Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Y luego...

Much as I'd like to fool myself into believing that I am forever-after cancer free, I know that I will need to keep meeting with my oncologist every six months.  For the next five years.

Heavy stuff.  Mortality is a heavy topic.  Dealing with one's own mortality is sort of tonalicious.
But, I think about the fact that all I need to do is circle a date on the calendar and then I can go about my business for a half a year.  Gives a cancer survivor a certain emotional freedom - for at least five months.

I had my visit with the oncologist yesterday.  I was more anxious and excited about the visit than I was about surgery a month ago.  Tried to figure out why.  Near as I can figure out, the surgery was steeped in a bit of faith and ran in a fatalistic mode.  I had no control over the outcome and I didn't know what next steps might be.

Chemo or radiation might await.  They might find something  that would change the surgery from having five small incisions to one large one.  Or there was the possibility that lymph nodes would be removed.  This would increase the likelihood of other longer term complications.  So many options; too many for me to worry about without going a little wonky.  It was very clearly out of my control.  So my response was somewhere between Alfred E. Neuman and Joan of Arc.

At the moment  I remain in the Land of the 70-80% healed.  I can walk but I can't lift anything over 10 pounds.  I can shower but submerging into a tub filled with warm water is not an option.  I can drive and walk Lali, but Pánfilo is still James' charge.  And Larry can walk across me from shoulder to shoulder but the tummy is still tender turf.

I read what I've written and see a lot of I can sentences.  That helps.  It begins to close the primarily focused on cancer chapter.

So I'm moving on and finish the focus on said chapter with a giant thank you.  To all who spent time with me, to those who cooked and shared food, to those who sent me good things to read, for those who prayed or sent good thoughts, to those who made sure I had something to do with my time and made me laugh.  A special thanks to those who offered to help but who will understand that I didn't contact them because I was short of energy or focus. To those who I was meaning to help but found my focus elsewhere.

Flowers from the Pasadena Senior Center - board and staff

And thanks to those who shared a bit of floral beauty with me.  Sometimes it helped to have my vision filled color and detail.  It meant more than I can ever express.

Gracias.  And on we go....

Friday, October 24, 2014

Precipitation and anticipation


What has consistently surprised me throughout this whole cancer chapter has been how the existence of the blog has made my life easier.  Combine this with Facebook and you save yourself a lot of phone calls.  There are few things more taxing than sharing negative news  - again and again.  Using the blog and fb I only had to share the news a couple of times.

And then there are the interactions that can take place.  Like those experiments in chemistry class where a couple of different elements brought together.  Two clear solutions being mixed together and tra la, tra la, a ppt takes place.  It's almost magical.

Sonia and Petera meet electronically and, boom, my meals are set.  The tool they use is shared by Monica.  Linda, Elissa, Luis, Rocky, Petrea, Karen, Ralph, Ann, Kathee, Monica, Karin, and Sonia have provided great and varied culinary experiences.  Some have connected with each other and some new relationships may develop.  Also something cool and a bit of ppt of another sort.

I'm abed at the moment.  Not exactly confined to being in bed, nor limited from getting out of bed, but all actions and wanderings in the house end with my returning to bed.   This has been my convalescent center, my reading room, and  for the first couple of weeks my dining room.  As a result we've ended up working on details all around the room.

My world doesn't stretch much beyond these four walls at the moment.  And at the moment that seems to be just fine.  Well, it's not really just fine, but that is the way it is.

Bed Vista, Pasadena


What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

Four weeks ago my big challenge was having nothing to eat for over a dozen hours in preparation for surgery.

Three weeks ago it was learning that these is such a thing sitting up too long and that endocet sometimes needs to be taken with a Milk of Magnesia chaser.

Two weeks ago.  Well, I don't remember, but maybe it had something to do with one's memory and anesthesia?

Last week was all about learning that the reserve of energy I usually have was still on vacation.

Today.  Well today I'm putting my Get Well cards away in a drawer.  Even these nifty ones from Portland.  I'm not all well, but it's almost been a month.

