Sunday, August 16, 2009

New York or Bust!

Sorry to be so slow to update this blog but computer problems are the main culprit. I started downloading (uploading?) pictures in reverse order so they will be chronological but this program won't let me download any more at this time so when I can get the earlier ones put in, you'll see the first part of our trip.

One afternoon after we finished our shift at the Whitmer Farm in Fayette, NY, another couple asked if we wanted to go on a dinner cruise that evening on the Erie Canal. Of course we, as well as Louis and Louise did! We drove to Fairport to embark, an hour or so west of Palmyra. About 15 or 20 other couples from our site as well as Palmyra were also on the cruise.

The entire trip was a lot of fun, very romantic and scenic with beautiful homes with their own boat docks all along the way.

Modern equipment has enabled the canal to be widened and deepened to allow bigger boats onto the canal. There are a total of 32 locks going the length. We went through one then turned around and came back, arriving after dark.

Another day before our afternoon shift started, we drove an hour or so into Amish country and stopped at a little country store where they had all manner of beautiful homemade crafts for sale. I especially enjoyed looking at these amazing quilts.

We saw this cute buggy--the common mode of transportation of the Amish--parked in front of a well-kept farm with a boy in bib overalls out riding his bike. We hoped to see them working in their fields but they were scarce.

One afternoon we drove up to Fair Haven State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario on the northern border of NY with Louis and Louise. We all had a good laugh about these birds who congregated in flocks everywhere waiting for a handout of food and thought they reminded us of the Obama Democrats!

We took a little picnic and enjoyed the beauty of the park by the lake.

This is a typical picture of the beautiful farms, barns, corn fields, etc. that we saw every day wherever we traveled.

On our P-day, we decided to spend the day in Palmyra, to take the scenic tour as well as have a spiritual tour. As we arrived, first at the Grandin Print Shop, it was pouring rain. We got a little drenched waiting to go inside for the tour to start.

One morning the four of us got up early and attended a session here at the beautiful Palmyra Temple.

The first home of Joseph Smith's family in Palmyra.

The entrance to the Sacred Grove. There were several other paths leading in and out and as we were leaving, a rather hard-looking woman who seemed rather out of place (tattoos, etc., etc., probably in her 30's) met up with us, merging from a different path.

She seemed rather teary eyed and affected by her experience in the grove. She seemed to want to talk so we asked her where she was from and she said Louisiana. We told her of our daughter and husband who had spent two years there going to school and who had learned to love the people and everything about the state because of the warm hospitality of the people there.

We asked her if she was a member of the Church and she said yes, that her mother had joined when she was 3 years old. She said that as a teenager, she became rebellious and started doing things she shouldn't and eventually lost her membership in the Church. After some time she began missing feeling the Spirit and wanted to get back in the church. She became very ill, was hospitalized and felt that she would die. She prayed and prayed that she would live long enough so that she could be re-baptized. After contacting her Bishop to ask if she could be, he began the process for her. She did recover and was able to again receive her membership through re-baptism and to once again feel the spirit.

She told us she never wanted to be without that feeling again but that life was very hard because she had married a non-member and while he allowed her to attend meetings, yet he wasn't interested in the Church. She and her husband and two other friends had left their hometown on motorcycles and were on their way to visit friends elsewhere, but she told them she didn't care where else they went, she was going to stop in and spend some time in the Sacred Grove! They agreed but didn't go in themselves. We talked a while and encouraged her to always make good choices and set a good example for them and said that she would be blessed in her life for doing so. She gave us both big hugs and said how much she had appreciated being able to talk with us. A while later we watched as she donned her bandana, helmet and black leather jacket and rode off on her motorcycle with her husband and friends, waving at us as she left. It was a special experience for us.

Frank in Palmyra before the Hill Cumorah Pageant with two of the awesome Sister Missionaries we had the privilege of working with at the Whitmer farm. They didn't get to stay for the pageant because they hadn't found an investigator to bring and it would be after hours before it ended. Mission
rule. . .

