April 25, 2006

Feeding a live young Tiger at the Tiger Zoo: Part of Our Celebration of Good News (the tiger in this picture is real)

After Mark received good news from his CAT SCan (see blog below), Dr. T. wanted to start another round of chemotherapy the next day, but Mark begged for five days off to go celebrate the news and his second birthday since cancer diagnosis. He wanted very much to go to Hong Kong on a cheap package tour to the Disney Park, but we decided we had to save the money for continuing cancer treatment. We settled for Pattaya the nearest city with beaches. Pattaya has a reputation for partying and bars. It also has stretches of beautiful beaches with nice hotels, five star hotels, and even a water park hotel. We opted for the latter and spent three days in the water park going down the huge water slides and playing in the water interspersed with serious resting. The water park costs 100 baht for all day (about $2.50). We walked the beach and toured a fabulous private home on the beach that we could rent, but remember we are saving money for chemo. On the way home, we stopped at the Siracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi. Mark and I (and especially his sister Stephanie) love seeing the baby tigers and baby pigs which are raised together in nurseries. A tiger mother nurses both tiger cubs and pigs with the piglets dressed in tiger suits. Another nursery has a mother pig nursing baby tigers and piglets but the tigers don't have on pig suits. Lots of big tigers here too and they are quite fun to watch. Feeding a young tiger is a challenge. The tiger behaves only as long as the milk lasts and you have to help him hold the bottle just so.

Mark is Back in Chemo April 25-26 We returned on Sunday night and Monday morning Mark went into outpatient to begin chemo. It is still hard for him to make himself go for chemo. He hates it but knows it is what he has to do. He was hospitalized overnight and gets chemo again today (Tues). The nurses kept trying to get him to give up his clothes and put on a gown, but he steadfastly refused trying to hold onto a feeling of wellness and being in control as long as he could and so he got chemo while dressed.

Send Mark a Note of Congradulations - You can send Mark a note to congradulate him on his progress in the battle against cancer and to let him know you still care. If you are where you can buy Kool-aide, tuck in a couple of packages of sugar free Black Cherry Kool-aide if you can. It is your support that keeps Mark going. It means everything to him. See blogs below for address.

April 19, 2006

Mr. Mark got a CAT scan for his birthday present and here is the good news! (Picture of Mr. Mark on his birthday with some of his many flowers which thrive under his care.)
You may recall that on Miss Mom's last trip to Thailand, Mr. Mark learned that his esophageal-gastric juncture tumor had disappeared after chemo and radiation. He still had liver tumors and continued chemotherapy. Today on Mark's actual birthday we sat down with Dr. Theera to get good news. This CAT scan report says: The study reveals interval decrease in size and number of multiple liver metastases in both hepatic lobes, largest now measuring 1.7X2 cm. Dr. T was amazed, happy, and excited with this progress in fighting cancer and attributes it to V-P 16 and Platinol. I think Dr. T's constant attention to lab values and correcting problems promptly have been a big plus in addition to support from family, friends, and strangers. Mr. Mark is not cured yet..he is still fighting liver cancer but there are less tumors and they are smaller. Keep the support coming. Mark thrives on it and thanks you for it. While Dr. T. did not agree to radio frequency ablation, he said he would study on it and thought timing important with continuing chemotherapy most important right now.
Dr. T told success stories from his time at M.D. Anderson. One woman with terminal cancer and septisemia, similar to what Mark had. outlived one of her doctors and lived 20 years after diagnosis and treatment of cancer and septisemia.

April 17, 2006

Today the Suspense Builds.It Is the Day for Mark's CAT Scan
This is the big day that Mark has been postponing. Another CAT scan. He has not had one for awhile. This should tell the story of why he has a large bulge on the upper left chest and chest pain and if his liver tumors are shrinking, staying the same or thriving on chemo...and if he is free from any other metastasis. We leave for Bumrungrad Hospital soon. Latter today we will post the results of the CAT scan, so check back in latter today.
Later (the next day) Dr Theera, Mark's primary doc and chemo specialist, was sick yesterday and is out sick again today. It is funny in a bizzare cartoon show kind of way when the doc is sicker than the patient. We will not learn the results of the CAT scan until tomorrow.
Happenings in Bangkok Songkran is over. It lasted several days during which many stores and the banks and offices were closed. Yesterday was a normal day until 6 pm at which time the bars all closed and all alcohol sales stopped and this lasts 30 hours until midnight tonight . Soi Cowboy the famous street of bars is black. We took a walk there and it was a strange change from bright lights to very dark. It is a time of elections and people from villages who are living in Bangkok must return to their villages to vote. I hear there is another voting day at the end of the month so two chances to vote and you must vote or you loose government assistance in some way unclear to me. This is kind of like Joseph and Mary returning to the village in the bible story.
April 18th Two days until Marks birthday You can send cards late. The celebration goes on for at least another couple of weeks. tune in to see how we end up celebrating on the 20th.

