Thursday, November 17, 2011

And... we're off!

How is it that hearing exactly what I expected to hear from the surgeon could depress me?  What is the point of even having expectations if they don't shield you from the negative effects of your own neurotransmitters?  Hmm?                              

Also, in case anyone had any lingering doubts, yes, pain is, indeed, subjective.

I recall this scenario having unfolded every time I've received the "we need to operate" response from ShoulderMan, a scenario that is now over the half-dozen mark.  By the time we are back home at The Manor, my pain levels rise to an obscene point, approaching the landmark "ten."  It honestly seems to hurt worse just because my excellent surgeon has opined that yes, surgery does look necessary.  That's nuts, makes no sense, and yet, is true.

We are going to proceed with the usual futility first, though:  Yes, another aspiration of the shoulder under fluoroscopy!  The eighth one.  May it be productive, because the first seven were not... Then, in 2 weeks, I will go back to hear how nothing continues to grow in the lab, and to finalize the scheduling for surgery.

At least I have an excellent excuse for bailing on the Wheelchair Negotiations for today.  The man handling my case is an idiot.  No, really, he is.  He also lies with excessive ease.  I don't know whether we are going to take our relationship to the next level of actually acquiring the new lightweight and speedy transport.

But, as I am trying to convince myself -- let that go until tomorrow.  I am spoiling for a fight, for anything that might distract me from the prospect of major surgery during the holidays, PICC lines and vancomycin (can't use the bleepety-bleep-bleep port installed in my chest wall for the post-op antibiotics), surgical cement spacers, and the subsequent surgery or surgeries to try and put in another prosthetic shoulder.

It's a darned good thing that The Nutcracker is such a piece of crap, both as music and as ballet -- because I am going to miss seeing it performed again this year!

That was supposed to be funny.

Fred has that deer caught in the headlights stare going on. Bless his heart, bless his bones.

The only good thing thus far today?  My surgeon just got back from Haiti, where things are, of course, really bad -- though he said things were more settled than they were immediately following the major quake, at least.  They desperately need orthopedic supplies -- crutches, walkers, canes, splints, slings, etc. -- and we have at our disposal an entire closet dedicated to the storage of such supplies.  It feels good to be able to put the stuff to some use, or it will, once Fred, Bianca, Sven, and I go over each item and refurbish things as best we can.  So that is one good thing for the day...

I just feel like weeping:  Therefore, let's post some cat videos!  If sending my orthopedic closet collection to Haiti and uploading a bunch of cute cat action doesn't dry my tears, what will?

First, we have Buddy in a Box.  Unfortunately, most of the footage of Buddy in a Box consists of no sign of Buddy but minute after minute of a mysteriously wiggling box.  Since he is more interested in me, for some reason, than his Bodacious Box, you lucked out this time, Beloved Readers!

Isn't it amazing how HUGE he has gotten, this freakishly large kitten that turned out to be a Maine Coon? Fred and I peer helplessly at one another and cry, "Who knew?" several times each day.

Next we have the Old Married Couple Series.  These are three videos of Dobby and Buddy, who suddenly have decided to promulgate peace, love, and understanding instead of trying to wipe each other from the face of the planet.  Okay, so Buddy is something of a recidivist, as he goes for Dobby's throat in the second video -- but he gets over the impulse and is soon right back to being a perversely large kitten, and all cuddly again in the third take.

As usual, please ignore the audio.  Seriously, it's embarrassing.

We've Been Found, All Is Lost...

I confess:  I bought laundry and dish detergent online and had it shipped to Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs).  Maybe you think that my purchase is less scandal and more laudable frugality.  That would be nice of you.  However, even though both detergents pass muster as being very green (the Seventh Generation Free and Clear line) and extraordinarily cheap (I found it at a price cheaper than Tide and less expensive than its green cousin, Country Save) -- can I really justify the carbon footprint of having had it mailed to us?

Doesn't that muddy the green to a faded, dingy Chestnut?  Antique Brass?  Beaver? Copper?  Fuzzy Wuzzy?

Oh no.  And oops, too... *

*   The jig is up.  Our world is forever changed.

