Thursday, March 04, 2010

Two-year Cancer Checkup

In late January, Anita and I headed out the door for Florida and a follow-on examination for the Proton Therapy I had back in 2007-08 for my prostate cancer. We'd decided to make a trip of it, so we started by visiting Vince and Legare in Birmingham, Alabama on our way down to Niceville. Was great to see them again, likewise the folks in Niceville amongst whom we'd lived for eight wonderful years. After three days there, we drove over to Daytona Beach and took a condo on the beach for a couple more great days. Then on to Kissimmee for a couple more days, on south to Pompano Beach for three (church and lunch with Chattanooga friends Everett and Gayle there), then back up to Orlando. We were able to spend one evening with some of Anita's cousins David and Stacy (and their four kids, including newly-born triplets) in Lakeland. The next evening we drove to Wildwood for dinner with Steve and Laurie and their beautiful daughters. Finally on February 4th we highballed for Jacksonville and had my checkup. I passed with flying colors so we're very happy about that. We were also glad that friends Gary and Patty from Lewiston, Idaho were there at the same time, so we could enjoy some time catching up. BTW, whenever you go to JAX, try to stop at Clark's Fishcamp; they have the best catfish you'll ever eat ;-) I should add that we stayed at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra - a very nice place for a reasonable price if you use

Best wishes...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Badgers? We don't need...

You may be familiar with the 1948 movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart. You may also be familiar with the 1974 movie, Blazing Saddles, made by Mel Brooks.

This particular clip is dedicated to all my friends from Wisconsin. Check the links above for the original and the first parody, then watch this parody by "Weird Al" Yankovic in the 1989 movie UHF.

Best wishes...

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Year-and-a-half Cancer Check-up

Anita and I returned Friday from a trip to Jacksonville where we enjoyed the beauty of the Florida Atlantic coast and also spent a few hours at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute for my 18-month checkup. Thanks and praise to God, all is well. My PSA was/is now at 0.4, so I'm a happy camper. We stayed out in Ponta Vedra at the Marriott...a very nice place.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wintley Phipps -Amazing Grace

Mr Wintley Phipps shares the origin of the famous spiritual, Amazing Grace...

Thanks to friend Curt who had this YouTube video on his blog, Coffee with Curt.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

H. Allen Smith, humourist

One of my favourite authors is (was, actually) a guy named H. Allen Smith. This particular Smith was born in Illinois, grew up there and in Ohio, and became a youthful newspaperman in Indiana. He became well-known when he published a book of personal anecdotes called Low Man on a Totem Pole. It was published in 1941, before I was born.

I first heard of Smith when I lived in Texas. Smith had moved from New York to Texas some six years before I did, and wound up in the western climes of that great state. I lived near Austin, and became a habitue of the many used book stores in and around the University of Texas where I found Smith's books in the special editions that were published during WWII.

Smith participated in the first ever Chili cookoff, held in Terlingua, Texas in October of 1967. He was a fanatic in the manufacture of Chili, the National Dish of Texas, and wrote some strong words on the subject. I have to tell you that I have some differences with Mr. Smith in regards to the proper preparation of Chili, but I'm not alone in that regard. And I don't let our culinary differences interfere with my appreciation for the way he had with the written language.

If you, my gentle reader, have a sense of humor and want to laugh yourself silly, visit your local used book store and search out the work of Mr. H. Allen Smith. In his time he was known as 'the Screwball's Boswell' for his ability to turn an interview into a hilareous newspaper column. He was known to write up curious encounters as short articles, store them in a cheesebox until he had enough for a book, and then craft them into a work of art. I commend Smith and his books to your attention.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Good Old Hockey Game

In honor of the Pittsburgh Penguins tying the series at 2-2, here's Stompin' Tom Connors doing The Good Old Hockey Game and Sudbury Saturday Night.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

American Pie - Don McLean

Wednesday evening a group of folks got together at First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, to hear a presentation by Ken Campbell about his experience of Proton Therapy at Loma Linda, California. Two of those present had been through treatment at the University of Florida (UFPTI) about fifteen months ago, and two others had just returned from their treatment.

