new house” meant that I would be starting the new year at a new school. Before the school year ended, I had a new best friend named Mary.
Her father was an architect in Los Angeles; in fact he was one of THE premier architechts that shaped the Los Angeles skyline that you see today. The reason I mention this fact is because of their house. It was a forward thinking home, as was the one I was living in. Her father had designed her home and my Father has designed my home, too. Both homes were beautifully designed and we were two lucky little girls. We were lucky because we had found a best friend.
I particularly remember one visit to Mary’s home. We arrived after school one day and like all children, we needed a snack. There was nothing ordinary about Mary and that is probably one reason why I liked her so much — she probably still has that exciting, adventuresome, inquisitive, spirit that complements mine. In retrospect, perhaps that is the reason we became so close.
Anyway….back to two hungry little girls. Well, Mary takes me into this state of the art kitchen to prepare us a sandwich. She takes out the can of chopped black olives, opens them and drains them. She then mixes in a little mayonaise and spreads it on the whole wheat bread. She cuts it my favorite way…into triangles. In a few minutes, we are devouring our black olive sandwich and I have a new favorite snack to go along with my best friend.
In fact, black olive sandwiches are more than a snack. I really enjoy them on a regular basis for lunch. They taste really good with a healthy chip. I always think of Mary as I am mixing the mayonaise into the chopped olives and wonder how she is. Like so many of my friends from my youth, we have lost touch over the years. Maybe she will read this and email Portland Firefly.
Readers, do you want another “black olive sandwich” story? Read on….
Many years later while living in New York, I was craving an olive sandwich. I had been taking care of a house- bound friend for several weeks and mentioned my craving for an olive sandwich by saying that I wanted to go to the store and get everything needed to make us sandwiches. He gave me the “typical New York” answer, “The grocery store is 8 blocks away, the deli is just around the corner. Just go to the deli and get our sandwiches.” What a novel idea, I thought.
I left the apartment and found the deli easily. That was the easy part. Since I had grown up eating these delicious sandwiches, I figured that everyone (especially a New York Deli) knew how to make them. Wrong! Well, I walk into the deli, which wasn’t busy, thank goodness! I ordered a chopped olive sandwich. No chopped olives , but “I have sliced olives. Will that do?” “Sure”, I answer,” you can just put the mayonnaise on the bread and put the olives on it.” “I only have cream cheese.” “OK,” I respond, “cream cheese and sliced black olives, two sandwiches, please.” “You want black olives? I’ve never heard of that; usually I make olive sandwiches with green olives” came the reply from the white coated man behind the tall meat cooler.
Green olives on cream cheese is not what I was craving. I also wonder if this is the sandwich that my “patient” is wanting. I wanted black olives with mayo. Since this event happened prior to cell phones, I had no choice but to ask if I could use the deli phone to “phone a friend” to see what kind of olive sandwich he was expecting. Only because they were not busy was the reason I was allowed to use the phone to clarify the situation. The order was given, made up, and taken home. The two sandwiches were unwrapped — both on whole wheat, both with cream cheese; one had sliced green olives, the other one had sliced black olives. We were both happy!
July 26, 2009
Insomnia is just another side effect of chemotherapy, but it is one that has not bothered me too much until last Thursday night. Let me give you the time line leading up to this horrible bout of sleeplessness on Thursday night.
It has been hot here in Portland the last few days, but cools off considerably during the evenings. During the summers, I usually wake up early anyway and this month has been no exception. I enjoy rising early and getting things done before it get too hot and I am worn out. Well, my energy level has started to increase, especially this last two weeks, so I have been able to do more things. And the things that I have been doing are not just the “getting through the day” necessities, but are additional items that have been begging me to do them.
I knew that I would be wanting to cook and with this heat wave, I knew I needed to get cooking early. I assembled and cooked the Mexican Enchilada Casserole before 9:00 am so the house wouldn’t get too hot. And while I had the oven on, I made a batch of Almond Roca Bars. All that was finished before 10:00 am.
My car had not been washed in over a month and was very dirty. Why not take it through the car wash, you ask? Well, here is the reason my car had to be hand washed…. One day while driving to chemotherapy, the jerk in front of me threw his gum out the window. It bounced on the hot pavement and rolled along the entire bottom edge of my shiny black car, sticking to the black paint as only hot gum can. I knew that it would take a special remover to remove the line of gum and I just had not been feeling well enough to get down on my hands and knees and rub the gum off of the paint safely. Add to that the fact that when I returned home from Chemotherapy that day, I tried to “wipe off” the gum with a Kleenex! Dumb move … I can only attribute that to my chemo brain because I knew what was going to happen before I rubbed the Kleenex on the gum, but I did it anyway!
Well, anyway early Wednesday morning, I got the Goop and paper towels and my garden kneeling pad and started removing the gum. It went well and I thought I got it all off but I didn’t as I would discover later. Any way after removing the gum, I got a bunch of quarters out of the bottom of my purse, grabbed my sham-wow shammies and headed to the do it yourself car wash. I spent an hour reacquainting myself with every nook and cranny of my beautiful car. It was while I was wiping down my car later that I discovered that the gum had crossed under the car and messed up the other side of the car also! It was a good feeling to be able to do such a mundane task. My reward was Enchilada Casserole for lunch and then off to the Grocery store after a load of laundry got hung on the line.
