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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Imerman's Angels

In the course of our constant research, we came upon an organization called Imerman's Angels that works to connect a cancer patient with what they call a "Mentor Angel" -- someone who has close to the same diagnosis as you (male or female, any kind of cancer).  It is a free service.  They take your information and then match you up with a Mentor who then calls you and the two of you help each other.

We signed Marshall up a few weeks ago and this week he was hooked up with a guy named Jack who lives in Ohio.  They talked for quite a bit.  Jack is an 8-year survivor of prostate cancer, so it was a very good conversation.  They found that they suffered pretty much the same side effects during their treatment.  As you know, Marshall has been having severe hot flashes.  They really knock him for a loop.  His Mentor - Jack - said that when he had his flashes (in the wintertime), he would just go out to his garage and sit in the cold until he cooled off!

Anyone interested in Imerman's Angels, the website is:  www.imermanangels.org.  Jack also told Marshall to get on Lance Armstrong's site for very helpful and free support:  www.laf.org.  All good stuff.

On Thursday, Marshall went to visit his motorcycle (or should I say motorcycle parts?).  It is progressing slowly but surely.
 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New exhaust pipes for the Harley

Marshall ordered new pipes for the Harley and they arrived today.  They are designed to look like Gatling Guns coming out from the back of the bike and they revolve like they are firing every time you pick up speed.  They are SO cool.  Now he has to wait a whole month till he gets the bike back to get these installed.  Oh, the patience that's going to take.....

Marshall with his Gatling Gun exhaust pipes

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another prostate cancer blog

I know there are some men following this blog who are also suffering from advanced prostate cancer and we have enjoyed hearing from you and talking to you and following your progress.  I would like to suggest that you subscribe (if you haven't already) to the blog of a guy named Dan Zenka, Vice President of Communications of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.  He was diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate Cancer in 2010 and he started a blog called the New York Minute.

Today's blog was awesome and kind of speaks to Marshall's plans to help veterans and how much that will help him as well ... some excerpts are below:

"I remember my wife once lamenting how, between my current status as a Stage 4 cancer patient and my job at the Foundation, there is just no way I can ever turn off or escape from thinking about cancer. Anyone reading this knows she is right. Try as one may, cancer lingers day in and day out as a nagging thought that can only be brushed aside like an annoying fly that insists on continually returning. Even if that fly does take a short hiatus, there’s always any number of side effects that willingly stand in for the reminding role."
"Recently, much of my evenings and weekend free time has been focused on helping some students and families get a teacher back. I have to say, the diversion has been a powerful therapy. For the past week, my outlook has been brighter and I smiled ear to ear driving home last Friday evening as I realized the source of my lightness–a 7-day vacation from that annoying fly! It’s astounding what a good cause can do, not to mention the new community bonds and acquaintances that have been made."
"This new focus has been very good for me at this point in my journey. I believe I will find myself telling other patients, if they are physically able, to find a diverisonary cause. It can do a patient a world of good."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Colorado Wildfires

It is still unbelievably hot down here in Westcliffe.  It's hard to function.  And Marshall's continuing fatigue is even worse in this heat.  But we've still managed to get out and do things.

The many fires going on in Colorado have made us revisit our exit plan in case we are ever faced with an evacuation order.  And with the lack of rain and everything being so dry it doesn't take much to start a fire. So we spent a bit of time on Sunday going over the steps we would take in case of a wildfire.

Today we bought a lovely china cabinet to use as our display case in our booth at the Marketplace Shops and we went over to the shop today to set the case up and get locks put on it.  Here's more photos -- it is a darling store and both Marshall and I are having fun.

My real job -- working with Fred Bartlit -- is still going well.  I keep my Blackberry with me and the Bluetooth in my ear and no matter where I am, I am able to receive work emails or phone calls and deal with them.  It is so perfect and gives me a sense of normalcy in this whole new life we are living now.

And on another note, we actually had a spinach salad tonight with spinach from our very own greenhouse.  It was a tiny salad, but we made a big deal out of it!

Front of the store

Marshall putting a lock on our case.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dabbling in Retail Again

Marshall and I (and our friend Janel McGuire) have decided to dabble in retail again.  Especially since when we left The Spotted Pig we still had a lot of inventory left.

A new shop is opening called The Marketplace Shops (731 Main Street, Canon City, CO).  It is going to be darling with outside seating for people who want to just visit, as well as inside seating and iced lemon water available on these hot summer days.  The shop will be arranged with "streets" and street signs.  Our shop will be 102 Main Street.  Baskets of flowers will hang along the "streets."

