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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tales from Kobi: Heading North

With all the time Mom has you'd think she could have completed a blog post for a trip we took two and a half weeks ago. Not. But here it is.

On Monday, October 27, she decided it was time for an adventure. Shortly thereafter we were heading north with no particular destination in mind. She's like that sometimes. Spontaneous. So we jumped in the car and off we went at about 1:30 in the afternoon.

"How about Wyoming," she said. I just laid there on the back seat thinking anyplace is okay with me as long as I get to go for a walk.

Well, we drove and drove up I-25. She woke me up, "OMG, there are buffalo." Then she muttered, going too fast to stop. I know she was disappointed that she didn't get a picture since it was the first time she'd seen buffalo. Oh well. We kept going until she saw a sign for Curt Gowdy State Park and decided that might be a good place to explore.

First, we saw a wind farm which always seems to fascinate her. Stop start, click click, stop start. A few pictures of the giant propellers later we're speeding along again.


Stop again. The wind was blowing and the vanes of the windmill were rotating very fast. Mom got out of the car and was gone for what seemed a long time. She walked up the road to catch some extra pictures. Even saw a dead deer by the side of the road. That must have been quite unpleasant.

Then on we went.


We finally made it to the Curt Gowdy State Park and got out so I could do my business. It was a bit blustery, so we didn't stay by the lake long. We headed up to the Visitors Center to learn more about the area. Mom wasn't in there long before she came back out to get me.


Meet Diana and Cathleen ... the hosts at the Center. Mom chatted for quite some time with them and guess what ...


I made a new friend ... Shiraz, a Goldendoodle. Oh my, we had such a blast. That's me ... the blurry whir of fur on top of Shiraz. Mom laughed. It is always good that I can make her happy, especially with my playful antics with another furry pal.


After a while Shiraz and I were totally worn out. Huffing and puffing. We rested while Mom asked Diana for recommendations on a route home. As she looked at a map, she picked out a dirt road and asked if we could get to the highway before sundown. Diana thought so and said that it would be the more scenic option.


As you can see, we were on the dirt road now and we started to see rock formations. Good thing because there wasn't much else out there.


Do you see the puppy dog in the formation above? That's what caught Mom's eye. Another bunch of stop start, click click, stop start.


After quite some time, lots of washboard bumpy road, Mom was looking at a massive, but not too exciting monument ... the Ames Monument built in memory of the Ames brothers, Oakes and Oliver, Union Pacific Railroad financiers, completed  in 1882. The pyramid monument's base is 60' square and stands 8,247' high. It was dedicated to the Ames brothers for their work completing the first U.S. Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Unfortunately, the brothers were involved in a financial scandal and the monument was built in an effort to reclaim the reputation of Union Pacific Railroad. The cost then was ~$65,000, equivalent of ~$1.4 million today.

Suddenly she stopped as a herd of Pronghorn Antelope crossed the dirt road. Oooo, oooo, photo opp! There must have been a dozen of them.



They watched us and ate. Click, click, click. We must have sat there for 10-15 minutes just watching them back. On we went down this forever-dirt-road. It was no longer washboardy. That was good for me.


Mom talks to herself often on these adventures off the beaten path (this near Tie Siding, WY). There was a period she thought she was lost. The sun was setting. "Please little Buddha (the one on a bracelet she got for free at Light the Night), get me to a paved road before sunset."

Even with that bit of anxiety she noted how beautiful the landscape was. "Funny, I feel less lonely way out here than I do at home." I wondered what she meant by that, but of course she knew. It was just a feeling.

We arrived home at 7:45pm. It was good to go on an adventure. It had been a long time since we did a drive like that.