I'll still take it slow, but it's time for me to expand my vista.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Thursday. There seems to be a pattern here

For the bulk of this convalescent period I've mostly been at home.  Except for Thursdays.  
Last week it was very brief speaking engagement.  
Tonight I'm going to the El Centro fundraiser.  
And Dr. Cynthia Olivo is the reason.

Cynthia has been at Pasadena City College for six years and in that time she has been among those who have provided stability for the campus.  During her first years at PCC - she's been working there for over six years  - she was commuting from the Inland Empire AND finishing a doctoral program at the Claremont Graduate School.  

Dr. Olivo earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with an emphasis in Urban Issues from Claremont Graduate University.  Her research included Undocumented Students, Social Capital, Culturally Relevant Curriculum and Pedagogy, and Access to College issues.

While at PCC she has provided leadership to the award winning PCC Pathways Program, Veterans Resource Center, The President's Latino Advisory Committee, the Association of Latino Employees, PCC participation in Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Safe Zone Coalition, and the current Dual Enrollment Pilot Program--The Pasadena Academic and Career Trust (PACT).

The hardest part of the introduction will be trying to figure out what I can carve out of the above and still do her justice.  I'll likely include the following (her words) - [I was] raised by my awesome single mom who shaped the lives of myself and three younger sisters to be good people who care about others. 

And since this is TBT here's a blast from my past.  
Getting ready to tape "Casa Martinez - música y más" with Tony Plana as my guest at the old KPAS studio which was next to Hensteeth Shopping Center.  
The set was designed by Ed and Rita Almanza.
This was way back in September 1998.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The view of my room; or what could be better than grade one, stage one

I don't know.  How about grade IA and stage one.

Yes.  Good news.  They got all the cancer.

I need to return for a check-up every six months for the next five years.  Feeling fortunate to have healthcare; happy that doctors were pro-active; lucky to experience the kindness, love, and good food folks have shared with me and the love of my life.

Oh, and note I did not mention all the yummy food that folks have shared with us.  Shoot, we've even had a friend stop by and mop our kitchen floor.  If that isn't an expression of love, I don't know what is.

I'm pooped but I wanted to share.

And for your visual entertainment here are a couple of pictures.

Sometimes it is all about the angle of the shot.  Here is proof.  This was a lovely, tasteful arrangement sent to my hospital room by the Women's City Club.  I can't begin to tell how this brightened the hospital room and my first meals of broth and red jello.

Thanks to Comadres Delfina, Hilda, Sandra, and Sylvia with floral additions from Carmen and Kathee.  I get to enjoy this view.  

I'm to take it slow for the next three weeks.  The view will help.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A double throwback

From an era where the colors were darker than I was (trying to be).
Sophomore or Junior year at Garfield High School, East Los.

From a time when I was glad to be here.
Last weekend, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, CA

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stage one, grade one - good news when it comes to cancer

Thanks all for your caring.  Back home.  Focusing on healing by resting this week.

Surgery was a success.  Folks at Huntington were superb.

 Don't yet know if I'll need chemo or radiation.  I'll have final details soon, but the initial report was as good as it could be.

Wrote this before I went in to hospital -


You come in alone
You go out alone
The rest is all bliss

Loving, fighting, learning
Gaining and loosing
Feeling all amiss

Crying, smiling, laughing with friends
Seeing a movie again and again
Despite knowing how it will end

No matter what’s next
I will remember

All is bliss

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Good morning

Good morning all - and it is a good morning.  This is James, posting for Roberta, who wants you all to know that the surgery went successfully.  And even better - the cancer news is as good as it could be.  No further spread was found, just a few lymph nodes excised to be further tested.  So the current prognosis is excellent.

She's in good spirits, beginning to take liquid food, in some discomfort but not unexpected.  No word as yet as to whether she'll be home today or tomorrow.

I'm sure Roberta will post more when she's able - but from me, a heartfelt thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, good wishes and help.