Saturday, February 27, 2010

Local Sports

Peter's basketball team had a tournament game (at St. Mary's School) this morning. He's been itching to play, but he's got at least another week of therapy on the hand before he can even think about that. I'm guessing he won't be back on the court, unfortunately.

Peter sat on the bench with his team, and as the game began, just before warm-ups, I saw the tournament director talking to him on the bench. Peter looked concerned. I didn't know what was up -- was the director telling him he couldn't sit with the team because he wasn't playing or something like that?

So I texted Peter to ask if everything was OK. It takes 10 or 20 seconds for a text to go through, and I hit "send" just as the tournament director was beginning to speak: "Welcome to the St. Mary's School 36th Annual Basketball Tournament. Before we introduce the teams, a player from St. Rita's will lead us in reciting the Hail Mary." Then he handed the microphone to Peter. Naturally, that was just when my text went through, and you could hear a BEEP-BEEP-BEEP signal from Peter's phone through the microphone.

Oops. He sent me a text a minute later: "Worst time 2 send a text EVER!"

He got over it, and his team came back from 22 points down to win by 1.


The kids (especially Peter) have been enjoying the Winter Olympics a lot. I think their Canadian blood has really been coming out. (Though we haven't discussed the controversial Canadian Women's Hockey Team drinking beer and smoking cigars after they won the gold. Seriously? This is a controversy? Canadians drinking beer?)

The kids have been especially enamored with curling, which is where their Canadian heritage really rises to the surface. John told us he has been playing curling in school, but he got yelled at for using the brooms from the classroom broom closet during lunch. So now he and his friends do a table-top version, with a super ball and two kleenex.

At home, though, it's the full version. The kids wanted to spray water in the backyard to create their own curling arena, but it didn't work, so they're using the hardwood floor and a plastic puck, a whisk broom, and a dust mop, all of which is oddly effective. Until, of course, Strudel hears one of them screaming "HARD! HARD! HARD! CLEAN! CLEAN!" and runs in to investigate, and the steals the puck and hopes for a game of chase.


By the way, I've gotten a bunch of requests to have Strudel post on the blog. I can only say -- not up to me. She writes when she darn well pleases.


As for me, I'm possibly going to run a road race next weekend. We'll see -- we have a lot going on next weekend. I'm still running three days a week, but I haven't raced since October, and I wouldn't mind getting back into it. The spring racing season starts up soon. My wanting to race is always a good sign, even if I can't get to the starting line.

Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've been thinking about the kids, and what happened when we brought them in to the treatment room last Friday.

Bringing them in was a good thing to do. We've been open with them about everything from the start. We think if they don't get the whole story from us, their minds will take off in directions they shouldn't, and they'll imagine the worst. "No news is good news" doesn't apply to kids. They need and get regular news updates.

So having them see the treatment room was good. I asked them at dinner Friday night if the office and the treatment room looked the way they thought they would. Peter hadn't really thought much about it. Both John and Catherine imagined a much more active place, with a doctor standing over me, and lots of machines with dials and buttons and lights. I thought it was kind of funny that both of them thought that same kind of thing.

Really, the the treatment room isn't nearly as cartoonish as they imagined. It's U-shaped, with rows of big comfy recliners (the fake leather kind you see in lots of hospital rooms) along the walls. There are probably 5 or 6 recliners along each wall, with curtains that can be pulled in between them (but rarely are). There are two large flat screen TVs on each side of the U near the ceiling. Each chair has earphones on the wall behind it, though nobody uses them. In the middle of the U is the nurses' station, glassed in, with open doorways, so the nurses can make sure we're OK and get to us quickly if they need to. Under the windows along the middle section of the U is a long, low bookcase full of books, magazines, and blankets. Off to the side is a small "kitchen," with a refrigerator, sink, coffee maker, and usually cookies or donuts or a coffee cake. For the most part, it's bright and cheery -- as cheery as a room full of cancer patients undergoing treatment can get.

Anyway, on Friday, after I had my blood test and I found out I was going to be able to have the 6th treatment, we all went in to the treatment room. I was the first patient in the room that day, so it was pretty quiet, and the nurses were getting ready in the nursing station. I plopped my stuff down on a chair and went to the bathroom. When I got back, the kids wanted to ask me about something unrelated to my treatment, and they were all whispering when they spoke to me and to each other.

