August 31, 2007

Headed for Houston on Sat. Sept. 8 for Cat scan. Mark depressed for two days thinking about possible neg. results, slept around the clock and was getting depressed and dehydrated, but he snapped out of it today and is eating and drinking normally and up watching TV.

Mark's new glasses came in the mail and he is using the computer and reading again.
Mark is using his glasses mostly to see far away.. He is also having problems with his hearing which he blames on chemotherapy and radiation. He describes a tinnitus or ringing in the ears along with a super sensitivity to sound. Sound is greatly intensified for him. Have you or anyone you know with cancer experienced similar symptoms? (addendum: see the comment left by Ann who says she has the same symptoms which she believes are from taking Neurontin. She describes having a sound like crickets in her ears and some other interesting effects. Check the comments section)

We got a rental car ,a small Ford, because some thieves tried to steal our 97 Honda in the night in front of our house. They damaged the paint around the keyhole, popped the window out a ways on the driver's side and somehow managed to get into the locked car. They tried to hot wire it but were unsuccessful. Next they tore up the ignition then the steering column and finally left the car inoperable. It would not start so it had to be towed to the fix it shop. Mark took the rental car for a short errand and reported to James that its top end speed was 114 and he had spun it around and stopped on a dime and James believed him. I think Mark was trying to get a rise out of James. We live in a nice neighborhood but this is our third auto break-in right in front of our house. We may have to take to sleeping in the car to catch these varmints.

Mark has alternative transportation. In this picture he is going downhill at a pretty good speed.

Our work helping produce a movie and Mark playing a role is about over...Funny about someone trying to steal the car in light of Mark's sister, mom, and step-dads role in the film. We are filmed walking into the Taco Cabana restaurant while the hit man steals our 97 Honda from the parking lot. We had already filmed our car being stolen and only days later someone does try to steal it in real life. (addendum: James somehow got the rental car keys locked in the rental car with it running on Labor Day - had to have an emergency locksmith come.)

Mark has me up again tonight. He could not sleep and was waxing philosophical about his limited days and how he wanted to spend them, needing to do more volunteer work, and concerned his brain is not working well: he said he was not sure whether to blame it entirely on chemotherapy and radiation or the devil getting a hold of his mind and needing to go to church more. Mark has learned how to meditate better, so he meditated and went back to bed and guess who is still up.

Keep checking the blog and asking others to check it. We have a new flag lit up.
A visitor from Romania signed on. To date over 7200 people from 65 countries have visited the blog. We are shooting for 10,000 visitors.
check blogs in the archives on the right hand column to read about Mark's work in Saipan and his treatment in Bangkok.

August 21, 2007

Mark lifting weights to get in shape for chemo -Cat scan scheduled Sept 8 . August 29 Mark saw Harry Potter at the I-Max Theater and loved it.

Mark's thought for the day: "Chemo
therapy has made me a new man; a very poor one."

Managing pain and staying sharp is a balancing act. Mark cut back on his pain medicine so he can have the energy and be alert to do some things he wants to do and this means tolerating more pain. Mark was up and down all night tonight with liver pain and chest pain. He would watch TV a few minutes, try to read a few minutes, try to sleep in his bed for a few minutes, back downstairs and TV again. Mom stayed up with him and baked some banana-apricot-nut bread. Finally at 5:30 am Mark is back in bed and it looks like he might actually sleep this time. Those of you with cancer or taking care of people with cancer can probably identify with what Mark is experiencing. I met our neighbor "Bunny" out walking (Bunny is the brother of the famous Mr. Rooster Andrews) Bunny tells me that his wife has lung cancer and she talks about spurts of energy. Exhausted for some time and then spurts of energy.

The first time I encountered the up and down energy spurts and losses was one evening when I went to take my friend Audrey to her first cancer support group meeting. Her house was dark and she was lying in bed. She wanted to go. She got up and walked very slowly to the car, then said I just can't do this All the energy she had experienced when setting up her ride to the meeting was gone. She turned around and went back to bed.

Mark is thinking of taking some volunteer training this week end. He would be helping people learn how to work as volunteers with people who have cancer. Part of the work is around spirituality

Mark's long time friend Frank Sicuro (at the head of the table) plays the role of lawyer to the gang. Mark in right lower corner . Click on picture to enlarge it.

Mark and Mom are helping a producer friend shoot a movie here in Austin. Mark's movie scenes were finished...but then the producer decided Mark could have a couple more scenes. He is excited about this.

Mark's sister has arrived in England and has begun her new job. She is living temporarily on base in a room that requires walking up three flights of stairs. She was just in Austin a few days ago for an all too short but wonderful stay of six days. Her visit really perked Mark up. Stephanie and Mom took Mark to Houston to the VA and now he waits for an appointment for a CAT scan before he can get chemo again. Mark wants chemo. He worries that his tumors have grown. Mom reminds him that he has worried before and then the scan has shown the tumors shrinking. Worry does not help. In Houston Stephanie stopped by E-Z Optical to order contacts. She shows up there every year or two and the staff always remember her. Mark claimed he was too tired to go in and look at glasses. When Mom started taking 6 and 8 pair of frames at a time out to the car for Mark to look at, he gave up and went in and picked out a new pair of glasses.

Stephanie's birthday celebrated three weeks early

While Stephanie was in Austin, she, Mark, and Mom dressed up and went out to a nice place to eat to celebrate Stephanie's upcoming birthday (Sept. 1). She picked out Jeans and a shirt for Mark without knowing his size and they fit perfectly. Stephanie was in a scene for the movie while she was home.

Two new flags on the blog. Someone from Latvia and someone from Denmark have checked the blog. I think that is 64 countries; people from 64 countries have logged on. See below for a list of the countries.

August 08, 2007

Sylvester Becker, the German Cowboy is ready to shoot a scene for the film Gun 4 Hire produced by Jerry Barrett (in orange shirt).

Mark got out of bed after 38 hours in bed feeling ill and no energy, eating nothing and drinking little, pulled himself together in about 6 hours and did two scenes in two locations for a 100 minute film which is now in the process of being shot in Austin and San Antonio . Mom and James made sure Mark was driven to the shoots, drank lots of cold water, and rested between shoots. Mark took Mom and James to eat at Cain and Ables, a University of Texas area student hangout that has delicious hamburgers and homemade potato chips. It was hard for Mark to hold up but he did it. He is now reading again. He is reading a book called "Latitudes." Reading is a sign he is feeling better.

The young man in the foreground plays the hit man. Mark, second from left will shoot the hit man (Kiril kane who came in from New York for the film) on this bridge. Later Mark plays a dying scene after being shot. The poker scenes for the film will be shot this Friday at our house. Stephanie comes from Japan on Friday and will be in a scene where the family car gets stolen by the hit man at the Tacco Cabana. A big scene needing lots of good looking folks will be on September 2 in a club downtown.

Before the poker scene is filmed, Mark teaches his friend Bruce to play poker as Bruce is the boss of the poker game and he does not know how to play or maybe he does after some lessons from Mark.
Our neighbor Laurie says; "I love living next to you because something interesting and exciting is always happening." The feeling is mutual.
Note: Addendum The poker scenes became a rehersal and will be shot for real on the 17th. The police line up scenes will be toward the end of the month. The night club scenes will be September 2nd and we need a crowd outside and a fair number of people inside. Let me know if you would like to be part of this film.