Ken mentioned that someone at Loma Linda had written new lyrics about proton therapy, set to the tune of Don McLean's 1971 Rock-n-Roll hit "American Pie." The video below will remind you of the original tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper...

We're gonna have to learn those new lyrics, eh?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Look it Up)

This morning we left our overnight lodgings at the Riverdale Inn, on the north shore of the St. John's River, and went to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute for my one-year checkup of the treatment I had for my prostate cancer. After my checkup (a good report, thank you very much) we headed north for Amelia Island.  On the way we spotted a flock of buzzards in a swamp alongside. I came to a quick stop when I spotted the white heads and tails of two Bald Eagles in amongst the buzzards. Strangest thing I ever saw.
As we stopped it appeared they were all gathered around something dead, and apparently fighting over whatever it was. Naturally I had to change to my longer lens, so a minute or so was wasted giving one of the Eagles a moment to jump up to a tall tree stump.

The second Eagle stayed on the ground near the dead beastie that they'd been fighting over. No way that I know to tell whether this was a mate to the other Eagle or just a hunting companion.

The first Eagle left his perch, jumping down and grabbing the dead beast while the Buzzards whirled around him.

He jumped back onto the tree stump, catching his breath before taking off again, trailing his lunch from his talons.

He swooped around, gathering altitude in a long sweeping circle until he reached another, higher tree. It was farther away and I couldn't make him out with my 200mm lens. The Buzzards finally decided they weren't going to get  their lunch away from the Eagles and left the area, too.

We continued up the coast, taking lunch at Amelia Island and having a short (given the cold breeze) walk around Fernandina Beach before heading north to Savannah. Dinner at the Moon River brewpub near the waterfront, but we didn't spend much time strolling around town since the icy wind was still blowing a gale. Tomorrow we'll head for Atlanta and a couple of meetings before returning to Chattanooga.
While the encounter with the Eagles was the highlight of the day, finding that my PSA has stabalized at 0.4 and my prostate is in good condition a year after the cancer treatment came in a close second. We thank God for his goodness to us.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Back Home on the Gulf Coast

We are in Destin, Florida today, staying on the second floor in one of a group of two-apartment beach houses. Stepping out on the balcony, I noticed a pair of ring-necked Turtle Doves in the rain gutter next door. One had left by the time I got my camera out, but here's the other, sitting on her eggs...

After breakfast I headed for the beach. The wind was blowing pretty good, but not too hard for the tourists. Here's a view up the beach, toward the east...
Lots of interesting critters -- I mean other than the tourists. Here's one of several of these guys who were digging for breakfast in the rising tide... Check the foreground of the pic above; those two butts are two more of these guys ;-)
Sea gulls are always interesting. Some, like these, like to hang around in groups...
Others haven't had their lunch yet and are taking a more pro-active course toward finding it...
Another shot of this guy...
OK, this is positively the last Gull shot (for today)...
Posted to Ron's Rec Room

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


    An Article today in the Washington Post suggests that men taking Finasteride (AKA Proscar, Propecia) have a 25% lower incidence of prostate cancer.  But reading further, we find that this is a reevaluation of a study completed in 2003 that concluded taking the drug might lead to more lethal forms of cancer. And down toward the end there's the following paragraph:
"About 71 men would have to take finasteride for seven years to prevent one case of prostate cancer. Kramer said a quick call to his Bethesda pharmacy showed that generic finasteride costs about $3 a day or around $1,080 a year, meaning that it could cost about half a million dollars to head off each case of prostate cancer -- while exposing dozens of men to unnecessary treatment and potential side effects, including incontinence and impotence. A small number of men taking finasteride also experience sexual side effects, such as a decrease in libido."
    Interesting, eh?  What's next?  I expect whenever Congress puts a Socialized Medicine plan into effect, there'll be a lot more of the calculations such as are in the paragraph above, being made by some faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy on our behalf.
    As for me, I leave for Florida on Thursday, for my one-year checkup after Proton Thereapy. Will let y'all know how that goes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Three Months Later...

