T-cell ALL survivor since November 2008. Allogeneic stem cell transplant survivor since June 2010. Leukemia can be successfully treated and cured. I'm proof!
Welcome to my blog. Please navigate to this page to go to the beginning and read my story:
http://jdchasfaith.blogspot.com/2010/02/begin-blog.html or click on "I Beat Leukemia" above to read my latest post.

To browse my blog more easily scroll down to the "Blog Archive" at the bottom right of the page or click on any topic under "Labels"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

1920's Power Towers Still Standing In Florida

Not many people know that one of Florida's first major power plants was built in the small town of Inglis, Florida just north of Crystal River. This oil-fired plant, owned by the Pinellas County Power Company before Florida Power Corporation existed, sat on the banks of the Withlacoochee River right off U.S. 19. Some of the plant still remains such as the vacant property, land scars, and the switchyard.  But, one of the most notable remains of the plant are two transmission lines and its original steel lattice towers...

Original tower in Spring Hill

Original tower southwest of Jasper

There were originally two power lines that the plant served. One line went all the way to Jasper, Florida. The other went to Pinellas County. Some of the original steel lattice towers, built in the 1920's, are still standing on both lines. They are almost one-hundred years old which is amazing.

Regarding the Jasper transmission line, about half of it from Inglis to Fort White was demolished decades ago and a new line was built in its place.  From Fort White to Jasper, most of the original towers and transmission line still stand. Also, remnants of original 1920's structures still exist at the Fort White and Jasper substations.

Regarding the Pinellas County line, about three quarters of the original lattice towers are gone. There are, however, several substations built in the 20's along that line that still remain. The part of the line that still exists, with the original lattice towers, is mainly in Citrus County. However, I expect all of them to be completely replaced soon, perhaps within a year. As I said above, the towers are almost one-hundred years old. In addition, Progress Energy had a plan to replace and upgrade the entire line a few years ago when the Levy County nuclear plant was proposed. This upgrade may still be in the works for the new gas plant to be built in Crystal River.

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View this pic of Florida Power's electric system showing both the Inglis 115-kv lines and the Higgins-Fort Meade 115-kv line (another post:)https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/5344

View pictures of the plant being built here: https://www.floridamemory.com/solr-search/results/?q=%28%22Inglis%20%5C%28Fla%5C%29%5C-%5C-Buildings%2C%20structures%2C%20etc%22%20OR%20tt%3A%22Inglis%20%5C%28Fla%5C%29%5C-%5C-Buildings%2C%20structures%2C%20etc%22%5E10%29%20AND%20collection%3A%22Florida%20Photographic%20Collection%22&searchbox=1&query=%22Inglis%20%28Fla%29--Buildings%2C%20structures%2C%20etc%22&year=&gallery=0&search-type=

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Iconic Power Line in Tampa Area Had a Good Life

Long time residents of northern Hillsborough County Florida are well familiar with a power line that rides high to the east and west on big steel lattice towers. This dual-circuit line, known today as the Higgins-Griffin line, has been running through Oldsmar, North Tampa, Thonotosassa, and Knights neighborhoods for over sixty years despite multiple attempts to either decomission it or rebuild it. It has stood the test of time well, but its time may be coming to an end. As I stated, the power line is old as it was built in the early 1950's. Other same-aged steel lattice power lines in Florida are slowly being rebuilt. A recent example is a steel lattice line that ran east to west just south of Brooksville. The line has just been completely rebuilt and the lattice towers demolished. Additionally, more sections of a north-south steel lattice line that runs through western Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties are getting rebuilt with the lattice towers disappearing. When Florida Power Corporation built these lines long ago, they built them to last: through non-stop sunshine, harsh summer weather, and occasional hurricanes. But, nothing lasts forever. As the life span of those steel lattice towers comes to an end, along with residents desiring a more aesthetic, simple-looking power line in their backyard, it won't be long until these iconic towers disappear forever.