"Why are you whispering?" I asked. "This isn't a library." My nurse Sue came over, and she spoke in a normal voice. The kids perked up a bit.

I do know why they were whispering, of course. There's a kind of reverence that comes with the treatment room. When you're on the outside, at least, it seems like a place that's both scary and important at the same time. Bad things happen in there, but they lead to good things in the end. I had the same feeling when I visited Dachau in Germany with friends. I remember how we got quiet as we got closer -- it was almost instinctive.

I felt the same way about the treatment room for a long time. The patient bathroom for the doctor's office is just inside the door to the treatment room. For two years, whenever I needed to use it, I'd feel weird about going into the treatment room. I was never in the middle of all the patients -- I'd just take a step in and the bathroom is right there -- but I always felt like I was disturbing people when I did. I had that notion of treatment being something horrible, like I was intruding on other patients' misery, and that maybe I was disrespecting them.

I had fallen into the trap. I've said from the start of all this that I think making cancer something that gets whispered about and never mentuioned out loud is a mistake. But I know that's an instinct that needs to be fought. I needed to fight it in the same way -- thinking that people getting treatment should be shut behind doors and not "disturbed." It shouldn't be that way.

I'm not saying the treatment room should be open to the world. And I didn't have my kids with me for three hours, nor would I have wanted them to be. (They would have been bored silly.) But having an IV line in your arm is no stigma, either.

It's hard to fight that sometimes.

I'm glad we got the chance to show the kids how to fight it. When they came with my lunch, I was fully reclined, one hand behind my head, one leg draped over the side of chair, relaxed, reading a magazine. I knew they were coming, and I did it on purpose. They needed to see that I was OK. And that's what they saw.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Few Updates

Peter got his cast off today. He'll do two weeks in a splint, with physical therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then he can go back to piano and sax. A little disappointing (we were hoping to get started quicker), but he's mostly just happy to have the cast off.

The doctor gave him the two pins that had been inserted, so he was able to impress the boys/sicken the girls at school today.


Peter will miss the first practice for All-State Symphonic Band for sax, but he'll still be allowed to join when he's all healed up. He was awarded the last chair -- a far cry from the First Chair he had hoped for -- but he'll be able to do the concerts, including the one at Lincoln Center in NYC.

John, too, will be in an All-State Band, the Gala Band. He and Peter will both play at the same concert in late March, which will be kind of cool. We're very proud of both of them.


I haven't posted any interesting food items in a while, but I saw this and just had to:

The West Michigan Whitecaps, a minor league baseball team, is polling its fans to decide which new food items to add to its menu for the season. Feel free to vote at this link, and to read the descriptions of the contenders.

My favorites (with the descriptions from the web site):

6. Declaration of Indigestion - When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to disband from the tyranny of healthy eating, they should consume the Declaration of Indigestion. You see, all sandwiches are not created equal as this half-pound, footlong hot dog is covered in a philly cheese steak (steak, cheese, peppers and onions) and served on a gigantic sub roll. It is certainly your unalienable right to consume one of these in the pursuit of happiness.

7. Idaho Christmas Tree - Why waste your time eating all of your favorite items separately? This is a batter-dipped hot dog rolled in french fries and deep fried to create the perfect limbed link on stick.

9. The Pink Panther - Not sure if this guy is named after the famous detective or the insulation, but either way it's delicious. Take a hot dog bun, slather it in icing and fill it with pink cotton candy. Maybe drizzle some root beer syrup over the top for good measure. It's the dessert dog you'll have to try this summer!

10. Twinkie Cheese Dog - This dog can survive any disaster and it might cause a few of its own. Simple - a hot dog laid in a Twinkie covered in cheese. Yum

Declaration of Indigestion -- how awesome is that? Almost worth a trip to the Upper Penninsula this summer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sixth Rituxan is Done

Had round #6 today. It went well -- no problems.

It was kind of up in the air whether or not I'd even have the Rituxan. My White Blood Cell count was getting lower last week, and Dr. R said if it was below a certain point, we'd skip this round. I'd have been OK with that, I guess, but I really wanted a final round in me, so I was happy when the blood test came back OK. (In fact, the WBC count was moving back up from last week, which is good overall, I guess.)

