If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not good news on the cancer front

Again, if you see weird typos and such, let me know so I can fix them.

So in my last update I talked about the aftermath of the MRI I had at the end of April. During May I went through a brief round of radiation. I had 10 total treatments that only lasted maybe 10 to 15 minutes each After that I started the next chemo treatment, this medicine being called irinotecan. This was administered via IV (and it took about THREE hours each time) in a regimen spread out over a few weeks. It was done on Wednesdays. First they did it on back-to-back Wednesdays, then they'd skip a week, then they would repeat the process. The day after each second Wed. treatment I got an injection of a medication designed to keep my white blood cell count high.

Luckily, unlike the previous chemo, this one did not cause my legs or feet to swell. In fact, the previous swelling went away thanks to getting off the Avastin as well as changing my diet to reduce my salt intake. However, in the last 2 or 3 weeks or so my diet has very much gone to pot. I've been eating more junk food and red meat so my weight has come up a little bit; also, I think my feet are swelling a little bit so I really have to get control of what I'm eating again. I'm due to see the nephrologist in about 2 weeks. There shouldn't be any issue with my kidneys, though.

Which brings us to my latest MRI on Wednesday. I saw my chemo oncologist Friday. He had the results and they were not good. The area which showed the cancer cells in the last MRI still shows cancer cells. And he said there are more cells growing in kind of a ring pattern around that area.

He spoke to my radiation oncologist, who said they really couldn't do any more radiation because of the two previous rounds of radiation; there's only so much radiation that they can do to the brain, and it doesn't seem to be helping anyway even if they could do more. They also said they feel surgery isn't really an option since I've already had two in that area, though I have the option to a talk to a neurosurgeon about it.

My chemo oncologist said he reached out to Penn Medicine to the doctor I saw previously to see if I qualified for the clinical trial.(By the way, I did not qualify for that particular trial based on my genetic testing.) So he sent her an email to see if there were any other trials going on; he has not heard back from her yet.

He also suggested I should contact Duke University because they have a lot of activity as far as trials for treatments of glioblastoma. CBS News did a report on one a while back that showed great promise. I shared it on Facebook at the time. I don't know if I can get into the trial or any of the logistics as far as how many times/how often would I have to go down there and for how long.

In the meantime my chemo oncologist said there are two more chemo drugs I can try, but they don't have much of a track record for treating glioblastoma. One that seems to be slightly more promising would be in pill form given every six weeks.The other would be given intravenously every 3 weeks. My thought is right now to start on the pill form of the chemo and then try and see what clinical trials are available either here or at Duke in the meantime, but I have to let the doctor know of my decision when I see him on the 26th of this month.

I had a suspicion that it was not going to be good news just because some of my issues have seemed to worsen recently. My left leg has been still kind of weaker, dragging my foot when I walk. The forefinger and thumb on my left hand are still giving me problems: gripping things, typing and holding my phone, getting out of chairs or using a toilet in the restroom --all of this has really become frustrating. To hopefully alleviate of this, my doctor increased the dose on the steriod Decadron (it had been stopped for a while and then I went back on it but at a lower dosage). So incompetent customer service people, Jehovah's Witnesses knocking at the door, ignorant drivers who don't like stopping for pedestrians with the right of way -- get ready for more ROID RAGE!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quick Review: Ghostbusters

I have to say I was a bit concerned with the social media and other commentary regarding Ghostbusters, the latest franchise reboot, being a bad idea because the Ghostbusters are now women. After all these years Hollywood is still unfair to women, whether it's the type of roles and scripts they're offered or their pay compared to male actors. So I made sure I saw it during opening weekend, and the box office report says it earned $46 million.

And it deserves it, because despite a bit of a slow start to set things up, it's quite funny. The new 'busters (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) work well together, and Chris Hemsworth gets to ham it up as their receptionist, hired despite being dumb as a post but pretty to look at. The plot involves a scheme to open a portal to release malevolent spirits and bring on the apocalypse. There's a post-credits scene to set up a sequel, and though I tend to frown on them I want one in this case. If nothing else, it may help shut up the sexist Twitter trolls...no, they're like the cockroaches that will survive nuclear holocaust. My grade: B-plus.

