Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beach Bliss

What a glorious weekend at the beach! We stayed in Oceanside at a friend's cabin, and enjoyed every kind of weather - sideways rain and spectacular sun.

The northern Oregon coast is a powerful and beautiful place. It was very nostalgic for me to visit some of the places I remember from this area: Netarts specifically. I spent a couple of summer weeks there as a boy... and Cape Lookout where I did Boy Scout camp and, as a freshman in high school - I rode my bike there from Portland (reach the Beach!) with the Grant High bike club.

I do think the salt and the spray and the whole environment was very healing for me. I napped every afternoon, and I poured through a wonderful novel (To Siberia by Per Petterson). My eyes are getting better, but they are still sore and stingy from the radiation...

... but the beach worked its magic, and I feel better for being there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One more round!

So I only have one more radiation session - tomorrow (Monday Feb 22nd)! I've been tolerating it pretty well, but, this week it seemed to catch up with me. I feel like my temples are sunburned and, my eyes are scratchy and sore. So, I think it is high time to quit! (I will miss the nurse mannequin - pictured above - the staff place her around the radiation facility... and this day she was working on the puzzle).

I have enjoyed this incredible spring weather though. I spent most of the weekend doing yard work and garden projects. Good life affirming energy to just dig and build and plant.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You can never hold back spring!

So, what can I say? This is an inspiring - beautiful season in Oregon. I was originally thinking I would be done with my transplant operation by now... but I am enjoying being out and about in this lovely springtime. My aplogies to those of you in the east and midwest.. but it got up to 60 degrees here yesterday. The crocus and daffodils and all the other spring blossoms are popping up all over. Wonderful and uplifting....

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Calendar

Hi Friends,
Mark is scheduled to go into the OHSU hospital March 30 for the 3-4 week bone marrow transplant procedure (BMT). Prior to that, here's the game plan:

  • Feb 22 LAST day of radiation treatment!
  • Feb 26-28 Mark and I go to the Oregon coast for a 3 day get-away!
  • Mar 3 2 hour class on BMT for patients and caregivers
  • Mar 5 PET Scan
  • Mar 10 Appt w/ Dr. Maziarz (BMT specialist)
  • Mar 11 Muga (heart) scan and Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)
  • Mar 12 Start 5 days of Neupogen shots to stimulate bone marrow stem cell production
  • Mar 15 Blood test to check stem cell production
  • Mar 16-17 Collection of stem cells
  • Mar 23 Grinnell College Singers in Portland during NW tour; Kelly and friends staying with us!
  • Mar 30 Mark checks in to OHSU

Somewhere during March Mark also has to have a bone marrow sample taken (ouch).

While Mark completes his last few radiation treatments, I am stealing away for a quick visit with Kelly and Claire. I fly to Minneapolis Wed. to spend 2 nights at Carleton, and then Claire and I drive about 4 hours south to spend 2 nights with Kelly in Grinnell, Iowa. I am packing plenty of outerwear in preparation for frigid temperatures, in contrast to Portland, where the crocus and daffodils are blooming!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Mark and I thought it was "blog-worthy" when we realized, driving to the radiation treatment this morning, that today on 2-10, 2010 Mark has 10 "zaps" down and 10 "zaps" to go: 2 x 10 = 20.

Maybe we should buy a lottery ticket today!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

OK, so it is not just about the scones....

In Portland, there is a lot going on about the coffee...

This picture of caffeine d'art is from a lovely coffee shop called the Happy Rock Coffee Roastery in Gladstone, OR...

This place is church.

These pours are perfect. Somebody say Amen!

Monday, February 8, 2010

No More Injections

Mark has had six rounds of injections of chemo-therapy into each eye, and an expectation of getting them every month throughout 2010. However, the GOOD NEWS today from Dr. Lo (the eye guy) is that the radiation Mark is getting to the eyes makes the injections no longer necessary. That's better than a poke in the eye! Mark will see Dr. Lo again in 3 months.

Also, the cherry walnut scone this morning at Coffeehouse Five was terrific. And it was sunny outside! Altogether, a good day.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Working With Time

Our super-cool neighbors - Karla and Scott - recommended/loaned us a DVD that they got from the library about this artist - Andy Goldsworthy. The name of the DVD is "Rivers and Tides". It's fascinating.

