Saturday, September 13, 2014

Time for the Annual Hospice Face to Face Campaign.

Well friends it's that time of year again, time for the annual Hospice Face to Face campaign. It works like this; you find 10 friends to donate $10.00, then you invite 9 or more of your friends to do the same and donate $10.00! Easy, you just have to have 10 people donate $10.00 or more each.

So I look forward to you helping me reach and pass my goal of $100.00 and appreciate any help you can give me with this. I have about 2 weeks left to accomplish this. Thank you!

P.S. Also keep an eye out for me returning to writing my blog real soon, till we meet again.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Living with Melanoma

Today's guest post comes to us from Valerie Johnston who is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for ensures she keeps up-to-date on all the latest health and fitness news.

Melanoma is a very serious skin cancer that can sometimes be lethal. If not caught early enough, melanoma can become very difficult to treat and will most likely lead to death. However, for those lucky few that are able to find it early enough, life with this debilitating cancer can still be very rough.

Melanoma, like any other cancer, requires intense treatment to cure and force into remission. Some people may have to undergo months or even years of treatments and surgeries to remedy their cancer; and, even then, a majority of them will not make it out on the other side.

Treatment Options

For people living with this cancer, there are many different routes that they can take as ways to possibly cure their melanoma. Surgery is probably the most common and easiest way to treat malignant melanoma. The affected areas are removed from the patient’s body and then follow up treatments are prescribed. Though surgery is usually successful for removing the cancer patches, many times there will be additional cancerous cells that were not found and that will eventually end up killing these individuals. This is not always the case, but it is sadly more common than most people realize.

Radiation therapy is one option that some patients have for getting rid of their melanoma, though it is not guaranteed to work all of the time. Radiation is typically implemented only after a surgery is performed to remove the infected areas of skin. The purpose is to keep any new cancer cells from forming and to kill any that may have been left over. Unfortunately, this type of treatment does not usually prolong life expectancy for these patients.

Chemotherapy has been around for many years as a way to help kill cancer cells and sometimes even force the cancer into remission for some people. Chemo is usually a pretty effective means for fighting cancer, but sadly in the case of melanoma, it is not nearly as successful. There are a few other options that people can consider, but the overall outlook for melanoma victims is not very bright.

Keeping It Positive

Somehow, these cancer patients must find a way to keep their minds positive even when they know that they will most likely not live through this disease. Coping with the reality of a pretty certain death is not an easy thing to do, but there are ways to make life a little bit easier for these people.

Support and love are two of the most important things someone can give a cancer patient. Without any kind of positive influence in their lives, it is easy for cancer patients to become severely depressed. Depression on top of this illness is definitely not a good combination and can leave individuals feeling entirely hopeless.

Another thing that melanoma patients can do to help keep a positive spin on life is to live every day to the fullest possible potential. Maybe they are too weak to go for a hike, so taking a helicopter ride could be the experience of a lifetime. Even going to Disney Land or somewhere they have always dreamed of can provide so much happiness for people coping with this cancer.

Whether their cancer is stage one or stage four, melanoma sufferers have a rough road ahead of them, especially having to face the fact that they may not live much longer. Sometimes there is no solid answer when dealing with such serious matters as a terminal cancer like melanoma, but there is always something that can be done to make living with it a little bit more comfortable and happy.

NOTE: I will be returning soon with my personal blog notes. Stay tuned, and enjoy the guest blogs.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Coping with Time-Crunched Physicians

What Patients Can Do to Get the Most Out of Their Office Visit

It’s not your imagination – you’re getting less time with your doctor.
Primary care physicians are in short supply in the United States, which means increased pressures and heavier workloads for those in practice, says Dr. Paul Griner, (, author of “The Power of Patient Stories: Learning Moments in Medicine.”

“Many physicians say their favorite part of being a doctor is the relationships they form with patients, but those are harder to cultivate now because physicians are so squeezed for time,” Griner says.

