August 27, 2009

Mark reports he is doing well. He called Wed. morning US time which is Wed. evening Thai time. He had just finished going to a Rotary meeting where he met a lot of interesting people. There was not long to talk because it was about to rain and he was on a motorcycle so he wanted to try to beat the rain home. Mark reported he had been to Bangkok by bus and gotten his visa business done.

It looks like Mark is feeling much better and getting out and about with friends. Last week when he called he was eating at Shenanigans. This is a nice restaurant with a very reasonable menu. I will double check with Mark the details but my recall is that on Fridays we would get a T-bone steak, salad, and potatoes for 200 baht or about 6 dollars each. If you are in Pattaya or Jomtien Beach, I recommend you go to Shenanigans which is reasonable with good service, however if you want lots of service and atmosphere and are willing to pay much more...go to the News Cafe or Manhattans. There are lots and lots of other real nice restaurants.

August 04, 2009

Mark is back in Thailand Again and it's 2 Years Since any Chemo -

Picture of Mark wearing a hat made by one of the Thailand hill tribes of indiginous Indians.

I was reading old blogs today and was astounded at what I had forgotten or lost track of. I was amazed that it has been two years since Mark last had chemo. His doctor in Thailand had wanted Mark to continue on chemo as long as he was alive and he was willing, but when he left Thailand after two years of treatment and sought care at the VA, the VA doc in Houston wanted him off of chemo and enjoying a quality of life which is difficult or impossible with all the side effects from chemo. While short on energy, Mark has still accomplished and seen a lot that he never thought would be possible over the past two years.

If you have not heard from Mark in recent weeks, realize it is not just you but all his friends and acquaintances who have not gotten a note. Mark had not touched a computer in weeks...too sick and no energy. Today for the first time he used his Acer notebook and sent some thank-you notes. Mark's sister wanted him to have an Acer since she and I both have one. Stephanie paid for it and I picked out a cool red one for him. Mine is red too. Steph has a conservative color.

In some early blogs I reread quotes of Mark writing his sister about why he wanted to be in Thailand once he was diagnosed with cancer. He was saying that people in Thailand have a different view of death and accept people dying differently (better) than we do in the USA. Since Mark has survived now nearly five years, I've had time and opportunity to study the Thai culture and come to better understanding of the Thai thoughts on death and the ceremonies and beliefs surrounding death as well as life. Hopefully I can accept my own eventual immortality and death when the time comes. Maybe Mark will outlive me and if not, I will accept and celebrate his life and his new adventure after life. He has outlived many friends and family members and who would have thought it when he first shared that he had been given three months to live. Thanks again to all of you who prayed for him, sent him cards, letters, kool-aide, licorice, small gifts, and pictures. It meant so much to him that people cared about him and wanted to lift his spirits. Hopefully Mark and I can do this for others in this period when he is doing ok.

Stephanie alerted us that Robbie, one of her young teacher friends and a wrestling coach when he was at Kennick High in Yokoska Japan, had died suddenly and unexpectedly. What a contrast in the length of time his wife Melissa had for good-byes (perhaps none) and the length of time we have had with Mark since his 3 month prognosis (four and a half years). We have to be thankful for what gifts we are given in spite of the diagnosis of cancer and all it entails. It is also joyous that Robbie and Melissa had an extended trip to Australia this summer. I was so impressed with Melissa's work in planning a wonderful trip to many places in Australia. It's not all about Mark or all about cancer but also about the young friends who have died and leave us with a sense of loss as well as the gift of having known them.