That was just the beginning. Thursday morning I woke up early again wanting to get the rest if the laundry done. Then by 9:00 am I am getting the lawn mower out and since my kind neighbor did some repair work on it, it starts right up on the first try. I haven’t felt well enough to even think about mowing the lawn much less try to get started since late last year sometime. It takes me twice as long as it used to but I am finished mowing the small lawn before the novelty of working in the yard has worn off. But then I decide that I ‘d better water the lawn before it gets too sunny.
I am having a great time because I am feeling good and then I remember that I have to go to Chemotherapy today! So I get cleaned up, vacuum the house and head off to chemo.
With all the drugs I am given during a chemotherapy session, I never know if I’ll be energized or wiped out. This time I was wiped out. I had to struggle to stay awake on the drive home and since it was 4:00 pm, I was a bit hungry. Time for more Mexican Casserole with the news! I went to the computer to write , but couldn’t keep my eyes open. So at 8:00 pm, I was fast asleep. But…not for long !
I woke up and went to get a drink of water. Hot flashes are also another side effect of Chemo and I was enjoying one of those as well. When I looked at the clock, I was surprised to see that it was only midnight. Surely it must be later than that. I tried to go back to sleep, but, 30 restless minutes later, I got up and read part of a book. Then I started watching “really late night TV”. I thought for sure that would put me to sleep, but it didn’t. Did you know that the 8:00 o-clock and 11:00 o-clock news broadcasts are repeated in the middle of the night? I didn’t either. There was an interesting movie on the THIS channel. And don’t forget all the infomercials…. You can chop this, fry that, blend this, juice that, take care of your acne with more than one product and pull the dents out of your own car! About 4:00 am I finally gave up and tried to go back to sleep. By 8:00 am I realize that sleep is not for me and I get up and somehow get through the day.
Friday night I slept really well.
July 25, 2009
Evidently Sunday, July 26th is the last time for a while that we Portlanders will be able to view the International Space Station. So be sure to look up low toward the West then South sky at 9:29pm. If you were able to find the Space Station last Friday night, then Sunday’s sighting will be in almost the same place.
It is actually on the opposite side of the sky from the spectacular first sighting that Portland Firefly saw last Wednesday night. But I have made it a point to get outside and look at the ISS as often as I could. I love it!!
Sunday’s sighting will last 3 minutes and it appears in view all of a sudden at 9:29. Portland Firefly had to go to a nearby field for this viewing because of the tall trees to the West and South of her home. You will want the field to be to your South so you have a clear view of the West and South sky at 10 degrees above the horizon. 10 degrees is pretty low and the arc is fairly small, but the rapidly moving space station will be in view for almost 3 minutes. It is totally worth the effort to scope out your spot and take the family for the viewing. 13 astronauts are on board and the Space Shuttle is docked at the ISS. A pretty cool thought! And we get to see it from home!!!
It Enters your view at 10 degrees above West and
Exits at 10 degrees above South 14 degrees is the highest point on its arc.
|Sun Jul 26/09:29 PM||3||14||10 above W||10 above S|
My Cancer has been staged. Actually it was staged a while ago, I have just been so busy fighting it that I didn’t write about it. Staging is the process of finding out how widespread a cancer is.
I have Primary Peritoneal Carcinona. It is always staged at level III or IV. Mine is staged at Level IIIc and that indicates the level of other organ involvment. IIIc is the highest level at stage III just before you go to stage IV.
The staging also enables a prognosis to be made. Women with IIIc Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma have a 5 year survival rate of 31.5%. That means that 31.5% of all women diagnosed at stage IIIc live at least 5 years, some living longer. I intend to be in the “living longer ” group. I am aiming for 7 more years. But none of us can know for sure; for only God has the plan for our lives.
I am feeling very well and even though the chemo side effects continue, they are manageable.
July 24, 2009
Today as I was walking to my car after a brief trip to the grocery store I noticed a pretty teenage girl in a nearby car with her Mother. What immediately caught my eye was the shape of her eyes and her long blond-brown hair. Then in the next instant I realized why she seemed so familiar to me. She strongly resembled one of my Daughter’s close friends from her high school days. A teenager that I had come to love as one of mine.
Ah yes, those turbulent teen age years. So wonderful yet so awful at the same time. These two were as close as sisters and the two girls spent a lot of time together at one home or the other. During their college years, they would get together during semester breaks and hang out together.
Over one such vacation period, they were out and about in my Daughter’s four door car. It was the model that her Father had insisted she have because it was strong and safe. The girls were to be home by the agreed upon curfew time. Iva Lou lived out in the country, but there was a busy and weird intersection near her parents home. One which was slated to be completely redesigned over the next few years with an overpass .