Here's a little history, that I know from experience and research, on this power line. It was built and commissioned around 1952 to carry power from the "Mighty Higgins" oil-fired power plant in Oldsmar to Florida Power customers in Fort Meade and the Avon Park/Sebring area. The line was deactivated in 1984 after part of it from Knights-Griffin Rd. in Polk County to the Fort Meade substation was demolished. After it was deactivated, the switching station in Knights and the transmission line that ran to Zephyrhills from that switching station (see map below) were demolished. After the Higgins-Fort Meade line was deactivated, a substation was built along U.S. 98 in northern Polk County/Kathleen. Soon afterwards, a higher voltage power line was built to replace the demolished transmission line that ran to Zephyrhills from the Knights station. The substation in Zephyrhills needed an upgraded line anyway because of increasing electrical demand in that area. That upgraded line currently runs along U.S. 98 and Hwy. 54 east of Zephyrhills. Also, another higher voltage transmission line running out of the Kathleen substation was built to Ft. Meade to replace the part of the Higgins-Fort Meade line that was demolished. This line would also carry power from new FPC power plants down south. The Higgins plant was taken out of service in 1996. The remaining part of the Higgins-Fort Meade line was put back in service around the same time. It was modified to operate as a single-circuit transmission line. The dead-ended part of the line at the Hillsborough-Polk county line was extended slightly to a new substation that connected it to the new line that runs to Fort Meade. The Higgins-Fort Meade line was then renamed the Higgins-Griffin line. The Higgins oil plant was finally demolished in 2006. However, the gas peaker units remained and continue to serve power as needed during peak demand hours. Also, a short transmission line was built from the Lake Tarpon substation to the Higgins switchyard providing power to supplement the demolished Higgins plant and serve the original lines that tied into it. The Higgins-Griffin line does not serve any substations between the Griffin substation and Oldsmar. This leads me to believe that it is only being used to either transmit power from Kathleen/Fort Meade to Pinellas County during periods of peak demand or to stabilize the grid in Pinellas county. Duke Energy does have a proposal to build a new substation in Land O' Lakes. A new tap line that ties in with the Higgins-Griffin line down to the south would be built and used to power this substation. The new substation and line have been proposed for a couple of years. It still hasn't been built, so I think the proposal may be scrapped.

In the early 90's before the Higgins-Griffin line was reactivated, Florida Power had considered demolishing the line and replacing it with a 500-kv line. This did not happen due to the legal costs, neighborhood outcry, and potential environmental harm. FPC decided, instead, to reactivate the Higgins line. A few years later, when Progress Energy (after taking over Florida Power) proposed a nuclear plant in Levy County, the line was going to be demolished and upgraded. This did not happen after Duke Energy (after taking over Progress Energy) decided not to build the plant. It is possible that they will reconsider rebuilding the line in the future when a proposed Crystal River gas plant is built. So, today in October 2016, the steel lattice towers still stand although some towers have been replaced along I-75 at the Hillsborough River bridge. But as I mentioned before, nothing lasts forever, and the remaining iconic steel towers could be gone very soon.  I have an interest in Florida power plant and power line history. More posts on that topic will be coming soon...

Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's Far From Over..., Emotional Instability and Early Death Very Possible

Updated 4/26/16:

For those that bash my Youtube channel, read this post then contemplate your actions!

My ecstatic, home-free feelings I've had since I found out I was cured have worn off, especially since I've found out that I have some major issues that I need to plan for.

Now that I am cured, it's time for me to shift focus to long-term effects of my treatment, one actually being premature death. Not to be bleak but, for me, being cured of leukemia is not the "all-clear" interpretation that it appears to be. There are consequences, either minor or major, of being cured. From what I've read on the internet and some credible websites, I've found out that I have a high chance of facing a life-threatening health complication within ten years. Most notably from this information I've read, I've determined that I have a 70% chance of getting acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a 60% chance of getting bladder cancer, and a 75% chance of getting kidney cancer. I should note that if I do get AML, it's an automatic death sentence.

