Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Star House

     “It doesn’t exist, kid,” yelled Hawk, “Now activate your cocoon!” 

Comet touched the forearm-panel of her mega-suit. The dark face shield sealed her from the world. The last thing she saw would haunt her for the rest of her life, Lorin punching her panel frantically.

            Please, please, please let Lorin be okay, she thought while hearing the hard drops of liquid pelt her suit. Ringing ears listened to the echoes inside her cocoon as loud as bullets on the metal exterior. Bullets would do less damage. How she hated this part, if only they could travel at night, they wouldn’t have to deal with the toxic rains.

            In full protection mode, the mega-suit conserved energy, letting the special tyleum-coated metal protect its inhabitant. This seclusion took away the ability for teammates to radio each other, which drove Comet crazy. How am I supposed to know if Hawk and Lorin are okay?   

            Several hours after the last drop hit her suit, Comet came out of the cocoon. Adjusting to the late afternoon light, her eyes saw Hawk kneeling next to a lump of metal that used to be a mega-suit.

            “Lorin!” she shouted.

Hawk shook his head, “Sorry, kid, the suit malfunctioned.”

Comet leapt to where she last saw Lorin. A half-melted, empty mega-suit lay like a mound of flesh, its gaping holes mocked her.

Hawk stood up in the unofficial ceremony, looking away from the scene. He had no interest in grabbing any of Lorin’s possessions. Comet reached into the shell of a suit, knowing all too well that she wouldn’t touch Lorin.  The toxic rain dissolved all organic material while leaving everything else behind.  The enemy designed it that way to strike terror into the humans.

Unlike Hawk, Comet wanted to gather something that would remind her of Lorin. Her fingers, probing into the ruined suite’s gaping holes, touched something. She held it high as it dangled from a thin gold chain. A simple heart-shaped locket reflected the evening sun.

“This hung around her neck just a few hours ago,” said Comet.

“Yea, kid, makes you realize how reliant we are on these suits. I’m gonna personally rip someone’s heads off when we get to Avalon over this one. Let’s get moving,” replied Hawk.

The two companions walked through a maze of decaying steel beams and broken asphalt streets that used to form one of the biggest cities before the enemy came. Hawk led them, dodging back and forth picking the safest path.

“Isn’t Avalon south?” questioned Comet.

“Yep, we’re takin’ a detour,” replied Hawk. “I know someone who can help us, both our suits are damaged. We’ll make it through the night, but when the morning rains come again neither of us will survive.”

“The only place in that direction is Star House, where he lives.  He’s one of them.”

“We don’t know that. Razor said he’s a traitor to his kind and he’ll help humans,” said Hawk in a desperate tone. “You know we won’t make it to Avalon without his help.’

“That’s bullshit, Hawk! He helps no one but himself. Besides, Razor is dead, probably killed by that psycho.”

“We’re going, period.” Hawk hoped he’d put an end to that conversation.

As much as Comet hated to admit it, Hawk’s intuition kept them alive more than once.

Lorin, what should I do? Comet put the heart shaped locket around her neck, then put her helmet back on. “Well, if we are going to see him, we’d better bring it all.”1

Hawk nodded and headed toward Star House, continuing to pick the safest route through the shredded steel beams that surrounded them.

Rays from the dim sun touched the edge of the city as they reached its border. As they rested, eating the last of their food, Comet tried to make conversation.

“You think he’ll know about the gateway?”

“Your black bangs are creepin’ in your ears and damaging your brain, kid. I’m telling ya, it doesn’t exist.”

“Lorin talked about it all the time. She believed in the gateway. Of the three of us she had the most brains.”

They spoke no more. Although the mega-suits partially helped them walk, traveling in them made their muscles ache. Hiking out of the city and through the woods changed the landscape from the twisted metal and building rubble to charred trees. The hills still existed but the enemy destroyed most vegetation. The lack of trees made the air heavy and hard to breath. As much as she hated the cocoons, at least they provided fresh air with one of the few systems that continued to run. Leaving the city far behind, the rolling hills became their only constant.

“Look,” said Comet as she pointed to a bright beam on the horizon that streaked into the sky and beyond. It could be seen in the dark night for miles around. “What is it?”