This store is in the old downtown area of Canon City which has a lot of traffic and Canon City, of course, is a huge tourist area (Royal Gorge, fly fishing, white water rafting, camping...).

The three of us spent today building out our booth and we'll spend the next two weeks putting product in the booth.  The Grand Opening will be July 6th!  If you are in the area, please stop by.  There will even be an official ribbon cutting at 4PM.  After that, our presence at the shop won't really be necessary except to spiff up our booth and add new stuff.  Marshall will probably be selling fishing gear and knives and maybe baseball hats and more and I will be selling jewelry, notecards, postcards, knitted items, etc., things that I love to make in my "hobby" time.  And Janel makes the most gorgeous things out of recycled denim and old horseshoes.

Marshall stayed fairly energetic all day today, resting when necessary.  The three of us had a great time.

We are calling ourselves Two Chicks and A Hick.  This will be fun.  And when Marshall gets his Harley back, he can ride over there and check the store out frequently.  The owner of the store is from the West Virginia area and she and Marshall have tall tales to tell!  I don't think she knows what she's getting herself into.....
Marshall bringing in supplies.

Marshall and Janel sharing a drill.



Janel reloading.

Janel begging for the drill.

TWO CHICKS AND A HICK!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Harley

In my post (below), I almost forgot the most important bit of news.  On Friday, we took the Harley up to Pikes Peak Harley Davidson in Colorado Springs and dropped it off.  They are going to dismantle the bike and deliver all the appropriate pieces to the artist, Tom Stack.  Marshall and Tom are working on a stunning design for this bike which will include the Vietnam wall, and other patriotic representations from Marshall's unit in Vietnam.

If it looks even half as breathtaking when it's done as we are imagining it, it will be such a showpiece.  Tom needs to keep it approximately 5 or 6 weeks, so Marshall will be chomping at the bit waiting for it.  I'm sure there will be a number of visits to Colorado Springs to check on the progress.  :)

Heat Wave

This past week has been unbearably hot up here in the mountains.  We aren't doing much moving around because it's too gosh darn hot.  Westcliffe has been in the high 90s and if we go to Pueblo, it's in the low 100s.  The plus to going to Pueblo is that we are in an air conditioned car!  And we get to go to Starbucks!  (Thank you, Jim and Liz ... And Catherine!)

Not much news on the "Big C" front.  Marshall has pretty much decided to decline the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.  He's been doing very good with the treatment he's been getting so far, so why ripple the waters?  My cousin in Minnesota, who has been battling cancer for a number of years now and who has done tons of research, called and suggested to Marshall that rather than get involved in a clinical trial to help others down the road (as generous as that would be), this is the time Marshall should probably be thinking mostly of himself and what makes most sense for him (Thank you, Tom!).

But the fatigue and the hot flashes are sometimes debilitating and he is trying to learn to live with taking lots of naps and knowing when to sit down and rest.  As far as the hot flashes, the oncologist prescribed a very mild dose of an antidepressant; supposedly that has worked with many men to banish hot flashes.  We went and filled the prescription, but he is still trying to decide whether or not to take them.  A glass of red wine before bed seems to have a good effect on the hot flashes (not fair, that certainly didn't help with mine!), so he's going to stick with that for a while.

And I would like to complain that Walmart has a deplorable lack of motorized carts (smile).  We get a lot of giggles from me pushing him around in a wheelchair, but it limits our ability to shop separately.  Yesterday, the little latch on the entry door to the wheelchair came loose when I was trying to maneuver a very tricky about-face and one of those center displays almost bit the dust.

The wildfires, even though they aren't near us, are providing a whole lot of smoke to our area.  Our beautiful mountain view from our deck is now a very smoky mountain view (see photo).
Our "smoky" Sangre de Cristo Mountain View
The greenhouse is doing beautifully, even in this intense heat.  We've got two fans out there and the temperature usually hovers around 100 and so far the plants are still thriving.  Time will tell.  Marshall is having a 12x12 deck built for me behind the greenhouse so I can have a little garden getaway.  A neighbor came up last week (thank you, Dave!) and worked with the tractor to make a level spot to put the deck.  That can be very difficult to do with all the solid rock we have here, but he worked miracles.  Now we are just waiting for the guy to finish making the deck.  Pictures below are of the beautiful plants and the leveled-off area where the deck will go behind the greenhouse.
Zucchini, green pepper, cantaloupe and Swiss chard