April 16, 2006

Songkran (Thai New Year's Water Festival on Soi Cowboy, Bangkok, April 2006
Mark got ready for the Songkran festival on the Soi (street). He asked if we thought he should wear his dress jacket or not, thinking it would be funny to wear swim trunks and a dress jacket. At first the thought is to say "no, why ruin a great jacket?" and then "why not?" Life is uncertain when you have cancer and even when you don't so, why not use the jacket if you want to? It turned out to be a great idea as it protected Mark from the cold water that was being thrown and shot from water pistols and hoses on the street: activities to celebrate the Thai New Year. Mark's sister and teachers from Japan that were with her (Phillip and Will) also joined whole heartedly in the fun, with big water guns and then putting powder on peoples faces.
Mark to get his CAT scan on Tuesday - Return to this site on Wednesday to learn the results of Mark's CAT scan. We pray for good news and if good news, what else can Mark do to fight liver cancer? We are looking for that answer.
Food News In the meantime, while waiting for the CAT scan, we are watching movies and doing a lot of home cooking and a little eating out. Wednesday we shopped for big shrimp and vegetables and fruits in Klong Tuey Market. Jin prepared several Thai dishes which I am still learning to cook with her help. Thursday night we went to the Oriental hotel for a drink and dinner with Terry and her husband Jerry. Terry is the principal of the school where Stephanie teaches in Japan. Terry had arranged a table outside on the terrace and we were sitting at the edge of the Cho Phyra River watching the lighted boats going by. We were each given orchid and jasmine garlands by the hostess. The Oriental Hotel is one of the most beautiful hotels in Bangkok. It is very upscale and has a serious dress code. For example in the day time, guests may pass thru the lobby to their rooms in shorts but not stop in the lobby. Non guests are not allowed into the hotel at all in shorts unless going to a guest's room. The dress police are serious. If you want to know what I had to eat, I had a very good lobster sandwich which actually was quite reasonable in price.
Friday night before Steph's teacher friends went to the airport, we piled into two Taxis and went to a great all you can eat restaurant called The Stables, on Soi Eight. For about 10 dollars a person there is a salad bar, soup, baked potato, corn on the cob with all the trimmings, and you pick out what you want put on the grill. Choices are: New York Strip Steak, huge shrimp, muscles, clams, chicken, shish Kabobs of all kinds.
In contrast to the Oriental cuisine and The Stables fare, Stephanie cooked sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast and meatloaf and brownies for snacking. Mark said: "Steph you are a good cook." I said: Yes a great cook." Steph responded modestly: "Well, at least it is edible." We love to tease each other a bit so I responded: "Well, we wouldn't want to go that far."
Cards, postcards, and letters for Mark's birthday - Mark has cards displayed everywhere and he loves them. If you have not sent one yet, it is not too late to get one in the mail. He loves everyone he gets.
Old posts on the blog - If you have not read all the stories on the blog, go to the archives and click on the oldest one. Skip anything dull and read the ones that interest you. There is a good picture of Mark wearing the Alien Baby Hat. See if you can find it.

April 08, 2006

Mark and Stephanie with powder on their faces at Songkran festival

Family Reunion Begins In Bangkok
Mr. Mark's sister Stephanie arrived in Bangkok with two of her teacher friends (spring break from teaching in Yokosuka Japan). She brought food stuff that is hard to buy in Thailand, books for Mark, and a crockpot to cook roasts in. The mom is headed out from Austin on Monday, suitcases similarly loaded but with different food stuffs including two large cooked briskits, and sacks of cream gravy mix (a staple of cowboy cooking). There will be a lot of cooking going on and we will cook some Thai dishes too. I have been thinking about eventually co-authoring a receipe book with Mark and a Thai friend and selling it to raise money for his cancer treatment or giving it to people who send donations.
Songkran. This is the Thai New Year. People wear Hawaiian shirts and have the big water guns and hoses and spray each other with water and put powder on peoples' faces. . Fun and laughter add some quality to Mark's life and may be what keeps him going. Does anyone want to join the Richardson Family Reunion in Bangkok this year or next for Thai New Years)?
Mark's Birthday is April 20.