Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Tests and Information

I have put off making an entry for several weeks primarily because I haven’t felt well enough to sit and type. Also, there hasn’t been much good news and I thought I’d spare the reader from bad news.

There have been 3 major events in the meanwhile.

The first was the discovery of a blood clot on the liver. Additionally part of the liver has died. The Doctor has put me on blood thinners which I am required to take every morning. The medication is delivered via a shot which Kathy gives me every morning in the belly. She does an excellent job but every once in a while she hits the wrong spot. The shots leave a nice bruise pattern.

The second event was a review of the brain tumors. This is good news. I had 3 weeks of radiation in October. It takes a long time to recover from radiation. November and December were very difficult although it seems to have worked and killed off the tumors in the brain.

The last event happened today. This is bad news. Monday I had another full set of scans to measure how well the treatment program is going particularly in my chest and hip area. The lung tumors are pretty much the same as before treatment. However, the tumor in my pelvis has grown and a few more spots were found in the lumbar area. I’m hoping that this is the cause of the pain in my left leg. If so, perhaps we can do radiation on the area and relieve some the pressure on the leg nerves.

Over the new few weeks I will have additional scans and hopefully have more information. I have been feeling much better this last week and have little reason to complain or to not look forward to this spring and summer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BMW Motorcycle Decision

Santa is going to leave me the keys to another motorcycle this Christmas but he needs you help in deciding what to give me.

There are at least two issues to consider when making this decision:
One, I already have a 1800 Gold Wing. The Gold Wing is about as comfortable as it gets. You can ride in the rain and snow without feeling the rain. The seat is comfortable and there is ample room to stretch your legs for the long trip. Even though it is a touring bike, I enjoy riding it around town because I am easily seen by drivers and do not get blown around by the wind and freight trucks.

Two, the purpose of having a second bike in St George is 1) I don't have to drive the Gold Wind down there every time I want to ride in the sun, 2) I want a second bike so that I can go on short tours with friends such as my father-in-law Clayton, my son Kelly, neighbor Brent Harris, and 3) I want something to enjoy riding around town.

With that said here are the four candidates. Their cost difference is of no great concern to me so don't let that trip you up. Given what you know about me or yourself, leave a comment on what you think I should purchase. You should see a poll to the right of this blog in which to leave your answer.

1. 1200RT

For years, serious riders who want both performance and long-distance touring abilities have chosen the BMW RT. And the latest version, the R 1200 RT, is no different. The new RT boasts optional Electronic Suspension Adjustment, giving you push-button fine-tuning for a wide range of roads, loads and moods. Cavernous storage, supreme ergonomics and optional accoutrements like heated grips, heated seats, a premium sound system and cruise control make the R 1200 RT so comfy, so easy to ride, that when you get away, you'll feel like you're getting away with something. The R 1200 RT is a fully outfitted touring bike with royal ergonomics, on-the-fly adjustable suspension and a long list of comfort features, plus it's a downright exciting performance motorcycle. Its 110 horsepower low-center-of-gravity Boxer engine pulls smoothly and pops thrillingly, and its advanced chassis creates nimble handling usually reserved for short rides and sore shoulders. Ride as far as you want and get there with all the performance you crave with the R 1200 RT.

2. 1500LT

Peak performance and absolute amenities mile after mile after mile. Essentially, a Gold Wing on steroids with heated hand grips, heated seats, adjustable suspension, navigation system and advanced audio system.

3. 1200GS

Think off-road or riding to the North Pole and then back down the coast to South America. This bike can do it all, pavement, dirt and ruts. Of course, if you tip it over you may have a difficult time getting it back up. And besides who is really going to ride those trips? Probably not me, t but then it might be fun to be able to explore off pavement in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

R 1200 GS Adventure is not a motorcycle that suits everyone. For some it will just be physically oversized and awkward to live with. But for its size and weight fully tanked up it handles really well. If you want a 450 mile range for mammoth touring duties there is nothing else on the market. For me the biggest sales arguments would be the titanic fuel capacity and the rugged hard macho looks. Just a shame the test ended with destroying the indestructible…

4. R1200C

In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, Michelle Yeoh, in her role as Chinese spy Wai Lin, rode the R1200C in the scene where she and 007 run from Elliot Carver's henchmen, who are chasing them in a helicopter.

