Goodbye, Stephen Hawking

I’ve mentioned before that I use this blog mostly as a repository of things I want to remember since, you know, chemobrain. Here’s an example.  I don’t know a black hole from a pot hole, but I know it mattered that he did.

An extraordinary human (and fellow atheist) left us today.  Thank you Stephen Hawking for your beautiful mind, your amazing work, your humor and your hope.

And now for my thoughts on guns…

Just kidding.

My opinion is worth about two cents, so unless it would result in some real change, I won’t add to the debate except to say that change will never happen as long as the NRA owns the U. S. Congress. More power to the Parkland kids, though.  I hope they don’t give up.

Two notable links this morning:

— El Jefe at Juanita Jean’s has this thoughtful piece called “The Tipping Point on Gun Violence.”

— The Thoughts and Prayers Make-up Look.  (H/T to YouCallThatArt)

Hope to post more regularly soon, but I probably won’t. Real life seems to get in the way, and I just can’t seem to focus anyway.

There.  Aren’t you glad I kept my opinion to myself?

Monday Notes

Dear Maizie:

I hope you, Emma and Ellie are running through some soft, high grass and stopping to discover new smells. I hope the sun is shining on your velvet head.  I hope you are eating those little cheese chunks you like and taking long naps under an old oak tree on your Coolaroo bed.  I hope you are looking at the moon and remembering me.

Speaking of the moon . . . the sky this week was worth a deep breath in and long look up.

********

If only you could be a little bit more positive.  The marketing gimmick that just won’t die and the pressure cancer patients can do without it. Not just cancer patients, anyone who’s struggling with disease.

*****

Research news.  Possible new approach from researchers at MIT for LC patients with a KRAS-driven genetic mutation, like mine.

*****

Cancer heroes.  Nice profile in the Washington Post on immunotherapy pioneer James Allison and Padmanee Sharma, their work at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (shout out!) and their unlikely life together.  Kinda cool when I’m there knowing these two are on some floor above me working to cure cancer.

*****

National education hilarity Betsy DeVos schools us on what it’s like to be really, really smart and stuff.

*****

If you missed Ken Burns’s and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War on PBS, all episodes will be streamed until October 15th.  Don’t miss it.

*****

Perspectives.  There is no breathing room with lung cancer (no pun intended). Make it through treatment, mark an anniversary, maybe two, contemplate making it to the next one, hope some new drug comes along to make it even further.  If you’re lucky, only a few minutes of every day are spent wondering when when the cancer will come back.

Truth.  “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” — Immanual Kant

We could use a little music, hm?

This morning I was dusting my computer keyboard with a cloth, pressing pretty hard on the keys, which opened up several apps at the same time.  (“Apps.”  They’re those things we used to call programs.)  One of them was iTunes.  My whole library of music started playing.  I hadn’t listened to some of the songs in a while, so I let the whole library play alphabetically all the way through to the U’s.

I have many favorite songs, but I have to say I can’t think of a more beautiful one than “Unchained Melody.”   I have about 5 versions of it.

I grew up in the 50’s so I’m partial to the first version I heard, by Les Baxter.  But I also grew up in the 60’s, so the Righteous Brothers version (linked below also) is a favorite too.  The prettiest is the orchestral version scored by Maurice Jarre, which is the one they used in the movie “Ghost.”

The great Sam Cooke had a voice like a bell.  I don’t particularly like this arrangement of the song, but I do love his voice. Here’s his version.

“Unchained Melody” was composed in 1954 by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret.  Did you know it was written by North and Zaret for a prison movie?  Interesting.

Don’t say you didn’t learn anything today.

I miss Patrick Swayze.  He was a nice man.

Stop what you’re doing and take a listen to one of the versions above.  Here. I’ll make it easy for you.  Dancing is allowed.

***********

I bet James Comey could use a little music today.

Holy freaking hell.

Shades of 1973’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”  It took them 10 months after that to get rid of Nixon.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long to get these rats out of the pool house.

In honor of 1973, here’s one of the Top 100 songs of 1973.

It’s clear to me

October 2016 update:  No one with a medical degree told me the cataracts I developed  were from chemo.  I just assumed they were.  Until I started probing more.  I keep a journal of meds, symptoms, etc.  because I can’t remember what I took and when without writing it down.  Looking back through the journal I noticed that my cataracts appeared within 6 weeks of starting once daily use of the inhaler Breo Ellipta. Breo lists cataracts and eye inflammation as side effects. Just sayin.

In addition to “chemo curls,” which I probably shouldn’t admit I’m starting to enjoy because now I look like every other old woman with short, gray hair,  another fine parting gift chemotherapy gives you is cataracts. If not new ones, the rapid advancement of existing ones.

I had lens replacement surgery on my left eye this morning.  Took ten minutes.

As the kidz say, O.M.G.

We’re going to have to move to a new house now because now I can see every speck of dirt in every worn corner of this old house.

Also, the wrinkles on my face. Where did those come from?  Must be the new lens adjusting.  It will clear up I’m sure.

Also, I think there’s any extra cat or two living here I didn’t see before.

Beats all, this modern medicine.

Thanks, cancer!

Spot On

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Are you aware?

Every day this month, one (or all) the cancer blogs I read profiles a person involved with lung cancer. Yesterday, Lisa at Every Breath I Take profiled Lucy Kalinithi, widow of Paul Kalinithi, a 37-year old neurosurgeon who died of lung cancer in March of this year.

It’s a lovely profile and spurred me to go on and read the essays on Paul Kalinithi’s website. One, titled ‘Before I Go,’ will be especially meaningful to anyone facing his or her mortality, if only for this paragraph and the sentence in bold:

Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. [emphasis mine] Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.

Spot on.

You can read all the Lung Cancer Awareness profiles here.

 

Now what?

Just when I was getting the hang of cancer treatment, it’s over. (And I always whisper to myself “yeah, for now” but you can’t hear me say that.)

I had my last carboplatin/paclitaxel ritual poisoning two weeks ago.

Thirty radiation treatments, five rounds of chemo, a clinical trial I got kicked off of because I was in the hospital with pneumonia and missed a chemo session, radiation pneumonitis, rashes, dry skin, runny nose, cough, supplemental oxygen and other various and sundry irritations and annoyances, and it’s over.

Now what?

I’ve read about this part of the cancer experience.  The waiting.  The wondering.  Is it gone?  I won’t know for 8 weeks when I’m scheduled for a PET scan.

I finally got caught up on reading all your blogs.  You make me laugh, cry and think.  Thank you.

So, I got nuthin’ except to say I’m doing well for now and I love not having hair.  Really.