P.S. Classic title song >>>>> New theme song.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My iTunes Shuffle Baker's Dozen 7/17/16

Remember when I posted these regularly? For that matter, remember when I posted ANYTHING regularly?

I've been listening only to specific playlists for a while, and I forgot the simple joy of the shuffle.

Love One Another - Cher
I'm Not The Man I Used To Be (Smith And Mighty Version) - Fine Young Cannibals
Love Shack - The B-52's
Country Sunshine - Dottie West
Getting Away With It - Electronic
Go Insane - Lindsey Buckingham
Dazz - Brick!
It Don't Come Easy - Ringo Starr
The Main Main Event (mashup) - RuPaul/Barbra Streisand
Dedicated To The One I Love - The Mamas & The Papas
Giving You The Benefit-Extended Club Mix - Pebbles
Don't Leave Me This Way (Featuring Sarah Jane Morris) - Communards
I Loves You Porgy - Nina Simone

Monday, July 4, 2016

Some More Movies I Haven't Written About

Good grief, I don't even remember when I started writing this. So, some more procrastination and time wasting, my medical issues and unrelated issues and we have seven movies I've seen dating back to the day before my birthday. And also, I haven't even been to a movie in a month! (Speaking of which, at this point I'll have to turn Birthday Disco Month into Birthday Disco Year and try to get my 30 posts done before I turn 55. And when that happens there will be NO salute to Sammy Hagar, I swear!)

Captain America: Civil War: It's pretty amazing that with a few exceptions every Marvel movie is essentially a continuation of the Avengers, This time there's a split over the world's governments wanting superheroes either to register and come under governmental control or retire. Iron Man: pro. Cap: anti. Others pick a side or have their own agendas (such as the new-to-the-films Black Panther).Not much to complain about, except the guy who orchestrated the events that lead to the split is kind of lame. On the other hand, they nailed the introduction in this Marvel Cinematic Universe of Spider-Man. Nailed it! My grade: A.

The Boss: A starring vehicle for Melissa McCarthy, as a wealthy CEO, nasty to everyone until she loses everything and goes to jail for insider trading. Then...well, she's still nasty, even to her former assistant (Kristen Bell), the one person still willing to take her now-homeless ex-boss in. Can she claw her way back to the top and maybe even become a better person? (cough)formula(cough) Which isn't to say there aren't (R-rated) laughs. Just don't expect a brilliant story in addition. My grade: C-plus.

Sing Street: I loved this little indie out of Ireland. Conor, a teenager in Dublin in 1985 has to switch to a state-run Catholic school due to the family's financial problems. While trying to avoid bullying by both other students and the principal, he meets a pretty girl and, to impress her, tells her he's in a band. He then has to start a band.  There's a lot of great interaction between all the main characters, but I was particularly touched by the relationship between Conor and his older brother. There's great music of the era (the Cure, Duran Duran, etc. and a few originals that fit in as well. My grade: A-minus.

Money Monster: George Clooney plays Lee Gates, a host of a wild Wall Street TV show (think "Mad Money" and Jim Cramer) and Julia Roberts is the show's director. One day after a stock touted by Gates completely tanks, loising virtually its entire value, a guy who invested his meager life savings in said stock breezes onto the show's set (way too easily! Hello, security?), pulls a gun and forces Gates to put on a vest lined with explosives, threatening to blow up the host and kill himself if he doesn't get an explanation. Everything plays out in the studio, on live TV and eventually the streets of New York, it's all well-acted and tense enough, but a bit preposterous. But it dosen't comment on Wall Street shenanigans the way The Big Short tried to, and Clooney and Roberts actually shared just one scene together; they mostly talked via the studio PA system or phone. My grade: B.