More than 80 percent of physicians said patient relationships were the “most satisfying” part of their job, according to a survey of more than 13,000 doctors last year by The Physicians Foundation.
But nearly 40 percent said they were seeing 11 to 20 patients a day, and nearly 27 percent had a daily load of 21 to 30.  On top of that, they spent an average 22 percent of their day on paperwork that had nothing to do with patient care.
“A good doctor-patient relationship is essential to achieving the best possible care, but the reality is, most doctors have less and less time to spend with each patient,” Griner says. “So it’s important for patients to take some responsibility for that relationship, too.”
By preparing for your visit, you can ensure you make the best use of your time together, he says.
He offers the following suggestions:
• Prepare your thoughts ahead of time so that you can be as precise and accurate as possible. What are the symptoms? When did they begin? What were you doing at the time? How are the symptoms affected by activity or rest? What makes them worse? Have you been able to do anything to relieve the symptoms? How have they affected your daily activities? Don’t withhold any information that might be relevant to your symptoms.
 Be on time or early. Up to 15 percent of patients are late for their doctor’s appointment, which adds to the time crunch. Arrive early so you’re ready when the physician, or the physician’s team, is ready. While the doctor is the senior person on the team, he or she also relies on advanced practice nurses and physician’s assistants, who have received extensive training in their areas of responsibility. Give them time to obtain your medical history or perform preliminary tests. Their functions are an important aspect of the overall quality of the visit, so it’s important to allow for that time. View the wait as valuable personal time for reading and relaxation.
• Research your health concerns ahead of time and use the information to help focus your questions. Use reliable sources for research, including or; information from the well-established and respected organizations such as the National Cancer Society; and written materials such as the Harvard Health Letter.
 Avoid unnecessary office visits. Some things can be done by e-mail, Skype (or other video hookups), or new technology such as iPhone recording and transmission of your EKG.
Other things you can do to make the best use of the visit include:
 Bring your medications, or a list of them, with you.
 Bring copies of the results of tests or procedures from other physicians.
 Wear clothes that make it easy for you to be examined.
 Let your doctor know when you are using any complementary or alternative medicine.
 Bring a spouse or other relative with you when the problem is complicated. Two pairs of ears are better than one for remembering what the doctor said.
About Paul Griner, M.D.

Hematologist/internist Paul Griner has had a 59-year career in medicine. He is a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and was a consultant at the Massachusetts General Hospital, senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, and consultant to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Cambridge, Mass. He has written or co-written 130 journal articles, book chapters, and books on clinical medicine, medical education, and health policy. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and was president of a number of national medical organizations, including the American College of Physicians.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Family tragedy and an Update.

Richard M. Lefaive

On January 18 2013, I received the news that my cousin Richard Lefaive had passed away while at work that evening. He had fell and cut his arm and had gone to the nurses station and was told there that he needed stitches and the nurse bandaged his arm and was sending him to the hospital by cab.

Rick was headed to his locker to retrieve his coat when while walking down the hall he just "passed out" and collapsed to the floor. Efforts were started at his workplace to revive him while they waited for the ambulance. Upon arrival at the hospital further efforts were made to revive him but they were to no avail. Rick was gone, he had passed away at the young age of 55.

The news of Rick's passing was devastating to everyone who heard it, after all Rick was the go to guy for any handyman projects. From car repairs to doing a basement rec room he did it all, was always willing to help anyone who asked, and always pleasant to be around.

He knew how to have a good time too. I recall our "youthful" days and all the incidents we got into, the good, the bad and everything in between. Those were the days, let me tell you we had a blast.

Rick was just a couple years older than me so he was the cousin closest to me in age and his brother Ron who we lost several years ago to cancer was just a few years older than us and we always hung out together. I am missing them both, Rick is now with his brother Ron and their Dad, Donald Lefaive. May they all rest in eternal peace.

Moving on to other news, my last chemotherapy treatment did not go as expected. Due to low blood counts (weak immune system) and developing a high fever the evening of day one, my second day of chemotherapy was cancelled. The thought was that as I came in on day one with borderline counts, that after having chemotherapy on day one, my counts would have lowered even more already. 

That would have meant that should I have gone through with day two, I would have most likely became neutropenic. Which would have meant that within a day or two of receiving that second treatment I'd have ended up being admitted to the hospital being neutropenic and confined to a room hooked up to antibiotics for 4-7 days, until my white blood cell count and neutrophils came back up into a safe range.

Yesterday (Wed. Jan 30) I had several appointments at the Cancer Center. My first stop there was at the lab where I had a blood draw, then it was over to see my Social Worker Nancy Hannon for one of my regular appointments. After that I seen my Dietitian, Donna Danelon and had my weight taken. I was up about 3 lbs which made her happy as I had been on a losing trend the past several months.