“Star House,” replied Hawk. “Getting’ closer.”

“Are you kidding me, you dumb oaf!” she shouted.  “He is communicating with them, this proves it. I refuse to go there. If you were smart, you’d turn around and come with me.”

“You can go, kid, but you won’t make it far,” Hawk turned and pointed to the pale light of the sun coming up from their east.  “Morning sun means the first rain of the day. Star House is our only chance.”

“Damn you Hawk! We’re dead either way. If we somehow live through this, I’m going to kill you.” Comet stomped off toward the large beam as Hawk shook his head.

Star House appeared after they struggled over a few more hills. By time the brilliant white light that radiated from the walls of the house could be seen, the beam that streaked toward the sky had stopped. The two soldiers approached the massive structure, mouths gaping.

“This damn place is bigger than the entire city we just left,” Comet said.

“Yea, I hear he is big, so its fitting he lives in a big place,” laughed Hawk.

Still some ways off, the familiar sound of thunder came. They broke into a run toward Star House as the rains drenching the hills behind them. The winds rolled up and bit their backs. The mist from the toxic rains caught up wafting around them.

“Cocoon?” Comet shouted in a question.

Before Hawk could answer a whirring sound from above made both adventurers tumble. The mists and winds cleared away from the hovering saucer. The powerful push from above pinned them. From the ship came another beam, similar to the one they saw coming from Star House, but this one pointed at them, not the sky. The warm light moved over the soldiers. They sensed their bodies being lifted. Traveling through the beam, vibrations surrounded the pair. Every cell in their bodies moved as if each had its own life.

Comet attempted to twist and see if she could touch Hawk but instead the vibrations from around her threatened to rip her cells apart if she didn’t cooperate. Complying, she laid back giving into the beam as it lifted her into the craft. A pulsing became so strong that Comet fell into unconsciousness.

            Deafening silence woke her. Comet sensed Hawk close by, both in a large room. Her dry mouth croaked through the silence as she attempted to call his name. Hawk ran through the massive room to her side.

            “You okay, kid?” He gave her some water from a small pouch.

            “I’ll live. Are we in Star House?”    

            “What gives that away, the thirty-foot ceilings or the fact that the room is so wide we can’t see the walls?”

            “Oh, is this place that big to you?” asked a soft androgenous voice.

            Searching the massive fog-filled room for the source, the two adventurers saw him approaching from a distance.

            “I must apologize for the,” he paused “uncomfortable ride to my abode but those rains the brutes created were about to overwhelm you. I had to do something desperate and the drones and their beams were the only way I could think to get you to safety.”

            Hawk and Comet looked at the large humanoid in front of them. From his fifteen-foot-tall slender frame sprouted four appendages that seemed like human arms and legs, but his arms hung much lower than a human’s. The fingers almost touched the ground. A bald, narrow head with large, black, lifeless eyes stared at them.

            Comet heard herself blurt out, “Does the gateway exist or not?”

            “Ah, the primitive knowledge you possess is quite becoming. This gateway, as you children of dust call it, exists. My race is searching for it, that search is what brought us to your planet. The gateway is an entrance to wormholes. With command of the gateway, my race could travel to any time and space we want. You see, our leaders want to conquer the entire universe. As much as I disagree with their ethics, I certainly love their knowledge and drive.”

            “How do I get to the gateway?” questioned Comet.

            “You are dealing with stuff we don’t understand, kid,” said Hawk. “Let it go, let’s just get to Avalon.”

            “No, Hawk, she has a valid question. It’s closer than you think. Wouldn’t you want to get out of this hell that was once your paradise?” the alien questioned.

            “There is no way I’m trusting you. We made a mistake coming here. You can let us go,” replied Hawk.

            “No, actually we need you and your race. Your unique essence can provide us what we need in our search for the gateway and eventually the wormholes. Of course, your kind are destroyed in the process. A necessary consequence.”

            “You aren’t a trader to your kind then. You collect humans and experiment with the wormhole. Is that it?” asked Hawk.

            “You are smarter than the average child of dust. Smarter than Razor ever was,” said the grey as he stepped forward, reaching out to Hawk and Comet.