I've determined that I'm not very good at this blogging thing. I promised these pictures way back when my treatment was completed, but it took this long to get around to it. Here they are, at long last -- thanks for dropping by to take a look.

Before showing you the pictures, Let me give you an update on my PSA levels. Just prior to the start of proton therapy on December 5, my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) was 4.4. On the last day of treatment my PSA was 3.3, a significant reduction. Three months after the end of treatment, on May 2, I again had blood drawn. My PSA is now at 0.2 and I couldn't be happier. You can find more information about PSA at

Back to the last day of treatment, February 1, 2008...

We gathered with friends after I had an early treatment (my 40th) for a celebratory dinner. From the left, Forrest, Paul, myself, and Paul (Gene didn't get in the picture). In late afternoon we left the party for my last treatment. Anita had determined to make some photos of the process, so she borrowed Linda's camera and brought it into the treatment room.

Yours truly posing with the "Yellow" gantry in which I received my last treatment. Of the three, the Yellow is devoted to prostate treatments, while the others ("Blue" and "Red") handle patients with a variety of conditions treatable by proton therapy. All of my treatments except this last were in the "Blue" gantry.

After I climb onto the bed, the saline solution is introduced and a preliminary alignment is done by laser LEDs using the targets marked on my hips. The bed will then be rotated 180 degrees and for the preliminary x-ray and treatment.

The device on the right is the x-ray machine. Prior to each treatment an x-ray is made and evaluated to be sure that the target (my cancerous prostate) is in the proper position to be zapped. The device on the left delivers the proton beam the the victim -- I mean, the subject -- on the platform. Notice the brass ring in the lower-left of the picture: this is a part of the focusing device used to ensure proper application of the treatment.

As we were leaving, Gary Barlow was interviewing a new radiation technician. We got a picture of them. Gary was very helpful, always doing what he could to make sure our treatment was on time and handled in good order. Gary has become a very good friend.

Kristi was my case worker. Kristi helped us get our records together, scheduled the various tests needed for evaluation, and organized our time at the center. Each week she would gather medical data for my appointment with Dr. Henderson.

After receiving my last treatment, we came back to Paul and Marilyn's house to show off my graduation certificate, and one of the proton beam diffusers that had been used for the two months.

Friday, February 01, 2008

We're Done!!

Up early this morning, off to the Proton Institute for my 40th treatment. Traffic wasn't bad, the radiation technicians were up to speed, and by shortly after 8:00 AM we were meeting with Gary Barlow, Administrator of Technical Services, for our Exit Interview. Next came a short meeting with Dr. Henderson which included getting scripts for blood work and an appointment for my six-month checkup in September. Back to the house where we spent some time getting our belongings together. Off to Quest Diagnostics for blood work, then we went to the home of Paul and Marilyn for a celebratory lunch with Paul and Patti, Gene and Linda, and Forrest and Glenda. About 4:30 we interupted the party to go back to the Institute for my 41st and last treatment. Spent a few minutes with Gerry Troy, then back to the gantry. With my treatment concluded, I was given a Certificate of Graduation signed by many of the technicians who had been working with me. Very nice, and I also got the diffuser that was part of my treatment regimen.

Anita also came with, and took some pix of my last treatment. I'll post them in the near future. Right now, we're gonna get ready to leave for Tennessee early in the morning. Thanks to all who have been praying for us; we feel very blessed in this entire process.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dash for the Finish...

We're down to the wire! Today I had my 39th treatment (of 41), and tomorrow, Friday, I will have my 40th at 8:00 AM and then my last one at 9:20 PM. We've been gathering our belongings, getting ready to load the Jeep and head for home. It's been a long, draining time away and both Anita and I are ready to get back to Tennessee.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

5/6 completed

On Friday I had my 35th Proton treatment. I had been anticipating 42 treatments, which would have given the 5/6 fraction mentioned above. But on Tuesday, my oncologist said that 41 treatments will do the job. Six left and we'll be on our way back to Tennessee. We are certainly ready to get back home.

