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January 2006
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March 2006

Chasing Daylight


Chasing Daylight, by Gene O'Kelly, is the memoir of former CEO of accounting and consulting firm KPMG as he chronicles his last 100 days. O'Kelly was at the pinnacle of his career at 53 when he learned that he had terminal brain cancer.  O'Kelly is a typical "type A" high-powered executive and he comes to grips with his fight against cancer not trying to beat it, but accepting it and saying goodbye to as many people as he can.  The book also includes a chapter written by O'Kelly's wife of 27 years, Corrine. 

While O'Kelly lived the successful life of a corporate titan, his choices in life and in death are not perfect, but they are true to his spirit.

Side Effects

My mother went through her second chemo treatment on wednesday.  This time it took a bit longer and the side effects laid her low for a couple of days.  Abdominal pains, nauseousness, less energy.  But by the weekend she was feeling better though. 

But the chemo is always just lurking around the corner.  "You just get over it and then you have to go in again," she told me. 

Next week will be the third treatment in 3 weeks, then a week off.  "Then I can feel good for a while."

The Cancer Blog


Dalene Entenmann has now taken over as blogger-in-chief over at an excellent online resource which is part of WebLogs Inc, recently acquired by AOL.  They also publish www.TheCardioBlog, www.TheDiabetesBlog as well as wide range of blogs on technology and media.

Dalene is a cancer survivor and was previously blogging on her own at several sites including Rutabaga Stew.   The coverage on The Cancer Blog is a bit eclectic.  It ranges from news coverage and medical reports to celebrity auctions raising money for cancer.  She also covered TuesdaysWithMary a while back.  I guess that makes us famous!


My mother went through a new round of chemotherapy earlier today.  The new chemo only took 90 minutes, compared to 4 hours for previous treatments, which is great.  So far she seems to be ok and had no major ill-effects.  Some abdominal pain, as expected, but nothing too bad.  Lets keep our fingers crossed!

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I should also add that I've had a lot of nice comments lately from readers of this blog including friends and family.  It's nice to see that there are many readers of the blog with positive regards for my mother.   I encourage folks to leave comments on the blog and let others know your thoughts and encouragement. 

CA-125 Scores

Over the years as my mother has gone through different chemotherapy treatments, the doctors have invariably focused on her CA-125 blood test results.  My parents let us know when the numbers are up or down.  It is a weird feeling though.  Our outlook and moods are influenced by this seemingly arbitrary number that we actually know very little about.  The CA-125 has become a barometer for our optimism and a bogey man which leaves us wondering if things will improve or get worse.  We worry about "mom's numbers." 

This week we had good news on the numbers.  My mom got a call from her doctor earlier this week saying that her CA-125 numbers had come down considerably.  She was elated that they had gone from 2400 to 700.  That's good news, of course, but a 700 score is still very high.  (A normal level of CA-125 is around 35 and anything over 65 is worrisome.)  The doctor was elated with this improvement, but was admittedly at a loss to explain why it had improved so much.  My mother was a bit circumspect about it.  "We've seen the numbers go down before," she said.  She doesn't want to get her hopes up. 

Death of a Friend


A friend of mine and former boss, Mansour Safai, passed away of brain cancer a couple of days ago.  He was very private about his struggle with cancer.  I knew he had brain tumors last year and had gone through some operations and chemotherapy, but Mansour didn't let on a lot more than that.  The picture above is of Mansour and his son Nicolai from a few years ago. 

Mansour's brother Mammad gave a powerful and emotional eulogy at the funeral today, remembering incidents from their childhood in Tehran and their later cross-country drive from Boston to Silicon Valley.   Mansour was truly a rare breed: a technology visionary who cared about people.   He touched many people's lives.  Mansour was the same age as me and that made his death even more shocking.  He was a vibrant man cut down in his prime. 

Orlando Women's Golf Association


I received a very nice message from Donna Martin, the president of the Orlando Women's Golf Association who recently visited my mom.  I've excerpeted a couple of sections below.  (Unfortunately it was sitting in my in box marked as spam for the last couple of days, so I should have posted it earlier.)

Some of the women from the Orlando Women's Golf  Association stopped by to spend some time with your Mom.  She was a  most gracious hostess with champagne and strawberries for us.  We enjoyed a few glasses of the bubbly with your Mom and we had quite a  few laughs.  She looks very good and was very excited to tell us  about her good news.  A little on the thin side as you mentioned but  none the less, she still has that sparkle in those most beautiful  blue eyes. 

That is one very outstanding characteristic your Mom has  other than her bravery and tenacity for life.  All of us will  continue to pray for her and wherever the road leads, she will not be  alone.  She has been a symbol for all of us to emulate in times of  stress and she is in our thoughts. 

Well said.

Coretta Scott King


Coretta Scott King, the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. died recently at the age of 78 after a short struggle with late stage ovarian cancer.  King's cancer was reportedly considered terminal by her U.S. doctors, and she was exploring alternative options at a holistic health center in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.

Going Broke to Stay Alive


The January 30 issue of BusinessWeek has a good article on the high cost of cancer treatments.  For example, Genentech's Avastin, which can add months to the lives of patients suffering colon, lung or breast cancer, can cost from $4,400 to $8,800 per month.  And despite the positive effects of these drugs, the makers have no incentive to make them more affordable.

Good News!


Finally some good news!  My wife and I arrived last night to visit and had some good news today.  My father took my mom in to see her doctor.  Based on my mother's strength and resilience they have canceled the hospice program and suggested she resume chemotherapy.  While chemotherapy can be pretty brutal, it means that there is a chance to beat the cancer! 

This will be the fourth different chemotherapy treatment that my mother will go through in more than six years.   The program will be once a week through injections of Topotecan (Hycamtin).  Chemotherapy basically kills off the cancer cells, but it also does a lot of other damage and comes with the usual nausea, hair loss and other side effects.  You wouldn't wish it upon your worst enemy.

Since chemotherapy can be very hard on a person, my mom will need to get stronger to keep the regimen going.  Her eyes and smile are bright, but she is thinner than even just 2 weeks ago when I was here.  Her weight is down under a hundred pounds, about 20 pounds lighter than normal. 

Still, she is in an upbeat mood.  "Cancel the funeral," she joked.  "I just told people I had cancer to see who my friends really are."

So there is hope.  And for that we are grateful.