Me, Dr.Schneider & Brenda at the
Relay for Life event in 2010
My next and last appointment of the day was with Dr. Schneider my Radiation Oncologist for my six month checkup. Dr. Schneider on this visit decided to check my throat with the camera just to have a look and make sure all was still well. Well, the result was not bad news, but not good either! There appears to be a small spot in the area of were I had the biopsy taken which turned out to be the Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Ever since the biopsy and the radiation treatments that followed I have never worried or even really thought about that returning or causing any further issues as we caught that in a pre stage one situation. Well, now I worry, even though Dr. Schneider believe it is just a spot of inflammation, he wants me back in a month to recheck it.

So a bit of a worry for me, never a dull moment! I will get past this as I always do and for now I will go with what the good Doc said and hope it is just a spot of inflammation. For those of you who read this and are dealing with or have dealt with cancer and relapses, you know how any little thing plays on your mind. So as much as I try to believe that it's just inflammation, my mind will take me other places! Time to fill the candy dish with Ativan again! lol. (I use Ativan for anxiety when needed). 

Take care for now and be good to one another, and take life for what it is, enjoy each and every day you have to it's fullest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Special Feature by; Michael Levin

My Amazingly Evil Plan To Win The 2013 Boston
Marathon And Then Apologize To Oprah For
What I Did Wrong

By: Michael Levin

Like all of us, I was deeply affected by the revelation that Lance Armstrong had been cheating all those years when he won the Tour de France. 
It inspired me to cheat, when I run this year’s Boston Marathon.And not get caught .
 For years and years.

And then go on Oprah and tell a shocked and grieving Nation that I won the 2013 Boston Marathon by cheating. 
And then go on a nationwide Apology Tour, during which I will visit all of the major media markets with my new book, “Rosie And Me,” about how guilty I feel that I cheated to win the Boston. 
Okay, not that guilty, but I’ll seem like I feel guilty.  Just like Lance. 
I have in fact run the Boston Marathon four of the last eight times, including the very windy 2005 edition and the stinky hot 2012 version.  So I am no stranger to Heartbreak Hill. 
Or the Store 24 where you can load up on Snickers bars and Haagen-Dazs after the race. 
But enough about me. 
Here’s my evil plan. 
First, I have to shave four hours off my finishing time.  Without that, I really won’t be in contention.

Next, I will identify the six runners most likely to win the Boston if I don’t.  They shouldn’t be that hard to find – they’re the people who beat me the last four times I ran Boston.  Okay, so did 20,000 other runners.  But first I have to identify the likely winners. 
Now this is where you come in. 
Just as Lance raised money for a charity, I also raise money for a charity.  Mine is Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which raises millions every year for basic cancer research.  It’s a great cause because 100% of the money raised goes to cancer research and not one dollar to overhead. 

It allows young researchers to overcome the Catch-22 they face:  they can’t get grants for high-level research without first demonstrating results; and they can’t demonstrate results until they have money to do research.  The millions raised during the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge goes to these researchers, so they can prove initial results and thus qualify for major grants to continue their research into causes, treatment, and prevention of cancer. 

Over the years I’ve raised about $40,000 for Dana-Farber.  But this year, I’m going to do something different. 

And evil. 

I’m inviting you to make a donation to my Dana-Farber campaign by going to this location: 
What so evil about that? 
In between working on cutting four hours off my marathon time, I have actually written a computer program that secretly diverts the money you donate to Dana-Farber into a secret offshore slush fund.  I will secretly divide that money among the six most likely finishers so that when they see me making my big charge down Boylston Street, they will all either feign injury or just get out of my way. 
And thus I will win the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Is it wrong?  Is it evil?  
Do I feel guilty about my plan? 
No, not yet.  But I will in a few years, after an extensive investigation by Travis Tygart and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.  They will not turn up any evidence that I used illegal drugs to shave four hours after my marathon time, because I will have done that honestly and fairly.  But there will be whispers in the media and the blogosophere that a slow-moving 54-year-old had no business sneaking past those top six elite runners. 
And then comes Oprah, the apology tour, the best selling book, “Rosie And Me,” and then a retreat to the private island I will buy myself with the money from book sales. 
So that’s why it’s so important that you donate to my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge drive. 
I’ve already raised $5,000 through legitimate means, but I’m tired of being honest.  Writing to friends and business associates and asking for money is so last year.  So please give generously, confident in the knowledge that you get the tax write-off for the donation and I get to win the Boston Marathon. 
My 12-year-old daughter asked me to conclude this by reminding you that this is all nonsense to make you laugh and donate to my race, because otherwise you’ll think that I am, in her words, a “lunatic.” 
New York Times best selling author and Shark Tank survivor Michael Levin runs, and is a nationally acknowledged thought leader on the future of book publishing. 
Visit to donate. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January Update