Worst part of this past week has been a bad cold I picked up on Wednesday. It still lingers, but I'm feeling a bit better today. I guess I'll have to blame it on "the bug going around" and not the therapy; lots of folks at church were affected, and even one of the staff at the Institute. I hope to be "out and about" tomorrow or the next day. Fortunately treatment is not affected; I do have to hold still and not sneeze, however.

I haven't described what the treatment is like, so let me do that. Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a 7:40 AM. We'll get up shortly after six and try to get on the road by 6:40. It takes about 20-25 minutes to drive to the Institute. I will check in, drink my water, then chat with other patients until I'm called to the back. Once there, I change into a hospital gown and proceed into the treatment gantry. I get onto the platform, the radiation technicians align my body using targets drawn on my hips, and I am placed into the correct position for the treatment. Before they "shoot me" with the Proton beam, X-rays are made to ensure that the target -- the cancer in my prostate -- is aligned properly. Two weeks before my treatment regimen started, three gold seeds were implanted in my prostate, for use with the x-rays in determining the exact spot where the proton beam needs to deliver its dose.

After all this alignment, the actual radiation is anti-climatic. The technicians go out to the control room, the beam is started, and a few minutes later they're back. Mission accomplished, I get my appointment time for the next treatment, get back into street clothes, and am on my way out the door. Total time: as little as 30 minutes, but it can take longer if there happen to be any equipment or scheduling problems. I think I've mentioned before that the staff here is wonderful, and that these people, being treated for cancer, are the most "up-beat" cancer patients you'll see anywhere. This whole experience has been eye-opening for us, and I'm hopeful that more folks will be able to take advantage of Proton Therapy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Another week gone by...

On our way back from treatment Thursday afternoon -- it was, by the way, my 30th -- we found an intermodal train stopped at Milepost 648, near St. John's Avenue. We waited until the north-bound Amtrak Silver Meteor train came past, then got this shot of 5372 pulling for Orlando.

CSX had a problem last night with the crossing gates at Timuquana and spent all day today working on them. Slow orders for all trains made for some short-tempered motorists and a few delays, but we all got where we were going even if it took a bit longer. Sometimes it's good to be a railfan; we enjoy being stopped by trains.

Thursday evening we went out with our fellow Proton Patients for dinner. We really enjoy the friends we've made here. Met some folks yesterday who, like Anita and I, grew up in Wisconsin. Like us, they're looking forward to the Championship game Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the New York, Giants. If you're not too busy, and live nearby, I understand they need folks to shovel snow off of Lambeau field. FYI, no snow in Jacksonville.

One of the great things about Proton Therapy for prostate cancer is that it isn't debilitating. Those of us undergoing treatment are able to do all the things we were before (I still can't play the piano) and have been able, in most cases, to behave as though this whole thing is a vacation. Anita and I continue to thank God that He led us to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The View from the Beach...

After my treatment on Tuesday, we went to downtown Jacksonville and caught their elevated railway. We rode the entire line, stopping south of the river to see the spectacular Treaty Oak tree. It is massive, estimated to be over two centuries old, and is located in Jesse Ball DuPont Park. More information can be found at the web site,
On our way back to our temporary home, we took the scenic route along Riverside Drive. The next picture, of Jacksonville's skyline above the St. John's River, was made from another City Park along the way.

I had an early treatment on Wednesday, so afterwards we decided to go over to the beach since the day was so nice. In addition to several fisherman with their lines in the surf, we watched this shrimper doing his thing off-shore. It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed wandering up and down the beach. Anita got a ton of sea shells.
Then last evening we joined some friends from Ortega Presbyterian Church for a study of the Patience of God, using a short monograph by A. W. Pink entitled The Attributes of God. Some of Pink's writings may be found on-line at; I recommend the above title as well as The Sovereignty of God. We had a grand time, and continue to thank God for our new friends here.