Green beans


Cucumber, strawberry plant, blueberry plant
 
Oregano, Basil and Parsley
Future home of my 12x12 deck




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Comfort Quilt

Today Marshall was presented with a Comfort Quilt made especially for cancer patients here in Westcliffe.  They call themselves the Westcliffe Comfort Quilters.  They sewed a special note into the quilt with Marshall's name and the date. It was a wonderful moment (see photo).
Jane Arbuckle (Westcliffe Comfort Quilters) presents a Comfort Quilt to Marshall today!

Monday, June 11, 2012

PSA Down Again

Today's visit to the oncologist brought news that the PSA is now down to 3.9 -- which is wonderful news.  It means the hormone treatments are still working.  However, for some reason, Marshall was in a huge funk today and stayed there all day long.  So it was a very confusing day for me.

Dr. Flaig brought up the suggestion that Marshall might want to participate in a clinical trial.  The standard approach for patients with prostate cancer that has spread into the bones is the removal of testosterone with hormone therapy.  In some patients the prostate cancer will resume and spread, at which time chemotherapy is then offered to those patients.  The purpose of this clinical study is to determine if patients who received six treatments of chemotherapy (docetaxel) at the time of initial hormone therapy do any better than the patients who receive hormone therapy followed by chemo at a later time.  This clinical trial will be made up of close to 800 men nationwide and since the men in the study need to be in the early stages of their treatment, Marshall's window of opportunity to sign up for this study will be gone in the next four weeks.

This will be a randomized study, meaning that if Marshall does sign up for this, he may or may not be in the group that gets chemo.  All 800 names are thrown into the computer and the computer chooses which man gets which treatment.  We were introduced to the fellow coordinating the study at the U of C and he talked with us a while and then gave us materials to bring home. So Marshall will be thinking about this in the coming weeks.

We asked Dr. Flaig if there was anything that could be done to make the hot flashes easier to bear and he said some men have a lot of luck using a very light dose of an antidepressant.  So we will be picking up a prescription and see if that helps.

But the PSA coming down to 3.9 was a very big deal!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fun in St Louis


My sister Linda, me, the Birthday Girl Aunt Virginia, my cousin Barb and my cousin Amy.

Saturday I attended the surprise 90th birthday party for my Aunt Virginia, along with my sister and daughter. I didn't want to mention it earlier because it was a surprise party and I didn't want to broadcast it ahead of time in this blog. But Aunt Virginia was definitely surprised and the party was so much fun, kind of a combination birthday party and family reunion. We had such a nice time. Marshall wanted to be here but he thought the trip would be too much for him.

He rode his motorcycle in a charity ride yesterday (raising money for cancer research) and he enjoyed his day, too.

Tomorrow I head to Denver to meet Marshall and head up to his next appointment with the oncologist.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm heading to St. Louis...

Marshall's niece called this afternoon.  Red is out of intensive care and doing better.  So I will be heading to St. Louis tomorrow.  Good news!

Marshall gets to tend to the greenhouse while I'm gone.  And on Saturday, weather permitting, he is going to be riding his motorcycle for charity.

Then he will pick me up at the Denver airport Monday morning and we will be going to his oncologist appointment to find out how things are going.

Look for a new post Monday night with that news.

Now I'll get on my soapbox:  Our animal rescue group, Pet Project, is entering the busy summer season.  There are unwanted kittens showing up everywhere and we are getting lots of phone calls.  Over this weekend, one of our volunteers (Glenn) will be picking up 3 kittens in one location and 5 kittens in another.  Another one of our volunteers has 9 kittens at her house waiting to go to Pueblo for an Adoption Fair.  We got another call from a gal in Penrose where she came upon 5 more kittens -- she is taking them home with her for a week or 10 days until we have room for them.  And another lady in Florence found kittens that were born in her husband's boat.  It is only just beginning.   See below for photos of some of the kittens we've taken from feral mamas while they were still young enough to be tamed and adopted out.

Look at the little guy in the middle!!

This one is my favorite -- she got adopted FAST! You should have seen how gorgeous she was when she was cleaned up!