We are all "working with time" and this video and this person are a great reminder of how we walk through this world briefly - but that our actions, and even our intentions, are permanent , and part of the whole.

I recommend the video - the images are just gorgeous to look at... and the spirit is spot-on. Otherwise, one should check out the artist at:

Newest treatment plans

Today we got some new information from Mark's team of doctors. The somewhat discouraging news is that Dr. Maziarz (the "bone marrow transplant" or BMT guy) wants to collect more bone marrow stem cells from Mark before the transplant. During the 4 days that Mark was connected to the collection machine in early January (3 hours each session), 1.95 million stem cells were collected and Dr. M likes to have closer to 2.5 million stem cells. We had been under the impression that Dr. M thought the 1.95 number was "close enough", but apparently not... Mark's typically upbeat response was "we might as well top up the supply while we can."

Mark's last radiation treatment will be Feb. 23, and the protocol is to wait a couple weeks for recovery before the collection. So, Mark will have 5 daily shots of Neupogen starting March 12, and report for the collection process on March 16 and perhaps again on March 17.

He will be admitted to OHSU at the end of March (that's Oregon Health & Science University) , and remain in the hospital 3 - 4 weeks for the actual bone marrow tranplant. Before that, Mark will have a Muga (heart) scan, Pulmonary function test, PET scan and another bone marrow sample (that's the painful one). Those remain to be scheduled. Mark and I will attend a 2-hour class about the BMT at OHSU for patients and caregivers on March 3.

The barrage of procedures continues. But so does our project to visit a new coffeeshop almost every day after radiation! See Mark's summary below.

Coffee Shops We've visited

Now with interactive maps!

Julie and I are touring the plethora of eastside coffee shops after treatment - more or less every morning. It has been a fun distraction and a noble effort if I do say so...

Wed 2/17:
  • Woops! Ended up back at Madrona Hill Cafe!
(Long story: It was the perfect spring morning for a bike ride, so Madrona Hill's coordinates were the perfect distance from my house to coffee to the clinic and back to work)

Tuesday 2/16:
  • Heart Coffee NE 22nd and Burnside (yelp)
Monday 2/15:
  • Muddy's Coffeehouse - NE Mississippi (yelp)
Friday 2/12:
  • Extracto Roasters - NE 30th and Killingsworth (yelp)
Thursday 2/11:
  • Ristretto Roasters - N Williams and Failing (yelp)
Wed 2/10:
  • Red "e" - 1006 N Killingsworth (at Michigan) (yelp)
Tuesday 2/9:
  • Albina Press - N Albina and Blanena (yelp)
Monday 2/8
  • Coffehouse 5 - N Killingsworth and Albina (yelp)
Friday 2/5:
  • Three Friends - SE 12th and Ash (yelp)
Thursday 2/4: (we split up this morning so that Julie could meet with Niece Jane in SE)
  • Cup and Saucer - SE 35th and Hawthorne (yelp)
  • J cafe (my base station near my work) - NE 6th and Holladay (yelp)
Wed 2/3:
  • The Fresh Pot - 4001 N Mississippi (yelp)
Tuesday 2/1:
  • Madrona Hill Cafe - N Greeley and Ainsworth (yelp)
Monday 2/1:
  • Blend coffee lounge - N Killingsworth and 2th (yelp)
Friday 1/29:
  • Bakery Bar - NE 29th and Glisan (yelp)
Thursday 1/28:
  • Bakery Bar - SE Water Ave and Taylor (yelp)

So Where should we go next week?

So this is the machine that I visit every morning to get radiation treatment. Pretty impressive eh? It is used for all kinds of radiation - but is customized for each patient with software that directs the beam and intensity of the rays according to specific parameters designed by the Radiation Oncologist, Dr Johnson.

The staff here are great - Dave, Matt, and Rhonda. Very competent and friendly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Inspiring NYTimes article

This guy's gone through a lot and writes well about what it is like to go through the fear and uncertainty..... And he's my same age - gulp!

NYTimes article: living-in-the-post-cancer-moment
By Dana Jennings