Fred just rushed in, all excited like.  It turns out that The Manor, the ancestral home of the Haddock Clan, has been successfully plotted on a Google map.  We were under the impression that this was an impossibility -- but hey! This is a new era:  This is the Corporate Age; We are Beta Testers!  In true muddled fashion, I tried to explain as much back in September:
Sensing a looming depression settling over his beloved valley, The Captain recently sent us a team of motivational speakers, the ideal long distance gift from an absentee ManorLord.  During a cold lunch that featured a perfect mound of tuna salad rising from a Botticellian shell of Boston lettuce -- surrounded by pale green, slightly mottled frozen grapes that were, themselves, punctuated with watermelon and sour cream quenelles -- 

During *that*, we listened to our Plenary Session guru, a self-styled Cicero who could sell Ginzu knives and Veg-a-matics to desert ascetics. 

After changing into the Haddock Corporation's new line of  70% bamboo/30% spandex Ye Olde Sea Salt athletic wear, The Manor's indentured-unto-perpetuity Domestic Staff spent the afternoon doing team-building exercises, often blindfolded, sometimes with various legs lashed together.  At one time or another, each employee fell backward -- full of faith -- into the extended arms of their waiting coworkers (relatives, mostly), in whom they already knew *exactly* how much to trust.

Times are tight everywhere, even in Tête de Hergé. We think that's what is fuelling The Captain's new love of all things corporate.  It's not that he doesn't have almost infinite resources -- good Lord, just look around you!  It is more a question of liquidity.  For years, we ran Marlinspike Hall with the proceeds from collectible comic books and byselling off coveted domaine names, snatched up back in the days before Spielberg had his eye on Hergé's Tête.  Shoot, we used to make payroll thanks to a horse stall full of pristine Bengali editions of King Ottokar's Sceptre, carefully packed in hay.  

The bottom line is that we are opening almost the entire Manor and Haddock family land holdings to the public in an effort to make Marlinspike Hall a self-sustaining endeavor.  The Captain wants to be, forgive the pun, a captain of industry, among other things, and so we find ourselves scheduled to host a series of BigSpeak SpeakEasy MiniTraining Camps, sort of an Outward Bound experience for the buttoned-down world.  Not just for at-risk youth, our outdoor adventures!  

It's kind of a test.  That's right, we're beta testers.

Due to a sheath of confidentiality agreements, I can't divulge everything that Corporate Haddock has been doing on the Manor Site, but has terraforming really ever been all that far off a possibility?  We daily praise God that we aren't trapped in some kind of surreal comic-book fiction...

I think our current conundrum -- which, of course, I will clearly lay out for you in a moment -- stems precisely from this corporate urge that Archibald Haddock cannot seem to buck.  We've never been in danger of being found before, of seeing Lone Alp overrun with tourist-types or Tante Louise's delicate early warning system thrown offline by visiting social media moguls.  (Tante Louise and her trusty cell phone constitute the Tête de Hergé version of 911. Reach Tante Louise, reach the world!)

Anyway, yes, we're finally mappable.  Our coordinates have been plotted... not without a few glitches, however.  We are showing up as something odd and I think we are likely in the wrong place.  Aside those issues, it's perfect.

Fred says Marlinspike Hall, its outbuildings (Barn, Petting Zoo, Dairy, etc.), and the manor grounds (from the orchard bordering the Cistercian monastery to the labyrinth) are plotted as titania.  I mosied over to the dictionary as he pontificated, and was appalled to find that  titania meant:

1. The queen of the fairies and wife of Oberon in medieval folklore; or
2. A satellite of Uranus.

Having known me forever, Fred said, without looking up, "No, not the fairy, and no, not another Uranus joke, either." Instead, he explained, "Try titanium dioxide.  Try... rutile."

I've always wanted to be semi-precious (rutilated quartz)!  It does stretch one's credulity, though, to see that Google Maps claims we are situated on the border of Mongolia, but then, maybe we are situated on the border of Mongolia.  Who really knows where these adventures are taking place?  I am still waiting for The Captain's explanation of the wormhole extending from the bottom of Our Algae-Plagued Moat to... well, to wherever the hell he wants to go in his Miniature Pink Submarine.