Another concern is that I have a high risk of dying from a major heart attack before I turn 50. There are three reasons for this:  the doxyrubicin and daunorubicin chemo given to me during my Hyper-CVAD treatments, my consistently high blood pressure, and the fact that I have periodontal disease and tooth decay. This is unique to my situation meaning it will probably not happen to anyone else, so don't automatically think this applies to you if you have leukemia. However, the material I read indicates that all leukemia survivors have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems.

Next, I have had many, and I mean many CT scans, X-rays, and fluoroscopies in diagnosing and treating my leukemia, MRSA, and pulmonary embolism. I have had 29 CT scans, around 25 X-rays, and 16 fluoroscopies (X-rays in association with all the spinal taps I've had.) As a result, I've been exposed to the equivalent of nearly 70 years of normal background radiation in a period of one year! The effects of all these scans and X-rays to my body in the future is not clear. However, receiving all that radiation in one year at age 35 is unprecedented and carries a high risk factor. It is very likely that I will have problems from it in the near future.

There is more, and this is the most serious. Because I had sixteen intrathecal treatments (spinal taps and chemo injections into my central nervous system), because I had numerous Vincristine treatments, and because I had brain scarring from getting MRSA in my cranial port, I have a moderate risk of serious brain and nerve dysfunction.  In simpler words, I'm at risk of having serious mental problems in the future including, but not limited to, memory problems, loss of motor controls, behavioral issues/emotional instability, and insanity. Due to recent incidents, I believe the effects have started. I'm emotionally unstable and have severe anger management problems.

All of this is pretty scary to me but not surprising. During my treatment, I was basically poisoned everywhere in my body. I was given massive amounts of the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, doxyrubicin, daunorubicin, and methotrexate during my seven cycles of Hyper-CVAD treatment. I was also given more chemo: fludarabine and busulfan during the conditioning chemo of my bone marrow transplant, not to mention the excessive radiation I was exposed to with all the CT scans and X-rays. There will definitely be consequences of all this that I will, no doubt, experience soon. Again, I will stress that you don't automatically presume that all of this applies to every leukemia victim. You just need to be aware of your health and take care of yourself!

The best advice I can offer is to get regular checkups, see your doctor at least once a year, and get any strange health issues addressed immediately. You may also want to consider making a will and having all of your affairs put in order. Also, pray and make the most of everyday! If you're a fellow cancer survivor, I would strongly encourage you to speak to your doctor to discuss and plan for possible treatment complications that you may face.

I've been very fortunate to survive my ordeal and live this long to tell about it. However, I seriously believe that I am going to face early death, perhaps as early as five years from now.  I definitely won't live long enough to see my golden years. I need to cherish every day, tell as many people about my story that I can, and live life to the fullest more than ever. I'll be blunt: I'm 42 years old, and I'm not expecting to live past 50. If I do, it will just add to my incredible survival story. If I don't, then I will be with the Lord sooner. Both outcomes seem pretty good to me. But, the way that things are going for me, I'm hoping for the latter outcome.

This government article complements the reason I wrote this post. It's an article on childhood ALL which is very similar to my ALL:

Read these articles as well:




Sunday, September 20, 2015

When You Think There Are No More Good People In This World, Read This Post...

With all the bad news stories popping up every day and all of the bad things people are doing, you may briefly think that there are no good people left in the world. It's natural. We tend to let our anger and frustration briefly blind us to the fact that THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. When this happens, God will always put something and someone in your life when you least expect it, and there is nothing more like seeing good deeds that people do to you to open your eyes to see there is still good in this world!

A very unusual thing happened to me today. First, I will say that I ran out of gas on my way home from church today. In all the twelve years I've owned my vehicle, I have never ran out of gas. My vehicle and I are virtually one! I know every noise it's supposed to make, I know how it drives, and I know when it's fixing to run out of gas. Or, at least I thought I did. I have made it to gas stations with the gas gauge a hair below the E. Today, however, I left church with the gauge slightly over E and thought I would make it to the gas station. Two minutes later I ran out of gas, the engine shut off, and I got stranded on the side of the road. I thought I was in big trouble because I was in an area with very weak or nonexistent cell phone coverage. I then would have had to walk in 90 degree plus heat through a bad neighborhood to the nearest gas station, which was NOT close. A couple of minutes later, a good samaritan pulled up and offered to tow me to the gas station. I gladly accepted with tons of gratefulness. He was a Christian.