Thanks for stopping by, my friends. Mom sends her love.
I like it when she lets me tell the story.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Transitions and somethings new

Autumn is my favorite time of year. There is a distinct feel in the air of change and with the changing colors of the leaves a distinct indication of coming transition. This time of year has always been a time to consider new things to come and typically lasts through New Year's Day when I host my Dream Board Party when I set intentions for the new year. I have often gotten new jobs during the third quarter of the year. Maybe a omen for me this year. It's time for me to begin the search which begins with that ominous question, What do you want to do with your life? I have some thinking to do. This has always been a difficult question for me. Do I have an aversion to commitment? Hmmm ... I never thought so. I'm committed to lots of things: keeping my health now that I've been given a second chance, giving back to the cancer cause, getting out into nature, taking pictures, blogging, and more.

I'm so enjoying my time volunteering for the Healing Arts Program at Presbyterian St. Luke's. How do I turn that into a paying position--there or somewhere else? I ponder. I am official at PSL, like being an employee. I have a badge, parking privileges, and webpage.

Red, yellow, and green ... windy and overcast ... taken yesterday on my way home from errands.



Yellow leaves with sunlight streaming through ... taken three days ago.


I love Sarah Huizenga's photos of her paisley rain boots, so this is my version with my new Danskos. Many of the nurses at the hospital wear these and praise their comfort. I love them and I needed something fun to wear. In only a few days, I've gotten lots of "I love those" comments. What a great conversation starter!



I love the picture from down low, but I didn't realize how dusty they were already!


At the Light the Night Walk, there was a sweet gal, Linda, who was giving away some of her jewelry pieces to survivors. I was attracted immediately to the little Buddha bracelet. Unfortunately, she did not have business cards and I was unable to get her contact info.



I've already acquired a couple "somethings new" that make me feel great on a daily basis! That's what life is about, isn't it?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Light the Night Walk Success

The Light the Night Walk for blood cancer research was a huge success due to all my and my team's friends and family who donated to this great cause! Our team's goal was $2500 and we raised $3453 with a ranking of 21st out of 401 friends and family teams! My personal goal was $1000 and I raised $1708 ranking 51st of 4,392 individual fundraisers! That's without corporate matching which has not posted yet. 

I couldn't have done my part without all of you! You guys really rock!! I'm so grateful to know that you are willing to help stamp out blood cancers. It feels incredible to give back in this way!

Following are pictures from an awesome evening!


[photo taken by Jill Turner]

White lanterns = Survivors. Red lanterns = caregivers. Yellow lanterns = in memory of.


[photo taken by Dr. Matous, my transplant doc, a wonderful man!]

It was so incredible to see the support for this cause by the number of participants present in the Denver walk. This is only a small portion!


[photo taken by Lawrence Howard, Susan's husband]

Susan Howard and I met on the Bone Marrow/Stem Cell unit at Presbyterian St. Luke's in Denver, Colorado. She had her stem cell transplant on January 28 and I had mine on January 30. I do believe we are sisters in overcoming and thriving. It's very possible, maybe even likely, that if people hadn't donated to research in the past we wouldn't be here to contribute now. It's great that we both had so many care for us and help us meet our goals for Light the Night so patients to come will be able to have the treatments they need.


[photo taken by Christine Howard, Susan's mother]

This is the team, Lissa's Walking Troupe! Jill and Sharon were two of my many caregivers during my 100 days post transplant when I needed 24/7 care. I'm so thankful to them! Left to right: Jill, me, Sharon, and Susan.


We even made the jumbotron. How's that for coolness!


[photo taken by Jill Turner]

Me looking at the lanterns. I loved the lights and I'm standing there in awe that I ventured out to participate in a crowd. I don't like crowds. But this was different. I could feel the love and caring that surrounded me there. And thanks to all my donors for being there too (in spirit).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creative Expression: Transformation Artwork

While in the hospital, I was given more medications that I care to admit. And when I returned home, the same. Part of my home med regime was magnesium infusions that I called mag bags, magnesium in a saline solution in plastic balls administered through the tri-lumen catheter in my chest. After weeks of throwing away the mag bag refuse, I thought all of this is going into a land fill somewhere; there must be something I can do with it. I began to line the syringes, caps, and lines and such up on my kitchen table. I'm sure my son thought I was crazy, but I hoped the creative muse would help me come up with an alternative!


