Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Well, based on his comments from a few days ago, apparently my brother doesn't like it when I write about cancer in this blog that I started to inform and educate people about my cancer. But that's OK. I love him, so I'll give him what he wants.

And apparently, he wants posts about old TV shows. So, fine. Here's the special Halloween Spook-Tacular edition of Lympho Bob, beginning with TV-related Halloween links.


Here are some clips from The Muppet Show when Alice Cooper was the guest host. Cooper plays a black magic/devil's messenger character, in line with his stage persona. Clearly from the 1970's, pre-Ronald Reagan, when jokes about devil worship and selling one's soul were not discouraged from childrens' television for some reason.

My brother was disturbed by this next show, but I loved Pee Wee's Playhouse. While PW did a Christmas special, there was no Halloween special. But there was a recurring trick-or-treat-like gag in which Pee Wee was annoyed by salesmen at his door, so that's close enough. But one of my favorite episodes was "Let's Play Office!", because I always imagined my brother's work life must be just like that (but with more yelling).


World Series time shouldn't be scary, but sometimes it is, and not just because it's so close to Halloween.

First, there are scary version of the national anthem, performed poorly, as it was before game 1 in Tampa Bay. It was performed by 80% of the Backstreet Boys, with one of them smart enough to stay away. I love the BBs -- they're the official boy band of Lympho Bob, and not just because of those two Chinese guys lip synching "I Want it That Way." It's because I think of Amy whenever I hear them.

Also scary: this Phillies fan, going all Joe the Plumber on us. Having been to a Phillies game this season, I can say that when you make the Philly Phanatic mascot guy some close to puking, you have a problem.

Scary stuff.


Here's a list that's worth some debate: The 10 Scariest Movies of All Time. I agree with a few, though some seem pretty obscure to me (not only didn't see them, but never heard of them). I'm not a huge fan of scary movies. But I have to agree with the #1 pick. I saw it featured on some other film show recently, and I turned the channel. I don't want to see any of it, even if it's just a key scene without all the buildup that makes it even scarier.


This clip is irresistable: A scary Michael MacDonald (from the Doobie Brothers), a Thriller reference (see a post from earlier this year), and Halloween, all rolled into one. Awesome.


Finally, a clip from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I'm sure my own brother sees me in both Charlie Brown, and the "blockheaded" Linus. But is it such a bad thing to think you have the most sincere pumpkin patch in all the world? I say No. It's almost Mr. Rogers-like in its simple beauty.

May you have no trouble with your scissors, and may you get no rocks in your Halloween bags tonight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I had my annual physical this morning. Everything looks good (EKG, blood pressure, eyes, ears, etc. etc.). I'll go to a local lab for bloodwork in the next few days for blood tests to check cholesterol, liver and kidney function and all that (some of which I get checked with Dr. R, anyway), but it seems like I'm a pretty healthy guy. You know, for someone with cancer.

So I've got that going for me....which is nice.....

I'll assume my cholesterol will be its usual brag-worthy 170 or 180. I'll be sure to let you all know when I get the numbers.

Watch tomorrow for the Lympho Bob Halloween Spook-Tacular.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Other Side of Stem Cells

OK, enough on Mr. Rogers. Who would have thought he would cause such animosity?

Back to research reports. I know some of you find this interesting, but frankly, it's as much for me as it is for you. I need to read about it and understand it before I can pass it on to you in a simpler form, and that helps me understand what kinds of treatments are out there. We teachers know that the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.


Really interesting article in a recent edition of The Economist, called "Cancer Stem Cells: The Root of All Evil?" Lots of great cancer research looks at developing new treatments, or refining currently-used treatments, or comparing treatments. But the Holy Grail of cancer research is finding out what causes cancer in the first place. We know, basically, what cancer is: unchecked growth of cells that won't die off the way normal cells do, causing tumors that take resources from the rest of the body. But what causes the unchecked growth of a tumor in the first place?

According to this article, it has to do with cancer stem cells.