            Hawk jumped into action tapping his forearm-panel. In response a large gatling gun popped from his shoulder, firing at the tall enemy.  A small movement from the grey and several drones appeared, two creating a shield that protected the grey and three that sprayed Hawk and Comet with a mist that dissolved their suites.

            “Accept your role in life. You are inferiors put here to help us. You are stripped of all your defenses and weapons,” calmly stated the grey as he stepped toward them again.

            Just then a hot sensation burned through Comet as her hand instinctively went to Lorin’s locket, still hanging around her neck. The grey noticed and for the first time he showed emotion.

            “That’s it!” he exclaimed as he quickly covered the ground between them, reaching for Comet.

            Like Lorin’s death, the next thing she saw would also haunt her for the rest of her life. Hawk jumped between the two and blocked the giant from his attack on Comet.

            “Open it kid!” he screamed. “The locket!”

            As her thumb popped the heart-shaped locket. The room trembled. A quiet hum grew to a loud roar that matched the vibration. A bright white light engulfed the room and blinded her. Both Hawk and the grey fell to the ground. In what seemed like a quick moment, the light dimmed as the sound dissipated.

            The crisp air washed over her body as if to cleanse her, as the rays of the sun gently danced on her exposed skin. Comet wiped her long black bangs away from her eyes as she looked around confused, surrounded by trees and people who stared back at the woman who was not there a moment ago.   

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Farmers Markets in Cleveland

Cleveland is a great city, period….   There is so much to do and experience here.  In addition to the world class events that it puts on, Cleveland has a vibrant and real food scene.  We have so many great restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries.  Food runs from local celebrity chefs to, outstanding international restaurants and food trucks galore.  But what about vegetables and fruits?  Who out there doesn’t like fresh fruits and vegetables?  Did I say like?  I’m talking love, obsession and addiction.  Those heritage tomatoes that are so fresh you can smell them five feet away are an example of what I’m talking about.  Peppers that are bursting with flavor and heat.  Cantaloupes and other melons that taste like candy they are so luscious!!  We are in the midst of one of the best times of year for foodies, health conscious people or just people looking for some great tasting food.  In Cleveland that is between July and September.  You know why?  This is the time that all the local farmers start reaping their bounty.  There are dozens of Farmer’s Markets and Fresh Produce stands that pop up in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs during these months.  It doesn’t matter if you live downtown or in any suburb, you will be able to find them everywhere.  There are over seventy five in Cleveland and the surrounding area alone.  I’ve been to many of them and one thing I notice, besides the incredible produce, is that the farmers and people that are selling at these stands are so friendly.
Below is a list of a few farmer’s markets and food stands in the area, however, if you do an online search for Farmer’s Markets in Cleveland, you will realize how big this scene is.  How do you pick your favorite one?  Is it location, personality, bounty?  We’ll I’ll tell you about my favorite one.  It’s a roadside market on Sprague Road in Strongsville called My Garden.  It is run by Penny and David who have been growing and picking vegetables and fruits for fourteen years.  They are so friendly that every time my wife shows up to buy our weekly load of fruits and veggies she also gets hugs.  You have to check them out.  See the pictures below to get an idea of what many people experience every day at their market.  Because we are such huge fans of Penny and David, we asked them to give us a little story about how they got the idea to start My Garden.

Like many people who have home gardens David and Penny decided to plant some tomato plants one summer, twelve to be exact.  What they quickly found out was that twelve tomato plants were more tomatoes than they needed, more than they could eat, freeze or give away.  What to do with all these extra tomatoes?  See the answer in their wonderful story below, told from Penny’s point of view.