A few days ago, I was getting into a mindset that people don't care about each other anymore because of all the bad things I read about and see. God corrected me and got me out of that mindset today. The bad news stories that are out seemingly all the time paint a bleak picture of what evil there is in the world today. But, God reminds us that evil will never prevail. There will always be kind, caring people in this world, like the good samaritan that towed me to the gas station, who are part of that reminder. Don't give up hope!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Major Update

Scroll down to the "THE LONG JOURNEY IS OVER" post for the official notice of cure that I received today!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Purpose of My Survival

There is no doubt in my mind that God cured me in order for me to fulfill a great purpose(s).

Last Wednesday, I witnessed a lost soul get saved at an outreach event we have one Wednesday a month, McSpirit Night at McDonalds. It's always a great joy to see a person come to know Christ and get saved.  God has a will in everything. Our church decided to start participating in McSpirit Night to get out of the church and into the community to tell people about Christ. God has blessed us and others with this. It has proven fruitful, and I hope we get many more people saved as our church continues to participate in this event.

Today I am excited to post that I reached out to two people about Christ. First, a needy individual visited our church and requested some assistance. We talked and during that conversation, I presented the gospel to him. He didn't really want to tell me whether he accepted Christ or not, and, to not be pushy, I left it at that. I planted the seed, and I was pleased that this opportunity came to me.

Later that day during a Mother's Day visit, I spoke to my grandmother about my battle with leukemia. We got into discussing how I was comforted during my ordeal. I told her it was because that I'm saved, and I knew whatever the outcome I would get to heaven. I asked if she knew Christ and was saved. Her answer was yes. It made me so happy to hear this because in the past I wasn't sure if she was.

These opportunities that God provides are a blessing. If I didn't survive my leukemia, I would not have been part of these experiences. The needy individual, if not saved, probably would have never heard about Christ and be condemned to hell.  Since I am still alive and healthy, I know more opportunities like these will come, and I can't wait for them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


4/26/16: The "long journey" is not over. I've got MAJOR treatment-related issues coming up. Read about them here: http://jdchasfaith.blogspot.com/2015/11/its-coming.html

Original posting:

UPDATE: As of 7/27/15, Moffitt Cancer Center has officially declared me cured of leukemia. It's finally official!

I'M CURED!!!!!!!!! It is now exactly five years since I finished my first chemo treatment and achieved complete remission, all thanks to God! The leukemia failed to return, so according to all the medical texts I've read, I'm cured! My transplant anniversary is on June 9th of next year making it five years since that procedure. Some say that the five-year mark goes by the transplant anniversary, but I think it's more accurate to mark the anniversary from first remission. I'm posting the blog entry I wrote five years ago as a memorial to the rough two months I had in the hospital to achieve this remission. Even though my doctor did not declare me in remission after my first treatment, the blood tests I received all came back negative for leukemia. Therefore, remission was actually achieved.

If this doesn't leave you in awe, I don't know what will: I was on death's doorstep two times (the MRSA and pulmonary embolism both occurring while my immune system was poor.) A leukemia patient surviving something like this is extremely rare. This shows you how blessed I am!

First and Second chemo treatments (March 5 to April 30, 2009)