In general, stem cells are immature cells that have not grown into specific types of cells. We all have millions of stem cells, waiting to mature into specialized cells that will replace those cells that die off naturally (or are killed off). For example, a stem cell transplant works by killing off tumors and a problematic immune system and replacing it with immature stem cells that will grow quickly and replace the killed-off cells, creating a new immune system. Go stem cells!

As the article describes, this is all just a theory, but it's being tested, and it works like this: Just like all of the healthy cells in the body, cancer cells are born from stem cells. But there's a difference between the stem cells and mature cells.

Mature cells grow by dividing into two equal cells the original cell and a copy of itself. So a skin cell creates two identical skin cells, the old one and a new copy. The cells can only divide a limited number of times, and then they die off. So they need to be rpelaced by new cells, which can then divide a few times themselves. That's where stem cells come in.

Stem cells are different from mature cells: when a stem cell divides into two, one of the two stays a stem cell, while the other grows into a new, specialized cell. So a skin stem cell will create one new skin cell, but the other will remain a stem cell. This is how we have a constant supply of new cells -- the stem cells are always there, waiting to create one new, specialized cell. The body has a limited number of stem cells.

According to the theory described in the article, cencer stem cells are the problem: when we treat cancer, we treat the mature cancer cells (the mature cells that have grown from the cancer stem cell), but we never get to the stem cells that are still sitting there. Read the article to get more on the fascinating research that has gone into showing that stem cells are different from their mature cells, and how it has effected cancer research.

If the cancer stem cell theory proves to be correct (and it may not be -- the article gets into the controversy surrounding it), then researchers might have a better chance of developing new, targeted treatments that will get at the root cause of the cancer, not just the tumors that develop.

Very intersting stuff.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I have to comment on this story.

Apparently, some students from the Tulane University Law School had a party at a children's museum in New Orleans. One exhibit at the museum is dedicated to Mr. Rogers, and featured a pair of the famous sneakers that he tied at the beginning of every show. Someone from the law school attending the party smashed the plexiglass case and stole one of the sneakers. After an appeal from the dean of the school, the sneaker was returned; it was found tied to a pipe under a sink in the women's room.

Who would do something like that to Mr. Rogers?

This kind of thing happened once before, when Mr. Rogers was still alive. He drove an old Chevy Impala for years, and one day, it was stolen from its spot on the street near the TV station where he was filming. The story of the theft got out, and was all over the news. Two days later, the car was parked in the exact spot where it was stolen, with a note: "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it."

That's more like it.

I have to admit, I was never a Mr. Rogers fan when I was a kid. I don't know why -- I just never connected with him. But then, after Isabel and I were married but before we had kids, we heard an interview with him on the radio. He was discussing a book of letters that people had written to him. (He was a great letter writer, and kept up corresponence with some people for years, even if he'd never met them.) One story he told during the interview just killed me: it was from the mother of a small girl who was being treated for cancer. The girl needed frequent scans to check on her progress, and hated being trapped in the scanning tube, where she needed to keep still. (I know now just was she was going through.) For a little kid, even just two minutes of keeping still seemed like an eternity. But her mom figured out that it took two minutes to sing the theme song to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and so mom would get on the microphone that the technician uses to give instructions to the patient, and she and her daughter would sing the song together. When it was done, the little girl's scan was done.

And then, of course, I had my own kids, and I became a bigger fan. Peter was a Mr. Rogers fan. He liked that Mr. Rogers talked to him.

And then I'd watch more, and I'd see him do stuff like this. He's just so cool.

And those sweaters he wore? His own mother knitted every one of them.

How could you not love this guy?

I'm kind of sorry I waited so long to enjoy him. He's really easy to make fun of, but we need more people like him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

L and M

As I said in my last post, the Lymphoma and Myeloma Conference took place last weekend, and some of the information about the research that was presented at the conference is starting to trickle out. As I promised, I'll share it when I get it, so today I'm sharing. I'm mostly getting the information from people who were there and took notes, so there aren't really any links to the conference or to research reports just yet. I'm sure they'll be coming out eventually. But in the meantime, you'll have to trust me, just as I'm trusting my sources.