The kids are on vacation this week, and we were going to have someone watch them, but then we decided we'd just bring them along so they could see where I was and meet my friendly nurses. They stayed just until I was settled in, then Isabel took them to a game center for their second round of lazer tag this week. They came back to bring me lunch, and then left again until I was done. I haven't asked them what they thought of the place, but I know my nurse Sue thought they were great kids.

The only excitement came at 11:00, when Tiger Woods came on TV. The doctor and nurses all stopped to watch him, too, which was pretty funny. My own reaction to the whole staged and scripted show was decidedly less emotional than this commentator from the Golf Channel who was moved to tears, but, whatever -- it helped put me to sleep for a half hour, and I needed the nap.

Next up: a CT scan on March 2 to see just how well the Rituxan did its job. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cake Boss

Here's the latest in a series of videos by the children: Cake Chief, a parody of the TLC show Cake Boss.

If you've never seen Cake Boss, here are some clips: a problem with a clam bake cake, problems with a sugar shortage, and problems with Buddy's sister Mary. It's a reality show about Buddy Valastro, owner/manager/head pastry chef at Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, which he took over from his father. Most of the employees are relatives of Buddy's (he calls the staff there "The Famiglia") and they're all kind of wacky. Buddy actually makes some pretty incredible cakes, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy who loves his family. Check them all out at the Carlo's web site.

Anyway, here's the kids' version of Cake Boss. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Well, we were supposed to have gone down to Maryland to visit Isabel's family this past weekend, but they suggested we hold off on our visit, given that the 40 inches of snow they've had might make it tough to even get onto their street. We took their advice, but reluctantly. We were all really looking forward to seeing them and hanging out for a few days. (And I had planned on making a special Red Velvet Cake for Valentine's Day dessert. I'll make it up to you all next time we see you -- I promise.)

The kids were especially bummed about not being able to go, and we wanted to do something fun for them on their first weekend of February vacation. So we got online and found a nice hotel with an indoor pool a few towns over, and we made a reservation for Sunday night.

The hotel is about two miles from a sports complex -- bowling, lazer tag, mini-golf, ice skating, arcade -- so we made that our first stop.

Catherine had been asking us to play lazer tag for months. Both of the boys had played before at birthday parties, but Catherine never had (and neither had Isabel or I). But then the kids saw the skating rink at the complex, and begged to go.

Ice skating is big around here; lots of the kids' friends play hockey. I played as a kid, and Isabel used to go skating for fun, but the kids had never been on skates before. We rented 5 pairs and hit the ice.

I remember the "open skating" times at the local rink from when I was a kid, and I was concerned there would be a whole lot of very good skaters flying around there making things difficult. But, really, I'd say 75% of the people there were newbies, from toddlers to seniors, and the rest were friends or parents trying to help them out. So that made it a little less intimidating.

The kids did great. There were some falls, but they all hopped right back up and kept on trying. We skated for about an hour, and when we were done, they all seemed willing to give it another shot sometime, which was nice.

As for me? Well, it's been over 20 years since I've been on skates. I remember the last time; it was with friends, and I was wearing borrowed skates that were a size too small, and it didn't go well.

This time, I was a little wobbly when I first stepped out onto the ice, holding onto Catherine to keep her from falling. We clicked blades a few times, so I ended up skating backwards, holding her hands. It all came back to me pretty quickly after that. By the time the kids were finished and ready to leave, I asked for one more lap by myself. I was having so much fun, I took about five more laps, weaving between people and crossing over on the turns. It brought back a lot of memories.

When we were finished skating, we went upstairs to the lazer tag place. I don't think Isabel was planning to play, but I paid for 5 admissions, so she had no choice. The only other people playing at that time was another family -- a young-looking mom and dad, a teenage son, and three smaller kids, probably Catherine's age and younger. Our family was the red team, and the others were the blue team.

I won't get into details of the lazer carnage, but let's just say the McEacherns were fist-bumping all around when the battle was over. The boys captured the other team's fortress 4 times each; Catherine had 34 hits while guarding our perimeter, and Isabel and I did respectably. We beat them 789,000 points to 390,000 points. And we did it the right way: Peter helped one of the smaller opponents who wasn't holding the lazer gun properly ("Kid -- you need to press this button....Kid, you need to press this one here..."), giving the helpful advice during the 5 seconds he was disabled after Peter shot him. Peter was basically shooting, disabling, and then advising about seven times in a row. We finished up at the arcade.

