Thursday, March 24, 2011

And I Paraphrase

I had a chance to hear Dr. George Church speak at The Richmond Forum last Saturday night. He is a soft-spoken man; very intelligent and very wise.

The statement he made that most struck me was when he was asked, "Do you believe in God?", he replied (and I paraphrase), "Most of my colleagues are atheists, but I do believe in God. I find what I do does not draw me away from God, but rather it increases my awe of God and creation."

Well said, Doctor.

I find myself with the same vision. I don't struggle with scientific research and the discoveries that are made. I have no problem with theories. If they conflict with Old Testament stories, I'm intrigued. However, that is not why I believe I am here. I have no interest in debating the details of the stories that are shared among numerous faith traditions. I'm here to, well, this comes to mind...

Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

I really don't read anything in there that instructs me to debate nonsensical topics. I was talking to someone yesterday whose daughter wants to go to college and study genomics. Her daughter has a pretty strong faith structure and is constantly asked about the "conflict" between her chosen field of study and her faith. I told her mother about Dr. Church's comment above. 

Here's my take...If some day, God reveals that we really did descend from one cell organisms (and I have to accept the humility of my ancestry), I will be amazed at how it happened. If God snapped his fingers like David Blaine and made things instantly happen, I'm good with that too.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Grand Day For You

Walking into the pub, Patick said to the bartender,
"Pour me astiff one, Sean. I just had another tiff with
the little woman."
"Oh yeah," said Sean. "And how did this one end?"
"Well I'll tell ya now when it was over," Patick replied, "herself came
to me on her hands and knees, she did."
"You don't say? Now that`s a switch! What did she say?" She said, "Come
out from under that bed, you gutless weasel!

A group of Americans was touring Ireland.
One of the women in the group was a real curmudgeon, constantly complaining.
The bus seats are uncomfortable. The food is terrible.
It's too hot. It's too cold. The accommodations are awful.
The group arrived at the site of the famous Blarney Stone.
"Good luck will be followin' ya all your days if you kiss the Blarney Stone,"the guide said.
"Unfortunately, it's being cleaned today and so no one will be able to kiss it.
Perhaps we can come back tomorrow."
"We can't be here tomorrow," the nasty woman shouted.
"We have some other boring tour to go on.
So I guess we can't kiss the stupid stone."
"Well now," the guide said, "it is said that if you kiss someone who has kissed the stone, you'll have the same good fortune."
"And I suppose you've kissed the stone," the woman scoffed.
"No, ma'am," the frustrated guide said, "but I've sat on it."

An Irishman walks into the pub and orders three pints of Guinness.  He   asks that they be brought over to him at the table.  The Irishman drinks   the pints one at a time and then leave.  This routine goes on for about   two months.  Finally, the bartender asks why the Irishman has the three  pints.  "Well'" he says, " The first pint is for me brudder in Amerikay and the second is for me brudder in England."  The bartender nods in   agreement and tells the lads at the bar who have witnessed the comings   and goings for the two months.  Several weeks latter, the Irishman  enters the pub and orders two pints.  As the bartender walks up to the  table with a pint in each hand, he says. "If you don't mind my asking, have you lost one of your brother?"  The Irishman pauses for a second, sees the two pints and says, "Oh forsakes no, me missus has me off the liquor.

O'Malley was leaving his favorite bar when he was run over by a bus. He gets to the gates of heaven and St. Peter tells him he cannot enter unless he passes a test. What choice did he have, O'Malley agrees to try as he never was the brightest bulb in the box.
St. Peter decides to go easy on him, 'What has 5 fingers and is made of black leather?' he asks. O'Malley scratches his head, thinks hard and finally gives up. 'It's a glove says St. Peter.' Let's try again. 'What has 10 fingers and is made of black leather?' asks St. Peter. O'Malley is clearly stumped. After a few minutes of pacing in a circle and scratching his head, O'Malley gives up. 'Why it's 2 gloves - don't you see 10 fingers, black leather, says St. Peter amazed.' Being in a generous mood, St. Peter decides to give O'Malley yet another chance but thinking of an even easier question.
'Who is the patron Saint of Ireland?' asks St. Peter, thinking he can't miss this.
'It wouldn't be 3-gloves, would it?' says O'Malley.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Follow The Bouncing Platelets

More learning. When I met with the doctor a few weeks back, my platelet count had dipped to just above the low end of normal. 4 days later, they had dipped to slightly below normal. I was pretty sensitive about it as they were at the levels they were at about a month before my "sabbatical" started. To appease me, my favorite Nurse Practitioner scheduled me for another blood test yesterday.

They are inching back up and are now slightly above normal. All other blood counts are fine and well within the normal range.

What happened?

I found out that normally, platelets bounce around pretty routinely for everyone. The decrease in my platelet count was not within a normal decrease in the amount of time that had passed (November - February). has been treated by antibiotics in that time frame. And I had. I had an upper respiratory infection in January (just so I would fit in with the rest of Richmond at the time as everyone seemed to have some sort of wheezing and coughing going on) and was prescribed an antibiotic. They will cause platelets to drop.

