T-cell ALL survivor since November 2008. Allogeneic stem cell transplant survivor since June 2010. Leukemia can be successfully treated. Keep your hope and faith!
Welcome to my blog. Please navigate to this page to go to the beginning and read my story:

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"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Baby Nora's Blog

When you're having a bad day, go to this wonderful little girl's blog. I guarantee you'll feel better.


One of the best pieces of advice you will ever hear is that no matter how bad you think your life is, it could be MUCH worse!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


This will be my final entry in this cancer blog. I can't think of anything better to write a post on, other than, 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! 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.

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. 

Thanks to all my readers and followers for taking the time to visit and read my posts. As a closing note, I want to do something here to give back what God has done for me. It is "very important" that you know how to get to heaven. I beg you to keep reading! It is a fact that when you die, you will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. You do not want to spend eternity in hell. Think of the worst day or worst pain you've ever had and imagine enduring it FOREVER with no end. This is hell. I do not want anyone, not even the most evil person in the world, to go to hell. God will send everyone to hell who does not have faith in Jesus to forgive his/her sins. All humans are born sinners. It is in our nature to do evil and wrong things. It is impossible not to sin, so without Jesus we would automatically go to hell. If you don't know who Jesus is, I beg of you to rectify that immediately. If you do not want to do this because you think it's churchy, know this: It is not about church.YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH. Just pray to Him anywhere, and he will come in, forgive your sins, and you have a guaranteed ticket to heaven. I want everyone to go to heaven and no one to go hell, except the devil himself. One of the things I look forward to when I get to heaven is watching the devil suffering in hell for eternity because of all the things he has done on this earth in its history!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Extreme Florida Weather

Going through the stored pictures on my computer, I found this screen pic I made off the National Weather Service website on January 10, 2010 when I checked the weather forecast that day. Just thought it was neat and wanted to post it. Picture courtesy of National Weather Service...

Right click and "open in new tab" to enlarge.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Birthday and A Major Milestone In My Life

Today, I have reached the biggest milestone I have ever approached. I have lived to reach 40 years old! I survived one of the deadliest cancers a person can get. I can only give God credit for reaching this milestone, and I don't deserve it. I will be even more grateful when I reach another big age: 50. I will be at risk for other health problems and cancers for the rest of my life, so if I make it to 50, I will only praise Him more. I thank God everyday for my blessings, not the least of which is being able to get out of bed every morning. Every day of the year should be Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving should not focus on turkey or the pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Finding Old State Roads in Florida

Someone wanted to know how I find the vintage road signs that I post on this blog. First, I look for decommissioned state roads using Google Streetview. I also know many back roads in Central Florida that were former state roads, so I've got experience in what to look for. To find old state roads and vintage signs for yourself, use these clues...

-Vintage state road shield signs still up at intersections with modern state roads. View an example here...

C.R. 65 at S.R. 12, Quincy

-Vintage green FDOT directional signs still up at intersections with modern state roads and/or signs still up on county roads. View an example here...

Eastbound CR 48 at SR 471 in Bevilles Corner,  CR 48 used to be a state road

-Google Streetview (mapview) shows some county roads as state roads with the highway number circled (county highway numbers are supposed to be within a rectangle.) This is a clue that they used to be state roads a long time ago.

-Viewing the roads from above on Streetview, or actual driving, you can see concrete ditches along some county roads in hilly areas. This was standard practice for the SRD or FDOT to prevent erosion when they used to be state roads. See picture below...

Old Concrete Ditch and Right-of-Way Marker on Fort King Rd in Dade City,
formerly SR 41

-If you look closely on the side of the road (being careful of course not to cause an accident!,) you can find small concrete markers sticking out of the ground labeled SRD R/W. This marks the right-of-way of an old or current state road. The SRD means State Road Department which is now FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation.) I'm not sure but these old markers may be 50 to 60 years old. See above picture.