David decided after he retired that we should start a little garden, so we planted twelve tomato plants only to discover there were far more tomatoes then we could ever eat, freeze, or give away. We put the picnic table down in front ,right where the wagon sits today, filled some baskets with tomatoes, added a Maxwell house coffee can with a sign telling folks to take what they want and leave whatever they would like in the can. I was personally getting quite a kick out checking the can and watching the tomatoes flying off the table. One day we came home to find a note in the can with a rock on top of it. Some kind person said they were worried the can would fall over and the money would fall out so they placed a rock on top. 
Well from that year on, David decided to take up a notch by growing a little bit of everything. However the picnic table would never do for that many veggies. So he found this old wagon frame from an old timer, brought it home and began to build a wagon. Our first wagon was less than half the size it is today. As the gardens grew so did the wagon. It has been taken down to the frame a total of three times, each time David extends the frame out to accommodate the bigger size. I think it has now reached its max. We had the awning made for it and it does make a nice appearance for our customers. 
We have just finished our fourteenth year and we are still amazed that the good folks still look forward to seeing that old farm wagon every year! It has been a very rewarding experience, we have met people from all walks of life and all ages. We know so many of them on a first name basis and see them year after year. I guess to sum this all up, it makes it all work worthwhile when someone says how much they appreciate our effort to give good veggies and how much they look forward to seeing that wagon every year! We have just the best customers anywhere, well yes, and a few stinkers but the good far, far outweigh the few! There are a precious few that have touched my heart and I will never forget them. We do realize that all good things will come to an end, David is now seventy - five and I'm ......well I'm not too far behind. We will take it one year at a time. I think we still have another year or two left in us, the Good Lord willing, will see you next year!

This story was given at the end of last year. Here we are back in July and ready for more fresh fruits and veggies.  Timing couldn't be better!!  As you can see David and Penny love what they do and have made many friends from their veggie stand.

Besides My Garden on Sprague Road in Strongsville, here is a list a few others in all areas of Cleveland.  We can’t possibly list them all so leave a comment and tell us about your favorite Farmer’s Market, you know which one mine is!!


Strongsville Farmers Market
Strongsville Town Commons
Pearl & Royalton Rd.
Thursdays 2pm-6pm
August 7 - October 2
(440) 580-3276

Willie's Farm Market
7136 Pearl Road
Middleburg Heights
Daily 10am-6pm

Crocker Park Market
North Union Farmers Market
See website for additional details
Oberlin Farmers Market
85 S. Main St., 
Oberlin, Oh
See website for additional details

Tremont Farmers Market
Lincoln Park
West 14th St. Between Kenilworth and Starkweather
See website for additional details
North Coast Harbor Farmers Market
Across from the Old Stone Church
See website for additional details

Cleveland State Farmers Market
1930 Euclid Ave Cleveland
See website for additional Details
Broadway Farmers Market
Dan Kane Gardens
See website for additional Details

Shaker Square Market
13209 Shaker Square
Shaker Heights
See website for additional Details

Chargrin Falls Market
North Main Street & North Franklin St
Chagrin Falls
See website for additional Details

First Baptist Church Farmers Market
3630 Fairmount Blvd
Shaker Heights
See website for additional Details!about
Geauga Fresh Farmers Market
5205 Chillicothe Rd
South Russell
See website for additional Details

Coventry Market
1824 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights
Thursdays 6-9
Coit Road Farmers Market
15000 Woodworth Ave
See website for additional details

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Human Nature

A few weeks ago I was over at a friend's house with a group of guys I've known for over twenty years.  The night went in two phases.  The first part of the night was filled with joking, reminiscing and making fun of each other.  Pretty standard stuff for people that have known each other for twenty plus years.  The second part of the night was a bit different than usual.  We had some very serious discussions about Human Nature and what it was.  It's not like we said, 'hey, what is human nature?'  but everything we started talking about came back to human nature.  These are conversations I never would have had when I met these guys in high school.  We weren't capable of such in depth conversations.  After all we didn't have the life lessons that have been taught to us over the last twenty (pushing twenty five now).  So, what is human nature and is it the link that binds us historically to our ancestors more than anything else?

According to Human Nature is:
the psychological and social qualities that characterize humankind, especially in contrast with other living things.

What does that mean?  My take on it is this, it's basically what makes us, as humans, unique from anything else on this planet.  A lot of it is how we react with the knowledge we know.  George Santayana's famous (often misquoted) saying "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is very thought provoking.  I'd like to take it one step further.  Even if we know history and the past, we see the mistakes and blunders of others, we often repeat them.  Why?  Not because we are stupid, if we were stupid we would have been extinct long ago.  But because we have human nature.  We make many choices based on our emotions.  Even if that does not make sense.  Why do you think it is said that hind sight is 20/20?  Because, looking back on situations in retrospect is usually done with less emotion and more of an analytical mind.  I feel our strong sense of emotions are one of the things that make us human.  So maybe the mistakes we make aren't really mistakes, they are just us doing what we do as human race.  

