Monday, October 25, 2010

"America's Heartthrob"

Fifth cycle is cycling, and it is time to refocus this blog on what is really important, namely providing pictures from walks I have taken.  Last weekend rolled into town sunny and warm(ish).  C poked and prodded and eventually got me off of the couch (or what passes for a couch in our household... see pictures later in this post).  We drove to Kincaid Park, a park within the city limits with a pretty extensive trail network used for skiing in the winter and walking, running, or biking in the summer.  We spent about an hour and a half wandering around on some of the trails I had never been on that traverse the park's southern border, with views of distant mountains and salt water.

We eventually stumbled upon a bench.  I like to think that every bench I find on a walk or hike was brought  to that location by some eagle scout vying for a merit badge.  Whatever its source, the bench made for some fine napping in the later afternoon sun.

And speaking of napping, it turns out that the fifth cycle has hit me a little harder than the prior four in terms of fatigue.  I spent a good part of the weekend feeling tired and asleep on the couch.  Napping on the couch may not sound like a topic worthy of a blog post, but I like to think the fact that I'm 6'0" and the couch (really, a love seat) sits somewhere around 4'0" makes the napping at least comical, if not truly newsworthy.

Note the expert use of a chair as a couch extender.  This kind of thinking outside the box has really made me realize that the world is my napping oyster.

I've previously described the chemo-infusion room as a room with recliners.  In addition to the chairs, the room comes complete with two tables pushed up against the windows on which people have started doing jigsaw puzzles.  [Are they still called jigsaw puzzles?  I wonder when the last time a puzzle was actually cut by a jigsaw?]  Towards the end of the day during my last infusion, tired of staring into the chemical void, C and I pulled our seats over and puttered around putting pieces into place.  The puzzle presented a stirring scene of horseback riders, mountain streams, and aspens.  Puzzles had been there since we first came in for treatment one, and presumably patients and friends and families had been working away on this (or some other) puzzle since time immemorial.  Nevertheless, one nurse and my oncologist both stopped by at separate times and said, "Huh, a puzzle," as if they had never seen them there.  They both continued, "I haven't done a puzzle since I was a kid."  C and I made the same comment to each other when we first sat down.  While the puzzles themselves were at those tables since time immemorial, I think it was the sight of two people under 65 working them that drew the staffs' attention to them for what was perhaps the first time ever.

Taken by our puzzle experience, and with some time at home recovering on the horizon, we quickly filled our household with puzzles of our own.  Here I am working on a classic from the C family collection, circa 1980.

You'll see that working the puzzle has become all encompassing, and even meals take a backseat to that pig's luscious hair.  I think at this point completing it is really just for the sake of reclaiming our dinning room table.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shark Physics

Well, here we are.  It looks as though it has been a while since the last update.  I went in last Wednesday for my fifth treatment.  To those of you who might be counting (e.g. me), that means one more treatment pending.  I spent the last two working days at home, kind of tired, keeping nausea at bay by drinking ginger ale, and giving our Netflix account a workout.  It is days like these that you sometimes stumble upon real cultural gifts, advancements in the arts that frankly make everything that came before seem trite and uninspired.  One such gift is the film "Mega-Shark Versus Giant Octopus," available for online streaming.  I won't try to sum up the plot line here in a few words (although the title does a pretty good job itself).  Suffice to say, it is worth finding not only for its entertainment value, but also for its contribution to science.  I learned more about the geography and biology of the Chukchi Sea in the film's opening scene than I ever learned at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  There are apparently whole mountain ranges out there that were never discussed in any of my global tectonics classes.  For anyone wanting to delve deeper into the physics of mega-shark, I can recommend the following post:

When we came home from treatment last Wednesday, it turns out a little bird had turned our front door into a forest nest:

It may or may not be visible in the photo posted online, but the forest is replete with inspirational phrases marking the "one to go" milepost.  Thanks little bird (and little bird's helper)!

So dealing with a cancer diagnosis has certainly made me more sensitive to cancer news and announcements.  I've had family members who fought cancer, with both success and sadness.  We have a friend in Anchorage who has been fighting hard for as long as we have known her.  We have lots of friends with close family that have had to deal with cancer at one time or another, again with both success and sadness.  Somehow it never added up to a complete picture in the past.  The number of people who, upon learning that I have NHL, respond with: "My brother just went through that" is startling.  The number of people sitting in the big leather chairs with me on a tri-weekly basis is startling.  The number of newspaper articles in our local paper about celebrities with cancer is startling.  [The number of articles dedicated to celebrities instead of news is also startling, but that is a different rant altogether.]  Now we have learned that another friend in Germany has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is undergoing chemo.  I don't have a grand thesis with which to wrap up this paragraph, or rallying cry to bring us all together in the fight against cancer.  Just an awareness that my experience is far from unique and a sadness that so many people have to go through the uncertainty of a diagnosis and the rigors of treatment.  C and I send our thoughts to Wolfgang and Margret in Germany.