We loved going two or three hours early to watch the pageant because all the participants got their costumes and make-up on early and mixed and mingled with the crowds of people until dark. Their costumes were so amazing and they were very friendly and loved the chance to share a spiritual thought with us. We talked with many young people, even very young ones who weren't afraid to speak up and share their testimony. We marveled at how prepared they were becoming to be future full-time missionaries.

The first night we went to the pageant it started pouring rain about 20 minutes before the end and ended up getting cancelled for the night, due to the danger of lightening to the crew and cast up on the hill. Only the 3rd time in pageant history for that to happen! We were glad we were able to attend again a few days later.

The beautiful Fayette Ward chapel and visitors center at the Whitmer farm. It was designed, both inside and outside, to look like other churches of the period. Note especially the gold domed steeple. Inside was very beautiful with lots of dark wood and red carpets. One tribute to our modern era was the cultural hall with basketball standards! We spent nearly two weeks here during the pageant, serving as volunteer hosts to help the hundreds of people who came through each day to have an enjoyable time. We met so many wonderful people from all over the country and world. There were lots of tour buses full of youth groups as well as others, coming from the Bronx, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and elsewhere. What a choice experience for them, many getting ready to serve missions.

Below is a replica of the Peter Whitmer home, where the Church was organized April 6, 1830.

Frank at Station # 2, at the rear of the building where the tours started. From there, he greeted them and then directed them inside where I would show them to the drinking fountain, bathroom, etc. before they started their tour. We rotated between 4 stations during our 5-6 hour shift, with a different assignment at each.

We were amazed when we arrived for orientation to find that a missionary from Frank's mission to New England many years ago was also serving with us, Marvin Tolman from Provo. He and his wife had been called literally the weekend before time to come to fill in for a couple who had gotten half way to NY and the wife had had to have emergency abd. surgery in Omaha. Bro. Tolman had 2 brothers and wives also serving and had wanted to come. One of his brothers was there FT as a Senior missionary. What a fun time we all had getting acquainted!

This is the William Cunche family from Paris France, that we met and visited with in Palmyra at the pageant the last Saturday night we were there. They asked where we were going to church and we said the Fayette Ward as we needed to work our last shift there Sunday after Church. They came there and we had a chance to visit with them and learn more about this special family. They said if we ever go to Paris, they want to be our guide!

As we returned toward Arizona we went a more southerly route and spent one night in Indianapolis and then stopped at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. It is constructed of steel and is triangular in shape with a tramway inside that we traveled 630 feet up all the way to the top where there were windows that we could look out all over the city. A real architectural marvel. Definitely worth seeing!

After leaving St. Louis, we went to Branson MO. where we spent 3 nights and got to see lots of wonderful shows, all family friendly, with a patriotic and religious ending. Very uplifting entertainment in a beautiful location.

The weather was wonderful the entire trip, never too hot and only a couple of rains.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Multiple Myeloma update

We just returned from a month-long trip by car to New York State and back--will post more about that later with pictures. Friday as we left Branson to start our journey home we stopped in Springfield, Missouri at Labcorp for Frank's monthly blood draw to check various aspects of his disease. His appointment was Monday and it takes a few days for the results to be sent to the doctor's office in Mesa, AZ. The doctor said that while his various values weren't bad, they weren't that good either--his white count has continued to slowly drop again and his platelets as well. Not good. Frank asked him if he is still in the smoldering myeloma stage or if it is active. The doctor explained that its a little of both. His kidneys and bones haven't been affected yet but he has over 50% malignant cells in his bone marrow which are crowding out the good cells--especially the platelets and white cells. He said Frank could start on the chemotherapy if he wanted (which would destroy malignant cells with lots of nasty side effects [including destroying his immune system]), or if not, continue on the supplements I have been giving him. For now we will continue on the supplements. I am researching and deciding where I can tweak dosages, etc.
He had another phlebotomy to remove a pint of blood in order to keep the iron level in his blood in control (because of hemachromatosis, a common blood disease). Cancer loves iron.