What a putz.

When Bill Clinton visited the Pope, he noticed a red
phone on a small table in the corner of the office.

After several minutes of conversation, Clinton asked
the Pope what the red phone was.

The Holy Father told him that it was a very special
phone with a direct line to God. However, the Pope
told Clinton he rarely used it because it cost
$20,000 a minute from the Vatican.

Clinton accepted this explanation without another thought.

Later, when Clinton visited Ireland, he saw another
red phone in the Archbishop’s office. Being curious,
Clinton asked the Archbishop what it was used for.

The Archbishop told Clinton it was a direct line to God,
and he used it whenever he had a puzzling question or concern.

Clinton asked if the calls were quite expensive since
the Pope had to pay $20,000 a minute when he used
his red phone in the Vatican.

"Oh no," replied the Archbishop, "In Ireland it’s a local call."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Maybe, Because....

I feel that you need to watch this video. It makes me happy to watch it.

I'm conflicted about posting it today because of the news from Japan. However, the video speaks to me as to why the news from Japan concerns us. There will be a lot of clean up work to do, bones to mend,structures to reconstruct, and fears to be calmed. Most of all, we grieve because there will also be bodies to find. Bodies that transported lives that were cut short.

The video is from a show titled, "Grand Hotel." I remembering seeing this performance on the Tony Awards some years back. A year or so later, I had the opportunity to see the show on Broadway. The only reason I wanted to see the show was because of this clip. I remember flying into New York and arriving at my hotel a little after 6PM. My hotel was about a 30 minute walk from the theatre. I called the theatre and asked them if they had one ticket for the evening's performance. They did and I was seated about 9 rows back from the stage in the center of the row. I will never forget that evening.

In the video, the character portrayed by Michael Jeter is ill and facing the end of his days. And yet, he takes part in a celebration.

Processing the news from Japan reminds us of our mortality and how there are things in this world over which we have no control.Yet, it is still our world in which to live.

We can say the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but to say it means we are holding the basket.

Or, we can help others live and live again.

Maybe even help them celebrate life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Small Bit Of News

My oncologist's nurse called me today. When I saw the phone number on caller ID, I knew it looked familiar, but wasn't able to place it.

When I answered and heard who it was, I caught my breath for a moment. As I've said before, when she calls, it usually means the doctor wants to see me to review something important.

Today's call was to tell me that my bone marrow biopsy results came back and they are all clear. Nothing of concern there. The only thing left is another check on the blood next Tuesday. Nothing major about that.

Next page.

I mentioned the other week I auditioned for a role in a local community theatre production of "Curtains." It's a musical that was on Broadway in 2007. Don't Google it to avoid spoiling the plot. I was cast and we open on May 6. I have to get back in the swing of things with the whole rehearsal schedule stuff. It's not bad and the cast is a great group of people (old and new friends).


Monday, March 7, 2011

Translation, Please...

I was contacted last Friday by one of my contacts from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. He asked me if I would be interested in being interviewed for a newspaper article about the American Health Care system and how, as a cancer patient/survivor, it affected me. I was all over it. Especially when I saw that it was for the Tokyo Shimbun Newspaper. As I've said to others, if you had told me 35 years ago, when I was standing on the haywagon, stacking hay, that I would one day be interviewed by a Japanese newspaper, I would have asked for some of what you were drinking. Pretty cool stuff.

As you know, I had something to say to them. I spoke about things I have talked about here before, so I won't bore you with the details, but if I have to say so myself, I think I articulated pretty well my perception of the challenges that a cancer patient faces at the outset, during the time of treatment, and what lies ahead. It's not a walk in the park, and it probably never will be.

However, we ain't angels and this ain't heaven.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Whoa, Now Hold On There Partner...

Holding off sharing any of the medical stuff from recent appts. as there is still some information to come...i.e. the most recent bone marrow biopsy was Monday and it takes a week or so for those results to come back. Initial comments from the doctors are all positive.

While at MCV on Friday, I had a chance to also visit with the good folks on the hospital floor where I spent my 3 week "vacation" and also had a chance to visit the folks in the lab that collected my stem cells. It is truly humbling to have them greet you warmly when they see you. While in the stem cell lab, I had a chance to have a conversation with a patient who was having stem cells collected and is waiting for her admission to the hospital. She was pretty anxious about what was ahead of her. I shared my story and offered her support. It was humbling to be able to do that.

Saw "Super Bo" and his family (including his new sister) last Saturday. They all looked great and Bo KO'ed me in a game of Wii boxing. Once I realized his avatar was wearing Duke blue, I came back in the next match and ended it early.

“Now I begin to feel that all that is important comes in quietness and waiting; and that activity should be only the working out, the digesting and putting forth of what one learned, so that one may become empty again to receive more.” - Rodney Collin