La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore has been laughing at me all morning.  She just beckoned me to her side with a "come hither" crook of a pudgy finger, only to blast my eardrum with that blasted line from that blasted aria she is forever warbling -- "Ah! Je ris de me voir si belle en ce [blasted] miroir..." -- from Gounod's blasted Faust.  I can't help myself.  I say: "Look, La Castafiore, look!  We've been found, and mapped!  You, Dear Diva, border Mongolia!"

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Downright, Outright Goofy

I am feeling downright, outright goofy.  This happens with overstimulation.

I mean, imagine yourself as me.  C'mon, be a sport.  It won't take.  I mean, you won't literally turn into me.  I promise.

This goofiness flows from some intense physical pain, some worry over tomorrow's appointment with the surgeon, and a series of 5 (five) inane phone calls with a durable medical equipment supplier customer service  representative.

It doesn't matter what product sector is being discussed, does it?  All you have to do is reference "customer service" and your audience is primed.  Sitting up straight, grabbing a fresh beverage, ready to smile and scoff!

Ah, but I am sorry to add that my addled state is also a combination of Sandusky, McQueary, the whole general topic of abused children, Coach K's landmark achievement, the discovery of a new poetics, and the inevitable buildup to the annual Cal - Stanford Big Game.

Maybe it is the pain medication, maybe not.  I am just going to vomit the junk, the news, the thoughts, the expectations, and my essential pettiness... out.  That's right, I'm going to purge all over you one more time.
Fred did his duty;  He stood shifting from foot to foot, his weight over his left leg, then over his right, a short smile frozen under his incredibly sexy moustache -- looking all the world like a toddler about to wet his pants. We joke about it being his ADHD stance, the shifting being a heroic effort to maintain focus on my jabbering, my intense gossip, my steadfast repetition this afternoon of what I said last night.

Fred was saved by the bell.  The kitchen timer went off, and he fairly ran out of Marlinspike Hall, my savory and cheesy polenta casserole carefully wrapped in a pink-and-white bath towel, destined for consumption at this Wednesday's Supper with his beloved bevy of Militant Lesbian Existential Feminists.  O! To be Fred.

[O! I wish I had doubled the recipe and kept half for myself and the rest of The Manor Staff condemned to pass Wednesday evenings at home.  Because that, my friends, was some excellent polenta -- if the many taste-testings it required were representative of its final superior wonderfulness.]

Like I said, goofy.

I would have thought that, by now, the automatic suggestion feature on Google Search would have adapted so that when you type "s-a-n-d" into the search subject box, "Sandusky" would appear.

Nope!  "Sandra Bullock," that's what pops up as the suggested topic.  I don't know, maybe that's a good thing.  She's a good actress, a beautiful woman, funny, and by all accounts, a fine human being.  All things that Jerry Sandusky is not.

Before I forget, let me say that I found Bob Costas' eyes incredibly compelling last night as he spoke with the alleged child rapist.  They were red, tired-looking, and laser-like in the middle of an appropriately drawn visage.

In the wake of the continued disaster that is Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, I have a theory.  [There's room in the Disaster Wake for my theory and millions more!]  Now that he has torpedoed his hold on veracity by attempting to make himself look better in an email, it has also come out that the prosecution has been unable to identify, much less locate, the boy McQueary saw in the shower with Sandusky in 2002.  My theory is that Sandusky is making a play on the situation's weaknesses and has bought the services of some former participant in The Second Mile, the charity through which the coach seems to have acquired access to kids -- a sickening reinterpretation of the expression "at-risk child," the charity's target population. With McQueary increasingly discredited, imagine Sandusky's triumph were he to produce the mystery victim of the shower incident recounted to the grand jury, and were that victim to deny the rape, and support the version of events that labels the interaction just naked rough-housing?

I smell a rat.  What other scenario would support the otherwise clearly idiotic decision to give an interview to anyone, much less an on-the-air Bob Costas?

I was so hoping that we could send one clear message to the kids who are being abused right now, today, as you read this.  Something along the lines of "we've got our act together now, young ones... we are listening now, we understand now, and we are coming to save you... hang on!"  It's no surprise to them that this is turning into another adult clusterfuck.