 A belated Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and I wish all of you success and all the best life has to offer for 2013.

New Years is known to be a time and opportunity for many to make a fresh start or a new beginning. I will be continuing on the course that I have taken with regard to my treatments and such.

My latest health news is a mixed bag of things that have gone on. On January 4th I had a pre-chemo check up with my Oncologist Dr. Kanjeekal. She was impressed with how things were going and my current blood workup results. So overall with good blood work results she said we will keep on with the Bendamustine treatment and go for a full 8 courses.

January 9th, Chemo treatment day 1, went well, that was until I got home. Once home for an hour or so the chills set in and I could not get warm no matter how many blankets I threw on. I knew right then what was going to come next. Fevers, and sure enough after checking my temperature I was already up to 98.0 F. Soon after Brenda got home she checked my temperature and it was up to 101.0 F. After trying to get a hold of someone after hours at the cancer centre and failing that, Brenda was able to get through to my home nurse around 9 pm at which time my temperature was up to 103.4 F., my nurse suggested going to emerg. which after my last experience there I did not want to lay in emerg. for 30 hrs again waiting for a room.

My nurse then suggest taking Tylenol and monitoring the fever. At bedtime it was up to 104.6! Next temp Brenda got me up for was at 103.2 so it was now dropping with the help of the Tylenol. Next morning it was at 100.0 F when I got up and down to 98.4 or so by the time I got ready to leave for the Cancer Centre for day two of my Bendamustine treatment.

Upon arriving at the Cancer Centre and checking in, I informed the receptionist about my chills and temperatures that I had the night before and though my Oncologist should be informed before we began with treatment. I was called in shortly afterward and got hooked up to the antibiotic drip and had my vitals taken. My temperature was now bordering on being normal again.

Just as the drip I was on ended, I was informed that my Oncologist was cancelling this session due to the fevers and chills of the night before. The thought was that if we continued and went ahead with the treatment, that I would most likely I would end up being neutropenic and spiking fevers again, which would only mean one thing, I would be admitted again with no immune system and be there on I.V. antibiotics until my blood counts returned to "somewhat" normal and I could be sprung then and not until.

I did not want any part of that and that was fine with me! As I was walking out the door of the chemo suite when they called me back to ask me to hang around for a couple minutes, they also asked if I had, had a neulasta or neupogen shot recently, to which I replied no. Last one of those was way back when I had the bone marrow transplant in 2008! They said that they might just go ahead with this treatment after having a Neupogen injection to boost my counts. I told them I would be going down to Supportive Care on the main floor for my appointment with my Social Worker and that if they needed me back up sooner, they could find me there.

After seeing my Social Worker I returned back to the second floor and into the Chemo Suite. They now informed my that we would be definitely be cancelling this Chemo Session. So no second half to this treatment due to low blood counts. I returned hope where it was time for some R&R and back to bed for a nap!

It was after getting up from the nap that I had a sore throat and found that I had blisters starting on my lip again. I ordered more Miles Solution and called the Cancer Centre to inform them of this. Ordering the Miles for now is all we are going to due unless it gets really bad. So rinsing and gargling with the Miles it is!

There are some other family related matters that occurred, but I will talk of them in the next blog.

So until be good to yourself and others, and enjoy life to it's fullest!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

First off I'd like to wish all my followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, hoping you had a great Christmas with family and friends, and all the best life has to offer for the New Year!

I will start out with an update on my health and treatments. I had round 3 of my Bendamustine treatments on December 5 & 6th. The one hour infusions each day went well with no complications. Since treatments I had worried about when the bomb would drop and I would become ill again. Well I'm happy to report that the extra week my Oncologist, Dr. Kanjeekal added in between treatments seems to have done the trick, and gave my immune system more time to recover and make the after treatment effects much less than they were last round.