If Frank felt terrible, we would be more concerned, but he has felt good the entire month we were gone, not getting sick or requiring any antibiotics. A couple of times when he started getting a sore throat or chest congestion I had him gargle with salt water or take Echinacea, Proligna (a pinecone extract) and L-lysine and they worked like a charm (they are all immune system boosters). He will have a CBC and Ferritin level (iron) check in two weeks and then all the rest before his next appt. in a month.

The following are some of his worrisome low lab values:
RBC (Red Blood Count)--carries oxygen to cells throughout body. Normal range:4.10 to 5.60. His: 3.46 (down from 4.14 in February)
WBC (White Blood Count)--the body's defense system against infection. Normal range: 4-10.5. His: 2.4 (down from 2.8. In April it was at 4.1--higher than it had been in 10 years.) He is at greater risk for infection and tries to avoid sick people and crowds.
Neutrophil%--A type of white blood cell. Normal range: 40-74%. His: 38%(down from 48%). Some cancers may cause a decrease in the body’s ability to form normal new neutrophils. People with neutropenia (low neutrophil count) have a low number of these white blood cells, so it is harder for their bodies to fight infection.
Platelets They are formed in the bone marrow and cause the blood to clot. Normal range 140-415. His: 109 (down from 141 in March).The platelet count may decrease if the bone marrow does not produce enough platelets. Blood cancers and a variety of other bone marrow disorders can have this effect. Several of the anti-cancer supplements he is taking have an anticoagulant effect (including Curcumin) and since he is not bruising easily or bleeding abnormally, the doctor didn't seem overly concerned. Better too low than high and be at risk of heart attack/stroke!

These values all flucuate month to month so we just pray that that the change isn't too drastic.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Camera, Fun Vacation in Puerta Vallarta, Boogie Boarding

My my, its been a long time since I've posted anything. We both were pretty busy going back and forth to doctors. Frank had two cataract surgeries and both eyes are doing well--for the first time since he was in 5th grade, NO glasses! Amazing! I had two benign lesions on my cervix removed. A urologist blasted (with sound waves) an 8mm stone in my kidney and Frank had a lesion on his arm removed (probably skin cancer). Along with these procedures there were many trips to doctors (the closest an hour away) for checkups, xrays, CT Scan, Ultrasound, blood tests, etc. etc. I had an emergency trip to the hospital for an injured spine and was down pretty much flat for 10 days. Anyway, we are finally doing great and are ready for some fun.

My digital camera suddenly without warning, died, quit--it went totally kaput. Frank bought me a new one for my birthday so I've been trying it out. My first subjects were of course my flowers--first signs of spring after months of cold WINDY weather. It was amazing but while Frank was gone helping Kandra and Jared move from Ohio to L.V., the trees overnight leaved out! One week they were bare and the next, brilliant green. Good thing they know what to do in spite of weather that made us wonder if spring would come at all.

Our longtime friends, the Beecroft's, invited us to spend a week with them at their timeshare (penthouse suite!) in Puerto Vallarta--a perfect opportunity to try out my new camera. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and enjoyed everything about our trip--the exotic resort, listening to the ocean waves, boogie boarding, long walks on the beach, late night movies on the VCR, lazy mornings and even keeping up with the "news" at home, courtesy of FOX news. It was a very relaxing week, just what the doctor ordered!

Sorry for so many pictures--I could have posted many more--my point and click camera does an awesome job. I will try to post pictures of the newest additions (!) at our Humble Abode this week if I have time. We are preparing to go on a road trip to New York for the pageant in Palmyra. We have been asked to serve as Hosts at the Peter Whitmer Farm during that time, along with my brother and his wife Louis and Louise. We will be gone a month (end of June to end of July) so of course you can count on getting a travelogue of that trip when we get back!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Supplement Sources

