Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tree of Thanks

Outside of the chapel at MD Anderson is this "Tree of Thanks" to which people attach handwritten notes of thanks.

The notes make good reading, some inspirational, some heartbreaking, written by adults, some by kids, in several languages, thanking their families, friends, doctors, and various deities. On every visit to MD Anderson I make sure to stop by and browse the tree.

Today before my doctors appointment I found my favorite one ever.

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All clear....

Scans are clear, all good news.

Like any cancer, you are never sure, and PMP is a notoriously sneaky bastard that surprises people years down the road. But this is as good as can be!

I'm not going to live like I have cancer. I got rid of it and I'm moving on.

Heading home!

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Location:Holcombe Blvd,Houston,United States

Monday, July 19, 2010

The flip side of that last post....

I was just riding the elevator down in the M.D. Anderson hotel along with a couple (late 60s or 70 is my guess) and some other folks. After few floors, a doctor entered the elevator (I'm sure he was visiting a patient at the hotel, which is connected to and part of the clinic). The older gentleman grabbed the doctor and gave him a huge hug, and the doctor called him by name and hugged him back.

The older gentlemen then turned to the rest of us in the elevator and said, with his hand around the doctor's shoulder, "This is the man who saved my life a few years ago." The older gent was tearing up and the doctor had a big smile on his face. Pretty cool to see.

I can't help watching these little scenes and then writing about them. I want to remember them all someday.


Yet another sad x-ray waiting room chat--that crowded, little room where you change into scrub shirts and wait with 2 or 3 other guys for your chest x-ray.

Last time I walked into it by being chatty. This time it was Bill from Beaumont, TX, who looked about 60+ years old, who started the conversation with the standard question. I showed him my scar, talked about my surgery, and that I feel good and was hoping for continued good news tomorrow. Pause. So I had to ask: "What about you?"

And....of course he found out last week in Beaumont he has about 5 months to live and just had that diagnosis confirmed this morning down here at M.D. Anderson. No treatment plan. I was not quite at the loss for words today as I was last time. I asked him, "So, what do you do now, if you think you only have 5 months left?" He said, "I'm not sure." Nothing prophetic or profound. I wasn't going to slink away and mumble "good luck!" like I did last time. At least this time I looked the guy squarely in the eye, shook his hand, and wished him well and said that whatever happens, I hope that he does well and stays strong and that I don't forget meeting people like him. He didn't look sad or scared, it was either all too new to him, or he's got a grip on it.

I feel like the freaking grim reaper. I'm just not going to talk to people in the x-ray waiting room anymore. (Of course, odds are that 20% of anyone in any room here at M.D. Anderson are looking at short time.)

But as I reflect a bit, checking work emails and typing as I wait for my CT scan, maybe it's not as much about his next few months as it was about his previous 60+ years. There, Bill from Beaumont, there's your answer. Or at least that's what I'm taking away from meeting you--people should live with that ratio of months to years in mind.

Off to drink some barium phosphate now.

Traditional post vampire visit picture

They took 6 vials this time! I should be a cheap drunk tonight at the Club Big C.

Rodeo finals....

Okay, so that rodeo was full of awesome. Definitely going back next year, and bringing the kids. At Saturday's finals I wandered over to the staging area. I'm used to all the "off limits" stuff of the "real world," but there it was kind of go where you want, just don't get in the way. I felt like one wrong turn and I'd end up in a chute, then being forced out on the arena floor, where I'd get roped up.

Right before the finals, a storm rolled by. Not much impact, but dramatic clouds, and then a rainbow all across the horizon--you could see both ends. Couldn't get a good picture of the rainbow, it was too big.

Cowpokes. These guys were the real deal.

I'm in Houston now, getting ready for my tests. It was great to have the distraction of Montana and Wyoming before the procedures, and to see my cousins and aunt--it's been way too long.

Here's a slideshow of the pictures. I also visited and got a tour of Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Montana (a great little place with big plans: http://lbhc.edu, located on a Crow indian reservation, they invited me back for the big Crow Fair), and the last pictures in the set are of Little Big Horn Battlefield (a/k/a Custer's Last Stand) in Montana.

And thank you for all the emails, yes, I do look good in a cowboy hat.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Little Big Horn Battlefield

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sheridan, WY, for the big rodeo....

WYO Rodeo, 80th anniversary year, pictures from last night. More info about the rodeo HERE.

Taking a breather at a nice cafe in downtown Sheridan. Click on any picture to fill your screen with Western Goodness.

Too tired to type anything long and introspective. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.  Below are the indian relays...

Rodeo stuff going on below (my cousins know all the lingo, I don't). 

Below is my nephew Zack (Minnesota), me (Wisconsin), and cousin Randal (Montana). 
Only one real cowboy in this picture, I'm not telling you who it is.
My cousin Randal and me at the rodeo. 

Sister Nyra, and her boys Joe and Zack.
At the street party in downtown Sheridan after the rodeo. 

My nephew Joe (Minnesota), Amy (Erik's wife), cousin Erik (Hawaii), me, and my dad (Minnesota).

The famous Mint Bar, over 100 years old. 
Mayhem inside the Mint Bar....

Cousin Randal and old friends inside the Mint Bar.

Me trying to figure out what the heck I was drinking in that shot glass. 
Randal assured me it was reasonably safe. It was tasty; a Polish liquor distilled locally in Sheridan. 

World famous King Ropes store and saddle museum.

Tonight is the finals at the rodeo. 

Montana back roads....

Taking the scenic route....

Friday, July 16, 2010


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Houston, coming up....

Well, my six month check-up is on July 19-20. I don't feel as nervous as I did for my three month check-up. I'm not sure why. Should I? (That is, feel nervous, or know why I don't?)

I had a blast on the 4th of July. A ton of friends came by my house to watch the parade. I live on the parade route that runs through downtown and "desirable northeast Sheboygan," so I have a popular yard that day, but I still think they are my friends! That's my front yard, above.

The neighborhood headed down to the beach to watch the fireworks that evening. My kids are in the far left of each picture here. Yes, Gaby and her friends are part of the myspace/facebook poser generation.

A comment by a buddy who now lives in Illinois brought my mind back to last year's 4th of July. Not so much fun then. I was still keeping it to myself then, but I felt increasingly like something was physically wrong with me at that point.

It wasn't until August 10 that my suspicions were confirmed, as they say.

It was weird to remember that it was over a year ago that I first started feeling weird pains, and losing my stamina. What a difference a year makes. I feel damn good now.

My friend Mark came home from his MOAS on the Wednesday before the 4th. He's been wisely resting up....

Houston. Nervous? Sometimes. I'm not sure. Doesn't matter if I am, really. Tagged on a little side trip, more on that later. You know I'll be good for pictures of it. (More 4th of July pics on my Flickr page if you are interested, see the link in the right hand column of this blog.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010


(Sheboygan, WI, Independence Day Parade, 2010)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Prekkie can fly!

My man-crush on British ex-rugby star and fellow PMP survivor Steve Prescott continues.

Check out: http://www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk/news/Hull-FC-rugby-star-Steve-Prescott-skydives-charity/article-2366460-detail/article.html

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The holiday weekend begins....

Weekends start on Thursdays in Sheboygan during the summer. The beautiful weather is precious and cannot be wasted. Sam is off camping for the night, and Gaby and I are enjoying a free concert at the Kohler Arts Center. (The stage is M.I.K.E., check it out HERE.)

Long live summer!!