I see my Dr. Kanjeekal next on January 4th and my chemo treatments will follow approx a week later. I did my weekly blood work on Friday due to the holidays, and have not heard anything, so all must be well with my blood counts which is a good thing.

Moving on to Christmas and the celebrations we had. First off was the annual Christmas eve at my Mom's where there was a house full as usual, little ones everywhere! We actually ended up going over early and had dinner with my Mom, and everyone else started arriving around 7pm. Too much to eat and too many "goodies" as usual, but a fun time non the less.

Gifts were exchanged and the festivities continued with conversation, playing with the kids, and as mentioned just  a second ago, all the goodies to be eaten! I think it was probably around 9ish when we left as most everyone else were leaving around the same time.
L-R Brenda, Megan, Emily, Andre &

Brenda with granddaughters Megan
& Emily
Me with granddaughter Megan and
Daughter in Law Bonnie.

On to Christmas Day. The day began with Brenda and I exchanging gifts, which wasn't much as we agreed to keep it simple and set a budget. We were both happy with our gifts to each other. I think it was around or just before noon that my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law arrived and the turkey went in the oven. After the turkey went in the oven and we relaxed a bit and exchanged gifts, again keeping it simple, we sat down to an excellent Christmas dinner prepared by Brenda. Once again too much to eat! but too hard to resist not to sample most of it. Then once again all the "treat" trays were put out.

It was overall a wonderful day with family, exchanging gifts, dining and chatting. Also it was an early night for me as I was very tired, too many "sweets" off the treat trays I think!

My Mother in Law Arnelda, my cat
Squeak and I discussing what is on
the computer.
Trying to get Squeak's attention again.

Squeak and I looking at Facebook
updates on the computer!
We now go on to Boxing day and turkey #2. Boxing day is spent with my son and his family. The weather being crappy we decided rather than making the two trips to pick everyone up we would have them call a cab and we paid for it when they got here. Much easier indeed.

After getting everyone up to the suite and coats hung up we sat around for a bit chatting, turkey was already in the oven as the lessen from Christmas day was to put it in earlier! We then moved on exchanging gifts and watch the grandchildren open theirs with amazement, and happiness. After opening gifts we chatted and played around a bit  with the grandchildren, then it was time for dinner.

Again another turkey, an excellent dinner once again prepared by Brenda and enjoyed by all. Once again good food and too much to eat. even though everyone ate well there were left overs which we will be eating for days!

After dinner there was some more conversation and playing around. It was also decided that our grandson Andre would spend the night with us. My brother then came over to pick everyone else up as my granddaughter Emily was going to be spending the night at my brother's place and with his girlfriends kids.Little did I know just how much of a gamer my grandson was.

This pretty much would be how I was pictured trying to
play on the Wii with Andre! lol.
 Soon as everyone left he was chomping at the bit to play his Wii game we got him for Christmas. So after everything was cleared up and put away, we played video games with him. As usual I was wore out and in bed by 9:30pm. Brenda and Andre were still up playing games when I went to bed.

Andre was the first one up after me and guess what the first thing is he wanted to do? Yep, play video games. I told him after breakfast and after Brenda was up we would play again, which we all did until it was time for him to leave. My brother came and picked him up as he was going to be spending the night at my brother's place.

Then it was....wait for it.......quiet! Time to take the time and get down to some plain and simple R&R! We were both wore out and I'd have to say Brenda was more so than I as she was the cook and dishwasher for both of these dinners. Two turkeys in two days! That is a lot of work not to mention all the other foods that go along with it. Kudos to Brenda for pulling off two successful Christmas dinners. Everyone left pleased with the dinner, deserts, and full bellies! So must have been good.

After a few days of rest and as I write this we are planning a late afternoon/early evening tomorrow with friends for dinner and a movie. Someone else's turn to cook! Not sure where we are going or what we are seeing at the show at this point, but I'm sure it will be a great time as usual.

As for New Years eve, I think my countdown will be around 10 p.m. I could try to stay up but I'm doubtful I would make it to midnight, but you never know, only time will tell.

So I leave you with this, I hope all your Christmases went well, and I wish everyone success and all the best that life has to offer you for this and all of 2013.

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!