Because I have had lots of inquiries about where I purchase the various herbs and supplements Frank and I have taken, here are some of the sources for the things I buy. You can compare prices, etc. and see if there are better sources. Because I live in a small town without readily available products at a health food store, it is easy to go online to make most of my purchases. I think some sources just want to sell their products and may not have standardized optimal products. The book "Cancer Free" by Bill Henderson has lots of tips for good sources of the supplements he recommends also. Quercetin 650 mg; Saw palmetto 540 mg; Boswellia 800 mg; Dual Ginseng Plus; Evening Primrose Flowers 500 mg NSI artemisinin 500 mg, NSI resveratrol+grapeseed, NSI Ginkgo Biloba 120 mg, NSI Glucosamine condroitin + MSM; Doctors Best Curcumin C3 Complex w/bioperine 1000 mg or (Frank prefers--easier to swallow) NSI Turmeric Extract Curcumin C3 complex1000 mg w/bioperene [I read where they are made by the same company, the first is a hard caplet and the second is in a gelatin capsule], NSI CoQ10 600 mg; NSI Pancreatin 10X (digestive Enzyme) Allera immune extra; Jarrow Green Tea 500 mg, Vitality Works; Oregano Oil Carvacrol 70; Doctor's best MSM, 1000 mg Calcium citrate 600 mg, Niacin 500 mg, Theanine serene w/GABA, Astragalus root, Feverfew (parthenolide)

I've also bought lots of things at Wal-mart: Multi- vitamins (no iron), etc. Hope this helps. For the regimen he follows go back a few posts to the one that lists what he takes and why.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on Mother's Day, Cancer Scare, back pain

Today was Mother's day and a very enjoyable one--was able to talk to all my children plus my mom on the phone. Church services were very touching as outstanding talks were given by Craig Blackburn and Rick Turley. In the past I have not always enjoyed this day of the year because I guess my expectations exceeded the reality. As I listened to the stories at church every year about exemplary mothers, I always would feel depressed and like a failure for not being the kind of mother who had raised 10 wonderful children as a widow on a shoestring budget, etc., etc. Anyway, now that my children are gone and some of the small details of my past imperfections are forgotten (unless with humor I am reminded of such by my children!), I can look at our four kids and feel like I must have done a few things right because each of them have become outstanding responsible adults.

The past few months there has been a little cloud hanging over me as I worried on and off about the cause of occasional blood in my urine. Having been more concerned about Frank's diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer, I had for the most part, ignored my own painless symptom as I continuously researched natural treatment for him so that he wouldn't have to endure chemotherapy/radiation. I had gone to doctors a few times and eventually a CT scan of my kidneys and bladder was ordered, then an ultrasound of the same region because of 'something' they thought they saw on the CT scan. Finally, two weeks ago I was able to get into see a Urologist to learn the results of the tests done. I was told I had two problems, an 8mm kidney stone which will need to be blasted and a 'mass' in my bladder(!!) Great. The doctor scheduled me to come back the 9th (yesterday) for a cystoscopy (a fiber optic cable with a light inserted into my bladder) to determine the type of abnormal tissue and what needed to be done. I went in and was able to watch on a monitor screen as he look all around inside and never found anything abnormal and said I had a very normal healthy bladder! What I didn't tell him was that the day I found out I had a mass in there, I immediately started taking the 'atomic bomb'--what I call the handful of anti-cancer supplements that Frank has been taking successfully the past two months (see my earlier blog for his regimen). I call them our "afternoon delight" as they need to be taken on an empty stomach with a hot liquid for absorbability purposes, either hot chocolate or hot apple cider. Anyway we were both thrilled and very relieved at the good news. I'll keep on taking them but perhaps not as many of the curcumin now (12 grams).

Three or 4 days after I saw the urologist for the first time, I was working in the yard, raking leaves from our back area where my fruit trees are and also pulling up sucker roots that come from the white poplar tree and are trying to take over the back yard. Anyway, as I pulled on an extra stubborn root, I felt a severe pain travel from my lower back down my left leg to my foot and was unable to put weight on it--excruciating. Frank took me to the ER and they did a CT scan. They didn't find any mis-alignment but said it was spinal stenosis which is a narrowing of the openings from the spine that the nerves pass through which causes damage to and inflammation of the nerves. I was pretty much flat in bed or a recliner for about a week, got up only with the help of Frank's strong arm or a walker loaned by a friend. Kristal came down from SLC to stay and help several days. With the help of her great leg massages, painkillers and heating pads to my back, the pain and inflammation gradually subsided and I am able to be up and about--carefully. However, Kandra's move from Ohio to Las Vegas this week will have to take place without me :( Jared is graduating Law School at OSU (Hurray for him!) and will work for a judge there. Frank left this morning to go St George, the first leg of the trip where he will leave from LV with Kristal and Jason on Southwest Airlines; they will also go help pack, clean, drive vehicles, etc. Jason's architecture classes ended last week so he volunteered to take my place, bless his heart.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Las Vegas, St. George, Washington State, Myeloma Checkup