Few would expect BMW to compromise ride quality for styling purposes, and they certainly haven't done so with the 1200C. Comfort is excellent, even though our ride took place in 100 degree temperatures. A clever addition to both style and comfort is the passenger seat, which folds up to be used as a driver backrest that has a range of three different angles, and can be adjusted while you're riding. More Action Photos Ground clearance is far greater than the current crop of boulevard cruisers, allowing respectable lean angles when the road turns twisty.

Power is uninspiring however, as peak horsepower has been traded for low-end torque to fit the bike's cruising role. Smaller exhaust and intake valves, as well as an altered intake tract combine with an increased bore and stroke to provide a flat, torquey power spread.

This model was discontinued in 2004 which may make it difficult for on-going maintenance.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Long Distance Visitors and Party

Last Saturday was a busy day for us. First we had our jet-setting friends the Bingham's and Granges fly in for lunch from Denver. Mark has a private jet and it was very generous of him to take the time to bring them all to come and visit with us.

We are very lucky to have great BFF's (now that is not BBF's). Our next get together will be in May at Grand Lake in Colorado at the Bingham's cabin.

Friday night my sister Robin flew in from the Ukraine. She started from Dolyna on Wednesday afternoon at 5:00. The first leg of the trip was 1.5 hours by bus, followed by a 12 hour train trip to Kiev. She left at 3:30 am the next morning for the airport to fly to Paris where she changed planes for a 11 hour flight to Los Angeles. From LA she flew to Salt Lake and arrived Friday evening at 9:30 pm.

Saturday evening we held a band party at Brent Browns. Among our guests were Danny and Lorna, Steve and Barbara. Danny had found out that day that he had passed the Engineer certification. Lorna has finished her first master's degree class with an 'A'.

Other guests included the Bryan boys; Parker, KC, Clayton, Aaron and mom Kari.

Our Christmas songs need more work but the rest of the songs were rocking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Santa Fe

Kathy and I recently returned from a quick trip to Santa Fe to visit our kids Kris, Ginna, Max and Sandy. Sandy is the nick name of our new grandson whose real name is Alexander.

They live on the east side of Santa Fe close to the mountains. On Monday, Kris drove us up the mountain to view the wildlife and landscape. It's a beautiful place and a good place to mountain bike.

At the top of the mountain is a ranger lookout. We brought our lunches but unfortunately some hoodlum had knocked out the glass in the station so it was too cold to eat in the tower.

Looking north towards Colorado.

Later in the evening Max and I enjoyed a sing along. His favorite song is "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

I promised that there would be pictures of Sandy and his mother Ginna.

It's been nearly seven years since Max was born but I think that he looked at lot like Sandy.

There's the proud papa and good Doctor.

My favorite restaurant was the Cowgirl. The specialty is the ice creme which looks like a baked potato but tastes a whole lot better.

Of course, my eyes are closed.

Max also takes Karate lessons.

Now that the day is over it's time for stories and bed. In the morning we return to Salt Lake.

No Chemotherapy

Elizabeth Edwards passed away from breast cancer yesterday hours after deciding to forgo further therapy. Chemotherapy acts by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of cancer cells. This means that it also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles.

Chemotherapy can keep the disease at bay for a long time. Most women with advanced breast cancers undergo five or six different lines of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is dangerous with many nasty side effects. This is what many doctors and scientists have to say about chemotherapy:

"The majority of the cancer patients in this country die because of chemotherapy, which does not cure breast, colon or lung cancer. This has been documented for over a decade and nevertheless doctors still utilize chemotherapy to fight these tumors." (Allen Levin, MD, UCSF, "The Healing of Cancer", Marcus Books, 1990).

I am currently taking a targeted cancer drug called Tarceva. Tarceva is not a cure but has shown to significantly slow the growth of tumors with minimal side effects. The most notable exception is a skin rash. Oddly enough, those with the worse rash fair better than those who don’t develop a rash. A study, published in the July 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, reports that for patients taking Tarceva who developed a moderate to severe rash, survival without progression of disease was 245 percent longer than in patients who had a mild rash or none at all. In fact, in the majority of cases, the more severe the rash, the longer a patient's cancer was held in check, researchers found.