One presentation from the conference looked at levels of mortality in European NHL patients. The incidents of mortality are declining in the countries that were surveyed. They had steadily risen until about 1999, and they've been falling (slowly) ever since. While a cause isn't mentioned, I'm guessing it's because of the widespread use of Rituxin that began at roughly that time. Whatever the reason, that's good news -- treatments are working.

(I should probably remind you about statistics -- they're helpful in comparing treatments, but don't mean much in the big picture. Follicular NHL effects older people, so mortality rates don't necessarily mean that they died of lymphoma. Seearch for my earlier post on this topic if you want more.)

Another presentation (more relevent for me) had to do with when to begin treatment, asking if watching and waiting was still appropriate, given advances in immunochemotherapy (Rituxin + chemo) and RIT (Zevalin and Bexxar -- Rituxin laced with radiation, basically). The expert who led the discussion said that watch and wait still makes sense since some patients never need treatment, their lymphoma waxing and waning, but never causing enough problems to require other treatment. In addition, watching allows the doctor to keep track of the clinical behavior of the lymphoma (is it becoming more aggressive?) which will change the treatment that's required. So this is basically an endorsement of watching and waiting as an acceptable approach.

Another presenter looked at the National Lymphocare study, which surveyed 2,728 lymphoma patients. An interesting little nugget: Watching and waiting is most commonly used in the northeast, less so in other parts of the country. Looking at other data, it seems that there's some correlation between the use of watch and wait in the northeast and the fact that there are so many more cancer centers around here, so patients can more easily get second opinions.

Another bit from the Lymphocare study: the most common first treatment choice for follicular lymphoma is R-CHOP, a fairly aggressive chemotherapy. I didn't get much more on that fact, but it makes me wonder about my doctor (who is recommending a much less aggressive plan for treatment -- R-CHOP would be maybe the third or fourth choice down the road). I'm not disagreeing with what he's recommending; I'm just wondering if his less-aggressive approach is related to the northeastern preference for watching and waiting.

R-CHOP (a combination of Rituxin and four chemotherapy drugs) has also been shown to lessen the chances of transformation (about 30% of follicular NHL patients will have their lymphoma transform to something more aggressive), so there's that consideration. On the other hand, Dr. R's plan is to hold off R-CHOP so that it's available in case there is some transformation, so the benefits will be there anyway.

That's the tough part of staying informed: so darn many choices, and none of them have definitive answers. Still, I'd rather go into a conversation with my doctor with a sense of what he's talking about than just going in blindly and trusting his choices. I still need to trust his choices, but at least I can know enough to ask the questions that will get him to justify those choices.

In the meantime, I'm still feeling OK, and that's what matters.

. This point made by Dr. Leonard. Also based on the National Lymphocare Study, n = 2,728: * Initial observation (w&w / expectant management) is most commonly used in the NorthEast US, less so in other regions of the country. * W&W is more commonly recommended in areas of the country where multiple centers exist - where the patient can more readily get second expert opinions. (hypothesis)* Also, from this study the current trend is to use CHOP-R as first therapy for FL when treatment is indicated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Conference and Trials

At last -- my laptop is fixed. Wireless is working OK, printer drivers are downloaded and functional. Amazing what a week of limited technology will do for you. (What it might do is make you appreciate living a non-technological life, understanding how bad it is for you to be so reliant on computers for your work, communication, and entertainment. Unfvortunately, it didn't work that way for me, and I have little appreciation for that non-tech life. I'm glad to have my computer back. So glad I'm going to spend the next half hour on YouTube watching videos of babies laughing. Just because I can.)


OK, I'm back. I love laughing baby videos. Like this one.


