April 27, 2007

Mark's report on the week in Jomtien Beach, Thailand: the week after his birthday - Mark e-mailed about an elegant opening of a new condo complex in Pattaya. Mark attended with Jin, Angel and George. Every one dressed up in evening attire for this soirée. The food included roast pig. When he feels well Mark loves to look his best and attend these kinds of events so he can mingle and act like a real person and forget he has cancer.
Mark reported that "the girls" (alluding to three girls) dug up about a gallon of the small coquina on the beach and are using these small shell contents to make a soup for dinner. Mark said he is getting brown from being on the beach morning and evening. Should I remind him of the dangers of skin cancer? Probably not, he already has cancer and this is his vacation from cancer treatment; a time to have fun and relax.
Mark will spend about 25 plus hours in the air flying back to Austin arriving this Thursday. Sunday he heads for the VA hospital in Houston.

April 20th Mark celebrated his 47 th birthday; the third birthday since docs gave him three months or less to live .Mark has made a lot of friends in Jomtien beach, Thailand and has just had his birthday party there complete with dancers and fire twirling and Thai food. Wish we all could have been there.
Amazing Coincidences - Mark is staying in a bungalow owned by an Englishman George Richardson (same last name as Mark) and his Thai wife Angel. George is also a survivor of stomach cancer and loves to sail. Mark loves to sail.
Mark is taking a month break from cancer treatment: a break from chemo killing good cells as well as cancerous ones; a break from chemo leaking into his arm tissues causing pain, redness, and heat as well as great concern about loss and use of what was formerly a good vein or veins and fear of loss of tissue. This is a break from pain and riding hours in our old car to Houston to get chemo only to be sent home because of the white blood count being too low and having to return the following week; a break from doctors and staff who are unpredictably either very kind or the exact opposite and from staff who convey a wish to be understanding and those who are not the least bit understanding; a break from the VA system which is a Godsend or a source of frustration depending on the personality or whim of who waits on you or what the rule is or might be that applies to your situation; a break from thinking about what to do next or different in the battle against cancer and how to pay for anything new or different; a break from being nauseated most of the time and weak from chemo. He is enjoying this break immensely.
What is Mark doing and what should he be doing?Mark is relaxing and meditating, visiting the temple, cutting back on pain medication, eating three meals a day, walking on the beach enjoying a calm view of the ocean that he loves surrounded by people who are gentle and a nation of people who tend to be very accepting and kind. Ever think about how judgemental many Americans have become? Nearly everyone of us spends time thinking about what other people should or should not be doing which raises the question: Should we be doing this? Having said this, I invite you to call on your good judgement and feel free to comment or send an e-mail of suggestions for Mark about what you think he needs to do at this time...two years after cancer diagnosis with medicare recently kicking in as his only insurance along with access to the VA system.

Mark's Mom went to Waterloo Records 25th Anniversary party - What a party on the parking lot with lots and lots of bands playing for about 8 hours. Things like this happen in Austin Texas, self proclaimed "Music Capital of the World". Mom and James are cleaning house and partying while Mark is on vacation.

Do you know that Mark's Mom writes a column in a parenting news magazine each month? Yes, Mom has written a column in a parenting magazine every month for the last 15 years. The column (department) to click on is Family Matters. You can read the magazine online at http://www.austinfamily.com/ In the May issue Mom discusses the phenomenon of Helicopter Parents which is a term coined in the early '90s for parents who hover closely over children in college and now is used in a broader sense and includes for parents of younger children who tend to over manage their children's lives and activities. There is an interesting article in USA Today about Helicopter parents hovering over children in the work place; parents who try to negotiate better salaries and circumstances for their child by calling the grown child's boss or human resource director.

People from 51 Countries Have Visited This Blog -
Look at the flag board on the right side of the blog. When you touch one of the flags with your cursor it will tell you the country of that flag and in some cases it will bring up a map. Flashing flags are new additions to the board. Visitors have come from: Austria, Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, China, Czech republic, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Italy, Israel, Japan, So Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Madagascar,Morocco, Myanmar, Northern Marianas Islands, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Singapore, El Salvador, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Serbia, and So. Africa. Thank-you all for visiting the blog and inviting friends from other countries to visit the blog. Mark takes these flags as a sign of support from around the world and this is part of what keeps Mark going when cancer gets tough.

Belinda - We met a young English lady in the waiting room at Bumrungrad Hospital two years ago. She lives on the island of Koh Samui and has a Thai Husband and a darling little boy Bertie. She had never smoked and had no bad habits at all, but she had cancer of the throat. She came back and forth from Koh Samui to Bumrungrad for treatment. At one point she went to Hong Kong to get a pet scan which shows cancerous areas in red. The red color is because of the high metabolism and heat of the cancer. Her husband and Bertie went along and they went to the Disney Park in Hong Kong. She was found to be cancer free at that time. Recently she wrote and cancer is back with her. She has a positive attitude and is returning to treatment. Pray for Belinda and her family. She is a mighty warrier in the cancer battle....but needs all the help and support she can get. Cancer is all around us and the world is full of brave people like Belinda and Mark who are battling cancer.

April 06, 2007

Where is everyone?
Mark moved to a bungalow at angel's guest resort on Jomtien beach at a fraction of the hotel cost and has the use of a motorcycle. Mark is taking a vacation from cancer treatment which is like his work. Mark has worked very hard at battling cancer enduring more and complaining less than most of us would for over two years, but now he is on a break from it with his plan to make it a fun but low budget vacation . He reports the hour or so ride to the beach at Pattaya from Bangkok at a bargain of 1200 baht or about 34 dollars. Mark says he got 35 baht to the dollar in the Bangkok ATM and ate at a 99 baht ($3) all you can eat bar-b-que buffet.

Stephanie and Ron Clark, award winning teacher and key note speaker at Educator's conference. Phil in the background

Mark's sister Stephanie was in Chicago with Mom for four days where a lot of fun was had. Stephanie attended and presented at an Educator's conference which had 1200 attendees from every state, Europe and Asia. Jackie, who used to teach with Stephanie in Japan but is now a school librarian in a small town in Indiana, drove several hours with her husband and two year old adopted daughter Qi from China to spend a few hours with Stephanie and Mom.

There was too much excitement when Mom had her wallet stollen on the magnificent mile. Stephanie and Phil, a teacher/administrator from Yokosuka where Steph teaches, and Mom had an exciting cab ride to the police station in Chicago to file a crime report.
Stephanie is now in Japan getting ready to head for Bangkok to get her triple "Rs", Rest, Relaxation and Routine check-ups at Bumrungrad Hospital over Spring break from teaching. Mom is in Austin holding down the fort and writing her monthly column for Austin Parent. The next month's column is on Helicopter Parents. Have you heard of this phenomenon?

Stories from the past- When Mark was three to four, mom taught him how to swim in a parent-preschoolers class. By five he was on a swim team. At 16 he had his scuba certification and had his life guard certificate. Before Mark left for Thailand he was telling about when he was in the Navy and stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base how happy he was when the Navy found out he had been a life guard and assigned him life guard duty because had he not gotten this cushy job he would have been out working in the cold and snow with his buddies.

Cowboy James told a story about when he was a teenager and decided to wash his pet goat in the bath tub so it would look nice in an anual parade in his hometown of Olton Texas. He said his mother was not very happy about this goat bathing in the bathtub and his father did not like it much either when the goat walked on top of the family car and tried to eat the tires.