Weeks went by. Then in July I was asked by the Healing Arts Director, Cynthia Lockhart, at Presbyterian St. Luke's if I'd like to post some of my other artwork on a bulletin board at the BMT/STC unit (bone marrow transplant/stem cell transplant). I was thrilled! As we worked on the bulletin board we discovered there was space available for something else. I had the perfect idea--use the mag bag parts to make a new piece of art. The muse came through and syringe art was born.


Below is the complete board displayed at the hospital where I got my stem cell transplant. It represents a new program in the Healing Arts Department, Unfolding the Mind: Using Words and Images. Therefore, this bulletin board will be posted for quite some time. I've gotten lots of high praise. It feels so good to have my artwork posted publicly.

click image to see larger view;

Soon patients will get to meet me as I volunteer in the Healing Arts Program. I'll be helping them use journaling, images, and drumming for healing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going

I know I dropped off the blogosphere without any explanation, only my last post about floods in Colorado on 9/12/13. Some of you know what happened, but for those who don't, here it is.

On September 24, 2013, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) with a high risk gene (FLT3) that indicated the danger of early relapse. I was admitted to the hospital immediately upon diagnosis for a month of induction chemotherapy, then three weeks home, then a week of consolidation chemo. I was then home until January 21, 2014 when I was admitted for a Stem Cell Transplant (SCT). Five weeks later I returned home. Now 7.5 months post-transplant, I am doing well. I've walked 113 miles since May 19th, 2014 and continue adding to that number. Improvement comes every day with increased mental focus, physical stamina, and joy in living.


Portrait: Lissa post-SCT 2 months (March)
I now have some barely-there-hair :-)

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who stood by me during this journey. You helped me keep my spirits up, have something to look forward to, and take care of important matters that I couldn't take care of myself. You all know who you are, lest I will not name you individually here.

Finally, I feel up to sharing again. Yesterday I went on a neat adventure with my SCT buddy, Susan. We have walked the SCT journey together, originally meeting in the hospital. We went to the Denver Botanic Garden to see Dale Chihuly's glass art display. We wandered the gardens and took photos of the glass art (lighted at night, they must be magnificent) and the blossoms that will disappear soon with fall coming. With 19 photos to follow, this is truly a photofest. Unfortunately, I didn't get the names of all the displays I depict here.


Blue Icicle Towers and me ... I lost 58 lbs on the Leukemia Diet!
Picture by Susan Howard


Blue Icicle Towers and Susan





Summer Sun




Blue Marlins


Water Lilies



Float Boat





Left: Saffron Tower; Right: White Tower



Thanks to all for visiting.
I hope to be more active here now.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's an event: Another series of flood pics

Went out again this afternoon to see if I could get close enough to the three cars in the ditch, probably Rock Creek, West of Hwy 287 on Dillon Road, but the roads were all blocked off.


On  the way back home, I did discover this farmhouse at the Public Rd. roundabout looking dangerously near flooding.


And here a span of more comprehensive flooding.


Just around the corner is the entrance to the parking lot for the Public Rd. Trailhead. No cars allowed. Crime scene tape spanning the entrance.

This is where the picnic area is and where the trailhead was.


The breach has spanned three times the original width of the creek. This is where Kobi and I often met other dogs and owners. A nice place to escape. I wonder how long it will get back to normal ... or even recognizable. The white arrow is the original width of the creek. The red arrows are where the path used to go.


And this is where the path was on the other side of the bridge where cars stop and tourist and locals alike get out to take pictures and get shooed off by the cops. My house is up the way about a quarter mile and to the left another quarter mile ... or something like that. Just a note, the creek is actually on the RIGHT side of that red arrowed walking path line.