This past weekend, the Lymphoma and Myeloma Conference took place in New York City. It was attended by one of the support group members named Karl, whose wife has follicular NHL, and who works as a medical writer, so he's an excellent source of information for us. (He founded and runs a site called; if you're ever looking for a great beginning source of information about lymphoma, that's is the place to start.)

Karl gave us a quick overview this morning of the conference. Apparently, there were presentations from researchers on a number of very promising lymphoma treatments, but they are still in the early stages of clinical trials. According to Karl, the number of lymphoma patients willing to be a part of clinical trials is very small, which has always been part of what has held back lymphoma research. The FDA needs evidence that tretaments are both effective and safe, and a small trial of 10 or 20 patients usually isn't enough for them to give an OK.

I've talked to Dr. R about my willingness to participate in a trial, and he's fine with that. There's a great, fairly new website sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society called TrialCheck that makes it much easier to search for available trials; you used to need to go to a government site and sift through the trials one by one. You enter information about yourself, your disease, and where you live, and it gives you a list of current trials, with the travel distance for each one.

My joining a clinical trial is kind of restricted by a couple of things. First, while Yale (10 minutes away) has researchers that study Lymphoma, they specialize in stem cell transplants, which isn't something I'll likely need to deal with for a long time. So participating in a trial that's so convenient will probably not happen. There's Dana-Farber in Boston, and Sloan-Kettering in NYC, but at the moment there's really nothing promising there.

And that's the other problem: there are very few trials for people with fNHL who have not yet been treated. I think it's because the expectation is that the first treatment will be followed up with at least one more, so the focus is on making the second and third treatments really count.

If you're thinking that a clinical trial is a bad thing -- it's not. I know I always get the impression that a treatment in trial is something "experimental," and that always has for me the implication that things are desperate -- that conventional treatments arenb't working. But it's not really like that. Any trials I would be in would be phase III, with a reasonable chance of safety and success.

Clinical trials are conducted in three phases. A phase I trial is meant only to measure side effects and safety. (If you've ever seen ads in the back of alternative newspapers promising $500 for participating in research, it's probably a phase I trial -- the participants don't have to have lymphoma, they just have to be willing to "explore the unknown" and risk whatever side effects are possible.) Phase II trials are very small, and the participants have lymphoma. Phase II trials give researchers a sense of whether or not the treatment will work. Phase III are the biggies, with lots of participants -- enough to show that the treatment, and not something random, is the cause of the improvement.

Phase III trials are usually conducted as dual-arm studies, which means they are comparing the new treatment to one that is already known. So they'll take, say, 100 patients and give 50 the new treatment, and the other 50 something like Rituxin, and then they'll compare the success of the two groups. So the second group isn't going untreated or given a placebo -- that would be unethical.

Anyway, I look at TrialCheck every now and then to see if there's something interesting close by. I'm mostly happy to watch and wait, but every now and then I get antsy, and I think I'd rather do something than nothing. I feel a very strong connection to the lymphoma community, and if participating in a trial would help some of the thousands of people with lymphoma, that's just a bonus.

I'm sure that there will be some publicity in the next few weeks about some of the presentations at the Lymphoma and Myeloma Conference. I'll pass along those that seem interesting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

9 Months

Yesterday was my Nine Month Anniversary -- I was diagnosed on January 15.

It's been an interesting nine months. Some days it feels like it's been forever. Other days like it was just yesterday that I got the call from the doctor.

Which is strange. A colleague asked me yesterday how everything was going (it's still kind of rare for people to ask me how I'm feeling), and I gave him the update: Still stable. He said he couldn't imagine having to go through it, or something like that. I told him that it's gotten easier.

Which is true. I'm not as active with the support group these days. I still check in every day, sometimes two or three times. But there seems less urgency now. I know so much more, so I'm not following people in the group who are, say, going through a particular treatment, because I have a pretty good idea already of how it's likely to go. People post about new research, which I read, but I'm less apt to spend a couple of hours googling it on my own after that. There's just less of a sense of desperation, I guess.