April has been a busy but enjoyable month for us. We drove to Las Vegas where we met and picked up Kandra and Jared (and of course Gavin) at the airport. They had come to find a house to live in before they move out from Ohio next month. After crisscrossing the city many times and checking out hundreds of places, they settled on a very nice house in the Summerlin area (check out her blog for more details). We all stayed at South Point, a very nice resort a few miles south of the strip. Jared had found a smokin' deal on the room rates (thanks)! We had an enjoyable time eating and visiting with our oldest grand daughter, Summer (who is living there) one evening. After K & J found the home they wanted (no gang graffiti on the walls!) we went to St. George and spent a couple days celebrating Easter with Lance and family and Kristal et al. The weather had turned somewhat cold but nevertheless we had an enjoyable time together. Sunday afternoon we took Kandra and Jared back to LV where they caught their plane back to Ohio.
The next morning Frank and I flew to Seattle and then on to Bellingham, Washington. We rented a car there and drove to Birch Bay where we stayed a week at a lovely Worldmark condominium there. We explored the area that I had lived in for 14 months when I was a child--very scenic. I was able to locate the actual site where our home was on South Pass Road though the house was no longer standing--it was old when my family lived in it 50+ years ago!
Frank and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary while in Washington--hurray!
Worldmark Resort with gorgeous blooming trees and flowers.

Birch Bay across the street from the resort.

Dusk at Discovery Bay and receding tide.

Golf course behind the resort where I enjoyed early morning walks.

This church building in Everson is 3-4 years old and 2 wards meet there. When we lived in the area no one had even heard of the church! There are also several others in the area now.

The beautiful valley near Mt. Baker where our home was located.

We saw many fields which looked like this. After examining the vines closely, I found they are raspberry vines which are trained in this fashion, several canes are tied together and then as they grow taller they are bent over and tied into the next bundle--apparently to make harvesting easier.

Friends we met on a cruise a few years ago drove up from Seattle on the weekend and we had a wonderful time together. A highlight was driving down to Skagit Valley where some of the world's largest growers of tulips and other flowers are grown--fields and fields of them. It was totally amazing.

Field of tulips in Skagit Valley.

Beauty everywhere! I was really envious of the tall stems and unbelievably huge blooms on all the tulips. Pictures don't do them justice. At home my tulips grow to about 5 or 6" tall and the flowers are small--totally stunted by our cold windy weather. Sixty-70 mph winds at home were one thing we were glad we missed while we were gone.

There were thousands of people everywhere in the fields (some even coming in tour buses) to view the tulip gardens.

Some of the families brought very colorful kites to fly.

Waves and waves of beautifully color-coordinated flowers in park-like settings.

A colorful windmill gave the atmosphere of being in Holland.

Rows and Rows of many colored tulips.

Purple tulips in a tub.

On our last day in Washington we traveled to British Columbia before heading to the Bellingham airport. This is the famous Peace Arch between the two friendly countries.

The city of White Rock sits by the ocean with lovely beach and many birds on one side of the highway and row after row of condos and apartments rising up the hill on the other side, very scenic.
BTW, forgot to mention that Frank had gone into Bellingham to a Labcorp to have vials of blood drawn while we were there so that the results would be ready when he went in for a checkup with his oncologist in Arizona the day we returned. Some of them still weren't back yet but his white blood cell count which is the one the doctor has been most worried about had risen again, from 3.2 to 4.1--the highest its been in several years!!! He has an immune system again! Though we had gone prepared with an antibiotic just in case, he hasn't needed one for 2 1/2 months. Yippee :) The doctor said things looked great, that what we are doing is apparently working and to not come back for 2 months. GREAT news!