As I unlocked the front door of the house after my date, I could hear my answering machine “talking” and then I could tell that someone was leaving a message. I just couldn’t get the front door opened fast enough to pick up the call! Purse and keys still in hand I immediately walked to retrieve the message. It was my Daughter’s voice. They had been in an accident at that intersection — I kept walking - purse and keys still in hand- out to the garage, calmly got into my car and drove as safely fast as I could to the wide intersection. It was less than 5 minutes away.
There is a slight rise to this street before you come to the wide (four lane) intersection so you sort of approach it by coming up over a little hill. As I crested the slight rise I started seeing an amazing array of flashing red lights. There were more flashing red lights than I had ever seen at one accident in my life. They crossed the entire width of the huge intersection. And my Daughter and Iva were there somewhere!
There was a policeman directing traffic which was down to one lane. I pull my little four door compact car over to the far right shoulder and get out. I don’t even know if I locked the doors or even took the keys with me. I yell to him that that is my daughter and he gives me permission to cross the lanes of traffic and approach her car which is surrounded by firetrucks, police cars, and firemen with the jaws of life. Her little sturdy vehicle is facing the wrong direction with the back tires up on the wide median which is perpendicular to the direction of the car. I can’t comprehend what I am looking at. Glass, broken head lights, broken tail lights and bits of crushed fragmented metal as well as car fluids litter the highway near her car but I don’t see the girls right away. I am searching for her in the darkness.
I am trying to make sense of this crash scene which has caused three firetrucks and three ambulances and numerous police cars to be present. All of them have their red lights flashing. My mind is struggling to keep in control and think straight. Where is she? She has to be alright because she is the one who left me the voice message. I make it to her car. I call out her name. I call out both girls names. She is surrounded by firemen with neck braces and backboards. I go to the car window nearest to me– the passenger side. It is not her –it is Iva Lou. The impact of the crash pinned Iva in the car but she is conscious and not bleeding and not in any immediate danger. She is scared, but not in any dire medical danger and well covered by the emergency crews who are working to safely extricate her. I resume my search for my Daughter.
My Daughter is not anywhere to be seen. I start to panic because I can’t find her, forgetting that she left me a coherent message, I am thinking that now I must go looking for her in the various ambulances. I go around to the drivers side of the car where the door is wide open. Did she fall out? Not her….this is the child of mine that ALWAYS put her seat belt on even as a little girl. I instinctively know she was buckled in. As I look around and try to decide where to go first, someone is talking to me. There is a police car right there and it is the policeman who is talking to me. I tell him I am looking for my daughter. He asks me if the young woman next to him in the front seat is her. It is! She is sitting in the front seat of the police car giving her statement. I am so relieved to see her. Hugs and words of encouragement and amazement are exchanged. She assures me now that she is OK and not hurt. I wonder how that can be when I look again at the car.
I then turn my attention to Iva Lou. She is still in the car. The emergency crews are working to free her. It seems that the impact jammed all of the doors shut except the drivers door. The hood is jammed as well as the trunk. The car will be totaled by the insurance company; it has had it’s last drive. It died saving the lives of two precious, precocious girls. A more than fair trade. The Mother’s Nightmare has been avoided. I try to encourage and comfort Iva while staying out of the way. I tell her that she will be OK. And she is.
A driver unfamiliar with the area had hit them while they were making a left turn with the green arrow — a dedicated left turn is what that is called. The other driver is at fault. That matters not at this point. I want to tell you about the sturdy little four door car that saved their lives.
While my daughter was making a legal left turn, the other driver apparently sped up to “beat the light” through the unfamiliar intersection. He and his wife had been at a wedding reception all afternoon and evening. It is an extra wide intersection and his light changed to red before he got to the intersection, but he kept going. This meant that the girls had the dedicated green left turn light, and were in the process of making the turn when he came plowing into the intersection. Going faster than he should have been going, he hit their car at the strongest point in their vehicle.
His car hit them on the passenger side between the front and back doors where there is an extra bar of steel. This impact point is what saved them from major injuries. This vehicle has an extra bar of steel from the roof to the chassis between the front and back doors. It also has another steel bar that runs from one side to the other side welded to the chassis. His front end pushed into the strong little compact four door about two to three feet. More than 15 years later, I can still see (in my mind) the cave-like “dent” his car made. The force of the accident pushed the passenger seat in which Iva Lou was sitting into the console which pushed against my Daughter’s drivers seat all of which were compressed in the process. This is why Iva Lou couldn’t get out by herself. Her seat, the passenger seat, was compressed to about 1/2 it’s normal size and jammed up against the center console which jammed up against the driver’s seat.
Neither girl is hospitalized and the bond of their friendship is closer because of the common experience thay have just shared.
And so it is not unreasonable that I would immediately recognize someone who strongly resembled Iva Lou those many years ago. Of course Iva Lou now a beautiful woman, doesn’t look like that now, but that was the way I remember her the most.
July 22, 2009
The Space Shuttle is attached to the International Space Station, so that is why their sighting times coincide with each other….