Let's think about something more pleasant.  In Palo Alto Saturday, it's the 114th Big Game between Cal and Stanford.  The Game, the Big Game, yadda yadda.  What we all are referencing between the ears, of course, is The Big Play.  That's right.  November 20, 1982.  Wikipedia lends the day sufficient gravitas, I suppose, in its accounting:

The Play refers to a last-second kickoff return during a college football game between the University of California Golden Bears and the Stanford University Cardinal on Saturday, November 20, 1982. Given the circumstances and rivalry, the wild game that preceded it, the very unusual way in which The Play unfolded, and its lingering aftermath on players and fans, it is recognized as one of the most memorable plays in college football history and among the most memorable in American sports. 
After Stanford had taken a 20–19 lead on a field goal with four seconds left in the game, the Golden Bears used five lateral passes on the ensuing kickoff return to score the winning touchdown and earn a disputed 25–20 victory. Members of the Stanford Band had come onto the field midway through the return, believing that the game was over, which added to the ensuing confusion and folklore. There remains disagreement over the legality of two of the laterals, adding to the passion surrounding the traditional rivalry of the annual "Big Game." 
With Cal leading 19–17 late in the fourth quarter, quarterback John Elway and the Cardinal overcame a 4th-and-17 on their own 13-yard line with a 29-yard completion, then managed to get the ball within field goal range for placekicker Mark Harmon. Elway called a timeout with 8 seconds left on the clock. Had Elway let the clock run down to four seconds before calling time, the ensuing kickoff would not have taken place since the clock would have run out on the field goal. But Elway was under instruction from coach Paul Wiggin to call time out at the 8 second mark to allow time for a second field goal try in case Stanford drew a penalty on the first attempt. Harmon's 35-yard kick was good, putting Stanford ahead 20–19. However, the team's celebrations drew a 15-yard penalty, enforced on the ensuing kickoff. This was crucial, as Stanford was now kicking off from their 25 instead of the 40. At that point, Cal announcer Joe Starkey praised Stanford and Elway for their efforts, and added, "Only a miracle can save the Bears now!" 
With 4 seconds left, Stanford special teams coach Fred von Appen called for a squib kick on the kickoff. Due to confusion, Cal took the field with only ten men, one short of the regulation eleven, but still legal in American football. What happened next became one of the most debated and dissected plays in college football history.
The Play
  • Harmon squibbed the kick and Cal's Kevin Moen received the ball inside the Cal 45 near the left hash mark. After some ineffective scrambling, Moen lateraled the ball leftward to Richard Rodgers.
  • Rodgers was very quickly surrounded, gaining only one yard before looking behind him for Dwight Garner, who caught the ball around the Cal 45.
  • Garner ran straight ahead for five yards, but was swallowed up by five Stanford players. While Garner was being tackled, however, he managed to pitch the ball back to Rodgers. It was at this moment, believing that Garner had been tackled and the game was over, that several Stanford players on the sideline and the entire Stanford band (which had been waiting behind the south end zone) ran onto the field in celebration.
  • Rodgers dodged another Stanford player and took the ball to his right, toward the middle of the field, where at least four other Cal players were ready for the next pitch. Around the Stanford 45, Rodgers pitched the ball to Mariet Ford, who caught it in stride. Meanwhile, the Stanford band, all 144 members, had run out past the south end zone—the one the Cal players were trying to get to—and had advanced as far as twenty yards downfield. The scrum of players was moving towards them.
  • Ford avoided a Stanford player and sprinted upfield while moving to the right of the right hash mark, and into the band, which was scattered all over the south end of the field. Around the Stanford 27, three Stanford players smothered Ford, but while falling forward he threw a blind lateral over his right shoulder.
  • Moen caught it at about the 25 and charged toward the end zone. One Stanford player missed him, and another could not catch him from behind. Moen ran through the scattering Stanford Band members for the touchdown, which he famously completed by running into unaware trombone player Gary Tyrrell.
The Cal players celebrated wildly—but the officials had not signaled the touchdown. Stanford coach Paul Wiggin and his players argued to the officials that Dwight Garner's knee had been down, rendering what had happened during the rest of the play moot. Meanwhile, the officials huddled. The chaos at the end of The Play made the officials' task very challenging. In particular, the questionable fifth lateral took place in the midst of the Stanford band, greatly reducing visibility. Referee Charles Moffett recalled the moment:
I called all the officials together and there were some pale faces. The penalty flags were against Stanford for coming onto the field. I say, 'did anybody blow a whistle?' They say 'no'. I say, 'were all the laterals legal'? 'Yes'. Then the line judge, Gordon Riese, says to me, 'Charlie, the guy scored on that.' And I said, 'What?' I had no idea the guy had scored. Actually when I heard that I was kind of relieved. I thought we really would have had a problem if they hadn't scored, because, by the rules, we could have awarded a touchdown [to Cal] for [Stanford] players coming onto the field. I didn't want to have to make that call.
I wasn't nervous at all when I stepped out to make the call; maybe I was too dumb. Gee, it seems like it was yesterday. Anyway, when I stepped out of the crowd, there was dead silence in the place. Then when I raised my arms, I thought I had started World War III. It was like an atomic bomb had gone off.
After determining that Cal had scored and no one had ruled any of the laterals illegal, Moffett signaled the touchdown, rendering the illegal participation penalty on Stanford irrelevant and ending the game. The final score was Cal 25, Stanford 20.

