Monthly Archives: October 2012

Light The Night!

H5T0312_Light The Night

In my previous post, I told you about my friend Tammy’s battle with lymphoma; I spent the morning with her, photographically chronicling one of her chemo sessions.  On the evening of that same day, Team Wooo Girls (Tammy, her family and friends, of which I count myself lucky to be a part), joined in on the Light The Night benefit walk in The Woodlands, TX, sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Following are scenes captured from the walk.

H5T0364_Wooo Girl Tammy

Tammy, our Wooo Girls Team Captain

H5T0303_Lots of People

Lots of people and more to come

H5T0293_Decorating Her Chair

Decorating Tammy’s chariot

H5T0326_Wheel Decoration

Glow-stick wheels

H5T0321_Mark and Tammy

Tammy and Mark

H5T0352_Wooo Girl Becky

Wooo Girl Becky

H5T0410_Vanessa

Wooo Girl Vanessa

H5T0376_Wooo Girl Group

Some Wooo Girls (and a couple of Wooo Guys)

So many different reasons for doing this walk:

H5T0345_Reason For Walking

H5T0450_Reason For Walking

H5T0381_Star Spangled Banner

Our National Anthem

H5T0413_Survivor Balloons

Gold balloons in memory of loved ones

H5T0422_Market Street VERT

Market Street – the Start and Finish point

H5T0454_Wooo Girl Tammy

Love those specs!

Time to walk!  Wooooo!

H5T0468_Starting The Walk

H5T0496_On The Walk

H5T0503_On The Walk

H5T0490_Walkers

H5T0508_Walkers

H5T0518_Walkers

H5T0512_Light Reflections

A quiet moment away from the crowd

H5T0371_Wooo Girls and Guys

Walking to kick cancer’s butt!!

WOOOOOOOOO!!!

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Filed under Life, low light photography, Photography, Texas, volunteering

Fight Like A Wooo Girl!

H5T0269_Fight Like A Wooo Girl

“….the good news is, nobody ever died from this….”  so said the nonchalant quack  doctor (during two different visits) as he referred to my friend Tammy’s symptoms, believing a nice round of antibiotics would cure it all up.  This doctor never once thought to schedule bloodwork or scans for Tammy….ever.

Down the road much later, Tammy still suffered from the same sinus infection-like symptoms as well as some swollen lymph nodes that wouldn’t go away.  That was when a much better doctor actually diagnosed and informed Tammy that she had B-cell lymphoma.  It took a year for her to be correctly diagnosed.  Now, she is literally fighting for her life, and chemotherapy is part of her arsenal.

Curious, I wanted to find out what goes on when a person must undergo chemotherapy. Of course we are all sorry whenever we hear a friend or friend’s family member must have chemotherapy, but unless we are very close to the cancer sufferer, we don’t quite understand the process. I wanted to try to understand (at least, a little better than I currently did). So, with Tammy’s permission, I brought my camera with me to chronicle her 3-hour session – a moment of time out of her Life Journey. She joked to the nursing staff that she never went anywhere without her paparazzi.

I spent the morning at MD Anderson Cancer Center with Tammy and her sister-in-law &  best friend Sarah.

H5T0211_Sarah and Tammy

MD Anderson is one of the best places in the world to be if a person is diagnosed with cancer; people from all around the globe come here. The staff are top-notch and the doctors are the finest.

After several months of treatment using a trial drug, the name of which I still cannot pronounce and which ultimately did not work for her, Tammy began her rounds of chemotherapy:  each round consisting of  3 days on treatment with a 28-day break in between.  I visited on Day 2 of Round 2.

Tammy’s treatment morning begins early – typically 8AM.

H5T0205_Morning Arrival

Her first day of treatment lasts 8+ hours because she is given 3 drugs via IV drip on that day.  The other 2  days (where she receives 2 drugs) last an average of 3 hours – depends upon how fast the veins accept the IV drip.

Once through the admittance door, Tammy is taken to a room for weigh-in and temperature.  The nurse hands out a wonderfully warm blanket (I know, because the nurse handed the blanket to me, first) and assigns Tammy a room number.

H5T0215_Stop #1

Tammy knows the drill, so once she gets into the room, she adjusts the bed to her liking, settles in with breakfast and drink, and lets the attending nurse administer the drugs.  We live in a time where wonderful anti-nausea drugs now exist, allowing Tammy to eat and drink without that horrible urpy feeling.