Zootopia: I was stunned, The ads pulled you in with a world populated with nothing but animals walking and talking and living in a modern utopia, where predators and prey live in harmony, with a rabbit who achieves her goal of being the first rabbit police officer in Zootopia, but put on parking-ticket duty because the police chief doesn't think she can do anything else, and when she does try and solve a crime she's forced to get info from the "fastest" DMV worker -- a sloth. Hahaha! Animated comedy! But as the movie continues, the timely message -- in utopia things aren't always what they seem, and even in a diverse society, old prejudices lurk not far from the glossy surface --  is skillfully and subversively worked in. Brilliant. My grade: A-plus.

The Nice Guys: Buddy action-comedy set in 1977 Los Angeles, starring Ryan Gosling as...well, not the most successful private eye in the world, who with some help from his young daughter, teams up with Russell Crowe as an enforcer-for-hire to investigate the case of a porn star killed in a car crash but whose aunt insists she saw her alive days later. Raunchy, violent, and surprisingly funny. I liked the pairing of Crowe and Gosling. My grade: B-plus.

X-Men: Apocalypse: The younger X-Men from "Days of Future Past" -- with a a few new mutants -- have to save the world from the very first mutant, who rules ancient Egypt until he's entombed (despite his powers?) until 1983. He is angry at the state of modern society and decides to destroy everything and start anew. But he needs a few more mutants -- again, if he's so powerful why does he need help (Four Horsemen, as it were)? A lot of plot that makes no sense. But like in the last film, there's another standout sequence featuring Quicksilver (Evan Peters) using his speed -- this time to evacuate the students of the Xavier School as an epxlosion is about to destroy it -- and it's set to "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" by Eurythmics! 1983 rules! My grade: C-minus.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trenton Thunder 9/1/15

Last September I went to three minor league baseball games in the span of 8 days, with two being first-time
visits (and the other being the Camden Riversharks, who have since moved out of the area). I started with the Trenton Thunder, and what did I find when I left the light rail stop nearest the ballpark? The New Jersey State Prison!
Thanks, Google! Good to know they're open 24-7.
Wouldn't want crooks waiting outside all night to get in.
And 3.8 stars!
Along the wall of the prison there's a mural...

I noticed that structurally all three parks sort of look the same. Did minor league parks go through a cookie-cutter phase like, for example, the Vet, Three Rivers in Pittsburgh and Riverfront in Cincinnati?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Sports Tees And Miscellaneous Caps, Part 6

Surprise! NOT about movies! NOT about disco! NOT even about cancer! It's more shirts and caps, in photos mostly taken months ago!

Let's start with the Phils, since they're in season -- and doing surprisingly well! Most of these I got from the clearance racks. First one is actually not a t-shirt.

Some from the recent glory days...

Two from 2008 -- one official, one not...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Birthday Month Extended: Day 12 (Mother's Day Edition)

I'm telling you, I'm doing 30 of these! But this is only going to contain one song, in honor of Mother's Day: from Philly's own Gamble and Huff, the Intruders with "I'll Always Love My Mama." (From a Soul Train broadcast!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Neverending Story -- new #cancerisabitch update

(Forgive any typos and the like if you spot them, and let me know so I can edit. I've already edited but I probably missed something.)

It's starting to feel a bit like piling on.

As previously mentioned here, my chemo oncologist stopped my Avastin treatments and referred me to a nephrologist to check on my kidneys because of protein in my urine. I also had a followup with my radiation oncologist the next day (April 26). I updated both on things like the leg swelling and weakness, general tiredness, the return of the focal seizures in my face, and some reoccurring problems grasping things with my left thumb and index finger and speech (stumbling on words, etc.), all which indicated that the glioblastoma was possibly reasserting itself. The two oncologists arranged to have me get an immediate outpatient MRI that very day. Sure enough, the tumor is starting to grow again.

