Negative Results = Positive News


Thanksgiving is and always has been my favorite holiday. Memories return images of childhood football games with kids in the neighborhood, to later growing up and not being home for the holiday which makes every Thanksgiving extremely special to now be with the ones you love and cherish. ¶ This year’s holiday was no exception as our annual pilgrimage down to the San Jose/Menlo Park area to feast upon cousin Arnie’s kitchen creations was a rinse and repeat session from years past. ¶ The kitchen is certainly the love center of any home during the holidays. The kitchen at our cousin’s also acted as the nerve center where the liquor was poured, the bird cooked and the pies were stacked. White Russians were the drink of the afternoon this year, and this liquid candy was just what the doctor ordered. ¶ Cousins Arnie and Micki travel from Florida each year for this celebration and it’s absolutely wonderful to spend this time with them, their daughter and granddaughter. ¶ With football games on in the background, and the masses huddled on the couch, our special girl was able to provide this portion of the family with some pretty darn special news, certainly news to be “thankful” for. ¶ Bonnie’s surgeon recently ordered a PETSCAN to ensure and validate no cancerous tumors or masses had leaked or spread further into her system. A PETSCAN, known in the medical field as a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance (called a tracer) to look for breast cancer. The tracer can help identify areas of cancer that an MRI or CT scan my miss. This scan requires a small amount of radioactive material given through a vein, usually on the inside of the elbow. It travels through the blood stream and collects in organs and tissues. The tracer helps the radiologist see certain areas or diseases more clearly. This breast PETSCAN is used only after a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is done to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes, liver, lung or bones. ¶ Bonnie’s diet for forty-eight hours prior to this event required her to abstain from carbohydrates, sugars, and caffeine. We called Starbucks prior to let them know their gold card member will not be in for two days!! We are very fortunate to live in an area where PETSCANS are available as they are very expensive and sophisticated tests requiring special expertise. ¶ Bonnie received the results of this PETSCAN on Wednesday, the afternoon before we packed our bags for our family Thanksgiving and the word “NEGATIVE” continues to be a very “POSITIVE” term in our lives. ¶ Sharing this with family during the Thanksgiving holiday is certainly one more reason to keep the glass holding the White Russian full (whipped cream if necessary)! ¶ We continue to be geographically separated, which gives stockholders of Southwest Airlines reason to rejoice, just as this news was regarding our special girl.

As a sidebar … please continue to think about sending me your thoughts regarding the post “YOUR TURN”. I look forward to hearing from you.

Keeping her close …

Love,

Paul

Your Turn


“Words can help. Here are mine. What are yours?” has been the tagline for the “CANCER … WE “CAN” BEAT THIS!” blog since its inception in January, 2011. ¶ I find it hard to believe three years has nearly passed since launching a blog site dedicated to my wife, my friend, my bride, and now a breast cancer survivor with two-hundred and fifty-five posts on the subject. The original intent of the blog was to keep friends and family on the east coast notified of our challenges, and ultimately our achievements. ¶ The binary success of this blog has reached all fifty states and some forty-four countries across the globe! I remember early on after receiving the diagnosis when wine bottles seemed to be the order of the day, followed by a heavy dose of pain killers actually prescribed by her medical staff where weekends were normally spent on the laptop while Bonnie started her Vicadin Vacation; menus to plan, groceries to purchase, laundry to take care of and toil with the forty hours each week. ¶ All of that was over within a flash and here we are three years later with a very healthy, happy and beautiful woman who never once asked the question “why me?”. ¶ On my way into work this morning I planned this post to ask you this question … if you were in my shoes, what would you have done differently? I am asking you to write to me with what you’ve learned about breast cancer, care giving, parenting, and relationships after reading these posts. ¶ From now through the end of December, 2013 I am asking you to submit your thoughts in a word document to my personal email address to give your prospective on this subject. ¶ Nothing is off the table. I have no plans of closing shop on this blog, none whatsoever, and during the month of December I would love nothing more than reprinting your stories through this medium as a way of closing out these three past years. Thoughts? I truly want to hear from you. ¶ Sit back, think about it and send your work to my email address at: papapaul94952@live.com. Words can help, these have been mine … what are yours?