-Look at the poles that highway signs are attached to on county roads. Any round aluminum poles still up belonged to the SRD or FDOT when that road used to be a state road. It should be noted that some counties such as Alachua, Lake, and Polk Counties have installed new round poles on all their county roads, so finding old state road round poles in those counties is pretty much impossible now. Look at the Bevilles Corner sign above and view the pole for an example.

Yep, I am definitely a die-hard road geek!

Cancer treatment's insidious side effect: 'chemo brain' - FOX 13 News

Just read this article about the side effects of chemotherapy on the brain. To be honest, after reading this I said to myself, "Uh, oh." After receiving massive amounts of chemotherapy four years ago, including chemotherapy from sixteen spinal taps, I would be lying if I said my brain was normal. I don't concentrate like I used to. My reading comprehension is worse, I have to read sentences twice to grasp the main idea. I leave items laying around and forget where I've put them. In addition, my left arm still does not have 100% feeling after the MRSA incident in 2009. I believe I will be this way for the rest of my life. I just hope it doesn't get worse as I grow older. But, hey, I'm alive. I can take care of myself. I can work hard. And, I'm still very intelligent. All in all, I've made out out pretty well!

Cancer treatment's insidious side effect: 'chemo brain' - FOX 13 News

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Improvements Of Successful Anticancer Drug Ingredients

This article talks about a huge increase in potency of the chemo drugs vinblastine and vincristine. Unimproved vincristine is, in itself, extremely powerful. During my maintenance chemo, I used to get two milligram doses by injection, and I would be out of commission for two days! I can't image what the new improved version can do. This is a HUGE milestone on the road to finding a cure to many forms of cancer! If you are a cancer patient in relapse, I would DEFINITELY talk to your doctor about this article! Click on the link to read it...

Extremely potent, improved derivatives of successful anticancer drug created

Friday, September 6, 2013

Airtight Homes Can Be Dangerous To Your Health

All the rave about energy efficiency today is forcing new homes to be well-insulated and airtight. Many people don't realize that this can be bad for your health. If a home is well-insulated and air tight, there's a good chance that harmful chemical aerosols can build up and cause a wide array of respiratory and other health issues, maybe even cancer. This is because an airtight house can not receive fresh air from the outside and vent out stale, contaminated air from the inside. Most people don't realize, also, that oxygen levels in an airtight house can get depleted. When this occurs, a person can get mild hypoxia and/or carbon dioxide poisoning. Think about how airtight a space shuttle or a submarine is! An airtight house is no different.

A combination of  the two factors above can make a person ill, maybe seriously. Unexplained sicknesses can be attributed to airtight houses. Also, who knows what can happen when exposed to concentrated levels of chemical aerosols from cleaners, paint, new carpet, etc. Since I had leukemia, I am much more concerned!

I make it a standard practice to ventilate my home on a regular basis. Since it is summer now, it is impractical to open the windows, so I use both of my bathroom exhaust fans and slightly crack a window at night to change the air while I sleep. In the cooler months, I will, obviously, open a window, or I will pull in air from my attic during the day. This also helps heat the house and save money on my electric bill!

I recommend that if you do have an airtight house that you take steps to ensure regular air changes, especially if you are medically-confined or a shut-in. It can make you feel better and improve your health.  Also, keep in mind that having a top-of-the-line air filter and/or houseplants is not good enough, you still need to replenish the oxygen in the house at high-volumes.