I saw the radiation doc on the 27th. She said that having had two surgeries already, and especially with it not being extremely large yet, another surgery is not really an option now. She (consulting with the chemo doc) recommended another round of radiation, but only for two weeks (Mon. thru Fri.), and in a more limited area of the brain, followed by a different chemo treatment. To alleviate the issues I mentioned above, I was placed back on the steroid decadron. They (and, I assume, the lack of Avastin) have had positive effects. My legs, although there's still swelling, are stronger again, and my fingers and speech (and typing) are improving. And the extended-release version of Keppra the seizure specialist put me on (see last post) has completely stopped the facial twitching. For now, at least.

Today I saw the chemo doc, followed by, finally, because I had the wrong number for the office for a couple days (rolling eyes), the nephrologist.

Chemo doctor said that after I have the radiation (to be scheduled -- phone call tomorrow), I will start on irinotecan via IV. Because of side effects (possible nausea, diarrhea -- OH JOY! -- and lower white blood cell counts) he wants to lessen the amount of each dose and spread them out over a period of time a little. Maybe one dose one week and two doses a couple of weeks later, or something like that. To be determined.

He also said he tried following up with the doctor at Penn to find out if I quality for the immunotherapy vaccine clinical trial, and they haven't gotten back to him. He feels this is a sign that either I didn't qualify based on the genetic testing or they didn't have room, or something, because otherwise they would have likely contacted me quickly to get me into the program. (They also never got back to me after my recent followup. Another phone call tomorrow.)

As for the nephrologist, he really believes that the biggest factor in the protein in the urine is not from a kidney problem but basically some combination of the Avastin, my diet (way too much sodium) and the recent doubling in the dose of my blood pressure medication amlodipine. This is also an issue in my swollen legs. He thinks I have an extra 30 pounds of weight just from that. He has given me a prescription for another blood pressure med (one he takes himself, he said), and told my to cut my amlodipine back to where it was. He wants me to restrict my sodium intake, cut out red meats (NO MORE BURGERS??? NEVAH!!!! but I will cut back a lot), eat more chicken and fish, egg whites, etc.

One week after I'm on the new med he wants me to have blood work done (the fasting kind) and he also wants me to have an ultrasound on the kidneys. I follow up with him in August. If there are still problems at that point, he'll want to do a kidney biopsy, which would be a needle into my body to remove kidney tissue.

Okay, I think that covers the facts and figures, so to speak.

This feels like it's getting more and more complicated. So much to do, so much to keep track of, and I'm beginning to worry about whether I'll actually get to do some of the fun things I was hoping to do during the summer, like a few days at the shore, some Broadway shows in NYC, maybe a Phillies road trip. Sure, going to the downtown parks and festivals and the like are great, but I need more. What I really need are friends to do some of these things with. The people who I know would go places with me all live too far away. The people who live here are just acquaintances, or just Facebook "friends." And my family is great, but it's not the same dynamic. So if any of y'all can help me out here that'd be awesome.

Also, I swear I'm gonna get those Birthday Month Disco posts done.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Birthday Month: Day 11

Some more 70's goodness!

 The Hues Corporation -- "Rock the Boat"

Speaking of rocking, George McCrea wants you to "Rock Your Baby," which would be him, by the way...

P.S. There's a mashup of this with Annie Lennox's "Little Bird." I have it in my iTunes but couldn't find it online.

Carl Douglas (no relation to Carol) says everybody was Kung Fu Fighting! (I wasn't.)

I wasn't doing The Hustle, either, Van McCoy.

Birthday Month: Day 10

What's that, you say? You want more??? The Andrea True Connection (not to be confused with the Joe in Philly Experience because, for one thing, she was doing porn films when she hit with this song) obliges you with 'More, More, More."

And here's a song that sampled "More, More, More:" Len's "Steal My Sunshine". Wikipedia says it helped give Andrea True a few VH1 appearances on their various countdown shows. Classic disco influences 90s pop! Well, not so much for Len, as they, like Andrea, were one hit wonders.