THE FOLLOWING International Space Station SIGHTINGS ARE POSSIBLE FROM MON JUL 20 TO TUE AUG 04
|ISS||Mon Jul 20/10:12 PM||3||67||39 above NW||20 above ESE|
|ISS||Mon Jul 20/11:46 PM||< 1||12||10 above W||12 above W|
|ISS||Tue Jul 21/10:36 PM||3||44||15 above WNW||38 above S|
|ISS||Wed Jul 22/09:26 PM||4||70||40 above NW||10 above ESE|
|ISS||Wed Jul 22/11:00 PM||1||15||10 above W||15 above WSW|
|ISS||Thu Jul 23/09:51 PM||3||42||23 above W||17 above SSE|
|ISS||Fri Jul 24/10:15 PM||3||15||10 above W||12 above SSW|
|ISS||Sun Jul 26/09:29 PM||3||14||10 above W||10 above S|
|Please remember that the space station will only be visable for from 2 -4 minutes and will appear as a fast moving star. Enjoy!!!|
PS: I have written a newer post that will give you more information of the Space Station sighting on Sunday night. Go to www.PDXFirefly.com and read the post of July 26th; I think it will enhance your viewing of the ISS on Sunday night.
THE FOLLOWING SHUTTLE SIGHTINGS ARE POSSIBLE FROM SUN JUL 19 TO SUN AUG 02
|SHUTTLE||Sat Jul 18/10:57 PM||2||64||31 above NW||52 above ENE|
|SHUTTLE||Sun Jul 19/09:47 PM||3||33||28 above NNW||10 above E|
|SHUTTLE||Sun Jul 19/11:21 PM||2||35||10 above WNW||35 above W|
|SHUTTLE||Mon Jul 20/10:12 PM||3||67||39 above NW||20 above ESE|
|SHUTTLE||Mon Jul 20/11:46 PM||< 1||12||10 above W||12 above W|
|SHUTTLE||Tue Jul 21/10:36 PM||3||44||15 above WNW||38 above S|
|SHUTTLE||Wed Jul 22/09:27 PM||4||70||40 above NW||10 above ESE|
|SHUTTLE||Wed Jul 22/11:00 PM||1||15||10 above W||15 above WSW|
|SHUTTLE||Thu Jul 23/09:51 PM||3||41||23 above W||17 above SSE|
|SHUTTLE||Fri Jul 24/10:15 PM||3||15||10 above W||12 above SSW|
|SHUTTLE||Sun Jul 26/09:29 PM||3||14||10 above W||10 above S|
July 21, 2009
Evidently we will be able to see the International Space Station as it encircles above Portland skies.
With our high temperatures and clear skies, the viewing should be ideal.
Tonight, Tuesday, look to the West North West about 10:36 pm. If you have never seen a man-made satellite crossing overhead, you will need to look for a bright light moving across the sky in a straight line. The object (light) will be moving faster than any airplane you have seen, so keep a watchful eye. The light that you are seeing is actually the sun reflecting off of the exterior of the space station. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
“Since the space station has little or no light of its own, you’ll only be able to see it when the station is in sunlight and folks on the ground are in darkness. The best viewing times are the hours just before or after sunrise or sunset while the station is passing overhead. A list of viewing times can be found here http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/.
What you’ll see:
Assuming the station is in sunlight, it should appear as a bright and fast moving star. The longest the station will remain in view to a ground based observer is 4 minutes. When passing directly overhead, the station zips from horizon to horizon is 240 seconds or less. For most locations, the viewing window will be 120 seconds (or less).
Where to look:
Where to find the space station depends entirely upon where you are as the station comes into viewing range. Generally speaking the station is moving from west to east in its orbit around the earth but the ground track for most of North America changes over time and the station may appear to “rise” anywhere from the northwest to southwest depending upon its orbital phase. Check the NASA website for more details.”
We will also be able to see it again Wednesday and Thursday nights. I’ll try to find out the correct times for you to be “looking up”. Enjoy!!!
PS: See next post where Portland Firefly lists the times for you at www.PDXFirefly.com.
PS: There is a newer post on July 25th for the ISS viewing here in Portland. It has more information for you that should make your Sunday night viewing more enjoyable. Click on www.PDXFirefly.com.
The Oregon Brewers Festival is the quintessential celebration of craft beer and it will be held from July 23-26th at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
“The Oregon Brewers Festival is one of the nation’s longest running and best loved craft beer festivals. Situated on the west bank of the Willamette River, with towering Mt. Hood as a backdrop, it is the ideal venue for anyone who loves craft beer. With a laid back attitude and scores of award-winning beers, the festival reflects the essence of the city of Portland.
The festival’s focus is craft beer, but there’s more than sampling involved. The event features live music all four days, beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer writers and publishers, hop growers, home-brewing demonstrations, and an assortment of foods from a variety of regions. The Crater Lake Root Beer Garden offers complimentary handcrafted root beer for minors and designated drivers. Minors are always welcome at the festival when accompanied by a parent.
The Oregon Brewers Festival strongly encourages responsible drinking, and urges patrons to take advantage of the MAX Light Rail line, located just one block west of the festival on SW Oak Street. Go by bus, train or taxi, just don’t drink and drive. The festival also offers free, on-site bicycle parking.”