The we checked into our hotel, had a swim in the pool, ordered some pizza, and watched the Olympics. It was a good night. (Peter tried swimming, but it was tough to keep the cast on his arm from getting wet, so he watched the Olympics and decided on our dinner pizza toppings. He was fine with the alternate plan, especially since he was still flying over getting the second highest score ever on the Guitar Hero game at the arcade.)

Don't know when we'll see our Southern relations again, but I'll start working on a menu once we know for sure.

And I think instead of beating my brother at pool next time we get together, I'll have to suggest we put on the skates....

Monday, February 15, 2010


I've already given permission to anyone who wants it to eat chocolate for its health benefits. Another new study gives yet another reason: apparently, chocolate can reduce the risk of stroke. Of course, this is a preliminary finding, but I see no reason to wait for more evidence.

Today is the perfect day to go buy some. Valentine's Day chocolate is usually 50-75 % off today.

How do I know this? February 15th is Isabel's and my engagement anniversary. It was the morning of her old roommate's wedding. I didn't want to do it on Valentine's Day -- she'd have been expecting it. Then again, maybe she wouldn't have.

We'd been living in different states since the previous June -- she in Maryland, me in Massachusetts -- after we finished graduate school in Boston. We managed to see each other every three weeks or so, but it was tough. I don't know if Valentine's Day or her friend's wedding got to her, but that Thursday night we had a fight on the phone about our long-distance relationship. "This is ridiculous," she said. "Don't bother coming." I told her we'd talk when I got there, holding the engagement ring in my hand as I finally convinced her not to break up with me.

Things were better the next day, and when we passed a Denny's near the rehearsal dinner site, I immediately knew where I'd do the asking.

So Saturday morning, before her friend's wedding, we had breakfast at Denny's, and I told her about a newspaper article I'd read about people proposing on Valentine's Day in restaurants. Waiters putting the engagement ring in the bottom of a dish of chocolate mousse -- thast sort of thing. I looked around and chuckled and asked her, "Can you imagine getting engaged in Denny's?"

"It wouldn't matter," she said.

"No?" I said, and I took out the ring and put it on her finger.

We were married a little less than a year later, and moved to Kentucky, where I had started grad school. Living on about $19,000 a year, we'd skip the expensive Valentine's Day dinners and celebrate the following day -- our engagement anniversary -- with 75% off chocolates and a Grand Slam breakfast.

We don't do Denny's anymore, but we've kept up the day-after chocolate tradition. The selection isn't always great -- you have to get there early -- but it's ours.

Happy anniversary, Darlin.' Save me a caramel.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Yet Another Good Infusion

Rituxan #5 was today.

I met with Dr. R before the infusion, as usual.

Blood work looks decent, though my White Blood Cell counts were a little below normal. This is not unexpected -- Rituxan kills off White Blood Cells. It means, in some ways, that it's doing its job. However, it can also work a little too well, as it seems might be happening here. I asked Dr. R what the low count meant, and he gave me a long explanation involving armies, navies, air force pilots, and some other stuff, but basically the White Blood Cell count is one measure of immune function -- not the only one, but the most easily measurable one.

It's not dangerously low, so he's not advising me to avoid malls or anything like that. But he is going to keep a close eye on the blood counts next week when I come in for the treatment, and if it's below a certain level, we're not going to take a chance on increased infection risk, and we'll skip treatment #6. If it stays at about the same level, we'll go forward with #6. It sounds like either way, I'm probably not going beyond 6 rounds. My White Blood Cell counts should return to normal in a month or so.

We also talked about the pictures he'll take to check on my progress. We'd talked about doing an ultrasound in order to spare me some radiation. He's reversed course -- he thinks a CT scan is probably the best way to go. Since the last CT revealed some deeper nodes, he's concerned that they might not show up well on an ultrasound. Having a CT scan will be the best way to accurately compare how I'm doing now with how I was doing at the beginning of January. Makes sense to me.

He wants to give the Rituxan a little more time to work before we check the progress, so I'll have the scan on March 2 and meet with him a few days later.

The infusion itself went smoothly again. I had Benedryl pills instead of a Benedryl infusion this time, so I wasn't quite so tired and loopy. Which was nice.