Tell me what you think?  Do you like to hear that your mistakes are part of who you are?  It also means your successes are part of who you are.   Have a great week and I'll hopefully post more later this week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The brown grass is turning greener!! (AKA: Brown Grass part II)

First off, congratulations to the Gathering Place for an incredibly fun and successful fundraiser at Crocker Park last week.  Dana and I had a great time working and playing there.  Once I find a link to some pictures I’ll post them so everyone locally can see what a great time it was and make a point to come out next year, if you couldn’t make it this year!!  Updated Sunday 8:50pm... Here is the link.

One of the deals you make with your doctors, after surviving cancer, is that you have to go back and see them periodically.  How often depends on a number of factors, what type of cancer and how long you’ve been finished with treatments are two determinants.  In my case I’ve been going back every three months since I’ve finished my treatments.  I’ll do that for two years.  After that I can cut down my follow up visits once every five to six months for a year or two.  Then after that I’ll go see them once a year.  This is all assuming there are no signs of cancer, which is what my doctors and I fully expect to find (or better said “not” find).

For my first few follow up visits it was always a relief to go see them.  I couldn’t wait for the next three months to go by.  I wanted and needed the reassurance that the once thing that threw my life into a tailspin was not coming back.  I craved those visits, wanted to hear the words from the doctors that everything was still fine and I’m doing great.  I heard it every time.  I didn’t care that those words sometimes needed to be accompanied by more tests, more needles, more lying still on a table for full body scans.  I didn’t care that I have to endure my all-time least favorite activity, “the nose scope”.  I craved those words like an addict craves his substance.

But now I’m fifteen months out.  The visits are getting routine.  I still enjoy going and love to hear those words that everything is OK.  But I don’t crave them with the same intensity.  Right after treatment you are like a newborn, who doesn’t understand what the future holds.  But, like a growing child, you gain more confidence in the results after every visit.  Going on my routine visit now is more like going to visit an old friend.  Even if I’ve only known these doctors for a couple years our circumstances for meeting and our connections thereafter were all very intense.  You can bond to them quickly.  Now that they are more in a monitoring phase, you kind of talk to them a bit differently and see them in a slightly different light.  I’m completely amazed at how brilliant they are at what they do.  Before cancer I knew that it went on.  Modern   Doctors have always worked tirelessly to save people’s lives from cancer.  During cancer you don’t think about it, you are in a partnership with them to get you through to tomorrow.  It’s not until after cancer, when the dust settles that the impact of what they do on a daily bases sinks in.  What a great feeling!!

I had one of these follow-up visits last Friday.  I am, once again, glad to hear that things are looking great for me.  I am still cancer free.   I am also glad to see my “old friends” again.  If for no other reason,  just to appreciate what they do.

Does anyone have any comments on visiting doctors for any type of follow-up visits?  What if you don’t get along with your doctors, or disagree with them?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Congratulations Discovery, you finished off strong.

Before I talk about the Space Shuttle Discovery I have a quick announcement.  If anyone reading this is in the Cleveland Area there is a great event going on this Saturday March 12th at Crocker Park.  It's a fundraiser  that benefits the Gathering Place.  The Gathering Place's mission is to support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge.  My family and I used their services a lot during my fight with cancer.  Click here for details.  I hope to see you there. Now, back to the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Space shuttle Discovery completed the orbiter's final mission this week.  It landed at the Kennedy Space Center this week for the final time.   Check out it's final landing here.

There are only two space shuttle flights left until NASA closes it's doors on a program that started thirty years ago on April 12, 1981.  The two remaining flights will launch soon.  Endeavour will fly it's last flight on April 19th and will be commanded by Mark Kelly,  the husband of Gabrielle Gifford, the congress woman who was shot in Arizona earlier this year.  The final shuttle mission will be flown by the space shuttle Atlantis on June 28.  This 

final flight from the Atlantis will be the 135th time a space shuttle has flown a mission.