These little guys lived for a while in the shower of our master bath.
We were just awarded a $5,000 grant from the Animal Assistance Foundation to be spent on trapping  feral cats in our area, getting them fixed and then releasing them back into their colonies to live out the rest of their short lives without producing more offspring.  SPAY & NEUTER, that's the key to the ballooning overpopulation of cats -- NOT euthanizing them.  We are partnering with four local veterinarians to get as many feral cats fixed as possible this summer.  That involves TONS of work on the part of the volunteers doing the trapping.

And we are applying for a grant from the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund.  If we are successful, these funds would be used to provide low-cost spay/neuter for companion animals, as well as giving us some money to spend on educating people to the importance of spay/neuter.  It is unbelievable the number of animals euthanized every year because of unwanted litters -- could be avoided if people just got their pets fixed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The next few days

This weekend I have plans to go to St. Louis for a family event ... nonrefundable tickets are already bought and I am supposed to leave early Friday morning.

We got a call last night that Marshall's brother-in-law is in intensive care in Ohio. He has been battling lung cancer for five years and has developed an infection. His white blood count is almost nonexistent. We are waiting to hear more news about him.

And tonight Marshall started experiencing some new pains that have us nervous.

Monday is our next appointment with the oncologist to see how the Lupron is working.

So will I go to St. Louis? Will Marshall go to Ohio? Will we need to see the primary care doctor tomorrow for these new pains? Will he have to miss Monday's appointment? It sounds like the lead-in for the next episode of a soap opera, doesn't it? (Thank goodness for our wonderful neighbors, Dave and Cathy, who are willing to watch the animals on a last minute basis!)

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Friends passing.....

Several weeks ago Marshall got a call informing him that his old friend Nick Nickolas had died from a short battle with cancer -- a battle that we didn't even know he was fighting. Marshall had seen him just last year and he was healthy. His cancer came on quickly and moved just as quickly.

This morning Marshall got a call that his good Chicago friend John Finley died last night of a massive heart attack.

Both of these men were "young" like us! Our thoughts and prayers are with both families.

Another reminder ... as if we need it ... to stop and smell the roses.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A great anniversary!

First of all, kudos to all of you who remembered the fact that yesterday was actually the 22nd anniversary of our wedding!  But we've been together 25 years so I chose to make it our 25th anniversary.  I couldn't believe so many people remembered that.

Our dinner at the Main Street Grill last night was great and we had a very fun evening.  The wait staff, as usual, went out of their way to make it special, which included a special dessert with a candle.

Today we went to Pueblo and did some shopping.  Marshall had some pretty severe hot flashes all through the night last night so today he was zonked.  When we went to Walmart they didn't have any motorized carts available, so I pushed him around in a wheelchair!  I think I need some wheelchair training, but for today we just giggled a lot when I narrowly missed other shoppers.

We are getting closer and closer to the next visit to the oncologist, so there is a little bit of anxiety creeping up on us.  We're trying to stay busy and push the anxiety away.  Hard to do.  :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Catching up on this week

On Wednesday we took the Harley up to the dealership for its 1000-mile checkup.  In only two weeks, he put 1000 miles on the bike, that's something else, isn't it?

On Thursday Marshall had a doctor appointment with his primary care physician -- just a routine, touch-base kind of visit.  All the basics are still good. 

Then we went back to pick the bike up and Marshall went to see another artist.  The first one he went to see didn't work out because he didn't have the proper insurance coverage.  So Marshall is going with the one he saw on Thursday named Tom.  Tom can't get to it until the first of July, so Marshall will take the bike to the Harley dealership on June 15th so that they can dismantle the bike.  They will then deliver the parts to the artist.  He will probably need a month to do everything Marshall wants and then he will deliver the parts back to the dealership and they will reassemble the bike.

That means he will be without the bike for 6 weeks or more.  He'll probably be driving up there every few days to check on the progress (smile).

And yesterday the family of a man from Florida who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer that has gone into the bones contacted us through the blog (how cool!) and he and Marshall have been talking.  They shared some of their individual research and it was kind of therapeutic. I hope they stay in touch.

Tomorrow is our 25th wedding anniversary so we're going to go out to dinner to a really nice restaurant in Florence called Main Street Grill.  Hard to believe we're at 25 years.....

I shared a picture of our boys with a few people, but I wanted to put it here, too.  They had had a very hard day on Monday missing Marshall and by 7:00PM, they gathered on the couch and went to sleep.  I love it.  Those red things you see are the ramps they use to get on and off the couch...not that they are spoiled or anything.

Marlee, Okie and Coco