UPDATE 2/13/14: I can't believe I didn't put something in this post about radon gas. It can seep in from the ground through floors and foundations that are not sealed well. It then can build up and get trapped in well-insulated homes as well. Radon gas is known to cause cancer. It occurs everywhere in the U.S. though it is more prevalent in the northern and western part of the country. Kits are sold at big-box and hardware stores to detect radon. I STRONGLY recommend that all well-insulated homes have one!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Florida Road Memories Of The 80's

As a boy in the 1980's, I was fascinated with Florida's highways and railroads but even more fascinated with road signs. These included speed limit signs, green city mileage signs, and, of course, highway designation signs (county road, state road, interstate, and the colored U.S. highway signs.) I grew up in the Tampa area, and my grandparents lived near Ocala. Over the years, I have retained vivid memories of signs that stood out to me on road trips and wanted to share some particularly interesting ones. I have yet to find information on the internet about some of what I have written below and hope someone else can enjoy sharing these memories with me. I regret the fact that I was not a photographer back then. If so, I would have a treasure trove of images to put on the net and share. I, most likely, would have had the most popular collection of Florida road pics on the internet.
Now, here are some unique things I remember clearly about all the road trips I went on as a child and teenager:

-A C-579 keys shield was on Morris Bridge Rd south of S.R. 54.
-Around 1985, when S.R. 54 was downgraded to a county road between Land O' Lakes and Zephyrhills, "C" and "COUNTY" stickers were placed on the state road shields.
-New River used to be signed at the bridge that went over it on SR 54.
-While on the topic of S.R. 54, not many people know that Hwy. 54 East of Zephyrhills had a different alignment than it does now. 54 (5th Ave.) used to go straight across Gall Blvd and through downtown Zephyrhills. It then turned north on 12th St. and went all the way to present day CR 54/Wire Road. There are old concrete State Road Department Right-of-Way markers on 12th St. to prove this. See my "Finding Old State Roads in Florida" post for more info. on these markers. It then turned east to follow its current alignment. At the current intersection with CR Alt 54/CR 54A, it turned north and followed CR Alt 54's current alignment. So CR Alt 54 is actually old SR 54. It ended at SR 35A. I have a theory that Wire Road in Zephyrhills may have been a "spur" road built to link U.S. 301 with East S.R. 54 and downtown.  I say this because of it's diagonal approach to current U.S. 301 and the direct routing to 12th Street, the high school, the middle school, and downtown Zephyrhills. Additionally, before U.S. 301 was built, Fort King Rd. (S.R. S-41) was the highway that linked Brooksville, Dade City, and Zephyrhills. Approaching Zephyrhills, Fort King Road/S.R. S-41 turned east and continued to present Daughtery Rd. Even though, an old map shows S.R. S-41 going to Wire Road, I believe Fort King Rd. turned southeast with the railroad tracks and went into downtown Zephyrhills as Gall Blvd./7th St. and was assigned with a realignment of S.R. S-41.  Note that up to the early 90's, Fort King Road used to end diagonally with Gall Blvd./U.S. 301. The intersection was decommissioned when 7th St. was turned into a one-way street and connected with Fort King Rd. I've gotten this information from old road maps and my time spent in Zephyrhills in the 80's. If I've gotten any of the details wrong, comment.
-A C-530 keys shield was on Otis Allen Road at Wire Road.
-Near the McDonalds, a two-lane overpass on U.S. 301 used to go over both Fort King Rd. and a decommissioned railroad that was removed shortly after I was born. 
-Where Fort King Rd. originally ended at U.S. 301, just north of 12th Ave., there were yellow U.S. 301 shields at the end of Fort King Rd. I remember a green mileage sign at 12th Ave. with Tampa 29 / Sarasota 80 on it.
-On 5th Ave., east of Gall Blvd, there was a yellow JCT 301 sign. Most likely, this sign was never taken down when S.R. 54 was decommissioned on this part of 5th Ave.
-A C-581 keys shield was on 30th St. (now Bruce B. Downs Blvd.) at S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel.  This intersection only had a stop sign with a blinking red light,and both roads were two-lane.
-A C-577 keys shield was on C.R. 577/Curly Rd. northbound at S.R. 54, and I remember another keys shield was in St. Joseph just north of St. Joe Rd.