According to NASA's website Discovery is named for two famous sailing ships; one sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610-11 to search for a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the other by James Cook on a voyage during which he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

Here are a few highlights from this incredible piece of machinery.
  • It's flown into space more than any other space vehicle.
  • Took the Hubble Telescope into space.
  • Launched countless satellites into space.
  • Ferried people and modules to and from the International Space Station.
  • Over 350 days in orbit.
  • Circled Earth over 5600 times.
  • Traveled over 143 million miles (That's to the Sun and 1/2 way back)
  • The first space shuttle to visit the Russian Space Station Mir.

One of the most important statistics in my mind is the role Discovery had in bringing people back into space after both the Challenger and the Columbia disasters.  It was the first shuttle to fly after each of these disasters, restoring America's pride and faith in the space program.  It reminded us and the world of the resolve the people of the United States have.  It was a symbol for determination and persistence and reminded us all that we must rise from the ashes of tragedies like these and keep moving forward.  If not, then the deaths of those astronauts would have been in vain.

The space shuttle program has always been an incredible source of pride for me, as I was too young to experience first-hand the rocket programs and moon landings so many decades before the first space shuttle ever lifted off.  I've grown up with the space shuttles and now that they are about to retire it gives me the same feeling I get when other great events in life are coming to an end.  Sadness that they are going yet excitement to see what their children and grandchildren will be like.  Congratulations and Farewell Discovery, you've had a great career and I enjoyed watching you over the last 30 years.

What are your thoughts of the Space Shuttle Discovery?  Is it something you enjoy or something you just don't care about?  Leave a comment or take the poll on the left side of this posting.  It's open until March 17th.

If you have time check out this video from NASA that is a great history of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Cancer Survivor's View - The grass is always browner on the other side

Wow!! That's some brown grass.
I'm glad mine isn't that brown.
When I was going through chemotherapy and radiation, I often had to look internally for a pick up.  I had plenty of external support, probably more than, or at least as much as, most.  My wife and kids, my family, friends even my Doctor's throughout the whole process were telling me things were going great.  Sometimes, you just feel alone.  It's no ones fault.  That is just the way it is.  You tell me they are going great but I can't hear, taste, sleep, swallow, keep weight on or much more.  This vicious cycle has the potential to whittle away some of the positive attitude you brought in to the process with you.  How much more can a body take?  I found out that the body can take much more than mine went through,  if it had too.  As long as the mind enforces the fact that that this whole experience is temporary.  If it's six months or five years, there will be some times better than others and it will end.  This was especially true for me.  I was told, even before I started any treatments, that there would be a definite start and end to it.  There was a chance we would have to go further with more treatments but odds were it would be finished.  So what did I do to get me through, once my mind started getting taxed and frustrated?  I looked at the brown grass.

Sounds odd and even now thinking about it, it sounds very selfish.  But there is a point where you have to stop putting energy into pretending you are doing fine so everyone else is comfortable and just focus internally on what you have to do to get better.  Let me explain what I mean by "brown grass".  We all know the saying, the grass is always "greener" on the other side.  It implies that when you are having hard times, you look around you and see that other people are seemingly doing so much better than you.  That really seems to just get you down further, I never really understood that.  Here is how my "brown grass" theory works.

My radiation treatments were always at the same time.  Every day at 10:00 am.  As you can imagine many people have the same times for there appointments.  Maybe 9:45 or 10:15 but you start noticing the same people hanging out in the waiting room.  Over time, you make eye contact and smile, maybe strike up a conversation.  It's not too hard to strike up conversation, you know right off the bat that you have something in common.  One day, my wife and I were talking to Bill and his wife.  Bill had cancer in his neck too.  He was quite a few years older than I was and about three weeks ahead of me in treatments.  That means he had around fifteen more radiation treatments than I did at the time.  I was always amazed at how well Bill was doing.  He walked in every day, smiled at everyone and would strike up conversations.  He really seemed to be doing well.  Bill and I were talking about how things were changing physically for each of us.  I had a hard time hearing him because the chemo and radiation were doing a number on my hearing at that time.  I flat out told him, "Bill, you look like your doing great, but I can't really hear what you are saying."  In response Bill said, very loudly,  "Oh, that's OK that you can't hear me because I can't see you OR hear you."  When we realized we were both having similar issues, it struck us as funny and started laughing hysterically.