July 20, 2009
Portland Firefly has been invited to participate in an event called the Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
The Relay for Life will begin at Valley Catholic High School (corner of TV Highway and Murray, Beaverton, Oregon) at 10:00 am on August 1 , 2009 and ending on August 2nd.
Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature activity. It offers everyone in a community an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer. Teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Relays are an overnight event, up to 24 hours in length.
An important part of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life® is the celebration of nearly 11 million cancer survivors who are alive in the United States today. Survivors include anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Whether you are currently fighting your battle, or have been cancer-free for many years, you are a survivor. This definition is something new to Portland Firefly, since I am still in treatment for my peritoneal cancer, I really did not consider myself a “survivor”, but since I am still alive, I am a survivor! Yeah!
The event begins with a special survivor lap, where all of the survivors and their caregivers will walk once around the track. All of the survivors will receive a special “survivor” t-shirt. Guess what color it is? You only get one guess on this weblog!!! And I bet you get it right! Yes, the survivor t-shirt is purple!!! And then we will be served a special lunch catered by the Olive Garden … mmmm…. salad and pasta! As night falls, there is another special happening, the lighting of the luminerias. Many of the luminarias have been donated in honor or in memory of someone. Again, the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society for cancer research.
Portland Firefly is VERY honored to have been invited to participate in this event and she is really looking forward to it. I’ll be in the survivor tent most of the time I am there. If you are in the area on Saturday, August 1, stop by and encourage the teams. The relay will continue through the night for 24 hours straight ending about 10:00 am on August 2nd.
July 19, 2009
Disclaimer: Due to its sensitivity, Portland Firefly was going to avoid this discussion that every cancer patient experiences . But then she decided that she has discussed so many other personal things (that many others keep private), what is one more. Besides it may help another cancer patient navigate through this maze of ever changing challenges.
Most people know that nausea and hair loss are common side effects of chemo therapy, but most don’t realize that the cancer killing drugs also cause constipation. Add to this the fact that the anti-nausea drugs also cause constipation and it can be one uncomfortable problem for already un-well and weakened cancer patients. This is where it is important to keep ahead of the problem.
Day 1. I have found it helpful to take something like Senna-S the night before my Chemo sessions. At lunch time or as soon as I get home from Chemo, I start with one dose of Mira-Lax. That night another big dose of Mira-Lax finds its way into my system before I go to sleep. That takes care of day 1. Be sure to drink lots of water all the time.
Day 2. I have a little bit of Smooth Move tea around breakfast time. I enjoy what ever I want to eat on Day 1 and Day 2. It is important to continue using the products that work for you on Day 2. Mira Lax or Senna-S can be used also during day 2, or before bed that night.
The nausea doesn’t show up until days 3, 4, & 5 and those are the days that I start taking the anti-nausea drugs (which add to the constipation). It is important to have your body in “working order” before you begin the anti-nausea drugs or you will be in terrible pain.
Days 3, 4, & 5 it is important to eat fruits, vegetables and foods high in fibre if you haven’t already been consuming them regularly. Continue with the Mira Lax, Senna-S and/or Smooth Move Tea as you think your body needs the help, remembering to drink lots of purified water.
One interesting fact is that even though the chemo drugs leave our system within 24 hours, their effects continue for weeks. This means that the constipation can continue during this time, so don’t be surprised.
The products mentioned are ones that my Doctor has recommended for me. Please be sure to check with your doctor before you use anything that your doctor has not suggested for you. Portland Firefly hopes that this brief discussion will help some of you out there who are facing similar challenges.
July 18, 2009
As you may remember, Portland Firefly had surgery with the DaVinci Robot in May to remove some of the cancer that had invaded my body. My surgeon made six incisions which were from two to three inches each. This saved me from having to have a very long incision from my pubic bone to my breast bone. As is now common practice , the outer skin was closed with surgical “glue”. My insides were sewn closed, but the outer skin was not sewn closed —it was glued! This is supposed to cause less chance of infection and an easier healing for the patient.
I like the idea of several smaller incisions over one very large one. I know that my post-surgical pain was much less and I was able to return to normal activities much sooner than if I had had the larger incision.
Ever since I was a child with a scabbed over knee, when it began to itch, the reply was “Oh good, it is healing.” And that has been my mind set when ever an incision began to itch. So when my incisions began to itch six week ago, I told myself , “don’t scratch, they are beginning to heal and that is a good sign.”
But, they have been itching for over six weeks and sometimes I just cannot stand it!! I scratch “around” the incisions –remember I have six of them across the width of my abdomen– but they still itch! I have been applying an antibiotic cream to them to keep the scabs soft, but they still itch! When I get into the shower, I let the water “scratch” them for me. Oh, it feels so good! Then I start doing little things around the house and soon I forget about them until they decide that they want to torment me again.
The incisions are getting smaller every week. Remember that because of the chemotherapy, my body doesn’t heal as fast as it normally would have so the process is taking longer than one might expect. I am willing to put up with some itchy discomfort as long as the desired result is achieved — extending my life.