Uploaded by  to YouTube on May 5, 2008

You know what?  I kind of wish we could just stay in that moment!  Arms in the air, band in the end zone, Cal over Stanford, what could be more right?

Anyway... Go Bears!

I made reference to having discovered a new (to me) poetics.  For some reason, I was very much wanting to be in the Bay Area today -- thoughts of the Big Game (and memories of the Big Play) surely have given that away!  So, of course, I fell into memories of late afternoon poetry readings and hitting the bookstores without any money to buy books, up one San Francisco hill and down another.  I was thinking about Ferlinghetti, making sure he hadn't died (he hasn't) and that City Lights is still going strong (it is), and in the midst of all that clicking, I came upon an ad for something called The CHENI@D by Bill Costley, "poet, playwright, journalist, blogger," that has been published at The New Verse News.

Here, for instance, is Book 1:

CHENEY Qu@driDr@gon 

CHENEY Qu@driDr@gonspits 4 sizzling bullets,
     splitting his unravelling
          reptilian-tongue in 4:
1: pricks Dubya’s 1-track brain,2: sprays the Ov@l Office w/vicious juice,3: invokes the CHENEY, Bush & Rove Trinity4: bewails his VP-apotheosis’ limitationto quadrennial surges of dr@conic-power.
Hidden in a quasi-virtual cavern,a dr@gon-slayer matches those 4-tonguesup/w a Shick Qu@dr@, mantra-ing:
     “Detongue the Qu@driDr@gon…” 
unaware a 5-bladed Gillette Fusion
     will take his tongue as well…
And here, Book CXV, fast become an inexplicable favorite of mine:

CHENEY sits in a FL bar
far from where liberals are,
nursing a Shirley Temple dry,

listening to local AM radio
for news of Crist vs Rubio,
smirking at its internecinity.

“Thank God for ex-Cubans”
he murmurs, cheerily; nearby
2 bar-flies stare blankly.

It is, we are told, and I believe it, an "epic in progress."  And somewhere in my readings, I could swear it was passed off as a new poetic, though maybe I made that up. The New Verse News blog site is dedicated to "politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues," not at all something new, but something I have always supported, and so, will lie about, if that helps the cause at all.

That about covers the broad strokes of my goofiness, my alleged goofiness.  Except for the terrible pain, except for tomorrow morning's appointment with the surgeon, except for the hilarious phone stylings of the guy aiming to help me get a new wheelchair.

If you but apply yourself, Dear Reader, I'm sure you can approximate the pain, the surgeon, and that inanity much more efficiently on your own than with my bumbling, mumbling assistance.  Plus, I am very likely to bring it up again.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congratulations, Coach K!

From a Dukie Girl who did the K-Hole at the Shepherd Center, eh?  Okay, from The NYT?

Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Knight

Duke’s Krzyzewski Breaks Record for Victories in Men’s Division I Basketball

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski set the record for victories in men’s Division I college basketball Tuesday night as Duke beat Michigan State, 74-69, for Krzyzewski’s 903rd victory.