There was another guy I met, who was younger than Bill, probably just a few years older than me.  He was having a rough time because he always considered himself a 'Bull' in life. He was a real tough guy.  But the cancer treatments were really taking him down a notch.  The bull wasn't as tough as he initially thought.  None of us were.  But we were all getting through it.

Another friend, similar troubles and another and another.  But we were all getting through it somehow.  I realized, as bad as I felt other people were feeling just as bad (or worse) and they were getting through it, so I could too. "The grass is always browner on the other side,"  was born.  I may have been struggling through the experience, but to see Bill, the "Bull" and others struggling helped me realize I wasn't alone in my experience.  My hope is that by them seeing me struggle they could gain some strength from me as well.  I didn't care if they perceived me as doing 'worse' than they were.  In my perspective their brown grass helped me, but my brown grass was helping them too.

Over time we all lost touch with each other but I often think of them and how their lives are progressing. I only hope they are doing as well as I am.  It's time for the brown grass to turn green and give inspiration to others  in that way.

Have you dealt with getting through cancer treatments or any rough spots in your life?  How did you get through it, did you look to others with a similar situation and draw strength from them?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cardiac Sarcoma

Hearts are STRONG!!
Today’s post is to bring attention to a type of cancer that does not hit a lot of people.  I can relate to this. I can’t tell you how many people said to me ‘tonsil cancer, I’ve never heard of it’ when I was fighting cancer.    Actually I’ve never heard of tonsil cancer before it hit me.  However, when you are going through it, you get an intimate understanding of what it is and want everyone else to know that too.  This cancer I’m writing about today is called Cardiac Sarcoma.  It affects barely ten thousand people in the USA per year.  I’d be curious to find the world wide numbers.   Today’s posting is inspired by a friend of Dana’s (my wife) from high school.  His name is Joe and he was diagnosed with Cardiac Sarcoma and is currently battling it.  Take a moment and say a prayer, send positive thoughts or do whatever you can to help out Joe.  I had a lot of prayers said for me during my battle with tonsil cancer and I’m sure that is one of the main reasons I got through it.

I’ve been researching Cardiac Sarcoma to find out more about it and this is what I came up with.  This post is by no means a medical document and should not be read that way.

What is it?  Cardiac Sarcoma is basically a tumor that grows on the heart.  This is a malignant tumor so you can image how important and urgent treatment is, once diagnosed.  According to many sources, including the actual definition is:

Cardiac sarcoma is a type of tumor that occurs in the heart. Cardiac sarcoma is a primary malignant (cancerous) tumor. Tumors are considered to be either primary tumors or secondary tumors. A primary tumor is the original site of tumor growth. A secondary tumor originates from another tumor elsewhere in the body

From what I read if the tumor started it the heart it is most likely cancer.  However there are some sarcomas that start in other soft tissues of the body, usually those are not malignant.  Even if they eventually travel to the heart.  The type that starts elsewhere is considered a secondary tumor once in the heart.

What are the symptoms?  Well this is always tricky, but depending on where the tumor is located by (or in) the heart you can have the following (and more):
  • Coughing Up Blood
  • Fever
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Always Tired
  • Irregular Heartbeats
  • Trouble Breathing
What is the Treatment?  Treatment seems to be the same treatment used for a lot of cancers including Surgery, Radiation and Chemotherapy.  The one treatment that is different is getting a heart transplant.  Treatments depend on a number of factors including how advanced the cancer is, your age,  expectations of the disease and your opinion.

Finishing Up:  Cancer sucks, plain and simple.  Heart issues suck.  When the two are put together ist seems like a terrifying combination.  However, the human spirit can overcome a lot.  Hang in there Joe and family.  You can take this cancer down.

Does anyone else know about Cardiac Sarcoma?  If so, tell me something I didn’t find by doing some research.