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Cancer

Sunday Sundries … Always in the Right Time

jimmy carter

Three things we learn, when we are diagnosed with a terminal illness, are humility, grace, and courage.

Well, for most of us that is …

Many people, take life for granted, until death happens in their lives, either to someone they love or someone they know. Most people don’t even pay heed to mortality because they are too busy working a job, paying the bills and trying to eek out a living, a marriage, a house, kids and cars.

Death, well, it hasn’t come for me yet, so why worry about it? I don’t have time to worry about it.

I think everybody should take a class I took a few years ago called “Death and Dying.”

Learning about death is as important as learning about life.

Because I tell you, with complete certainty, that nothing compares sitting in a non-nondescript doctors office and hearing your doctor tell you that “You are going to die, so go home, kiss your ass goodbye and prepare for the end.”

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

My friend Adam, when he got sick, fought like a bad ass for every day that he lived, and on the day he died, it was said that “He went down like a fighter.” Coming to the realization that our life sits in the hand of God and our time of coming and going is according to His plan, is something that took time for me to wrap my head around.

I’ve seen many people face adversity. And I’ve watched them make decisions that might not have been all that prudent or life affirming, but those were their decisions, what to do, knowing the end was coming. I did not have the luxury of throwing in the proverbial towel and to end up living fast and self abusing like many of my friends did in the end.

Todd would not give me that privilege. He knew better.

After doctors tell you that “you are going to die,” and you live to see that day come around and you are staring it back in the face, you go one of two ways. One, you get cocky and decide to take life into your hands and do something stupid, or Two, you remind yourself that now, you live on “Borrowed Time” and that fucking this up is not recommended …

I hit that death date several times. And I am still alive.

I can’t answer the question as to WHY I am still alive, but it seems God is not done with me yet.

I don’t live, like we have discussed, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for someone to pull the rug out from under me. Amid my daily ritual, I am mindful of where I am, and why I am, (for me in the moment and in my day) and I go on with my life.

I acknowledge every day for what it is, a gift. It may seem, on the outside, that I am ungrateful most of the time, because I really don’t think about gratitude every moment of my life, and sometimes that bothers me, because it may seem prideful or egotistical, but it is not.

I am alive, and breathing and I don’t know why, But God does. So I trust Him.

We are all going to die one day. And some know for sure that they are going to die, because certain diseases are illness specific. Once the clock begins ticking, time is never on our side.

But, we are fighters. The ones who say that, “NO we will not go into that dark night miserably”

But it is we who say, “Win or Loose, I am going out on my own terms, in my own way.”

I know both sides of this acceptance and where it can lead.

But acceptance is the the key.

Former President Jimmy Carter, has cancer. We all know that this could end up very badly. Cancer is a no holds barred sickness. Truthfully spoken, once cancer hits one organ, and or has moved throughout the body, and if it gets to the brain, the odds are against you. It just goes that way. There isn’t enough chemo nor radiation that is going to make it all go away.

For some, I know, when cancer makes its last stand, medical assistance becomes useless.

In the end, for some of us, all we have is our faith in God. At some point, we will hit that point of no return, when the end is nigh, and God in His infinite wisdom is going to do what He is going to do. Regardless of what we want.

I can’t say that I am fearless, and that when that day comes, I will make my last stand and give it all I have got. I’m not sure what that will look like. But if my friends are my guides, I will try my damnedest to be courageous.

If there is a God, then why do people get sick?

I don’t have an answer for that question. Nobody does.

My faith tells me that God knows what God is doing. My sobriety encourages me to trust in that power greater than myself to give me what I need, as I need it, on a need to have basis.

It was written in tonight’s read that after many mishaps and failures and expectations that did not come to pass, we find that, in the end, we will get just what we need at the right moment.

It might not be what we want, when we want it,

But it is always what we need, when we need it.

That might not be the answer you were looking for, but it is the truth.

The point of sobriety, in the words of a good friend, is to become right, on the inside. And allow for that right energy, to transform the outside, so that we live in union with “right sizedness” then we become great people. To live with integrity.

We lead from the heart. We learn to live for others and not just ourselves. Instead of angry, resentful, taking and abusing alcoholics and addicts, we learn to be happy, giving and right sized men and women.

I think, this is what God wants of me. To accept my life on life’s terms. To know and trust in God, to be good to the ones I love, AND to be good to anyone whom I meet on any given day.

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekThis was the message I was trying to give to a friend earlier tonight. It is true.

I think God sits in his heaven and He watches us battle our demons, and He watches people live, learn, make mistakes, and then clean themselves up. At that point, if we accept that axiom, that perfect, spiritual assistance, is there and available to us, God grants us a little more time to perfect His grace and humility and courage.

Terminally Ill patents don’t usually get that privilege, because it becomes do or die, and it is the fight and how they fight that shows us what they are made of, to the last breath they take. Once that clock starts ticking, time is not on our side.

We pray for all the sick. That God will be merciful and hearing our prayers, grant us eternal life when that moment does come. And it will come, in God’s time.

That is all for tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … A Death in the Family … The Day We Could have Skipped

kneelThese are the days, we wished we could have skipped.

I imagined that we’d have a full house, well, as full a house as we have had, but that was not the case tonight.