Which is good. But the flip side of that, as I've worried about before, is complacency. I don't want to slip out of my vigilance. I don't want anyone else to, either. I'm mostly afraid it will be too much of a shock if (when) things do get more aggressive.

Anyway -- happy anniversary to me. And many more.


I have a new laptop, but the wireless is messed up, which makes it kind of useless. I'm anticipating continued difficulties finding the time to post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still around

Sorry I haven't written -- my laptop was infected with a virus on Monday, and I'm just now getting it taken care of. It was my work computer, and sometimes the Info Tech people here get overwhelmed with things, but they actually took care of me very quickly, which I appreciated. Most of the data was savable, and I'm very good about backing things up. But it threw my world into complete turmoil. I rely far too much on my computer. So I'll update with something interesting soon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Music Update

A couple of days ago, someone asked me how the kids were doing with their music. Thought I'd provide you all with an update.


Peter is currently in rehearsals for Regional Band. As you may have read last spring, he had made All State Symphonic Band last year on alto sax, something unusual for a 5th grader. In the fall, there are 4 Regional Band concerts in the state, leading up to All State in the spring. So Peter participates in the Southern region. He did very well with the audition: he has the second chair out of 10 alto saxes; the first chair (that is, the one who had the best audition) is a friend from his school, an 8th grader. The fall concert is in a couple of weeks.

He really likes sax, and took to it very quickly. He's still playing piano, too, but sax seems to be winning his heart.


John started clarinet this year. He's enjoying it a lot. He gets frustrated at times, but there really haven't been too many ear-splitting moments when he practices. (If you've ever heard a beginner play, say, "Jingle Bells" on the clarinet and have it not go well, you know what I mean. If you don't know, watch and listen. By the way, those aren't any kids that I know.)

John's dream, though, is to play oboe, and the band director told him the clarinet would be the best way to get there -- similar fingering, apparently. John is also still playing piano, and enjoying it.


Catherine is also playing piano, and improving every week. She and I have our music lessons with the same teacher on Monday afternoons; she'll do her half hour on piano, then I'll have my half hour on guitar. I like it when Catherine goes first, so I can sneak in one more practice session before my lesson.

Catherine is also dancing. All the time. She has her class on Thursdays (ballet and tap), but we get nightly dance shows in the living room, often to a Miley Cyrus/Jonas Brothers/Cheetah Girls accompaniment. Yes, our house has become Disneyfied. If you don't know who those performers are, find your own darn videos. But do so at your own risk. You've been warned.


And yes, I'm still playing guitar. And improving, I think. It's feeling more natural now, and I'm quite proud of myself for finally learning how to read music after 41 years. More importantly, I'm getting better at picking out notes without taking my eyes off of the sheet music. The chords are killing me, though. I love playing them -- they sound so cool -- but switching fingers in mid-song is really hard. I'm working on G, D7, C, G7, and the dreaded F, which requires unnatural finger positioning. But the best part is that Strudel likes to howl along with me when I play them.

(She also howls at the high notes on the sax and clarinet, plus the harmonica, should anyone play it in her presence. She's such a German -- not a peep when the kids are playing piano.)


Finally, the kids' school announced on Friday that their annual play in the spring will be The Wizard of Oz. As a middle schooler (yikes! my child is a middle schooler!), Peter is eligible to audition. We watched the movie last night, and we asked Peter which part he thought he'd like to play. He said he'd go for the Tin Man, which I think would be fitting. The Tin Man has a tenderness about him (despite the lack of a heart) that Peter could pull off. But he'll be happy to play, saying, a tree that comes alive and throws apples at the Scarecrow.

It made me think of a job interview question that the VP at work was asked during his interview with what would eventually become his office staff: If you could be any character from the Wizard of Oz, which would you be? Frankly, I think it's a better personality test than the "Who is your Favorite Beatle?" stand-by.

So I asked the other two kids who they would want to be in the play (they're not eligible to be in it, but I thought I'd ask).