Another option is to concentrate on quality of life. In many cases, patients actually live longer if they stop actively treating their cancer and focus on palliative care to relieve symptoms because chemo takes such a heavy toll on the body.

On Monday I have appointment with my oncologist who is very optimistic and persuasive. So I’m not going to get to concerned about whether I change my mind in the coming months.
For years I have coveted a BMW tour bike. Granted, I already own a Honda Goldwing 1800 but I only bought that because I could save some money by buying a used bike. Meanwhile, I have dreamed about how great life would be if I could cruise down the freeway on one of these babies. It just might be the ticket to improve my quality of life in 2011. Or I could save the money for one of those rainy days.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dick and Sharon Palmer

Many years ago my family was fortunate to live in the same community of Denver, Colorado as Dick and Sharon Palmer and their kids. At the time I was heavily involved in scouting and got to take the boys on many hikes and camps. Dick was a avid supporter and friend. Years went by and we moved into different digs but didn't lose contact with the Palmers. Dick in turn retired and with his wife embarked on a series of LDS missions.

I also would very much like to serve a LDS mission with my wife but that remains somewhat in doubt given my health issues. My target mission would be in Kiribati, Tarawa. Kiribati is a small pacific island made famous by the book "The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific" by Maarten Troost. (The book has nothing to do with Cannibals or Sex but it makes an engaging title.) The Church operates the Moroni High School which is one of five schools on the island. The assignment would be to teach institute of religion classes and help out in any other manner. If I improve this summer, I'm going to attempt to apply. LDS missions are unlike other service opportunities in that we pay our own way for a period of eighteen months to two years and consider it a great honor and privilege to do so.

Anyway, this is what my good friends the Palmer have to say:

Dear Ken and Kathy,

I have been meaning to send you a note for a while. I could say that I have really been busy with family, church, etc. etc. and etc. but the truth is I have been at kind of a loss for words for some dear old friends. Now I am not saying that you are old or anything. I am just saying that our friendship goes back a bit. I would like to point out that I kind of felt a little short changed by not having you in our neighborhood and ward family longer. However it has been good to have kept in touch over the years.

It was fun to have your call a number of months back to talk about our senior missions and your interest in serving. As I have reflected on our discussion and the current turn of events it has reminded me of how fast life changes and that we don’t always know what the Lords plan for us is. It also reminded me of when we submitted our mission papers. There was an understanding before we signed the application form that we would be willing to serve anywhere the Lord needed us. I guess that is a little like our life here, if we will serve with all of our strength as the Lord needs us and if that happens to be here, there or where ever, we and our family will be blessed.

Reading your blog has been very interesting. I have learned a lot more about cancer, its effect, its treatment. But even more than that, I have learned more about two good friends and their exceptional strength and faith in time of challenge.

I do know that our knowledge and testimony of our Father In Heavens plan helps us in easy and hard times. I was reminded of when I had my heart attack in 1992. I was taken unconscious, by ambulance from my office to the hospital. During one of my wakeful moments with tubes and wires running all over me and feeling rather lousy, I heard a doctor comment at my bed talking to someone, “if he makes it through the night, he has a chance”. That shook me but I was amazed at how calm I was. I felt if it was my time my family was well provided for, I would miss a lot of things but I had no fear of death or of life after. My knowledge of the plan sustained me.

Another reference in your blog caused me to laugh. It referred to some scouting activity. This reminded me of a lot of scouting activities, camps, hikes, advancement meeting etc. I was so glad that you were the scoutmaster and I was in a supporting role. For planned hikes It was always exciting to see if you and all of the scouts would end up at an agreed upon meeting point and when. They were fun times. You had a good positive influence on my boys as well as many others that I know of. THANKS

I hope that it would be alright for us to drop in when we happen to be over in Salt Lake City sometime.

Love and Prayers

Dick and Sharon Palmer

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kris, Ginna, Max and Sandy

Not everyone could make it to Utah for Thanksgiving. Thanks to the arrival of a new grandson, Kris and his family stayed in Santa Fe but it looks like they made the best of circumstances. Kathy and I fly out to Santa Fe this weekend for our first view of Sandy. We are anxious to see the family.