I have friendships that started when my friends came in and got sober. I am blessed to have these people in my life. A number of years back, I met a particular woman, she’s got a few years now, I’ve watched her grow up into the woman she has become. And I am so proud of her.

Just because we get sober, does not mean that life is going to get any easier. Sometimes it gets a whole lot worse, before it gets better.

Some time ago, we were talking and she told me her father was very sick, with cancer.

Then she said something that totally took me by surprise.

She told me that her father contracted (K.S.) for those of you who do not know what that means, Kaposi Sarcoma, is a gay related cancer that was the bane of our existence when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. It killed scores of people all over the world from the beginning of the Gay Cancer/AIDS era. It killed most of my friends who contracted AIDS, and with that, developed K.S. lesions all over their body, that finally killed them.

When was the last time you ever heard a heterosexual man, dying from an AIDS related Cancer ??

It seems that he was transfused with a tainted blood supply a number of years ago.

My work, deals directly with those in Recovery, Palliative Care for the dying, AIDS and HIV work, and Spiritual Counseling for those who desire words.

For the last year, my friends father has been in and out of the hospital, finally ending up in palliative care for the last few months.

Not Long Ago, she asked me about where she should devote her time, and what was the most important thing she needed to do? With her parents being older, and her father in palliative care, she and her sisters had to step up and do what they needed to do for their family, and if that meant missing a meeting here or there to do that, was that the right decision ??

Family is the most important part of our lives. So in no uncertain terms I told her that she needed to be with her family and to take care of her father and her mother, to the best of her abilities.

This afternoon, she stood by her father’s bedside, along with the entire family, when he took his last breath in this world.

His name was Francisco.

I got a text as I was leaving the building this evening. I wept …

I made my transit, not knowing what was going to happen.

The weather has gotten very cold. Quite bitter.

I got the coffee on, and set up the room. My sponsor and I spoke yesterday and he was due to call the meeting from Florida, where he is on vacation, to wish everybody a Happy New Year.

Quarter to Six, I was still sitting alone in the bell tower. My phone rang, it was my sponsor.

Last night he got very sick and ended up in a Miami hospital and was released this afternoon. Thank God for travelers insurance. I joked with him, asking what he had to pay out of pocket, and he replied, that he really did not want to know, he got good speedy care, the price for that care, was a non issue.

As we were talking someone came in the door downstairs.

My lady friend came to the meeting. She got to talk to my sponsor a bit, then we called St. John’s New Foundland, to talk to another friend, meanwhile another friend showed up.

We had an intimate meeting for her with three people.

She wasn’t sure if she was going to make it, so I prepared a reading and in the end, that is the reading we stayed with, from A.B.S.I. #303, Loving Adviser …

“Many of my dearest A.A. friends have stood with me in exactly the same relation. Oftentimes they could help where others could not, simply because they were A.A.’s.”

You can only sit in your chair for so long, before you either harden your heart, against your fellows or you engage and invest in their lives.

We always hear about people bringing meetings to those who need them, today, we brought a meeting to a woman we care about deeply. It was a most blessed evening.

If you are the praying type, offer your prayer for a man named Francisco.

Eternal Rest grant him and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.


Tuesday … You Don`t Always get what you Want !!!

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

Did you see that MOON last night? At 5 a.m. this morning, I was standing on my balcony and the moon was still up, quite far from setting, even at that hour, sun up was coming quickly, It was quite a sight. Under a cloudless sky, the moon was sparkle bright, lighting up the city from above and there was plenty of light shining down on me.

I awoke to a flurry of email from a bunch of people, one, for the upcoming Men’s Intensive in October, and secondly, great email from friends from afar.

I wrote a short time ago about the headphone debacle that turned into a $60.00 repair mission. I applied for a warranty refund online, then printed out the form that it generated and mailed my broken headphones to B.C..

Today I got an email response from them, saying that my claim had been processed and a resolution was reached. They offered me a coupon for $29.99 for the refund. Not enough to buy a pair outright without using extra funds. On their site the same exact pair I had costs $40.00 plus shipping and handling. And if I want to use the refund towards a new purchase, I will have to pay the balance with a credit card, which we got rid of them a few months ago … UGH !!!

The upside of this is that My direct deposit comes to R.B.C next month, instead of going to a U.S. bank where we were charged outrageous fees for cross border transfers and fees, so I opened a mirror account from my Canadian Bank Institution. I have a brand new Visa/Debit card just waiting to be used, once fund begin redirecting into the account.

That coupon refund is good for a years time. Eventually I will be able to replace my headphones.

On an entirely other thread …

I scored a #19 Mario Gotze German National Team World Cup jersey, AND I found the site that sells everything else that I want and everybody takes Pay Pal, which is a great coup.

tumblr_nbchquNJyQ1rjev45o1_500 footballhqsIt has been a beautiful couple of days. Weather is an ever changing beast, and every time you click the National Environment Canada website, the numbers are different. Suffice to say that this weekend we will see the first pass through single digit temps. Enough of a kick that may begin the Fall turning of the leaves. All we need is a few days with single digits to jump start the process.

I departed with plenty of time to make my transit, and went all the way across and my bus stop at the other end of my transit was reopened, so I rode the bus down the hill instead of having to walk. A nice little perk.