Krzyzewski’s career record moved to 903-284, spanning five decades that include four national championships at Duke.

With the victory, Krzyzewski surpassed his friend and mentor Bob Knight, who set the record for wins in 2008.

Coach K and Bobby Knight met courtside last night, and this is how Coach K reported their conversation to the Duke Chronicle:  “I just told him… ‘Coach, I’m not sure people tell you this, but I love you, and I love what you’ve done for me, and thank you.’  And he says, ‘Boy, you’ve done pretty good for a kid who couldn’t shoot.’ I think that meant he loves me too.”

It's sad, but after I posted this last night, into my mind popped the rapes and sexual abuse at Penn State that have dominated sport's news this past week.  Jerry Sandusky is probably the most well known college coach of the moment, and the charity he founded, The Second Mile, is probably the most notorious. 

Mike Krzyzewski, on the other hand, has always been notable for his standards, most especially because he finds nothing notable about having stringent guidelines -- as moral as practical -- that stand the tests of time and scrutiny.

Even in "normal" times, not in the midst of such a huge scandal, college athletics invite suspicion -- just think of recruiting practices and violations, the role of big football and big basketball in the financial life of academic institutions.

Of most import to me?  Take a look at student-athlete graduation statistics, including the graduation rate "gap" between student athletes and the regular student body -- a whopping -38% at UCLA.

In 2009, the most recent year for which these stats are available, Duke graduated 96% of its football players and 92% of the hoopsters.  The rate of graduation for the entire student body (only available for 1995-2003) ranges from 92-97 percent.

The ACC also has some shocking numbers at each end of the spectrum.  Maryland is in the basement with its basketball-playing students graduating at a rate of 8 (eight) percent. Wake Forest managed a perfect record -- graduating all its basketball players for 2009.

I take my numbers from The Bootleg, Stanford's sport authority, which publishes graduation stats yearly.

Anyway, back to Coach K, His Squeaky-Cleanness!  In this ESPN-International video from February 2011, Coach Knight points out how his former player, colleague, and friend is one of the few scandal-free coaches in the business.  (And this from a guy who is notoriously disdainful of sucking up to anyone and rarely hesitates to speak his mind...)

Uploaded to YouTube by  on Feb 27, 2011

Coach K's most notable charity work flows through the Emily Krzyzewski Center in Durham:

The late Emily Krzyzewski emigrated with her parents from Poland to the United States and grew up in western Pennsylvania. She established a home on Chicago's North Side, a poor, racially diverse neighborhood where she and her husband, William, raised two sons, Mike and Bill. 
Emily Krzyzewski persevered when the family struggled to adjust to a new nation, a new people and a new language, while still providing a nurturing environment for her sons. Bill was an elevator operator who was known by the name of "Kross" to avoid the sting of anti-Polish discrimination, and to improve his chances of getting a job. Emily worked nights as a cleaning lady. Her hopes and dreams inspired her youngest son, Mike, to rise from such a humble beginning to become one of the best coaches in all of basketball. 
Duke University men’s basketball players are all familiar with Emily Krzyzewski because Coach K often cites her as an example of the toughness, perseverance and caring that are trademarks of Duke's perennially powerful team. And now her indomitable spirit inspires students and families across the Durham-area community as well through the work of the center that bears her name. 
On top of his mother’s love, tenacity and work ethic, an important ally in Mike Krzyzewski’s trajectory to the top of the coaching profession was a community center that became a second home to him, a place that provided invaluable support to him and to his family, and changed his life. He founded the Emily Krzyzewski Center to bring to Durham the opportunities he and his mother experienced years before in Chicago’s North Side for focused student programming that can inspire hopes and dreams and forever transform lives. Today, Coach K and his entire family are as committed to making the Emily Krzyzewski Center a driving force within the Durham-area community as his parents and the North Side community center were committed to him. 
Emily Krzyzewski passed away in 1996, but her strong legacy lives on through the work of the Emily Krzyzewski Center.

My last offering comes from the Official Coach K Website:  a video of him addressing a group of former players who surprised him after the momentous 903rd win last night.  Again, how nice to witness a "coach" being just what we all know and hope a "coach" ought to be...

Thanks, Coach K!