-South of Dade City, a railroad crossed U.S. 98/301 at Morningside Drive for the Evans citrus packing plant. The plant was right behind present-day Walgreens.
-7th Street was signed U.S. 98/301. On Meridian Avenue, I remember the yellow 301 and black 98 JCT signs.) Also, Old Lakeland Highway/Dade City Bypass was signed U.S.98. This confused me because I didn't understand why U.S. 98 was split like that. It also confused me seeing a U.S. 301/ U.S. Bus 98 assurance sign on 7th St. just south of Lock St. Click here to view this sign: http://www.aaroads.com/shields/show.php?image=FL19640983
In the early 70's, Meridian Ave. east of 7th St. was signed S-35A, and S.R. 52 ended at 7th St. In two old photographs of a parade I found on the internet, I saw S-35A keys shields on 7th St. and Meridian Ave. Click on these links for the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786943/in/photostream/ . Also this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786111/in/photostream/
-A C-35A keys shield used to be in front of Dick Jarrett Ford right off the Dade City Bypass.
-North of Dade City at the Lykes Citrus Plant, a railroad diagonally crossed U.S. 98/301.
-South of Lacoochee, there were two overpasses on U.S. 98/301, south of the U.S. 98 split, that crossed a railroad junction (one railroad it crossed is now the Withlacoochee State Trail)

-A State Road 585 keys shield used to be on Rowlett Park Dr. south of Waters Ave.
-A C-585A keys shield used to be on McKinley Dr. south of Fowler Ave.
-A C-598 keys shield used to be on Lambright St. just east of Dale Mabry Hwy.
-On I-275 in Tampa, there were big green overhead signs with "Fla" and the state road number on them. For example, for Busch Blvd., the signs had "Fla 580" on them and Fowler Ave. had "Fla 582" on them. The overhead signs at the very left would have "Thru Traffic" on them. Also, Buffalo Ave. (now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) did not have a state road designation that it does now (S.R. 574.)
-On westbound Busch Blvd. at North Blvd., there was a green FDOT directional sign with a left arrow and "Fairyland Zoo."

-In Belleview, state road 25 from 27/301/441 to SR 35 used to be a county road in the 80's. I remember seeing State Road 25 shields patched with a "C" and "COUNTY" stickers at the intersection with 27/301/441.
-I remember U.S. OLD 301 and U.S. OLD 441 north of Ocala (now C.R.200A and C.R.25A, respectively) and the yellow OLD 301 and brown OLD 441 signs.
-On U.S. 301/441 north of Ocala, there were rectangular street signs with "SR 25/SR 200" on them at intersections . These signs confused me because I didn't know that in Florida U.S. highways are given a state road designation. Today, some U.S. highways still have state road rectangular street signs. For example, in Chiefland, U.S. Alt 27 is signed SR 500 on a traffic light post, while U.S. 19/98 is signed SR 55.
-In the early 80's, I remember seeing a blue pentagon county road 301 sign where NE 160 Ave Rd begins at CR 316 east of Ft. McCoy. I thought it was funny that there were two different Hwy 301s in Marion County. Also, how can I forget the big bridge over the Oklawaha River on C.R. 316. One time, after crossing the bridge, my parents had to pull over because I got sick to my stomach. The spelling of Oklawaha is correct for that time period, even though it was recently changed to Ocklawaha.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed all the colored U.S. highway signs that were up at that time. The only ones I ever saw personally were for U.S. 1, 17, 19, 27, 41, 90, 92, 192, 231, 301, 319, and 441. I only saw a U.S. 129 sign one time, at the intersection with I-75, and I barely could see it because it was night. I never saw any U.S. 29, U.S. 331, U.S. 221, and U.S. 23 signs, and I remembered being obsessive about what their colors were.

More "memories" will be posted as they come to mind. If you ever visited or lived in the areas above and would like to share your road memories, please post a comment. Also, visit my Flickr page and the sites in the "My Links" column to see some of the highway signs I enjoyed back then.