My treatments involve intense doses of Hyper C-Vad chemotherapy. Because of this intensity, I require sterile conditions and careful monitoring. The type of chemo I receive is destructive not only to leukemia cells, but also to normal, healthy blood cells. These cells get destroyed to a point that I had to have blood and platelet transfusions to maintain body health. When chemo is this intense, you can not get it by outpatient. You have to be in the hospital. In order to make chemo and other IV infusions more comfortable, I had a central venuous catheter installed in my right upper arm. The catheter remains there for the duration of the treatment and allows IV tubes to be attached without getting constant needle sticks in the veins. This is known as a PICC line, and it is a blessing! I also had to get several X-rays and CT scans of my head, neck, and abdomen which is standard for my condition. Next, I got a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to confirm my diagnosis. This went fairly well with very little pain. They even did it in my room. ALL treatment requires not only chemotherapy to the blood and bone marrow, but also to the spinal fluid (intrathecal chemo) because it is possible for the leukemia to spread to the body's central nervous system. In order for spinal fluid chemo to be administered, you've got to get injections into the spinal canal in the lower back (known as a lumbar puncture or spinal tap), or you have to get a reservoir (known as an Ommaya reservoir) surgically implanted under the scalp that "pumps" the chemo into the spinal fluid near the brain. I opted to get the reservoir implanted because my neurosurgeon said it would be a more painless and safer method of intrathecal therapy. There would be less chance of infection, also. I had the reservoir for a few days, then complications developed. The reservoir shifted in position and I required surgery to realign it. During this surgery, the reservoir contracted the common hospital infection known as MRSA, a staph infection that's very hard to eradicate. One night in my hospital room, I developed a very high fever and became delirious and confused. I was rushed down to intensive care, the reservoir was removed with local anesthesia. There was no time to get to the operating room, so the surgery had to be done in my ICU room. I thought I had recovered and was sent back to my regular room the next day. There was another complication, the MRSA formed an abscess on the surface of my brain, where the Ommaya reservoir catheter entered the spinal fluid. This abscess caused me to lose some motor function in my left arm and leg. I had to get physical therapy for about two weeks to regain full motor control. It was successful, I was using my left arm and walking normally within a month of the infection. I did not realize how serious this "bump in the road" was until I talked to the doctors, nurses, and my family about this incident. I have no complete memory of the night that the MRSA attacked, just bits and pieces of activities, so it must have caused some type of amnesia. I constantly thank God that this incident did not get as worse as it did. If it was not caught as early as it was, I could have easily died. The abscess was diagnosed as Staph Meningitis which can be fatal.

The MRSA incident forced me to stay in the hospital much longer than I was supposed to. So, I had to start my second chemo treatment without going home for a break. I was still being treated for the MRSA abscess and was getting heavy doses of Vancomycin, a very powerful antibiotic. Between the heavy doses of chemo and vanco, I did get pretty sick one or two times. I got high fevers with nausea and lack of appetite. Fortunately, it did not last long thanks to all the "rescue" medicines the hospital gave me. I had to get another intrathecal treatment as well. This time it had to be administered through the spine. I was pretty nervous about this because I did not know how painful a spinal tap would be. I was worrying over nothing. It went well with very little pain. The procedure was performed in Radiology with precision similar to a surgery. The injection area is numbed well and the needle used for the tap is small and less painful. Before the chemo was injected, they withdrew a sample of spinal fluid to look for leukemia cells. I was blessed to find out that the fluid was clean with no leukemia present. The chemo brought my blood counts down pretty low, so I had to start getting blood and platelet transfusions. I was apprehensive about getting these transfusions. I have never gotten a transfusion in my life and was concerned that the blood could be tainted. I was told that the blood and platelets are carefully screened and irradiated, so the chance of getting a pathogen like HIV or Hepatitis was extremely rare. I got the transfusions with no major incidents except for a minor allergic reaction to the platelets, which was hives. Benadryl took care of this reaction quickly. It didn't take much time for my blood counts to come back up to a safe level, and I was discharged from the hospital on April 30. I still had to take Vancomycin through an IV so that the MRSA abscess could be completely eliminated, therefore I had to make arrangements for home infusion. I took home IV equipment for gravity infusion, and it went fairly well. By fairly well, I meant that I did make a mistake. It was time for an infusion of vanco. I went to get a bag of the medicine, and I picked up a bag of sodium chloride instead. I hooked up everything and started the infusion. About ten minutes later, I saw an extra bag of vanco in the refrigerator and realized I goofed. Oh well, no harm was done and I even got some extra hydration. The next week and a half flew by, and I had to go back to the hospital on May 11.