Sunday, May 30, 2010

My siblings

I had a fantastic time with my family this weekend in Minnesota. This is from yesterday, while we were out on Lake Minnetonka. From left to right: me, my sister Nyra, and my brother Tim.

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Location:83rd St NE,Monticello,United States

Friday, May 28, 2010

You're on a boat...

St. Croix River, Prescott, WI, on my brother's Chris Craft....

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Some politician named Newt something or other gave a speech at the LC
today. I was polite when I shook his hand.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Letting it happen....

The flip side of which is letting go of the worrying....

I was on the phone a few days ago with a fellow board member (and the founder) of one of the nonprofits with which I am involved. She has a lot of energy, and smiles and laughs easily. And it's a big, true, infectious laugh. (I kinda want to record it to use as her ringtone when she calls.) I was jealous.

I laugh, and I have fun, but even then I still feel this sense of restraint. I can't really get release that big, true, infectious laugh yet. Not that I'm faking anything, it just feels reserved and isn't a true release. It's hard to forget everything at every level of my brain. Part of it is my brain knowing that it'll be a while before I can really believe the cancer is gone (see? I used "the cancer" not "my" cancer--I can learn!). It's a subtle but persistent damper hanging out just under the surface.

This restraint must go. I may as well have cancer if my subconscious is going to act like I do. Yes, time heals. One passage from Lance Armstrong's book that has stuck in my mind is:
Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?
Looking at that from a different angle, it's obvious that you can influence what comes after pain, if you want. (Well, even if you don't want to, and don't do anything, that's a choice and influence.) But his overall point is that quitting makes the pain worse. I'm not going to quit, I just need to keep moving in the right direction. My subconscious hasn't quit either, but I feel like it is riding the brake a little too much. So hey, subconscious, ease up on the brake and let's go faster, I'll steer! We'll get there. (Not sure how all that fits into the id, ego, and super-ego structure.)

Since I'm anthropomorphizing, I need to post this cool animation I saw a while ago. This is based on an image created by Dr. Fritz Kahn, a German doctor/illustrator from the first half of the 20th century (no, not a Nazi doctor--he was Jewish and had to run from the Nazis). It's his drawing of the human body as an industrial factory--"industrial palace" is the translation from the original German, I believe. Click HERE for a version of the image you can make even bigger, if you click on it. I can't locate the appendix department.

Beautiful morning out, I'm going for a run. Keep moving, keep moving.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In the 'hood

Beautiful day today at Casa del Eck.

Sam and I enjoyed the tree house--sliding action figures down a string.

Gaby and one of her friends managed a mobile lemonade stand.

And finally, Cleo the pirate dog, born 200 years too late, gazes out over the Great Inland Sea while we relaxed on a pier.

After all that, and after dinner, Sam and I made chocolate chip cookies for the neighborhood kids, and we all ate them outside.

I think we're wedged in somewhere between Normal Rockwell and Garrison Keillor. There are worse places to be.

What does all this have to do with PMP/cancer? Hey, it was such a fine day--4 months post-surgery, life goes on....

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. Thanks again for Houston, what you did for me. You too, big sister!

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

News Story out of Vermont...

I like to record any good news stories that I find. I thought my PMP buddies might like to hear this one. On a related note, I went for a run again tonight--not quite as far as I had hoped (going for 4 miles) but still pretty good for having a cold and being only 4 months post-MOAS!

Here's the text of the story:

Cancer survivor works to help other families

South Burlington, Vermont - May 5, 2010

Carrie and Michael Premsagar are training for the Vermont City Marathon-- each of them running 13.1 miles. They are splitting the course, but sharing a milestone. It's been one year since Carrie had a life-saving treatment for cancer.

"I had a surgery on May 13th that lasted about 13 hours," she said. "It involved very extensive surgery, removing all of the affected organs in my body and scraping the others, and then going through long, painful chemotherapy procedure."

It was at the 2008 marathon-- Carrie's sixth-- that the avid runner realized something was wrong.

"During that training time, I just did not feel myself," she said. "I ran the marathon, and actually at mile 20 got really sick. I was able to complete the marathon, but it was the weeks after that things just started to feel not right."

Doctors detected tumors-- what they first thought was ovarian cancer was later found to be a rare cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei, otherwise known as PMP.

"The tumor starts in the appendix and then it ruptures," she explained, "and spills all these cancer cells into your abdominal cavity. And these cells move with the peritoneal fluid and essentially attach and affect all the organs in your body."

Friends found all sorts of ways to raise money to support Carrie's treatment and recovery. Heather Main went pond-skimming at Bolton Valley last year-- in her wedding dress.

"It was the craziest thing I've ever done," Main told WCAX News in 2009, "but when a friend is sick and you'd do anything to take their pain away, this is what I could do to raise money."

The fundraising effort was so successful in financing Carrie's treatment, she is now working to pay it forward. She's cancer-free and raising money to support other families facing life-threatening illnesses. The Carrie Premsagar Foundation is hosting a Denim and Bling Dance at the Sunset Ballroom in South Burlington on May 7, and a 5K run at Dorset Park on May 16.

"Really it's our mission to say, 'You were there supporting us, now let us support you,'" she said. "And really it's about hope. When you think about where we were a year ago with all of these unknowns, here we are, doing well. We all have a chance to be a miracle."

Carrie says running is therapy, and the marathon is a physical and mental goal-- one that will be measured in much more than miles.

"On that day, it will be such a celebration of how far we've come," she said.

For more information:

Kate Duffy - WCAX News

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Graduation Day... Lakeland College. I wish them all the best. Full of hope, end of one phase, start of a new phase, and all that. I'm with you... Go out there and live! Good kids, and good adults. Congrats to all of them. Sometimes I get caught up in the day-to-day of my job, and I forget why we do this. Graduation is a good reminder, I need to get out from behind my desk more often.

I need to get some pictures of Bookworm Gardens, which is still under construction. I've been asked to join its board of directors. I wanted to go over there tonight, but Sam has a fever. Check them out HERE. It is a children's book-themed garden, intended to provide a space where children can read, play, and explore and learn about our environment. More pictures on their Flickr site HERE. I've been asked to be on boards before, but have turned most of them down. However, I really like the mission of this organization, and given the way my kids read and how much they love to play outside, it's a good match for me. And it is a group of people that I don't really know, so it's a chance to meet a new circle of friends with common interests.

I've also just joined the board of directors of Nourish. Nourish "creates collaborations between local farmers and volunteers to share meals inspired by fresh, local ingredients with struggling families who deserve to eat well." Visit their website HERE. Here's an example of what they we do:

Farm to Table Tour
A typical NOURISH Farm to Table Tour takes an afternoon and starts with a small volunteer group or family (roughly 4-6 people plus your NOURISH “tour guide”). We meet at 1:30 pm at one of NOURISH's sponsored farms in Plymouth/Elkhart Lake, where you will roll-up your sleeves and learn a bit about growing and harvesting sustainable vegetables.
Next, you and your tour guide load your car with the freshly harvested vegetables and head down to one of the three culinary meal locations; The Salvation Army, The Boys & Girls Club Stayer Center, or Safe Harbor. There a professional chef guides your group, plus volunteers from the meal location, through how to make a delicious meal with the harvested vegetables and other locally inspired ingredients.
At 5:30 pm we graciously share dinner together, family style, to approximately to 15-20 homeless adults or Boys & Girls Club kids.
I'm doing my first tour sometime in June.

Why these new activities? I want to keep busy, and spend my time on rewarding pursuits. I have a chance to do things I couldn't or wouldn't before. And they look like fun.