Now that I wrote about it, maybe the itching will go away. Wouldn’t that be nice!
July 17, 2009
Since the digital switch over some channels are numbered with two digits, a dash and then another digit. One such channel is 02-2, which is known as the “this” Channel. It shows only movies… old movies —movies of stars before they became stars. The movies are shown from start to finish, including the opening credits and the closing list of characters. Of course, before the opening credits, there is the movie studios prduction logo. ie MGM, Metro Goldwin Meyer — the roaring lion which roars!
The This collection is made up of six distinct libraries (Cannon, United Artists, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Orion, Samuel Goldwyn Films and MGM) that provides quality entertainment from its library of 4,000 films and 10,000 episodes of TV Series. ”This is the place for movies.”
Right after Farrah Fawcett died, they showed several of her movies. Movies are usually shown more than once so you have the chance to watch an “encore” presentation if you want. I noticed the same thing right after Gene Hackman passed away. This week, Haunted Honeymoon has been playing with Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner.
This Saturday, “this” is having a “Jackie Chan Marathon” beginnining at 1:00 ET which should be 10:00 am Pacific Time.
http://tvlistings.zap2it.com/tvlistings/ZCGrid.do?aid=wgaldt2 All movie times are listed in Eastern time which means that we see the movies three hours earlier than they are listed. for instance, “Kiss the Sky” started at 3:00am ET, but started at midnight here in Oregon.
Enjoy your new Movie Channel!!!
Since before I received my first Chemotherapy session for my Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma, I have utilized visualization for my healing.
If you will recall, I heard a powerful and moving composition by the famous composer Rimsky-Kosakov while I was en-route to my initial appointment with my Gynecological Oncologist. It is titled “Procession of the Nobles” and is the music that I have deigned to be my “Chemo Music”. This piece is very powerful, yet, elegant and has beautiful flowing melodies throughout, but never gives up the power behind the composition. It has been well suited for my purpose; which is that of conquering this horrible aggressive cancer that I have.
I call my Chemo drugs “My Nobles” and I have always used the percussion of the piece to help me visualize my chemo drugs “pow, pow, powing” the cancer cells. But I know that this cancer is sneaky… as many cancers are. So what do I do about the cancer cells that are “hiding” from my chemo drugs?
That is where the beautiful flowing melodies come in to do their part. I imagine that the cancer cells really like “My Chemo Song”. And since they are curious little creatures, they cannot resist peeking around the corners of my organs to see just where that beautiful music is coming from. They creep out to take a look, knowing that they will be neutralized immediately. But they don’t care…they have to find out where that beautiful music is coming from… even if it means the end of them. And it does!
Thank you Rimsky-Korksakav for your Procession of the Nobles. Your Nobles are helping to save my life. Thank you.
Listen as you read…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao110-VtXp8
July 16, 2009
I think that most of you may have seen the ads on TV for Grocery Outlet. The ads are just off-the-wall enough to have caught my attention, yet they are not obnoxious enough to offend my sensibilities. So, the only thing I could do was to shop there one day.
I entered the store under the ruse of “looking for some graham crackers”. It is not a large store so I was enticed to wander around the entire store aisle by aisle… just to check it out and see exactly what all this non-hype hype was about. Besides I had no idea where the graham crackers might be and I didn’t want to miss them.
The store conveniently lists their price and the price an item would be at another store. I was impressed and Portland Firefly always likes a bargain, so I began to put items into my shopping cart. I had been cautioned to be sure to check the expiration dates on items and I did. I would have purchaed an entire case of name brand easy squeeze mayonaise, but the expiration date was only 6 weeks away; so I only bought what I could use or share with family.
The ice cream was another bargain, as are their cheeses. I bought the most delicious cantaloupe and an enormous bunch of cilanto for just $.44. The next week the same size bunch was only $.33!!! I have found their prices to be so reasonable that I find myself trying items that maybe I would not have purchased at full price. Most of which I like.
When you check out and are given your recipt, your cashier tells you how much you saved today. I am consistently saving more that I am spending. And that amounts to more than 50% savings on my groceries! It is really cool to be writing a check for $27.64 and saving $32.75.
Oh yes, I did get my graham crackers… and a lot more.
www.groceryoutlet.com for more info and the store near you.
July 14, 2009
The Oregon Veterans’ Tribute is coming to Timber-Linn Memorial Park in Albany, Or from July 14 through 19.
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is coming as part of this great tribute and will arrive by motorcycle escort between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. July 14.
If you have not had the chance to visit our wonderful Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, or even if you have, you might want to plan on making a trip to Albany to see this replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. A smaller version, it is nonetheless still a very moving and patriotic event. Escorted by motorcyclists, most who served in Vietnam, the Wall travels around our country making it possible for those who cannot travel to Washington to experience the power of this memorial.
July 13, 2009
One of the side effects of chemotherapy is the loss of hair. What the average person may not realize is that someone undergoing Chemo looses all body hair, not just the hair on ones head. I lost the hair on my head within 2 1/2 weeks after my first Chemotherapy session. But I didn’t lose my eyebrows and eyelashes until more than 8 weeks later.