H5T0223_Tammy

So….first thing they do is remove a piece of netting “tube” from her arm (looks like a piece of Goth clothing decoration that Tammy wishes came in black, since “black is slimming” ) .  Wads of cotton are then gently removed to expose the the IV hook-up embedded  into her arm for the duration of the 3-days of treatments.  Because of this “hook up”, Tammy can’t shower or bathe – she just takes what I refer to as a “spit bath” and what she refers to as something I can’t print in this post.

Upon removal of the netting and cotton, a saline/alcohol “flush” is administered via syringe.  I asked Tammy if any of that entire treatment ever hurt, and she mentioned that the flush is usually a bit of a shock to her system, but none of the other IV drips hurt (thank goodness); Tammy has to go through enough other painful things (physically, emotionally, and mentally) associated with this disease (bone marrow biopsy, lymph node biopsy, side effects like exhaustion).

H5T0232_Administering The Flush

H5T0249_She's A Lymphomaniac

Do ya like her “I’m A Lympho Maniac” shirt? My friend has a nicely skewed sense of humor. She can’t drink any alcohol during her entire treatment process, so she joked the next time she and her entourage return for treatment, she’s bringing a large sugar-rimmed margarita glass filled with a 7-11 lime slushy just so she can watch the reaction of the nurses.

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Once the Flush syringe is empty,  the other drugs are attached to the IV drip, and then it’s  a matter of waiting while everything gets into her system.

H5T0260_The Drugs

H5T0254_Treatment Room

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I asked Tammy a lot of questions about her cancer and her treatment.   Like many if not most cancer patients, she wants to know what she is up against and how to battle it.

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Lymphoma is a type of cancer of the blood cells (not as readily recognizable a brand-name as breast cancer).  Tammy explained in simple terms for me.  Think of a normal blood cell as a round or oblate cell (she made her hands into fists to illustrate a normal blood cell).  When normal blood cells start grouping together because they are in a tight squeeze, they die off to make it a little “roomier” for the other normal blood cells.  Cancerous blood cells, on the other hand, are irregularly-shaped, so to speak (at this point, Tammy made the UT “hook-em horns” hand sign to illustrate her explanation), and instead of dying off when they get in a confined space, these cancerous blood cells meet and greet each other like old friends, grouping together and growing to create swollen masses of lymph nodes as well as causing other problems for their human host.

Even after the doctors get this current bout of cancer to go away during her treatments (Tammy says she can feel them shrinking, woo hoo!), the oncologists will still have to keep a close eye on her for the rest of her life, because there is a very good chance that this form of cancer may re-occur.  According to Tammy, as long as her bone marrow makes those kind of (“hook-em horns”) cells, then in all likelihood, she may have to return for further treatment in the future.  This is a treatable cancer,  but not a curable cancer.  I forgot to ask her about the possibility of a bone marrow transfer.  I know that they are very expensive, and sometimes finding a match is tricky.  I’ll have to ask her that the next time I see her.

Thankfully, Tammy is a healthy 40-something young woman who has a strong fighting instinct and is totally focused on “kicking cancer’s butt”!  She also has a fantastic network of friends and family.  Because of this she is always in good spirits and constantly joking and never goes to a treatment alone.  There are so many out there who must undergo the same thing, but without anybody to be there with them or for them.

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This day was going to be a busy day for Tammy and the rest of us.  Treatment in the morning, some time to rest during the afternoon, then participation in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night benefit walk at Market Square in The Woodlands, TX.

So, what is this “Fight Like A Wooo Girl” thing, you ask?  Well, Tammy, Sarah, and I are some of the founding members of the Wooo Girls (check us out on Facebook, we have three “o’s” in our name).  The Wooo Girls is (are?) a group of ladies (and a couple of guys) dedicated to the enjoyment of life, with plenty of good times, good friends, and lots of laughter (not quite like that How I Met Your Mother episode, btw).

On this night, October 21, 2012, The Wooo Girls would be walking for, and in honor of, our friend Tammy, as well as for, and in honor of, other friends and family members battling the disease.

H5T0272_Down The Hall

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I wandered around the web for information regarding the type of lymphoma Tammy has (and because I couldn’t totally remember everything she told me, even though I tried to write it all down).  During my fishing expedition, I found this link to an interesting online article written with the question in mind: is lymphoma curable?