It was week two of our Journey through the steps … And Step Two !

The announcement went into our local Blue Sheet event calendar which is published and mailed out across the city to every group registered with inter group. I sent a short blurb, and in the end we got a full “across the page” event announcement, instead of a small mention. And that must have done the trick, because we sat twice as many folks as we have been sitting for the last few weeks.

Came to Believe … That a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

It does not read (Come to Believe) it reads “CAME” to believe, past tense.

Some would say, and I heard it tonight, that we get to this step, and it already happened. I also heard the phrase “Find God and Find Him Quickly.” The reading outlines the problems some folks may have, and what happens when that happens. It gives options for those averse to the word God.

And we also heard what some of our newer folks did to get to this step and allow it to work for them. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, but one of our women said that her sponsor told her to repeat a short mantra for thirty days, and to see what happens. It did the job. But like I said, I didn’t get to ask her what that mantra was.

I know for me this time around, I did not have an issue with God. As delusional I was at the end, I at least had a clarity of mind that allowed me to pray. And pray as if my life depended on it, and I think that that was what did it for me. God is there, He just waits for us to call upon Him.

Then He moved …

It took a few months for my head to clear up. The “Not Having” other life issues hanging over my head, allowed me to concentrate solely on sobriety. It was also good that within the first five months of coming back, I sat through a step intensive prior to coming here.

And I remember, I was here for a few months, and I told the guy who was my sponsor (read: for a very short time) that I felt I was ready to work the steps.

And he replied … “Steps? I don’t work steps!”

I dropped him like a hot potato. He eventually went back out and drank.

That set me up for my next sober encounter and my journey through the steps in a 17 week Men’s Intensive. Some make it and some don’t. We started out with twenty five men. By the time we hit Step Four, half that number went back out and drank. At the end of the series, there were only four men left. Myself, my sponsor, a second man and his sponsor.

Coming to believe has become organic. Watching God move is a blessing. Having studied God through Religious and Theological studies in university gave me a book sense. But the richer God experience has come from direct contact with my fellows, watching them get sober. By the book, we may say, there is a God. And religious folks say that they believe in God. And that He does work in their lives.

Hands down, the most ecstatic encounter with God comes, when folks come in and have their spiritual experiences. I have seen it many times. I’ve seen God move in meetings, around us, through other people, that have concretely shown me that God really does exist.

If you question the existence of God, or that you may not believe the same way I do, find a room you enjoy going to, sit in that room, stay in that room, days, weeks, months and years. I promise you that eventually, you too will see God. Hands down it is the best experience I can tell you about.

We are trudging away.

I ask for your prayers for one of our women, who learned recently that her father is very sick, with K.S., I’ve never heard of straight people suffering from a condition, usually associated with AIDS. And it may be that when he was being treated for Leukemia, he received a tainted transfusion. This began twenty years ago. And for a very long time, the doctors did not know what he was suffering from, K.S. began to present but doctors did not catch it or name it until it was too late. What straight doctor thinks of Cancer beyond the vernacular cancer symptoms?

Anyways, Dad is dying. He may have 6 months, maybe a year on the outside.

So if you pray, pray for my friend. She needs all the help she can get.

The one good thing is that she accepts “Thy will be done.” and so do we.

Amid the sadness of terrible news, we laughed with her.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … You Gotta Move !!!

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Courtesy: James Clear Flickr

It is Sunday. And we are sitting at (5c/40f) at this hour. It has been a dreary weekend. Cold and rainy, but I’d rather have cold and snowy !!! But not today.

I had a dream about Tootsie Rolls last night, and that dream turned into a craving, and on  the way out, I stopped at the Dollar Store for a fix.

Thank God for 2 for a dollar.

I got my milk and did my transit. I arrived early, because I left early, and cranked out set up. A fellow turned up early so I had help. As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Ten.

It was a sparse crowd. And we ended short.

I’m not focused on Traditions tonight. I want to tell a story instead.

*** *** ***

“Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair. You are moving but you are NOT getting anywhere.”

Many years ago, when I was much younger and more sicker, the first few years and then some more were really tough. And my friends worked very hard at keeping me above water and not to focus on complaining.

Hence … Father Jeff

I’ve told this story before but tonight it bears repeating.

One Sunday evening I went to mass. Sitting in my usual seat, waiting for mass to start. I had not gone into the sacristy before service to see who was celebrating.

The music started up and the procession began. At the tail end was the priest for the evening. He wasn’t walking, he wasn’t rolling, He had crutches. And he followed the people into the church.

The altar is a lengthwise elongated half circle. With three steps up brick steps to the celebrants chair.

One, Two, Three steps up, lickety split.

That night I watched a man who was impacted with severe problems (M.S.), that just paled in comparison to my own. It is hard not having the use of your legs when you are / have to be mobile in certain settings. He just kept going.

He never spoke of his infirmity from the pulpit. And he was graceful and compassionate.

From that night on I swore to myself that after witnessing that priest do what he does best, with what he has to deal with, I would NEVER complain about myself ever again.

After mass I met him and he became my spiritual adviser. And it was a long and fruitful relationship. He taught me many things about myself, himself and about God. He was a true blessing …

Where am I going with this, you might ask …

We are all getting older. And many of us are facing sickness, infirmity, aging and we all have our crosses to bear.

And some do it better than others.

You know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if you gripe about a problem, it only gets worse. If you give in to pain and infirmity, it will, sooner or later, render you immobile.

Just because we feel pain, it doesn’t mean that we have to let it own us. We’ve offered other options about that issue. And it has gone in one ear and out the other.

Acceptance is the key to all my problems.

But I don’t accept that my illness is going to take me down any time soon.

I get up OFF MY ASS and I move. I walk, I exercise, and I get to meetings. If you allow your body to acquiesce to the pain and soreness, that’s what you will get, and more of it.

The only way to get your body back in shape is to push the envelope and get up and do something. You can’t let pain and illness to rule your life. There are plenty of ways to alleviate pain. And we have given options.

The body is a funny bird. And the mind is a very powerful thing.

WHAT THE MIND TELLS THE BODY, IT WILL EVENTUALLY LISTEN.

And if you keep saying “oh I’m in pain, oh, I can’t climb stairs, oh, I can’t walk like I used to …” The brain is talking and the body is listening.

This is not going to go well, in the long run.

If you give a side effect more thought than it needs or deserves, then you only exacerbate that side effect. And the same thing goes for pain and infirmity. If you begin to believe that your suffering is “your lot” because of treatment, think again.

We have air in our lungs. And we have lives to live. And we live on God’s time, so we better make the most of it to the best of our ability.

Push through the pain and stop complaining. You get up and you FIGHT for every day to the fullest, because you never know when God is gonna punch your card and it will all be over with.

Do you want to go down saying, Ah, I didn’t do enough when I could have or that your pain got the best of you??? No you get up and you FIGHT !!!

When you are in enough pain, you will either do one of two things …

1. Become a homebody and never leave the house (or)

2. You will speak up and stop complaining and get a doctor to help you with your pain. And if he won’t then find someone who will.

If Jeff can minister from the pulpit on crutches suffering from M.S. without word of complaint, then we can get out of our pity party and get on with living.

Another week begins.

43 days and counting …

THERE ARE ONLY 59 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS !!!


Sunday Sundries – The After Party and then Some More

tumblr_mtkoz6tn871r5ds7zo1_500 spoonsdammit

Courtesy: Spoonsdammit

What a glorious day it was. And as I have said before, all good things must come to an end. The glorious day turned into a beautiful night.

Rain is coming for the next couple of days.

I woke this morning with one thing on my mind … My Turkey !!!

Having done this before – getting the bird into the oven early was my plan, but it was way too early. So around 11 I started baking. And I slow baked the bird for a 3 p.m. setting. And I timed it just perfectly.

We entertained a friend, a neighbor, a mentor, an elder statesman. When you “have” in sobriety, you “share.”

Because that’s who we are.

It’s what we do.

Nobody should be alone on a holiday.

There was plenty of food and lots of conversation. Hubby had someone else to tell about all the work he is doing for his organization. He was very entertaining.

After dinner I did the dishes and we set off just before 5 to set up for the meeting. It is very important to have the rooms open on the holiday. Because nobody should be alone on a holiday.

We sat a fair number. And it was a very interesting meeting.

Our reading came from the founder of Philadelphia A.A. and The Vicious Cycle.

“… At seventeen I entered university, really to satisfy my father, who wanted me to study medicine there as he had. That is where I had my first drink, and I still remember it, for every “first” drink afterwards did exactly the same trick – I could feel it go right through every bit of my body and down to my very toes.

But each drink after the first seemed to become less effective, and after three or four, they all seemed like water. I was never a hilarious drunk; the more I drank, the quieter I got, and the drunker I got, the harder I fought to stay sober.

So it is clear that I never had any fun out of drinking – I would be the soberest-seeming one in the crowd, and, all of a sudden, I would be the drunkest.

Even that first night I blacked out, which leads me to believe that I was an alcoholic from my very first drink.” pg. 222 B.B.

For many newly sober folks at the meeting, very few could identify with our man here. In the end, he was a “weekend warrior” drinking only on the weekends. And identified himself as a “weekend drinker.” He suffered from “I’ll show them-ism, and a little Big Shot-ism.

A friend commented on the text that you aren’t a weekend alcoholic, you are either an alcoholic or you are not. None of this weekend shit …

This story is eerily familiar. Because in the end I was the binge weekend drinker and blacking out was my nightly ending. And it was the fear of “What the Fuck” that brought me to my last drink.

The biggest take away from tonight’s meeting was the shared fellowship. That we are a people, who would not normally mix, yet under a common disease, we are all equals once we step across the threshold into the room.

It is more important on days like this that meeting halls all over the world are open to welcome the alcoholic. I’ve seen it time after time, some people who struggle so much that they can’t see their way out of the forest that is addiction for just a few hours.

And like many, they fail – go out – and drink – and some never returned.

It was a good night.

In Baby News …

This past week, there was a birth in my family. Yes I do have family. The only family who recognize that I live. My mother’s sister’s family is all that there is.

My Cousin Sandy’s -> daughter Jaime had her second child a couple of days ago, and she did not get to term. The baby was born well Premie – coming in at just over three pounds. Haven Lilee Rayne will spend the next month in hospital over in B.C. until she is strong enough to nurse and go home.

I spoke to my aunt last night and she assured me that Haven was well and will survive, even though she is a premie.

haven

There has been nothing but hardship for my cousin’s family. And now it has spanned two generations. When my cousin had her two children, both were born with birth defects and needed multiple surgeries to make them right.

And when Jaime (her daughter) had her first daughter, Jaidyn, On August 11th 2011, Jaidyn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was 3 years old then.

This past week, Jaidyn completed her last Chemo treatment. And she is in full remission. But will need surveillance for the next six months, getting a small dose of chemo each month.

Now Haven was born premature. Thankfully, she is healthy and will survive.

We pray for all of them tonight. Especially for Haven.

And now on to Holiday news … A bit brighter yes?

HAII 2

While getting ready for the day, and hubby was out running errands, I turned on the teevee and what was on ??? “HOME ALONE II.”

It is official, the holidays have begun. This, the first Christmas related movie on national tv. here in Canada. And just so you know …

THERE ARE 73 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS !!!

And we end with more happy news …

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If you YOU TUBE and are gay, you probably know Will and RJ. From their You Tube Channel (SHEP 689). They were Florida residents where they met in Tallahassee Florida.

(Not a very marriage worthy state we must say)

A couple of months ago, they headed to the West Coast and now reside in Los Angeles California. And this weekend was their 4th anniversary of being a couple.

Yesterday Will asked RJ to marry him on a sunset beach and RJ said YES!

So Congrats to our friends. Long life and happiness.

Go Follow them if you want.

This post was longer than I had originally thought.

It was a full day and this has been the past week in my life.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Bed Came With Me …

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80

Courtesy: RThompson80

The weather is looking up. There might be a little snow in the long run, but it looks like sun for the next few days. It was a good day. As usual I met my friend to take the 104 to the meeting this evening. A little windy made it a little chilly waiting for the bus.

There are many paths into the rooms. And no two people take the same route, however similar the stories, we grow up, we have our first drink, we love it too much, our lives become unmanageable, we loose things … wives, husbands, children, homes, cars … you get the story!

Then we find our way here …

I’ve seen our speaker for tonight at Tuesday meeting. And at first, when he sat down with his big voice, I figured he was an old timer and would be reminiscent, but I was mistaken. Our gentleman is a generation older than I am today. And he came to the program much later in life, than many others.

He grew up in a large family, and he spent a almost a decade in a boarding school where he was raised, caned and learned discipline. He lived a good long life. Wives, children and a big beautiful home up North that he built himself on a plot of land passed down three generations. So it was a heritage property.

Our man really did not have time to drink, after relating his resume to us, he had his hand in many cookie jars at once, and the drink really did not present itself to him, like he said … “I didn’t have time to drink !”

The older we live, the harder it is to deal with tragedy and loss. First a divorce and a second marriage, only to loose his wife to cancer a few years ago, that just devastated him. Cooped up at home, up North, all alone, left to his own devices, he picked up a drink, and another, and another.

Feeling helpless and worthless because of a tragic loss, he felt that he served no purpose, so why not drink ? Push came to shove and a decision had to be made, it was time to sell the 4000 square foot home, and eventually move into a 4 room apartment in the city.

He continued to drink, until at one point, having to buy furniture for his new home, and not being able to make heads or tails of the building instructions, called his son for help.

Son arrived with sister in tow and our man had a bad knee and ended up in the hospital – not for a day – but for a month. Wait he says … “I need a drink!” No, there was no drink. They strapped him to a bed for 10 days, and he figured this out because he tried to use the bathroom and the bed came with him …

Cue laugh track …

After his stay in the hospital, looking forwards to going home, his son informed him that there was “someplace for him” And that would be a rehab here in the city. A three month stay and two years of aftercare, kept him pretty busy.

The catch here was he was much older than the kids who were there as well, and there were rules, ugh, don’t you hate rules? I think it is much harder to get sober and stay sober, the older you are when you come to the rooms.

He did as he was told. He did his ninety and ninety. He did more than that too. He had made a decision. He was either going to stay sober or he was going to drink. And he says, “once you make up your mind, it is made up, now you just have to follow through.”

And he surmounted and conquered the drink, his next goal was smoking, after 55 years of smoking he put them down and has not smoked since. And I can tell you that quitting smoking is daunting, and can lead to a drink if not done correctly.

The promises come true. And some of them have come true for our man. He has a beautiful granddaughter, from his son’s relationship. He has a new wife today and he is sober a little while now. Every story is unique and never boring.

We laughed, we felt sorrow, and we rejoiced in the news of a newborn.

But most of all we cheered our man who got up there and knocked it out of the park. Well done.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday with Purpose …

Courtesy: ChristopherJordan

They say it’s gonna rain, and so we carried our umbrella’s. This section of town have been blessedly quiet. Haven’t heard any pots and pans lately, but there is a call for pots and pans at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night.

All my items on EBAY were sold and paid for today, which brings a good chunk of change to the house for bills, since the government screwed hubby over on financial aide this month.

He is full of wishful thinking that isn’t coming to fruition like he wanted it to. He made a lot of promises that I am sure he hoped would come to pass for himself and for me, but you know what they say about wishful thinking, “Shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills faster.”

I was up with plenty of time to get to a meeting this evening. The rain held off, thankfully, it was sprinkling when we left the church afterwards. It was the last Sunday of the month so we read from the Twelve and Twelve and the 5th tradition because it is the 5th month of the year.

“Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

I got to the church early, so I had a few minutes to spend with a friend who usually peppers me with questions in private before anyone else shows up. It is a sad reality that we both spoke about people with time who have gone out over the last month. And those people have considerable time in the program. And he asked me why this happens …

Firstly, we know that it is imperative that we smash our ego at every turn.

I think, as does my friend, that people may get complacent, with some time. Their ego’s get the best of them, and they forget what it took in the beginning to come to the rooms and to get sober. I shared with him some things that I have read in recent months about long timers in the program. They all say the same thing, and they all give the same warning.

In order to keep this thing we have found (sobriety), we have to give it away.

We can’t tie people to their chairs, nor force anyone to get sober, they get to do that on their own. If they are willing and open. There are some major themes that keep coming up and they are believing in God, clearing the wreckage of your past and giving it away.

Nothing guarantees you sobriety like comprehensive work with another alcoholic. We, telling you, how we did it and how we continue to do it on a daily basis. And for some, they forget these thoughts. They stop going to meetings, they don’t reach out when it is necessary. They forget about the literature.

I am of the mind that if your ass is on fire, then say something! Maybe we can help you through the hard time.

Maybe we are missing the mark at not noticing that people might need more than a meeting, but someone to step out and say “let’s go for a coffee and talk a bit, it seems something is bothering you …”

All we can do, at our respective meetings is be present and reach out to the folks who come to our meetings. On Tuesday we have a business meeting so I will bring these things up to our greeting committee. To make sure they are looking out for the newcomer and the old timer just as well.

I walked home with my friend Bill, and he told me that he was going to the hospital this week for a scan. He told me that he had Prostate Cancer. And that they are gearing up to check on its progress and to see if they will just do radiation or couple that with chemotherapy. Cancer… that nasty shit…

So if you pray, say a prayer for my friend Bill…

I’ve heard words to the effect that some people won’t come to our meeting because of people and personalities. And I don’t know where that comes from, but we have had, in the past, troubles with certain folks, who came, shot their mouths off, left and we survived them.

And certain people broke from our original group because of egos and attitudes and they went and opened up their own meeting at an earlier time than ours and to draw people from our meeting to their meeting. But our group survived and thrived. We’ve got twenty good members who are faithful and responsible.

It might seem that some people are ego driven, and even if a finger is pointed squarely at my back, I try not to allow my ego to drive people away or to say that I am better than anyone else because I am 10+ years sober.

There are members of our group who don’t care for other people, and they have their issues, but they are not my problem. I come each week, I set up, I make coffee and I step back and let the other members do what they are going to do on any given Tuesday night. Our women keep us all on the sober straight and narrow. Because if they see a problem, they will speak up. So its not like we don’t have checks and balances.

Well, I think that’s all for the moment…
More to come, thanks for your time.


Imagine Just for a Moment …

If scientists can take T-cells from someone who is sick, be it from Cancer, AIDS or any other such disease and are able to genetically modify T-cells to turn them into super fighting cells that when reintroduced into the body find, attach, attack and eradicate tumors, infected cells, etc …The possibilities are endless.

If doctors can harvest T-cells from patients and make this work, we could see the really first scientific progress in medical history. A very long time ago I was sitting in a news conference and was told in no uncertain terms that medical science would never get its cure for AIDS before the sciences learned how to fight and eradicate Cancer first. It would have seemed then that people with AIDS were placed on the back burner so to speak.

I was looking at a medication poster at the clinic in my exam room and on that tablet it listed all the AIDS drugs that have been produced in the last 15 years. And I noticed as well that I think I have at least at one time or another taken every drug that came down the pike even before they started publishing these information posters.

Medical reports such as these give us hope that genetic modified solutions could be brought to bear to fight disease is promising. T-cells, I wonder if you could manipulate them like Stem Cells? I have to ask my doc the next time I see him. Which won’t be until December.

Imagine, just for a moment we are on the precipice of medical history…

Could it be???

We need to get the drug companies to fund more studies. Because this report that I posted earlier tonight aired on Canadian News this evening and the scientists who made this discovery got their funds from a charity, not the drug companies who wouldn’t fund this kind of research.

I hope that once these studies are published in their respective journals, that the medical and drug companies will take notice and get on board. It is time to get the pharmaceutical companies to start funding new studies and stop monopolizing the data and availability of drugs and medical studies.


Remarkable method wipes out leukemia in 2 patients, improves a third

By Stephanie Nano, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Scientists are reporting the first clear success with a new approach for treating leukemia — turning the patients’ own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their cancer cells.

They’ve only done it in three patients so far, but the results were striking: Two appear cancer-free up to a year after treatment, and the third patient is improved but still has some cancer. Scientists are already preparing to try the same gene therapy technique for other kinds of cancer.

“It worked great. We were surprised it worked as well as it did,” said Dr. Carl June, a gene therapy expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “We’re just a year out now. We need to find out how long these remissions last.”

He led the study, published Wednesday by two journals, New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.

It involved three men with very advanced cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. The only hope for a cure now is bone marrow or stem cell transplants, which don’t always work and carry a high risk of death.

Scientists have been working for years to find ways to boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Earlier attempts at genetically modifying bloodstream soldiers called T-cells have had limited success; the modified cells didn’t reproduce well and quickly disappeared.

June and his colleagues made changes to the technique, using a novel carrier to deliver the new genes into the T-cells and a signalling mechanism telling the cells to kill and multiply.

That resulted in armies of “serial killer” cells that targeted cancer cells, destroyed them, and went on to kill new cancer as it emerged. It was known that T-cells attack viruses that way, but this is the first time it’s been done against cancer, June said.

For the experiment, blood was taken from each patient and T-cells removed. After they were altered in a lab, millions of the cells were returned to the patient in three infusions.

The researchers described the experience of one 64-year-old patient in detail. There was no change for two weeks, but then he became ill with chills, nausea and fever. He and the other two patients were hit with a condition that occurs when a large number of cancer cells die at the same time — a sign that the gene therapy is working.

“It was like the worse flu of their life,” June said. “But after that, it’s over. They’re well.”

The main complication seems to be that this technique also destroys some other infection-fighting blood cells; so far the patients have been getting monthly treatments for that.

Penn researchers want to test the gene therapy technique in leukemia-related cancers, as well as pancreatic and ovarian cancer, he said. Other institutions are looking at prostate and brain cancer.

Dr. Walter J. Urba of the Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, called the findings “pretty remarkable” but added a note of caution because of the size of the study.

“It’s still just three patients. Three’s better than one, but it’s not 100,” said Urba, one of the authors of an editorial on the research that appears in the New England Journal.

What happens long-term is key, he said: “What’s it like a year from now, two years from now, for these patients.”

But Dr. Kanti Rai, a blood cancer expert at New York’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, could hardly contain his enthusiasm, saying he usually is more reserved in his comments on such reports.

“It’s an amazing, amazing kind of achievement,” said Rai, who had no role in the research.

None of the three patients wanted to be identified, but one wrote about his illness, and his statement was provided by the university. The man, himself a scientist, called himself “very lucky,” although he wrote that he didn’t feel that way when he was first diagnosed 15 years ago at age 50.

He was successfully treated over the years with chemotherapy until standard drugs no longer worked.

Now, almost a year since he entered the study, “I’m healthy and still in remission. I know this may not be a permanent condition, but I decided to declare victory and assume that I had won.”

___

Online:

New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org

Science journal: http://stm.sciencemag.org


Review …

I really love this photo.

So it is Wednesday night, almost midnight as I get around to typing this up. It was a good day. I got all my coursework done before class. I had a couple of assignments to finish up for tonight’s class.

I don’t know how I feel about French this semester. I think we cover too much material on any given night. I find myself taking more notes than usual and half the time, I can’t see the far chalk board. There are two in the classroom. I sit on the right side of the room, and my prof usually uses the left side, even sitting in the front row, I still can’t make out everything she writes down.

I guess I am doing ok , though. We have been doing translations in class, from English into French and French into English. We had a listening comprehension pre-test tonight and I got both sets of questions correct. There will be an exam on Monday that we have to prepare for this weekend.

I got a call from a friend before I left for class. He wanted to get together for coffee this evening after class. It’s been a long time, since a member has asked me out for coffee. Many of my friends who used to live around here and those I used to hang out with are no more.

We had a good time.

There is snow piled up all over the place. I noticed on the way home that there are snow drifts that are at least ten feet high in some areas. They are still clearing snow in the downtown core. It was a little bitter out tonight.

Tomorrow is another day. One more class to go this week and I can call it a day. I spoke to my friend Louise this afternoon and she told me that on Monday she is going to have the last operation to complete her breast reconstruction surgery process.

Last week she wasn’t going to do it because they told her that she would need general anesthesia and that did not go over very well with her, since the last time they put her out for the surgery she did not come out of it very well. And she wasn’t looking forwards to being put under again. And add to that the cost of the O.R. was astronomical.

The other day she got the call from the doctors office telling her that no, they did not have to put her under that they could do the procedure with a local, and not general, and they dropped the price of the O.R. to a more manageable price. So the boobs will be finished next week. Finally after almost a year from start to finish from Diagnosis to Breast Removal Surgery, healing to Breast Reconstruction we are at the other side of this cancer.

And she survived and things are looking up and we could not be more happy.

Well, that is a short synopsis of the days events as they happened.

More to come, stay tuned …


Monday Musings …

A good day was had by all. It was a quiet day today. I did my usual morning routine. I collected about 100 images from my library here at home and uploaded them to my Tumblr. Which sparked a frenzy of activity of people liking and reposting photos that I had uploaded.

Little did I know that if you upload it, they will like it …

I spoke to Louise just a little while ago. We were talking about her new boobs. She was laughing and telling me stories about what she has to do every day to make herself stronger. She told me that she will be coming home on the 28th from Florida. With enough time not to miss my birthday on the 31st.

That’s about all that’s going on here at the moment.

More to come, stay tuned …


Journey with Cancer …

A few months ago, I wrote about my friend Louise. She is a long time member of my home group of more than twenty years. Upon her arrival in Florida for her usual short winter break, she had a mammogram for a second time in Miami. They did not find cancer while she was here in Canada. But they found it there.

She has been in Florida now 7 months and counting. She is wanting to come home sooner than later.

With lumps in both breasts, there was not much decision to be made in how to treat it. They had to go. So breast removal surgery was done and over this summer Louise has been undergoing procedures to make herself ready for breast reconstruction surgery which is taking place tomorrow morning.

If we all pray, we should pray for a successful surgery. This journey is long from over for her, she tells me that she will be back in Montreal in three weeks time. So that’s good.


Healing Begins …

Yesterday (Friday) my best friend Louise had radical double mastectomy surgery, due to Breast Cancer. I called midway during surgery and I was told that everything was going well. I will call down later today to check on her. If you are the praying type, I would ask you to remember her in your prayers for the next few days as she begins the long healing process.

We are coming to the end of term and the crunch has begun to complete all the assignments by their due dates. It will be a complex next two weeks for me. I have been working feverishly on my papers due by the 20th of this month, my OT Samuel presentation is due on Monday for class, the final paper isn’t due until the 29th, seeing we have an extra week of class because of Easter Monday.

Just a short entry for now. More to come later today.


3 a.m. Train …

It has been quite a day today. Monday was Monday. Over the weekend I finished the first of three assignments due this month, my book review, which I turned in today. I am hoping that it meets with approval because I am not doing it again.

I spent the afternoon studying to start writing my Sophia paper, there is a book sitting by my bedside that I should be reading right now, but I am still here farting around.

We had class tonight, my Samuel (Old Testament) seminar. We ran through chapters 13,14, and 15. When you take apart a text to its bare essentials and you break up all the groups and you characterize the text by groups and location you learn a great deal about the text.

While the 4 students, and 1 RA do the breakdown, my prof is sitting with her Hebrew Bible following us. You learn that the Bible is written in pieces and edited together over time. When you strip a text down to its oldest literary strata you begin to see who wrote what and when it was written. It is all very interesting. You even figure out what is original, what is redacted and how the chapters fit together, or not together. It has happened that we find that some chapters were written before others then edited together, it is all quite fascinating.

Next Monday is my turn to present my texts that would be 1 Samuel chapters 24 and 26. I have all my notes that I have been working on and my books to do my narrative programs. I can tell from here that my chapters are easy compared to what we have been doing in class. I have to find a way to pump out 10 pages of text for my presentation, because I don’t think I will have that many. And failure is not an option.

I have two weeks to finish Sophia. God Help Me … I also have to finish Origen, but hubby is helping me on that one. I need to sit with him and see what he comes up with for my rewrite. My adviser is adamant that I keep to the rewrite schedule and if need be I should extend either OT or Hermeneutics and I don’t want to do that. I want to finish my classes on schedule this term and hopefully all of my work will be acceptable the first run through.

Nobody said that M.A. Studies would be a breeze.

I spoke to my friend Louise in Florida this afternoon. Her double mastectomy surgery is scheduled for April the 9th at 2 p.m. She will have a 4 to 6 week recovery with reconstruction being done in that time period. She sounded really good today, her spirits were high and she was on the ball. We should all keep her in our prayers.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and I have to pick up coffee and sugar for the meeting on the way out before I set up the meeting. I will have more for you tomorrow.

I should get to bed.
More to come, stay tuned…


You want what ???

It has been a very trying week, to say the least. We are grinding our way to the focal point of this semester. The push to the final papers. I’ve spent the better part of two days trolling the library for books and combing through the data bases for articles for my bibliographies.

I turned in my bibliography for my Old Testament class, and I got it back today with a note that I needed to resubmit another god damned piece of paper because I did not have enough sources. So I am up to my ass in trying to find more books and articles for that one as well.

GOD give me strength…

I’ve got a stack of books on my dining room table which I have been reading through every day trying to glean from them useful information. I have papers that have to be rewritten and I am trying to remain calm and not loose my mind. I have been working on something every day, sometimes more than one thing at a time. It’s all very overwhelming.

Our modem is on its last leg, and we have been talking to the tech desk at our ISP to try and figure out if it was the phone line or the modem. But last night hubby and I decided just to order a new modem. Little did we know that by calling the local service number that we would be talking to someone in British Columbia, all the way on the west coast. So they shipped out the modem today and we will have it tomorrow some time.

As the modem crapped out last night, the cable went down as well. I think it was an omen. Videotron had a city wide FAIL last night that lasted until 6 am this morning. Talk about anxiety, having no computer and no tv at the same time. That was like having the power go out and being forced to sit in the dark with candles lit. Thank God for over night radio.

Hopefully by the time I finish this entry that the model will still be cranking away, flashing its little lights down there on the floor.

I spoke to Louise yesterday and she did not sound very good. The doctors confirmed that she had cancer in both breasts and that a double mastectomy was the only way out of this. She had further scans today in preparation for surgery which should happen sometime soon. It’s gonna be a big surgery because they will do reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy.

She will have the surgery there at Mount Sinai Medical Center there in Miami, they are the best cancer hospital in Florida. I worked in the treatment clinic as a hospice and services counselor when I lived down there. We must keep her in our prayers.

I’m gonna boogie and not push this modem any further.

More to come, stay tuned…