November 22, 2007

Miss Betty the Mom is headed to Bangkok Dec. 2 on air miles earned in the past two years - Lots to do before leaving -James had knee surgery today and he is doing fine. The nurse gave him written instructions which said he had to have a responsible adult with him at all times for 24 hours after surgery. The mental health center where mom works canceled all therapy groups for the day as mom was the only nurse and therapist scheduled today. James rates his pain at a 0.01 this morning.

Thanksgiving 2007 - Mark had Thanksgiving in Bangkok 12 hours ahead of us in Austin Texas. Mark's sister Stephanie was in her home which is a restored school house in a village called Downham Market in England. She cooked and served turkey and trimmings to fellow DODs people and other friends six hours ahead of us. We spent Thanksgiving in New Braunfels Texas with James' brother and sister-in-law, family and friends and were extremely thankful to be able to enjoy this fellowship and food as there are people are special to us who are spending the holiday in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital or preparing to go into the hospital and there are people crossing our paths who have almost nothing in a material way.

A friend Richard fell somehow and ended up in Intensive Care and his wife Betty is at his side as much as she is allowed.

Thomas, young son of Mom's former editor at Austin Family Magazine Lisa Molina and her husband Gary, went five years without a sign of his leukemia and just before Thanksgiving his parents learned his leukemia is back and he goes into the hospital again and may need bone marrow transplant. Even though Thomas and Mark are both battling cancer, albeit different types of cancer, I am so thankful they are with us and still in the fight.

Mom was touched this week by a man who had lost nearly everything he had and had no food in his house and no money. Some sources of help were found for him and he has a glimmer of hope to keep him going. Had no help been found, that Thanksgiving dinner might have been hard to enjoy.

Let's not think about what we don't have, but what real treasures we have in our lives.

November 18, 2007

Large python comes over the fence of the compound in Bangkok - Mark sent an e-mail saying "the people next door woke me up early because they saw a python coming over our wall into our yard. They said it was 10-12 inches around and about 20ft long. We think it was headed to our other neighbor's house to try to eat a chicken or a goat. I asked them if they have seen snakes around before and they said " O yes, usually cobras" I will try to attatch a picture of me in front of the house. It is on about 100 st. or about 80 blocks from where we used to live at sukhumvit and Asoke (21st). Also found a new all you can eat bar-b-q place. Very clean with big shrimp for 79 b (about $3) all u can eat. Feeling pretty good, sleeping alot and just hanging around the house mostly. I am looking everywhere for dill pickles, no luck. do they have a powder or something you mix with vinegar to make your own? I will look on the internet for a recipe. I have to take a motercycle taxi to the mall to use the internet, but it is cheap. 10baht for the taxi and 10baht for 30min internet. OK enough for now miss u and hope to see u soon love Mark "
I will try to get Mark to get a picture of the python or at least the chickens and the goats next door.
8471 visitors to the blog as of today. Heading for 10,000 by Mark's birthday in April.
Cancer keeps us prisoners Lisa and Gary Molina's child Thomas was thought to have his leukemia under control after 5 years of no sign of it; however it is back. He heads to the hospital this Friday for further evaluation. If you like, you can send money or food to help out. I will give you a contat person
Mom is headed to Bangkok on Dec.2 using airmiles economy seat so mom could be sitting in the middle of a big row of non English speaking people doing self-flagellation. During most of one unforgettable trip some nervous looking Asian lady was beating herself harshly about the legs and arms. Not sure if it was to toughen herself or to keep herself awake or what....maybe some ritual.

November 05, 2007

After a year in Texas, Mark returned safely to Bangkok. "Why is Mark back in Bangkok?" people ask. The answer is complex and yet perhaps simple too. Mark feels safe, comfortable, and relaxed in Thailand. I am searching for another word to describe his feeling there which he has described for me. Perhaps the word is respected. People in Thailand are wonderfully respectful. In the states people grill Mark (or mom) with question after question usually beginning with "Why didn't you do this" or "Why don't you do something else" or a "You should or you shouldn't" do something. The Thai person is not aggressive or invasive, tending to respect other people's decisions for themselves. Mark's plan is to eat chicken soup for breakfast, walk on the beach and meditate daily. Mark is off on another adventure and this is the first news about that stay. Mark is living right now in the guest cottage of a lovely home in Bangkok and he claims his work is to mow the grass periodically. He has access to a cook and driver and is pretty much the only non Thai in the neighborhood. The plan is to go to the beach in a few days and return to Bangkok to meet with friend Jerry Barrett who is leaving Austin on Nov. 20 for Bangkok. Taxi cost from the city to the beach is about 30-35 dollars and it is about a 90 minute ride. More if you stop off at the Tiger Zoo on the way (see earlier blog on the tiger zoo in Thailand). The bus is just as comfortable and is 170 baht, about 4 dollars. Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Cancer Research you don't hear about: Role of enzyme IDO. There is a report of some interesting research findings written up in Today: The magazine of the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) Fall 07. Recent research has found that tumors escape detection by the immune system by use of IDO which is an enzyme also used by fetuses to avoid rejection. The tumor first recruits IDO which then activates a protective barrier of regulatory T cells referred to as Tregs and Tregs may recruit more IDO. According to the article, "The food and Drug Administration has approved early clinical trials of the IDO inhibitor 1M1 in coming months. The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute will begin phase 1 trials of 1M1 in patients with lung and other tumors while MCG is seeking approval for trials using 1M1 and chemo for breast cancer patients.
Another Cancer Research Report : Today many women with breast cancer called ductal cancer in situ are faced with decision to have total mastectomy or a lumpectomy and just wait and watch carefully. Scientist in a pilot study reported by Carolyn Colwell, looked at a collection of biomarkers including molecules p 16 and Ki 67 interacting to precdict invasive vs non invasive breast tumors. Only about 12-15 % of women diagnosed with ductal cancer in situ have tumors that will go on to be invasive.
Summary for first time visitors to the blog: If you logged on for the first time, here is a summary of events: Amost three years ago, Mark was working on Saipan and was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Gven three months to live, he decided to go to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok while he had the strength to get there. You can read the early blogs about his care and experiences (see archives to click in the right hand column) in the two years he was in Bangkok. After two years, we had spent a small fortune on care as Mark had no insurance since Saipan does not cobra insurance. Mark came back to the states to get care at the Veterans Administration in Houston, Texas and give us a break from paying cash for cancer care. Recently the VA doctor said that although he still had tumors in both lobes of his liver, the tumors were not larger comparing the last two CAT scans so they did not want to do any more chemo. Does he need chemo or not? If he goes to see his doctor in Thailand the answer will probably be yes, while at the VA it is no. Chemotherapy is very hard on a person and it is costly even if it is cheaper in Thailand, so Mark has faced and continues to face very hard decisions.
8403 people have viewed the blog since we put a counter on it. We were up to 72 countries when a few days ago someone from Bangledesh signed on and lit up the Bangledesh flag for the first time. We now have 73 country flags lit up. Send the blog link to people who have not seen it and to friends in other countries...Let's make the 10,000 mark on visitors by Mark's birthday in April.