Keeping her close …

Love,

Paul

My Fortune Cookie


I spend an awful lot of time aboard an aircraft. My week will start here in Los Angeles, but when the calendar turns its page three days from now you’ll find me packing the duffle bag I purchased in Sitka, Alaska nearly thirty years ago with my belongings for a weekend in San Francisco to be spent with my bride which aligns well with a recent fortune cookie which read “You will have a happy adventure soon.” ¶ Bonnie and I have been geographically separated now for nine months and after another wonderful and productive weekend in Northern California I find myself looking at the clock more than I should waiting for the afternoon whistle to blow so I can head to the apartment, unpack that duffle bag and throw my head down for a late afternoon-er. ¶ These nine months apart from each other have not been the easiest in the world for either of us, and I am without words to express my thanks for her unwavering independence. An attribute she picked up over the years while I was out to sea. In our twenty-five years with each other we’ve endured nearly a thousand inches of snow, numerous relocations, a devastating house fire, a hotel robbery, the tragic loss of her mother, battled and beat breast cancer and each morning she awakes with the same question she’s asked me since I’ve known her … “what time is it?” ¶ This past Sunday morning my response to that question was “10:00 AM” … her response? “Oh shit!” She had things to do that day, I had things to do as well and as she took her morning shower I could hear her humming which remains music to my ears. We all know the saying “a happy wife is a happy life”, and I’m here to tell you … that’s just what’s going on, geographically separated or not. ¶ Not only did she awake this morning at 3:30 AM to drive me into San Francisco for my early commuter flight back to Los Angeles, and then to return home, take care of a few things, and is now driving even further south of San Francisco into Silicon Valley to take care of her eleven-year old cousin for a week. If there’s one person anyone in this family can count on it’s the one person this blog is focused on; my wife Bonnie. ¶ After my nap this afternoon I’ll ramble down the street and say hello to all the cronies at Hacienda Playa, grab a bite to eat, see if I can talk the bartender into turning on a hockey game, have a few cold beers and heard back up the hill to the apartment for the evening. I’ll rinse and repeat this operation through Thursday night and what will my wife be doing? She’ll be taking care of her niece. Why? Because her cousin needed her to. ¶ People come into our lives in one way or another and as I look at the framed photograph of my wife here in front of my monitor I thank the day she came into mine. She’s truly one special young lady. One I’m fortunate enough to call my bride.

Keeping her close …

Love,

Paul

WITH HOPE, THE ODDS DON’T MATTER


Do you often wonder your reason for existence? This morning I have the distinct pleasure to share with you a phenomenal story regarding the acceptance of receiving the diagnosis and the courage to simply disagree with the prognosis. ¶ The world population is ripe with new cancer diagnosis on a daily basis, affecting everyone in its’ wake. ¶ You know Bonnie’s story and because of this blog you’ll be introduced to Heather’s battle, and yes, her acceptance and her achievements. ¶ We cannot win this battle on our own, and unfortunately I realize there are men and women, right now, struggling without a support system other than the white lab coats they see on a more than regular basis. ¶ I am proud to call Bonnie my “bride” as I often refer to her within this blog, and from the email you’ll read below there’s another very proud husband and father who has shown how much he cares for his bride as well.

I viewed the below link to this video yesterday and am so thankful for providing this conduit to Cameron and his beautiful wife Heather, and of course to the rest of Bonnie’s Beautiful Boosters. Enjoy.

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather

“Hi Paul,

Thanks for getting back to me! I was thrown into the role of caregiver when my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with a very rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma. It happened just three months after the birth of our only child. We were initially told that she could have less than 15 months to live, but she was able to defy the odds and eventually beat the cancer. Heather has now made it her mission to raise awareness and hope for people experiencing hard times.

I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing a short video about her story with your readers? You can see the video at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather. I know that cancer isn’t necessarily the focus of your blog, but a positive, uplifting story of survival can be inspiring for anyone. I would be honored and grateful if you would share our message of hope with your readers, who might take something away from it. Please take a moment to watch it, and let me know if you think it’s something you’d be interested in sharing!

Cam”

Keeping her close …

GO SOX!