With love,
A Certified Cameron Crazy

" was so sweet"

Thank goodness the rules of journalistic integrity and basic good writing don't apply to me.  For those of you too doggone lazy to click your way over to Holly McRae's Caring Bridge site, dedicated to her daughter Kate and the journey through the world of pediatric brain cancer... Well, allow me to pilfer Holly's latest journal entry in its entirety. without failing to steal even a single syllable as she shares Kate's latest MRI results:

I find myself at a loss for words and overwhelmed with quiet emotion. We met with Kate's oncologist to review the MRI today and received the incredible news that the MRI looked the same as the last one! There are no new tumors, and the two recurrent, metastatic ones are not visible on the scan anymore and there has been no change in the original tumor bed. All very good news!

It was the first time we even talked much about where we go from here at an appointment. We did decide we are going to continue on the same treatment for now, and continue with 2 month scans. And somehow that sounds wonderful. 
Very rarely have we looked at Kate's brain scans and smiled. Oftentimes we have viewed them through the cloud of tears. Not today. On the images you can see the surgical area, and the changes that have inevitably taken place in her brain. But the fact that the original tumor area has not changed most definitely evoked a huge smile. And of course we asked, "do you believe that the remnant in that area could still be cancer, or rather changes to her brain?". He replied we haven't proved it isn't cancer, but we haven't proved it is either. However, he would lean more heavily toward it being scar tissue, as opposed to cancer. Of course what we wanted to hear. 
So I inevitably know people will wonder what this all means, for now and for the long term. First, it means we are incredibly grateful for more time with our sweet girl. And we are thanking Jesus for that sweet gift. It also means the radiation had a profound effect on the metastatic cancer lesions. And there is the possibility that the area of change they noted last February in the original tumor area is simply changes to the brain from treatment. Here is the hard part. We have still only heard a 5% survival. Talk about hard to digest! However, we didn't even go there today. We did talk briefly about possible other treatments in the future, if need be. And the reality that if these stable scans continue at some point we will need to stop her current treatment. Most attempt to stay on it one year. Some have gone longer. No one knows how long kids can stay on it. So we will cross that bridge when we get there. But that will be a great crossroads to get to.
For tonight, we celebrate one more step. One more sweet victory. This is the fourth consecutive scan with no change in the original tumor, and the disappearance of the 2 new tumors since the full brain radiation. For tonight we will leave thoughts of the future alone and celebrate the sweet grace we have been given today. Thank you for persisting in prayer with us. We have a long road still ahead. And yet today was so sweet.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Perfidious, Jaded, Scrooges, Defenders of the Faith, and All: Let's!

This photo was taken on October 23, 2006 in San Francisco, California, US by The Jof.

Kate McRae has another MRI of her brain and spine tomorrow morning.  I cannot imagine the stress she must feel in advance of these tests, and her mother Holly writes in her Caring Bridge journal that the last few weeks have been difficult as their anticipation grew.  She tells us, however, that:

[T]omorrow has fast approached, and a sweet peace with it. We are far less anxious than last week. I have no doubt the result of many prayers manifesting themselves as very real in our lives. We will find out the results to the MRI tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 when we meet with Kate's oncologist to review the scans. We would love your prayers. Prayers for Kate's full and complete healing here on earth. The statistics are terribly grim. And yet, we pray. And ask you to join us. Thank you, and we will update tomorrow. 
The McRaes have established a Christmas tradition in Kate's name, through which they are helping other families dealing with pediatric cancer. [You can read about the beginnings of this project HERE.] I've copied the details below about how to participate in Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas 2011.

C'mon, My Dear Readers -- Perfidious, Jaded, Scrooges, Defenders of the Faith, and All -- Let's!  Let's!

We can participate:

1. by donating any assortment of new toys, movies, or games for the families. Everything must be new.

2. by donating gift cards to grocery stores, gas stations, and various stores for the families (ie. Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Visa, Clothing Stores, or Sporting Goods stores, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and various Restaurants). We need lots of these to provide for all of the families.

3. by visiting Sign Up Genius  to donate a very specific item for a family. MANY more items will be added in the coming days and weeks.   

ALL items can be sent to:

Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas 
PO Box 220 

Higley, AZ 85236