We're still rolling right along.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We've had about 2 inches of the 12 inches of snow they keep telling us to expect, but we're all off from school and work today.

Which has given me some time to reflect. I was thinking about what I wrote in the last entry, about people saying things they shouldn't say. It made me think of a special type of statement that Isabel and I get from people sometimes: people just don't know how we do it.

Husband with cancer? I don't know how you do it.

Husband with cancer and musician son with a broken finger? I don't know how you do it.

Husband with cancer, musician son with a broken finger, another son with severe food allergies? Oh my God, I don't know how you do it. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.

Of course you could. What choice do you have?

We could roll over and go back to bed (which we actually did this morning, after we found out about our various cancellations). But tomorrow? We're getting up. And Friday? We're getting up and bringing the kids to school and then heading to the oncologist's office for treatment #5.

I'm not sure what the whole "I couldn't do it" statement is supposed to be all about. Are they making themselves feel better, that they have less of a burden? Maybe it's their way of avoiding things they don't want to think about? I don't know.

I'm not saying that people don't get overwhelmed sometimes. There are people in the support group who write in who are so overwhelmed and that have nowhere else to turn that someone will suggest anti-anxiety drugs. And for a lot of people, they work wonders. It makes me happy to see people find something that gives them some hope. I wouldn't ever say someone isn't dealing because they needed that kind of help.

But it bothers me to get the comments that people are basically giving up before they even try to find a solution, and are encouraging me to do the same.

How do we do it? I don't know. We just do.

And then we have snowball fights and drink hot chocolate.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Not to Say

Interesting discussion recently in the support group on the things that people say to cancer patients that they shouldn't say. It was prompted by a posting from a blog at the M.D. Anderson cancxer hospital's web site called "What NOT to Say to People with Cancer." Pretty good advice in the brief posting: pay attention to individual needs, and act accordingly; be careful not to be too upbeat (lots of cancer patients hate to hear "Everything is going to be just fine!" when the patient knows everything isn't fine); be sure not tyo avoid people with cancer just because it's so uncomfortable a situation (which is often the last thing a cancer patient needs -- greater feelings of isolation when cancer can already be an isolating thing).

The article (and the group's discussion) struck me because I've kind of started all over with this. Two years ago, I got all of the sympathetic looks and odd statements of "support," and then things kind of died down as everyone got used to my watching and waiting. Now I'm being treated, and I'm getting the odd looks and awkward attempts at support again.

I've had three or four strange conversations with people in the last couple of weeks that have thrown me just a little. They were people who knew, or who had heard, that I'd started treatment and asked how it was going, and when I told them, they got all negative on me.
"That's horrible," said one.
"Well, I've had two years to get used to it, and I'm dealing with it all OK," I said.
"It still sucks," said my conversation partner.
"Yeah," I said, "but I'm in an OK place emotionally."
"Still," said the person, " It's cancer."
"Well," I said to my friend who couldn't read my 'be positive' cues, "I need to go now," and then I got my laptop and watched an episode of Jersey Shore online to make myself feel better.

But I can't get mad at people. Cancer does suck, and there's really not much good to say -- at least nothing that's going to make it all better. Maybe it's being a teacher that gives me greater tolerance for people saying things without thinking. Maybe it's having two years to get used to it all. But I really don't get sad or angry when people say things to me that they shouldn't say.

Of course, I get pretty angry reading what some of my support group members have had to deal with. One person's wife told the dentist what was going on with her husband, and the dentist's response was, "Well, we all have to go sometime." (Probably the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.)

Someone else told a friend she was on CHOP chemotherapy, and the friend said, "So if it doesn't work, how long do you have?"

Someone else was told she was getting the wrong kind of chemotherapy, because a friend of hers had a different chemo that didn't make her lose her hair. Then another time a relative told her "If you tell yourself you don't have cancer, then you won't."

Lots of people hate the whole "Well, you have the good kind of cancer, anyway" comment, which lymphoma patients seem to get a lot. And it's really kind of funny -- some people say I have the good kind, Follicular NHL, because it's slow-growing. Others say more aggressive types are the good kind because they are more likely to be cured. I guess it's all in the perspective. (Apparently there's a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode with a running joke about which kind of Lymphoma is "the good kind," but I haven't seen it.)