In preparation for loosing my eyelashes, I had purchased a set of false eyelashes so I would have them ready when I needed them. Well, last Saturday, I needed them.
Here is how to apply your false eyelashes. Apply all of your other make-up first, including ALL of your eye make-up, including liner. If you are fortunate enough to have your own eyelashes, you can apply a thin layer of mascara, just to plump up your own lashes. Allow it to dry before proceeding.
Before the first use, you must make sure that the eyelashes you purchased are the correct width for your eyes. If they are too wide, then simply snip off a little bit from the outside edge of the lash. You want to keep the integrity of the inside of the lash where it is shaped. Having the correct width is important because you want the lashes to look natural and to lay flat against your eyelid which they will not do if they are too wide across your eyelid.
I purchased an eyelash starter kit made by Andrea. I purchased black lashes which I would recommend for most wearers. The exception would be if you have extremely light blond hair and light lashes and eyebrows. In that case you should consider a brown lash. It is difficult to pick out a set of eyelashes the first time because there are so many styles to choose from. My Andrea lash Starter Kit has the number 53 on it. This corresponds to the actual style of the lash that I purchased since I prefer a more natural looking eyelash. I am not interested in a fakey, showgirl type of lash which can be fun to wear at times, but not for what I needed. I needed to look as normal as possible and just to give my eyes the semblance of a lash.
The reason I purchased the “Starter Kit” is because it contains a tool to help you apply your eyelashes. When I wore false eyelashes years ago, I always used a pair of special tweezers to hold and apply my eyelashes and I wanted to compare the new tool to my previous method. I think it would be a fair investment for the beginner, but I found the tool not as easy to use as I had hoped it would be. But then, I am out of practice myself!
A word about the eyelash adhesive. They now have one that dries a dark grey or black. In the future I would invest in the dark lash adhesive, because the dark glue will help to create the impression of eyeliner and hide any unevenness in applying your lashes. My kit came with clear adhesive which is fine.
Now for the fun part! Take one eyelash and insert in your tool or in your tweezers. Carefully apply a thin line of lash adhesive to the edge of your false eyelash. Remove any excess adhesive with a toothpick. Wait about 20 seconds. Then bring the lash up and over your own eyelash setting it down firmly along your eyelash line making sure the ends are secure. You can check with a small compact size mirror to see if your lashes are on securely and where you want them to be. The glue will dry in about 4 minutes.
Don’t allow yourself to become frustrated. You are learning a new skill and it takes time to master new skills. Portland Firefly strongly advises that you practice applying your lashes a few times before your big event… just to give yourself more confidence and to get the hang of it.
When you want to remove them, simply grab the outside edge and gently pull them off. After you remove the old adhesive, store them back where they came from to help your eyelashes keep their shape. Have fun!!!!
July 10, 2009
Somehow, women throughout the United States have found my blog. One such woman who was diagnosed with the same cancer I have, Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma, lived in Atlanta.
She was diagnosed the day after I was and was so happy to have Portland Firefly’s blog to read. We gave each other hope and encouragement through our emails.
I knew that she had severe Ascites (fluid in the abdomen). She shared with me that they had removed on three different occasions, 5,6,and 7 liters of fluid from her abdomen. This is not a good sign, I thought to myself, and I kept the thought to myself.
Since I had not heard from her in weeks, I sent her an email yesterday after my chemo session. Her Daughter emailed me back almost immediately. I then began to suspect the worst. Her email confirmed my fears. Sweet Atlanta Rose had passed away on July 5th.
The important things to me are:
We were diagnosed the same day. She only had 3 1/2 months after she was diagnosed. I can only surmise that her cancer was farther along at diagnosis or perhaps she didn’t respond to the Chemotherapy drugs as well as Portland Firefly.
We JUST NEVER KNOW what the plan for our lives may be.
I am reminded of the horrible aggressiveness of this deadly cancer.
And that brings me to the fact of taking every opportunity I have to educate women on the deceptive signs of this aggressive cancer.
In the shower, Portland Firefly cries sparkling tears for a cancer sister she has never met. We were diagnosed the same day. It could have been me. I too most probably will sucumb to this disease. I am sad, but so grateful for my healing to date. But how much time will I have? I am submitted to God’s will in this, but ever hopeful that He has given me a mission to accomplish and that He will give me the time to complete it.
Marnie, My deepest sympathy to you and your family on the passing of your Mother. I am so sorry that you and she had to go through this and that you didn’t have more time together. My deepest condolences. I am so sad for you today and I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow during her funeral.
Good bye Sweet Atlanta Rose
July 9, 2009
There is no friend like an old friend. Especially one that you have lost contact with, yet wanted to talk to again. I had such a friend and she re-entered my life this last week.
When I found out that I had Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma, I sent out an email to many friends to let them know about this change in my life. Expectedly, a few emails were “undeliverable”. One of the undeliverable emails was a great disappointment to me because I dearly love this woman. I so wanted her to know what I am going through and to visit with her again but I guess it was not to be.