I’ve added a couple of links for the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for further information and if you are so inclined as to make a donation to helping find better treatments and ultimately a cure.

Next Post:  Light The Night!

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Filed under Attitude, Houston, Life, Pain, Photography, Texas

International Amity

For the past month, now, I’ve been going over to Mom’s house (I live next door to her) every afternoon upon coming home from work.  I’ve been changing out the hummingbird feeders since I don’t want my 87-year old mother getting up high on the step stool to do this herself.  Instead, Mom makes the nectar solution.

So this afternoon, after a short visit with Mom, I was walking out the door and looked directly across toward one of the feeders, to see an unusual sight:  a bright green Anole lizard sitting on the feeder, lapping up the nectar.  Southeast Texas has a lot of these pretty little things, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised.  But this was the first time I’d ever seen anything like this.

A few seconds later, a little hummingbird perched itself at the feeder and started sipping from the same siphon.  International Amity….for a moment.

6202_International Amity Best

Shortly after the photo above, the Anole turned around and started crawling up the feeder, only to be buzzed by other hummers more than happy to send the lizard packing.  While buzzing the lizard, they would alternately buzz each other.  Sooooo territorial.

6241_Righteous Indignation

I titled this photo “Righteous Indignation” Winking smile

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Filed under hummingbirds, Humor, lizard, Photography, reptile, Texas

Wearing Red Helps!

5059-2_Beckys Little Friend

I’ve been thinking about doing this for quite some time.  While I am usually pretty good on initiative, I’m not so good about remembering to do whatever it was my initiative thought up.  Usually I get the initiative at work, so I’ve totally forgotten by the time I get home (and vice versa).  Mom and I thought all the hummingbirds had moved on, since we had a few cool nights here in southeast Texas, so I was rather annoyed with myself for not following through on my great idea.

It was with great pleasure that –  after coming home from work one recent afternoon – I counted 6 little hummers hovering around Mom’s single feeder she’d left out .  I rushed over to Mom’s and helped her set up three more feeders that same afternoon.  I realized there was still a chance for me to implement my idea the next morning.

So….at about 7:30AM, I put on my red shirt and carried both of my cameras, my tripod, and the long-corded remote release with me over to Mom’s house next door.

My idea worked!

2900_Beckys Little Friend

And I was able to capture more wonderful images of these hummingbirds that are still swarming the feeders.

4041_Eyeing The Interloper 2

5332_Looking Up

5418_Hovering

4498_Sharing

In a shameless fit of self-promotion, I want to tell you that I’ve created a 100-page notebook (with photos and blank lined pages for writing) using Blurb.com and I’ve also created  the first in a series of two or three 12-month 2013 calendars using Zazzle.com  – both notebook and calendar use selected hummingbird images from my website.  If you are interested in taking a look, click on either the Blurb link here, or on the image of the Blurb book with the hummingbird that’s on the top left side of this post, or click the Zazzle link here or the image of the hummingbird calendar displayed right beneath the image of the hummingbird notebook, on the top left side of this post.  They make great gifts for yourself , your friends, and your family. Open-mouthed smile

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La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

I had only 2 full days (plus a half day and a morning) within Arches National Park, Utah, but during those days, one of my favorite spots was a place near the park entrance called the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint.  I’d stop there each day going into and out of the park.  It’s the perfect place for sunrise images.

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B5A7086_Last Sunrise Over The La Sals

It’s also the perfect place to get an amazing overview of the La Sal Mountains, The Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, Tower of Babel, The Organ, and some amazing views far beyond of such formations as Balanced Rock.

C2C7905_Landmarks On The Landscape

B5A6854_Morning In The Park

B5A6983_Afternoon At La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

B5A7073_Good Morning Arches ORIG

From this viewpoint, you can see interesting things like the hot air balloon that rose above the rocks each morning I was there.

B5A7180_Sunrise Balloon Ride VERT

This viewpoint is also a lovely place to stop and say good-bye to the park until the next time you visit it.

C2C7899_Becky At La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

I’ve booked my airfaire for a February 2013 trip back to Moab and Arches NP.  If anybody thinks they might be out there during that time, give me a shout;  it would be fun to meet you and enjoy some photographic quality time together.

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Filed under Arches National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah