July 22, 2006

Fear:Cancer's dark shadow and companion.
While Mr. Mark is very brave, he still has his fears: fear the MRI will bring bad news, fear his chest pain or kidney problems are due to metastasis, fears about finances, fears he will get worse or die before he gets to do some things he wants to do like go to some major league baseball games, go camping with his friend Allen, sail again, and work with me on a novel, and fears that I know nothing about.

He is fearful he will get worse and not be able to come home so we are bringing him home this coming Friday. There are no inexpensive tickets at this time and nothing in the Fall, so far. After he researched and researched tickets as did I, we decided to bite the bullet and just charge the ticket. Uncle Bob and Aunt Dorothy sent money to help as did friend Mark Foster and MEDICO's executive director Lynda Peters. Mark and I will find the rest.

Mr. Mark is so encouraged and cheered up by people writing him notes and helping him. His goal is to get his own apartment in the states and work again. Dr. Theera told him a couple of weeks ago that he has a 50% chance of living a year which really depressed him at first, but his sister, Stephanie, reminded him that he was told 18 months ago that he had three months or less to live. We hope Mark will continue to stretch those percentages and predictions to their outer limits.

Stephanie made some calls to the Veteran's administration and yesterday she and I were in Houston to visit the new VA hospital associated with the Baylor school of Medicine and MD Anderson. Mark's doctor in Thailand was a medical officer at the VA in Houston at one time and is acquainted with medical personnel there. Dr. Theera understands that at some point in time we could run out of money to pay cash for treatment in Thailand. While we are dealing with one day at a time and one problem at a time, we have to think about the future too.

A few days ago Mr. Mark and I talked accross the long distance from Austin Texas to Bangkok, Thailand. He had just come in from a walk in the park. "Sweating and starving" were his answers to the question: "How are you?" Much better to be sweating and hungry than to be depressed. Mark has gotten mail from some of you that has cheered him immensely. Thank-you for anything you do to cheer Mark up and/or for your prayers and positive thoughts for him.

July 13, 2006

Call for a MAIL BLITZ to Mark, Who is Hitting a New Low in Spirits
After 17 months of chemo, feeling alone in Bangkok, no cure in sight,facing more chemo,a shortened life span, too much time on his hands to think negative thoughts about an uncertain future, and frustrating computer problems, Mr.Mark needs to hear from all of us letting him know we care.Tell him about your dog, pet taramtula or gecko, your kids, your job or something funny that happened to you. If you want to draw your own card or just write a note, take the money saved on a card and enclose it and seal it good with tape. Mark is excited when someone encloses a little money, but he loves just to hear from people. Mail is better than e-mail because he can displays it. He has poems and pictures on his refrigerator and pictures on his bedroom mirror and cards and letters on shelves. Let's flood his box with mail to cheer him up. The address is Mark Richardson Condo 6/11, Las Colinas Condominiums, 6 Sukhumvit 21 (AsokeRoad), Wattana Bangkok, Thailand 10110. This takes 84 cents postage.

July 01, 2006

Updates on Everyone: Mr. Mark (Bangkok), Miss Stephanie (England) and the Austin crew: Mr. James, Miss Betty the Mom, Mark's friend Bruce(All the cartoon characters) Plus Mr. Frank)
Mr. Mark has bounced back after chemo although worried he looked jaundiced in the mirror a couple of days ago. Dr. T. said the lab tests are ok. Mark talks to his friend Bruce in Austin on the computer. Bruce asked if Mark wanted to play chess on the computer and Mark said he had not played for 20 years. Bruce says that "Mr.Rusty" had him to check-mate in 10 minutes, so he is looking for a different game to challenge Mark to. Speaking of years ago, I found Mark's first SCUBA card, from 1970, when he was 16, today; we'd given it up for lost years ago. Mark actually got another card somewhere along the line years after the first one, perhaps when he and I were on Roatan diving with the crew from Till's dive shop and some guys from Holland.
Stephanie is in England, about four hours from London, in Plymouth studying educational technology and enjoying the local culture. She told me that the food is great and this time in college she can afford to eat unlike when she was in UT and was a starving college student. Her favorite aspects of Plymouth, though, are the wonderful people and their love of history.
James (Mark's step-father figure, Aggie from the Panhandle) has found a new way to make popcorn. While I was gone James decided to make popcorn. He got distracted before he got the lid on the popcorn pan. Watching TV he was thinking this was some sort of gormet popcorn as it was popping so well and so loud. When he got to the kitchen- the stove, counter, and floors were covered with popcorn.
I (Mark's mom, Betty) am still finishing two text books due on the shelves this fall and I passed my ACLS for all you medical types who know what ACLS is. See information on Miss Betty's textbook(s) at http://www.allbookstores.com/book/compare/1401838472.
Mr. Frank Mr. Frank is a little older than Mark and still a young man by my standards. Frank was recently diagnosed with essentially the same esophageal gastric adenocarinoma as Mark had, but without the secondary liver cancer. Frank expressed surprise that Mark got esophogeal gastric cancer so young as it usually is diagnosed in men in their 50's and 60's. Frank is sharing his experience, with Adenocarcenoma of the esophageal gastric juncture, with Mark and I. Frank went to MD Anderson for evaluation and the plan is for him to get six weeks of weekly chemo: Cysplatin, 5FU, and Taxotere in Austin. This is a different time schedule and a different drug regimen than Mark. Frank has had his first round of chemo and will soon have radiation in the same week as chemo. After the tumor is shrank or gone, he will return to MD Anderson and the area of the esophagus where the tumor was will be cut out and the esophagus sewn (reanastamosed) to the upper portion of the stomach. We will follow Mr. Frank's progress along with Mark's progress.
If you have cancer or friends/family with cancer, keep Mark and me posted about your treatment. We are interested in you and want to support you in whatever way we can. Here is a good British site to look up different types of cancer http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Cancertype. I clicked on secondary liver cancer on this site and relearned that the cells that metastacize to a different site are the same type of cells as the original site. This means that secondary liver cancer will respond to the same treatment that your original cancer tumor responded to. Secondary liver cancer is very common according to the experts on this. Mark would love to communicate with someone who is being treated for secondary liver cancer.
Stay positive at all times and find a way to enjoy each minute of your life or at least to convince yourself that you are enjoying it. Perception is what is important. It is perception, not reality, that we act on. If you think you are enjoying the minute, you are. If you are barfing in a plastic bag in the back of a taxi, be thankful you had the forsight to bring a bag and find some humor in the situation. Keeping stress and negative thoughts down helps you stay well or get well.
POST SCRIPT: August 28th. Ross with Lung Cancer is reported free of lung cancer. He had one round of chemo with a horrible reaction to chemo but miracle of miracles...he is said to now be free of lung cancer.