Louise came into my life back in the 1990′s when we met in a Senior dance group. I wasn’t old enough at that time to be considered a “senior”, but they let me dance with them anyway. There came a time when I needed to go on a trip somewhere and I was looking for someone to dog sit my precious little white ball of fluff. I recalled that Louise had a little dog of her own and asked if she would be interested in a business agreement in watching my little dog for a few days.
Well, the agreement worked out great and she and her husband soon started watching my pet whenever I had to go to work. I was a Flight Attendant at the time and they would have my dog for several days at a time while I was gone. Her kind husband would even come to my home and pick her up for me.
Over the years we became very close and I still consider her to be one of my dearest friends even though she is closer to my Mother’s age than she is to mine. We always had a lot of fun together, no matter what we did because she is such a vibrant, outgoing woman who likes to have a good time. After her husband passed away, she eventually moved to a far away city and the emails became very infrequent. She then moved three other times, and changed email servers and I lost contact with her. Until last week.
Last Friday evening when I went to the mailbox, there was a mailing envelope with something soft in it for me. I looked at the return address because I was not expecting anything from anyone and I wanted to see who it was from. It was from Louise!!! I could hardly wait to get home and open the package. Not because I wanted to see what was contained in the package, but because I wanted to read the little note that I hoped would be inside. But no note was included and I was disappointed.
But then I looked at what was inside the package. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. On the walk home, I could tell that the package contained something soft and I thought that perhaps she had come across something that had something to do with something we did together and she was sending it to me. But I was not prepared for what she had actually sent me. It was a fabulous purple wig!!! In that instant I knew that she knew that I had lost all of my hair to the Chemo therapy of my cancer treatment and that she had to have read my blog to know all of this. I am laughing (at the wig) and crying(because I am so happy to hear from her) and crying because she knows I am sick and laughing because she sent me something so fun.
We were back in touch again and I would not let this chance pass. I immediately wrote her return address in my new address book. I then sat right down and wrote her a thank you note. It wouldn’t get mailed until Monday because of the July 4th holiday, but this most important note was already written and ready to be sent off.
It was several days later that my dead computer was fixed and I was able to access my emails. There was one from Louise in there. From the return email address, I see that she has changed servers yet again. Her email has been in my inbox for almost a week — the length of time that my computer has been out of order. But I am thrilled to have her email address. I send a quick reply thanking her and asking her to be sure to give me her phone number and I forget about it.
Two days later, I am sitting at my computer, trying to get my files back where they belong and waiting for Dell Tech Support to call me back when the phone rings. I do not recognize the Caller ID number and almost don’t answer the phone, but I do. There is a strange voice on the other end and she asks for me by name. It is Louise! We have a wonderful, emotional, fun, serious conversaiton for about two hours. We are back in touch and will stay in touch now.
As we travel through our lives we will have many acquaintances and several friends, but only a few will touch our hearts in that special way. Louise is that kind of friend for me and I love her.
July 8, 2009
If you have been keeping up with my posts, you know that with the strong chemotherapy drugs I received, I lost most of my hair within 2 1/2 weeks after the first dose. I felt OK about the possibilityof losing my eyebrows because I had them permanently applied many years ago. They started falling out about 6 weeks after my other hair fell out so I had a little time to adjust.
I also joked about having a new set of false eyelashes “at the ready” just in case I lost mine. At the time, my eyelashes were still visible, and I really thought that I might be that one person who didn’t loose their lashes. Well, several weeks ago, it became evident to me that they were beginning to thin out. But I still had enough that I could see them and could put mascara on them so you could see them too. But sometime last week, I noticed that I had no eyelashes that I could see. It felt like there was still something there so I tried to put on some mascara. Just a tiny little stubble for eyelashes. And to make matters worse, there is a new product that Brooke Shields is pitching in commercials to make your eyelashes grow “longer and thicker”. Talk about making someone feel even worse!
Now I have one eyelash on my right eye and no eyelashes on my left. I did try to put mascara on before I went to church today, but it was useless! I have not tried the false eyelashes yet; maybe I will later on this week. I have a party to attend on Saturday afternoon and I would like to look good if I am well enough to go. In the meantime, I pull a “Jackie Kennedy” when I go out … a head scarf and big sunglasses. And I thank God for my wonderful doctor, cancer treatment options, and the fact that I have my eyesight even if I do not have eyelashes.
July 7, 2009
The children’s production of Sleeping Beauty will be presented this week at the Broadway Rose Theatre on July 8, 9, 10, 11 at 11:00am Tickets are $6 each and seats are reserved in the air conditioned auditorium. The production will last 60-70 minutes with no intermission which is just perfect for children. Visit www.broadwayrose.com for more information or call (503) 620-5262 for tickets.
July 6, 2009
Ok. If you want a few minutes of music and culture and entertainment click here for this handsome trio of Italian teen boys. They really brightened up my day and inspired my soul.
Presenting : ( Dut, du-du-u-u-u, dud duh, dut du duh!)
Trio Ginoble-Boschetto-Barone – “O Sole Mio”