Paul

Boston’s Blood Brothers


The native Boston tongue has words akin to the region. A few of these words are only used in the New England territory and when you hear them outside those six states you look around to see if he or she who spoke them is wearing the colors of their birthplace, you know, a SOX hat, a PATS jersey, an ORR shirt or even a CELTICS jacket. Nine times out of ten when you hear the words “wicked”, “pissah”, “reeetahhhdid”, “ballzy”, or even a dual combination of these terms you’ll have a penchant for walking up to them and confirming where they’re from. ¶ The rest of the nation knows of these terms because oddly enough we New Englanders are prone to be the loudest ones in the joint. Perhaps it’s pride, or possibly we just need to be loud enough to be heard over that particular state just south of us. ¶ In any case, I used a number of these idioms last night here in Playa del Rey while wearing my blue and very worn SOX hat. The regulars at Hacienda Playa know me well enough now to know the reason I’m here – that’s right, to sit down, enjoy a beer and watch our boys from Fenway take on the Cardinals in the World Series. ¶ As I mentioned in a previous blog, my first Cardinals/RED SOX World Series was at the age of six. Forty-six years later I find myself on the other coast doing the exact same thing … running to find this game on TV. ¶ When the ninth inning concluded, I paid my tab, walked on home with a smile and received a text from a truly dear friend I’ve been fortunate enough to know since I was about eight years old. His text referred to the possibility of hoisting the World Series trophy at Fenway for the first time since 1918. Now that the whole “curse of the bambino” is over the entire RED SOX NATION (RSN) is patiently awaiting the arrival of the RED SOX to return home for games 6 and *7 (*if necessary). ¶ The text from my buddy started this blog as I usually write the premise in my head and then sleep on it, but then the stars aligned and you’ll understand how in a moment. My buddy Mark and I have known each other since the early sixties, we’ve been to Fenway with each other multiple times, been to the PATRIOTS/Oilers divisional playoff game in 1978 together and we grew up on Springsteen, Skynyrd and The Who. As I got ready to assault my pillow last night I fired up my IPAD to watch a movie and found the program “SPRINGSTEEN and I”, a documentary on how the fans around the globe feel about Bruce. A perfect way to end the evening with the SOX taking two of three in St. Louis with my buddy Mark on my mind. ¶ As a few of you know, I’ve pumped a few dollars into the Springsteen machine since 1975 and have been lucky enough to stand in the pit during a live show in Charleston, SC a few years ago, close enough to put my elbow on the stage and be on the jumbo-tron with Bruce right there next to my bride. ¶ The movie itself is hero worship in the most extreme sense with an unabashed sincerity to it raising goosebumps on my arm as I write this today. ¶ The stars are so aligned; I had to provide you a fitting set of Springsteen lyrics to capture the moment we in RSN are feverishly placed in right now. Hope you enjoy … GO SOX!
Blood Brother
We played king of the mountain out on the end / The world come chargin’ up the hill, and we were women and men / Now there’s so much that time, time and memory fade away / We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take / We stood side by side each one fightin’ for the other / We said until we died we’d always be blood brothers / Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away / Makin’ a fool’s joke out of the promises we make / And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray / We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay / And it’s a ride, ride, ride, and there ain’t much cover / With no one runnin’ by your side my blood brother / On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks / Always movin’ ahead and never lookin’ back / Now I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know how I feel tonight / If I’ve fallen ‘neath the wheel, if I’ve lost or I’ve gained sight / I don’t even know why, I don’t know why I made this call / Or if any of this matters anymore after all / But the stars are burnin’ bright like some mystery uncovered / I’ll keep movin’ through the dark with you in my heart / My blood brother

Mark – thank you (always) for being there when it matters most!
Bonnie – I love you with everything I have.
To the SECCEN Seven … you guys are the best. Keep the faith. This post and these lyrics are for you and the rest of RED SOX NATION!