Miss Diva Catherine would want to be Dorothy, of course.

Animal Boy John? No, not the Cowardly Lion. John made fun of him through the whole movie. No, John chose something way more appropriate, and if you know him, you believe it.

John would be a Flying Monkey.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Get Your Lymphoma Freak On

I thought the item below was great: Science majors ("Science Freaks") at the University of Texas at Arlington are auctioning themselves off to raise money for blood cancer research.

The best part is their rather low expectations: bidding for a date starts at $5, with a $2 cover to get into the auction, in hopes that they'll raise $500. No word on how cute the Freaks are, but you'd think there would be someone out there who would want to spend a little more than $5 for a couple of hours with someone who could help them pass Chem 101.


Dates with science students auctioned for cancer research

Written by Bryan Bastible

Wednesday, 08 October 2008

Several organizations will get their “freak” on to battle Leukemia and Lymphoma.

For a $2 admission fee, anyone can help raise research money by bidding on a date with a “science freak.” The Science Constituency Council, the Medical Dental Preparatory Association, the Student National Medical Association and the Pre-Pharmacy Student Association joined to host the “Date a Science Freak” auction at 6 p.m. Friday at 108 University Hall. The money will go toward their $500 goal for the Light the Night walk for Leukemia and Lymphoma research at 5 p.m. Sunday.

This week, the organizations held fundraisers such as a car wash, a planetarium show and an information booth with hot dogs. Council president Marjana Sarker said they wanted to spread awareness about the walk, since acute myeloid leukemia is the No. 1 cause of infant deaths in the U.S. Leukemia, a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases, is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow. Lymphoma is a type of neoplasm, an abnormal build-up of cells, that originates in lymphocytes.

Sarker said people shouldn’t see science students as nerds.“Being a [science] freak is not a bad thing,” she said. “The name always makes people curious or laugh.” The event consists of a silent auction and a live auction; the minimum bid for each is $5. Twenty people have signed up to be auctioned off so far. Council vice president Darius Bonds said the live auction will be like an old dating show where audience members ask their potential date questions. “There’s no way to tell until people start bidding,” he said. “The more money we raise, the better.”

MDPA president Namrata Kohli signed up for the auction. “I just want to go out there, have fun and help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” Kohli said. A mixer will be held for the “science freak” and their date after the auction. The council has not participated in Light the Night before, but the MDPA is no stranger to the event. “We wanted to start it again with a larger and broader crowd — inviting students from all colleges and departments,” Sarker said.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some Follow-Ups

A few things that I've written about recently need some following up.


First of all, I am thoroughly enjoying not being department chair anymore. It's nice to be able to focus on teaching, and since I'm teaching two sections of a brand new class, I have no choice but to focus on teaching. I'm not exactly making it up as I go along -- I've had a plan for the course, which Isabel and I developed over the summer (she's teaching two sections of the course as well). But I am revising that plan pretty much every day.

Which isn't a bad thing. What I've always liked about teaching is the ongoing attempt to figure out my students and what they need, and then starting all over again the next semester. I may have a bad class one day, but I'll set to work trying to figuring out some other way to explain what I want them to know, and get excited about trying that new thing, and then more excited when it actually works. That's really the big difference for me between being chair and being a teacher: I could work all day on a chair project and not be successful, and be exhausted and depressed by the time I went to bed. But I could have a bad day as teacher, talk to some colleagues, figure out a plan, and by the end of the day feel energized. Being a teacher energizes me (usually), and it's that energy that I've really missed.

Of course, all of that figuring has taken up a whole bunch of my time lately (that, and the kids' activities being back in full swing), so I've had less to time to do the research and writing that goes into the blog. I'm trying to do my three blog entries per week, but it gets difficult some days to come up with something interesting and relevent.

So here are some sort of interesting, sort of relevent follow-ups for you.


A little while ago, I posted a link for the "Seven Hamburgers of the Apocolypse." I rationalized that it was about encouraging good eating habits in my readers, but really, it was because I like looking at pictures of hamburgers.