Anyway, in the end, I think I'd rather have someone say the wrong thing to me than avoid me completely. I can rationalize receiving an insensitive comment -- at least there's some attempt at making a connection there.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Things Look Good

We have, unofficially, what is called a "Partial Response." That's good news. Dr. R says we are "moving in the right direction."

Before my fourth (and last scheduled) Rituxan infusion today, Dr. R gave me the long-awaited physical exam. The nodes near my hip bone are smaller and flatter, and the swelling in my leg has gone done and seems "not as hard as before." All of that translates into a "Partial Response" -- not completely wiping it out, but wiping out some of it.

(A Partial Response (PR) is, of course, not as good as a Complete Response (CR), though with something slow-growing like Follicular NHL, a PR is still significant, since relapse is likley anyway. I don't know for sure, but I think treatments are approved for fNHL based on both PR and CR rates, not just CR, which tells you something about how valuable a PR is.)

So, given that we're having some success, he's going to extend the Rituxan for two more weeks, for a total of six rounds. What he saw today was the result of three rounds, so if he considers the results today to be about 50% of what we can expect at the end, then we'll have knocked it back pretty well.

After the 6th round, I'll have some kind of pictures taken of my insides, so we can see for sure what's going on. It will probably be an MRI or an ultrasound, rather than a CT or PET scan, so I can hold off on getting any more radiation for now.

If things continue to go as well as expected, and we end up with a significant Partial Response, then we have several options after the 6th round of Rituxan: we could try two more rounds of Rituxan; we could do nothing and just go back to watching and waiting; we could try a mild chemo like Chlorambucil (a pill I could take at home); or a slightly more aggressive chemo like CVP.

At this point, Dr. R is leaning toward watching and waiting, assuming things go as he expects; he thinks even if it's just a Partial Response, the CVP is probably too aggressive at this point.

I'm OK with all of that. It's roughly the plan that I would have gone with. (Always nice when my doctor agrees with me.)

Chlorambucil is a new possibility for me, so I haven't ever talked about it here before. Don't know much about it, to tell you the truth. But I did do a very quick Google search to make sure I had the spelling right, and that Google feature that automatically suggests search terms for you came up with "Chlorambucil for Cats." I chose not to explore that option; the new mouse part of me was in emotional turmoil. (Probably no more Minnie Mouse fantasies with the Chlorambucil; might end with a Tom and Jerry fantasy instead.....)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

World Cancer Day

I won't be so tasteless as to say "Happy World Cancer Day!," but today is indeed World Cancer Day, an initiative of the International Union Against Cancer.

Check out their web site. Ambassadors for the Big Day include Lance Armstrong (naturally -- it's international law that he must be involved in any cancer campaign. Not that I don't apprecaite all he's done for cancer awareness...), Steffi Graf, and Barbara Bush (someone I will always admire, because when I graduated from BU, then-President Bush and the President of France spoke at the graduation, and Barbara got a bigger ovation that either of them).

The campaign's theme for this year is "Cancer Can Be Prevented, Too," and focuses on awareness of healthy lifestyles as a way of preventing cancer. So stop smoking, eat healthier, exercise, stay out of the sun, and be aware of how certain infections can lead to cancer. Take the quiz to find out more.

Awareness is key -- that's no joke. That's why Lance is still my second favorite bike rider.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Silver Linings

On the heels of my writing about seeing the good in cancer:

Peter is doing well. We assume his finger will heal just fine -- those 12 year olds can bounce back from anything physical. It's his emotional bouncing back that has impressed us. No basketball, no piano competition, no All-State Jazz Band audition -- that's a lot to give up. This weekend, his school hosted its annual basketball tournament, and he sat on the bench on Saturday for his team's first game, and after the game, decided he couldn't go back for any more of the tournament. "It's too depressing," he said, aching to be in the game.

But he did go back for another game Saturday afternoon, and then begged to go back to see the girls in his class play on Sunday.At the tournament, he's been hanging around with his teammates, some kids he knows who graduated last year, and some others from the school. He felt better. We had to drag him our Sunday -- he was having too good a time hanging out with everyone, explaining to people why his arm is in a cast, and getting sympathy from the girls.

Last night, he said to me, "You know, having cancer makes you popular, but having a broken finger makes you even more popular."

How's that for looking on the bright side?