Keeping her close …

Love,
Paul

The Bearded Brood of Boston


There is truly nothing more exciting than to see the words “2013 World Series” painted behind home plate at Fenway Park. It’s media day at Fenway today and I can only imagine the vibe and enthusiasm in The Hub as Red Sox Nation prepares for the fall classic with home field advantage. ¶ I remember my first World Series experience and oddly enough the same two teams matched up for the World Series in 1967. For some strange reason I remember running home from Brown School Elementary to our little two bedroom cape on Longview Terrace to watch Jim Lonborg square off against Bob Gibson on our black and white television set in the den down the hall from the kitchen. Unsure why the game came on so early in the afternoon back then, or was I just running home to make sure I had a good spot in the den to myself? This was Yaz’s rookie season who shared the outfield with the likes of Reggie Smith, Tony Conigliaro and Ken Harrelson amongst others. The infield that year was Mike Andrews, Rico Petrocelli, George Scott, Joe Foy, Dalton Jones with Elston Howard behind the plate wearing the tools of ignorance. ¶ I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Carl Yastrzemski baseball card that year and thumb tacked it to a wall in my dad’s basement barroom where these black and white photographs of Yankee teams, Yankee players lived. If this is your first time to the blog you need to know my father, a native Bostonian was a die-hard New York Yankee fan, so now you know a little more about how well we got along during baseball season. Hell, my dad also went to the rival Salem High School across the bridge, lucky we got on with each other at all! Several hours had passed after my putting Yaz’s baseball card up there with those b&w pinstriped photos and being all of six years old I had no idea what a conniption is but I was about to find out! ¶ About 5:30 that afternoon my bedroom door opened, and there in the doorway stood my Dad holding Yaz’s card. He flung the card into my room with orders to start my own &*)*’n wall! All righty then! ¶ In the season which followed I went to Fenway for my first time. Dad stopped off at the Blue Star Lounge on Route 1 in Saugus on our way into town for a couple of cold ones. We were about to see the SOX and Yankees, what in the world were doing at the Blue Star Lounge? That’s an entirely different story and since we’re talking Boston Red Sox baseball I won’t even litter this blog entry with any more pinstripe pollution than I’ve already done. ¶ Suffice it to say, I’ll have on my colors here in Los Angeles for Game 1 and 2, and then fly home to San Francisco where Bonnie and I can watch Games 3 and 4 properly, as in, with each other clinking newly opened beers and glasses of wine with each heralded hoorah for the bearded brood we have grown to love. ¶ Scream it from your porches, scream it from your back doors, scream it from your cars boys and girls … “LET’S GO RED SOX!!”

Keeping her close …

Love,

Paul

The Pearl in the Oyster


There are days I walk alone down Pershing Avenue here in Playa del Rey and laugh at all the traffic heading south after a hard day’s work. I laugh because my day had ended a few hours before and now it’s time to head down to the local convenience store to purchase a power ball ticket and then wait at the crosswalk to walk over to Hacienda Playa for a few beers, some great Mexican food and watch whatever sporting event is on any one of their dozen flat screen televisions. Due to my Boston sports related superstitions, I do not watch any Boston related sporting event here at the Hacienda as the Celtics got blown out by nearly 30 points by the Knicks in the NBA playoffs a few months ago; have watched the Bruins get beat by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs; so it’s clear in my mind I’ll have to find another local establishment to watch the upcoming MLB playoffs this SOXTOBER. ¶ I recently returned to LA after a wonderful six day stretch with Bonnie and Taylor. Bonnie’s eighth breast cancer related surgery was at Marin General this past Monday to remove a suspicious “lump” identified by her surgeon Dr. Laura Norton during a recent check-up. There is no such thing as routine surgery, so anytime I can have one of my daughters with me it always an added benefit. After Bonnie was carted to surgery, Taylor and I left Marin General and did a little sightseeing at Fort Baker below the Golden Gate Bridge. We returned with an hour to spare and that damn clock in the waiting room was not my friend this time around as the hands ticked passed 1:PM, and then 1:30PM before Dr. Goodman (her plastic surgeon) walked in to tell me how well her surgery went and the lump appeared “benign”. Anytime a surgeon passes along this assessment is always good news, I don’t believe a professional would ever provide that information just to put a smile on my face. As we learned on Thursday at Bonnie’s follow-up with Dr. Goodman, the lump was nothing more than fatty necrosis. Whew!! ¶ So now the “separation” in this geographical separation with Bonnie and I plays its card again. Her facebook status the other day “And now he’s gone …” really saddened me, though this portion of the separation is limited to only a few days. I’ll be in line at the Southwest Airlines terminal again on Wednesday, the 25th to return to her arms again to celebrate our 25th! Dinner reservations already established, I just have to remember to pack the directions to the restaurant. Insert reminder here!! We have visitors coming to Sonoma County to help us celebrate our Silver Anniversary, the “Polish Posse” from New Britain, CT will be in the ‘hood and we cannot wait for their arrival. Margie, Bonnie’s maid of honor, her husband Ronnie, her sister Betsy and Betsy’s husband Teddy will truly make this a memorable 25th! Life with friends like this is the pearl in the oyster. The laugh-meter will be pegged the entire time. More to follow. ¶ Thank you all for your continued support, your questions, your heart-felt concern and the phone calls during Bonnie’s most recent surgery. We’ll be in each other’s arms soon … twenty-five years later, oh my!!

Keep her close.

Love,

Paul