Here's another one: the Hamburger Fatty Melt, a thick burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches acting as the bun. I love that the recipe calls for a grilling machine that will let you cook the sandwhiches and the burger at the same time. God love George Foreman.

I recommend clicking the link just above the picture, which gives "the backstory for the Fatty Melt." Read the comments section, where people debate whether or not to put bacon on it, and then whether it should go directly on the burger or in the cheese sandwiches.

(How come all of you don't have good debates like that in my comments section?)


My guy Jon Lester continues to amaze. He pitched another 7 innings as the Sox clinched. The deabte now is whether or not he's the staff ace, and when to have him pitch in the next playoff series to best help the team. No mention of cancer, either.

Which brings up this issue: Yesterday, Isabel and I had lunch with a colleague who is a Sox fan, and we discussed current staff ace Josh Beckett's recent problems with injuries. My brilliant solution: Beckett needs lymphoma. Worked wonders for Lester. So if the Sox won't let me pitch for them, I can volunteer to donate blood to Beckett and see if that helps.

(I know, I know, it's a joke. I don't wish cancer on anybody....unless it would really help them somehow....or something.....)


I was going to do one more follow-up on some lymphoma treatment news, but that will have to wait. Too much else going on, and it requires some reading on my part to understand it enough to explain it all. I could give you a raw link, but it wouldn't mean much.

I'll get to more of that good, hopeful cancer news soon. When things slow down. Like, in January...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sick, Offensive Cancer Humor

Oh, sure -- you saw the title of the post, but you kept reading anyway. So no comments that it's offensive. You were warned.

The story I have for you isn't actually too bad. Not too dark, anyway, like a lot of cancer humor. It's about a guy named Jeffrey, who's just about my age, has six kids, and was being treated for testicular cancer. On the day of his first radiation treatment, he was exhausted, and after he and wife finally got the six kids to bed, they went to bed themselves and had a chance to talk about the day.

They kind of danced around the whole topic of the day's radiation treatment, his wife not wanting to talk about it unless he did. But she finally asked him how he was feeling. She told him he wasn't so good -- the radiation left his skin feeling very tender. He asked her if she'd take a look.

She started to peek under the covers, and jumped back when she saw a neon green glow.

Jeffrey, having kept his sense of humor, had placed a green glow-stick under the covers.....

Now, three things are important about that story:

First, it's great to have a supportive partner.

Second, it's great to have a sense of humor.

Third, if you have kids and they're going out for Halloween, buy some glow sticks so they'll be visable.

But mostly, keep your sense of humor.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Jon Lester

The Sox won last night, 4-1, over the Angels. My guy Jon Lester pitched, and did afantastic job: 7 innings, 7 strike outs, no earned runs.

Lester, of course, is our household hero, being an NHL survivor and all. There's a nice piece on about Lester, written by a guy named Arash Markazi, who writes a blog about baseball. The interesting part about the piece is that Markazi is himself an NHL survivor, having had an aggressive form while in his 20's, like Lester. Provides an interesting perspective on things, especially since Markazi links an earlier blog entry he wrote as a letter to Lester, giving Lester advice about dealing with his NHL. The blog entry from today is called "Lester Much More Than Pitcher With Cancer," and says that he has enough distance from it now that we think of him as a great pitcher, not as a cancer survivor. He was even booed in LA last night.

Well....not exactly. The stories about the game, and Lester's performance, typically still mention his being a cancer survivor (see the Boston Globe piece, for example). So it's still defines him. Not that I'm complaining -- anything that keeps cancer in the news, especially NHL, is fine with me.

But it's interesting to read about how Lester is handling it. He really doesn't know what to say when people say he's an inspiration to them. Which is understandable, given that he's a 24 year old kid. I barely know how to respond when people ask me about it, and I don't have the pressure of pitching in Boston.

(Though I would happily unleash my patented Clydesdale Knuckleball if the Sox would just return my calls.)